Anti-Racist Songs for Summer 2020

Many have committed to spending more time reading, listening and learning in order to disrupt racism more effectively. If you are looking for materials, especially focusing on the UK/Scottish context, check out our curated anti-racist reading list, podcast recommendations and, of course, our very own podcast with lots of new content coming out this summer. If there is any anti-racist material that you think should be added to our lists (a work in constant progress), please do email your recommendations to theantiracisteducator@gmail.com


The worldwide response to the fight against racism during the last couple of months has been heartening, but momentum must not waver if we are to achieve actual change. Echoing these sentiments and reflecting the diversity of the protest movement are 10 wide-ranging artists, from both sides of the Atlantic, whose latest offerings serve as the perfect call to arms in the fight against injustice for the months and years ahead. You also find them all check out this Spotify playlist. Please be mindful that some of the lyrics contain explicit language, including racial language that is not appropriate for non-Black people to repeat or say out loud.


1. 'We Live Here' by Bob Vylan

Unsurprisingly untouched by the mainstream music industry, despite widespread acclaim, this genre defying anthem from the London duo, in its sound, captures the beauty of multiculturalism in the capital, whilst lyrically decrying the bigots that seek to oppose progress and tolerance in the hope of reinventing the mythical “good old days”.

Neighbours called me nigga Told me "go back to my own country" Said since we arrived This place has got so ugly But this is my fucking country And it's never been fucking lovely

2. 'I Can’t Breathe' by H.E.R

Recalling the very best of Lauryn Hill’s classic ‘MTV Unplugged 2.0’ 2002 live album, H.E.R claims her own stake amongst the legends with this searing commentary on racism in the US. The track culminates in an unapologetic spoken word monologue that deserves to become instantly iconic.

Romanticizing the theft and bloodshed That made America the land of the free To take a black life, land of the free To bring a gun to a peaceful fight for civil rights You are desensitized to pulling triggers on innocent lives

3. 'Grounds' by Idles

In a mainstream music industry depressingly devoid of substance, Idles' fearless statements are more vital than ever. Originally written in 2019, this thunderous burst of empathetic energy was fittingly released last month in response to recent events.

There's nothing brave and nothing useful You scrawling your aggro shit on the walls of the cubicle Saying my race and class ain't suitable So I raise my pink fist and say black is beautiful

4. 'State of the Union (STFU)' by Public Enemy

Hip Hop legends, Public Enemy, make a welcome return to the scene with this US administration bashing banger showcasing perfectly what they do best – truth-telling sound tracked by thumping drum and bass.

"Make America Great Again," the middle just love it (Hey!) When he wanna talk, walk y'all straight to them ovens Human beings of color, yeah we be sufferin' (Hey!)

5. 'Your Ghost' by Dave Hause (feat Amythyst Kiah and Kam Franklin)

Wrestling with the worth of releasing another song about someone else’s experience, Hause recalled post-gig conversations where fans spoke of his music changing their perspectives on racial justice and decided to release this poignant tribute to George Floyd which also serves as an urgent reminder to continue the fight against racism and police brutality. All proceeds from the song are going to the Philadelphia Community Bail Fund.

Oh, what a privilege to pretend that we can't see The chain, the whip, the badge, the gun, and now the ever-pressing knee The knee we hired to protect us The same knee he used to pray

6. 'Sweeter' by Leon Bridges (feat Terrace Martin)

An emotional rumination on systemic and systematic racism in America, Texan artist, Leon Bridges, rush-released this in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder. In a press release discussing the song, Bridges articulated the feelings of many Black people in America of all generations stating “From adolescence we are taught how to conduct ourselves when we encounter police to avoid the consequences of being racially profiled.”

Hoping for a life more sweeter Instead I'm just a story repeating Why do I fear with skin dark as night? Can't feel peace with those judging eyes

7. 'Certain Kind of Monster' by Bad Cop, Bad Cop

Berating hostile policy and public attitudes towards immigration, Bad Cop, Bad Cop, take on the bigots on this pertinent punk anthem styled in the mould of genre greats such as The Clash and Rancid.

Don’t call people illegal When they’ve done nothing wrong Don’t call people illegal When they’ve been here all along

8. 'Black & Ready' by Jords

Soulful poetic masterclass from UK singer and rapper, Jords. All profits from this track will be donated to The Black Curriculum, a social enterprise founded in 2019 to address the lack of Black British history in the UK Curriculum.

Then you see 'em tearin' down your history in the media That you don't learn in school, you gotta learn on Wikipedia

9. 'SUPREMACY' by FEVER 333

Sampling Blondie and KRS-One, frontman, Jason Aalon Butler, wages war against a power dynamic used against people of colour for generations.

When time turns into history The story that we'll tell will be When we were marching for our lives You stood on the other side

10. 'Frontier Glitch' by Strike Anywhere

Virginia’s finest, typical take just over a minute and a half to deliver their rallying cry to the movement, made all the more affecting by the fact that they have dedicated their entire career to the fight against injustice. A listen through their back catalogue is a must for any anti-racist with a fondness for exemplary punk rock music.

Let the ship burn We're the ocean In every shade, in every colour

©2019 The Anti-Racist Educator.