“The Body Electric” by Puerto Rican singer songwriter Alynda Lee Segarra of Hurray for the Riff Raff has been declared 2014 Political Folk Song of the Year by the National Public Radio (NPR) in the US. The song is a beautiful anthem against violence and oppression against women, people of color, and queer people.
Segarra talks to NPR about the meaning of “The Body Electric”:
I am mostly familiar with how the song has taught me there is a true connection between gendered violence and racist violence. There is a weaponization of the body happening right now in America. Our bodies are being turned against us. Black and brown bodies are being portrayed as inherently dangerous. A Black person's size and stature are being used as reason for murder against them. This is ultimately a deranged fear of the power and capabilities of black people. It is the same evil idea that leads us to blame women for attacks by their abusers. Normalizing rape, domestic abuse and even murder of women of all races is an effort to take the humanity out of our female bodies. To objectify and to ridicule the female body is ultimately a symptom of fear of the power women hold.
Violence against women all over the world, rape, murders of transexuals, and the recent killings of young black men in the United States fueled the song's inception. Segarra adds: “I hope this song breathes power and humanity back into all people who feel targeted by violence and oppression, whether they exist in our old stories and songs or are marching in protest as we speak.”