dirge for #Ferguson: a song of condolence from a white ally

As a white cisgendered woman in the USA, I fear gender-based crimes & muggings. As a queer: homophobic hate crimes. As a former psychiatric patient: legal disenfranchisement. I have experienced plenty of the above, in addition to everyday discrimination, and yes, it’s all hurt, sometimes deeply. But in all cases, I (perhaps optimistically) assume that my assailants could be held legally accountable for any illegal wrongdoings against me. I have never feared death by police gunning, and I probably never will. Black men have good reason to, as the Ferguson case has made abundantly clear. This–being targeted, repeatedly and sometimes lethally–by the police, by the very laws that are built to protect Americans’ lives–is a whole new level of human rights violations, and it’s sadly not new at all. The Ferguson decision just brought the horrifying truth African Americans have been living with their whole lives to national attention, which horror I believe non-blacks can only begin to imagine and empathize with, despite our most heartfelt sympathies and moral impulse to help change the system that allows this injustice. Please keep paying attention, USA. Keep asking questions, fighting systemic racism at home and out in the world. Keep listening–not to people like me, but to those at the center of these struggles. And keep laboring for a better future.

As an artist, I can only offer this:

a blessing for the wronged, the killed, and their kin in mourning,

a prayer for peace and justice, a song of (no) solace and of held space for well-justified black rage

composed and recorded out of solidarity just now on my phone on my parents’ detuned piano–

please forgive the roughness, but it’s downloadable for free

for to keep your ears and heart warm

on your way to your next #ferguson protest,

or while you go on with your life as you must

biting back the horrifying truth

that was proven to us last week


“A man killed in the name of law
We question what we saw

Should fear and prejudice play part
in stopping someone’s heart?

When you take a person’s life
You might cause some strife

When you take a people’s rights away
Expect a fight today”

music and lyrics ©StormGarner2014

photo by Storm Garner from Tuesday night’s protest in Times Square NYC, November 25th 2014

or on soundcloud, if you prefer:

here’s a rough sketch of the sheet music–rhythm is very loose–I’d love to hear others’ interpretations:

for peace for ferguson sheet music edit

and here I am over the Thanksgiving weekend at my parents’ house, singing for you: