I’m Gon’ Stand by Sweet Honey in the Rock
I started this week with a question: Who do I think is worse, Dominic Cummings or Prince Andrew? Ok, so it wasn’t that serious a question, and it was more than a little influenced by the ongoing news relating to both. In many ways the characters involved are actually quite arbitrary. The more significant issue is that of my perception of injustice, and that is something we are all guilty of at times.
The topic of injustice and social inequality is something that remains an ongoing issue. The death of George Floyd has once again highlighted the ongoing racial inequality that continues to exist. When we look at those in power, far from a representative reflection of society, we continue to see people educated in the same places and with the same privilege exert control over the remainder of the population. But what is to be done?
When we return to the roots of gospel music, we begin to see a response. This week’s song is a classic call and response example of the powerful, emotive, and motivational resource of gospel. I’m Gon’ Stand by Sweet Honey in the Rock starts with three lines of call with a different focus at the end of each:
We will not bow down to, uh huh, racism … injustice … exploitation.
It then moves on to declaring the response and in the final chorus questioning:
I’m gon’ stand, I’m gon’ stand … are you gon’ stand?
These powerful lyrics not only resonate with the earlier days of slavery out of which gospel was shaped but continue to be relevant to the oppression experienced by so many in our communities. As a white male I haven’t experienced the depth of oppression that these songs witness too. Yet, like many of us, it doesn’t mean to say I’ve not experienced injustice.
Injustice often comes with a difference in power and privilege. With power and privilege often comes a lack of people who are willing to stand and say no, holding you to account. In a strange way, I found that I sort of feel some empathy for Cummings and Andrew, they both need, although may not want, people who will tell them no. Instead, they probably get deference and can use their power to get their own way.
This is not to let them, or anyone else, off the hook. It’s just that wellbeing isn’t just an individual concept. We can’t have personal wellbeing without social justice and cohesion. And to have social justice and cohesion requires us all to hold one another to account and stand up against oppression (including but not just racism, oppression of all forms), injustice and exploitation. It requires us all, in our own ways, and in our own contexts to declare:
I’m gon’ stand.
Only by doing this with the injustices we might see in our everyday lives can we start to create a society in which we might have #wellbeing4all.
Do you need some help to stand? Why not consider booking an appointment with the author, Dr Dave Wood?
Taken from the album: