We realize this category is a bit odd. It's created some chatter about cultural appropriation of the word "woke," and some folks are just confused by the term altogether. Perhaps it would have benefited from a title like "Most Aware" or "Most Conscious." The point is, these acts were nominated as the most thought-provoking in Houston; their sample lyrics below give some insight as to why. Semantics aside, we're grateful for these and other local artists who elevate thought. We're proud that they represent Houston. Now more than ever, it seems, intelligent discourse is needed, and it's a point of pride knowing so much of that dialogue is beginning in our music community.
All that said, we reached out to these forward thinkers and asked them one single question: given the events of the last week, where do you see the nation in four years?
DAYS N DAZE
"When all the beer's been spilled I won't just sit and cry about it,
'cause I got a good head on my shoulders and I'm capable,
so, back to the grindstone, square one, drawing board and make it work this time."
Answering for Days N Daze is guitarist Jesse Sendejas, who, full disclosure, is the son of this article's author:
Right now we're more divided as a country than we've ever been in my lifetime but as people we're more connected and even though everything can feel a bit hopeless at times, even though we slid backwards, in the words of my man Watsky, 'I just gotta believe people are good at the core.' So, I really think that if we just stick together we'll be okay. There will always be shitty people but during shitty times even shitty people have gotta learn to work together if they wanna get by. Some rough seas may be ahead, but I think in four years we'll still be afloat and hopefully even sailin' forward.
DIRTY & NASTY
You ain't giving no solutions, you're causing all of the problems,
Wondering where the realest is but you ain't trying to call us,
take a look at this resume, educated, no felonies, listen along
to our catalog while we proceed to carry on this message for the people,
proud, black and strong...
WOKE? At first, for five seconds, I was struck by the word "woke," given the history that we have had with Houston Press, in years past, but then I was off that trip.
Anyway, where do I see the nation in four years? We are in an opportune time for us to replace the system of Racism/White Supremacy with a system of justice that is; a) making sure that no one is being mistreated; and b) making sure that the people that need the most help, receive the most constructive help. It could end overnight, but it will take more than the 'woke' people to do it. It will take all non-whites and whites to change their respective worlds and create justice everywhere they go.
From the perspective of the historically disenfranchised the results of the election are not surprising and historically looks like a whole lotta the same from America: violence, racism, xenophobia, and systematic oppression. Only difference being that the scope of oppression has broadened. People new to this reality should be concerned but not scared by the prospects of it. Historically disenfranchised people have been overcoming for centuries and making much out of a lot less so, worse case, you are left with that.
I think the next four years provides the perfect opportunity for the historically disenfranchised to change their station in life, rise up, be heard and get goals accomplished. But it will require cunning, guile, intelligence, creativity, shrewd long-term planning and strategy (1 year, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, 50 years) and all of our social acumen to make this happen. I personally always try to learn from defeat and take it as an opportunity to do better and be better. But it starts now.
You didn't even take the time to get to know her
You don't even know yourself.
Why you always gotta pick a tough girl?
Why you gotta fuck, fuck with tough girls?!
Miriam Hakim (vocalist):
As a Muslim and as a Syrian-American woman, I have not felt this unwelcome in this country since right after 9/11. I have a hard time thinking the negative sentiment towards racial, gender, sexual, and religious minorities that Trump and the entire Republican party have stoked during this campaign will not affect policy and that it will just go away in a few years. We also have evidence that the current iteration of the Republican Party controlling every branch of government will be disastrous for the economy, education, research funding, and the environment as well. Just look at Kansas and Louisiana for tangible evidence of the consequences of these policies.
Cassandra Chiles-Quirk (guitarist):
I was born and raised in Washington D.C., and most of my friends' parents growing up worked for some form of the federal government. There is a famous quote that the only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy is its ruthless inefficiency, and with that in mind you hope that very little will really change for most people. But then as a transsexual woman, the rhetoric and fearmongering that went on during the election doesn’t really inspire confidence. I think you are going to see a big push by the right to push forward a certain “Family Values” type agenda at first, followed by total chaos and infighting by the GOP.
The important thing for people who want real change is to start getting involved now, which doesn’t mean posting memes about your discontent on Facebook or Twitter. It means getting out there talking to real people, taking an interest in local politics, and volunteering to get whomever you feel best represents you elected. People shouldn’t have to live in fear in the 21st century, but a push back only gives results if people are angry enough to want change. If the population put as much interest in positive social change as they do with playing Pokemon Go or keeping up with celebrity families there is nothing we couldn’t accomplish in this country.
I'm still that dark-skinned, nappy-headed girl from the Chi,
Six people, one bedroom, my daddy got us by,
Take my advice, don't let their words pierce you like the knife,
My scars are barely healing, got me bleeding through this mike.
Where do I see the country in four years...
I guess I'm supposed to give this grand esoteric analogy; tell you about the socioeconomic stance we might be left in due to the false promises of a misogynistic, xenophobic, racist president. Should I break down the ridiculousness of the electoral college and how it always seems to [bear] right when given a chance to break from the general consensus of the people...
I read every article I could, I watched every interview both on the left and the right to get a balanced opinion and I didn't see this coming. I mentioned on Facebook that I was at a bar when I found out; what I didn't mention is that I wept. A guy who bragged about sexual assault just got the highest job in the land. I was informed, I did my best and I didn't see this coming so I definitely can't tell you where we'll be in four years.
I'd like to say we'll see this establishment make so many mistakes it will self-destruct or that the Democrats and liberals will make so much noise the right and left will be left with no Other choice but to come together...but, I've learned that we can hope for the best but we've been spoiled by the unicorn that was the Obamas. I tried to explain to many Trump voters the context to why half of the country is hurt and how it has nothing to do with Republican vs. Democratic but everything to do with a deplorable man that stays up in the middle of the night to bash beauty queens and re-tweet anti-Semitic tweets in Twitter. I tried to give fact after fact on why Trump has ignited racial and cultural tensions in this nation and after a year of "Muslims this..." and "Mexicans that..." looking into the camera at one interview and saying "Stop it" is virtually meaningless. And I'm always met with... but the economy... but those emails, though.
Where do I see us in four years....all hail, hail president Trump and Lord Pence...and may the odds be ever in your favor.
THE REAL MCCOYS
Doubt's killed way more dreams than failure on its worse days,
but that's just how it goes 'til it's gone.
Josh Raught, answering for The Real McCoys:
What can we say...the hate, racism, misogyny and bigotry that has come out full force makes me sad for my country, a country that for a few years, it seemed, was making a lot of steps in a much more progressive direction. It's like we all knew these people were there, but we didn't think it would get this far. To that, though I say, Trump is only one man that no matter how big he is, he's still not bigger than America, I'd like to think. In four years there definitely will be some changes but given the amount of uproar and protesting already, there won't be any major changes without a fight.
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THE WHEEL WORKERS
White lies, birth of a nation
White lies, you better be terrified
Hold tight, pull the trigger
Look sharp, you’re surrounded on all sides.
Steven Higginbotham, answering for The Wheel Workers:
As the famous labor songwriter Joe Hill once said, "Don't mourn. Organize!" In a world with Trump at the helm, there are very dark days ahead. But if we give up, turn away from each other, and abandon political engagement in despair, they win and our future loses. So channel your passion into educating yourself, engaging your community, dedicating time to progressive causes that will need you more than ever, and voting. Not just at the presidential level, but at every level.
The right wing has methodically taken over school boards, city councils, judgeships and state legislatures across the country. To have a truly progressive future we must engage in a steady, consistent, and comprehensive way, not just once every four years. Trump is a hateful, ignorant, paranoid bigot with fascist tendencies, but he's also an incompetent detached from reality. He will fail spectacularly, and the people will once again demand change. We can decide what comes next. Let's build with love and hope a future that respects the dignity of all human beings.
Well said, all. Cast your HPMA ballot at this link.