Michigan-based vocalist and singer-songwriter Lealiza delivers potent protest anthem in critique of the Afghanistan debacle w/ new single “We Americans”
Music has always provided a lifeline, linking us to our greater sense of humanity through our darkest days of uncertainty. With its uncanny ability to connect people from vastly different walks of life around common experience, music has the power to drive social movements and strengthen the defiant spirit of perseverance that provides a positive path forward during difficult times.
American protest music, in particular, has a long history and deep cultural roots in voicing collective resistance to an authoritarian establishment — it is music that can define the values of a generation making a united stand against political corruption, racism, and social injustice. Michigan-based vocalist and singer-songwriter Lealiza has just delivered a potent reminder of that essential connection with the release of her new single “We Americans”.
Combining the soft, poetic urgency of 1960s anti-war folk tunes and the sardonic anti-political audacity of Kate Bush’s “Army Dreamers,” within the frightening new context of social discontent that is 2021 — the timely and socially relevant “We Americans” offers a biting critique of the Biden Administration’s ill-conceived and abrupt withdrawal of military support from Afghanistan, which left thousands of Americans and Afghan allies stranded and at the mercy of Taliban forces on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
With eloquently profound lyrics, relayed in a haunted melody and punctuated by percussive heartbeats keeping ominous rhythm with time-running-out for those left behind, “We Americans” first evokes images of the altruistic heroism displayed by first-responders following the 2001 fall of the Twin Towers. Those images are then held in pitifully stark contrast to conjured scenes of violent, hopeless despair experienced exactly twenty years later, as Americans and loyal Afghan allies were left to their own devices in a blatant public display of cultural anesthesia.
On September 11, 2021, Lealiza felt inspired to speak for the many Americans watching in despair as our leaders abandoned Afghan allies and American citizens in jeopardy. The song is a message to the negative forces that we haven’t forgotten who we are and we won’t become complacent with everything that’s going on in our society right now. Despite all the cultivated fear, it is a message that rises in a crescendo as America speaks as one in the final chorus; a collective manifesto:
“I wrote ‘We Americans’ as a heartfelt plea around the declaration, ‘We don’t leave our people behind,’” says Lealiza. “We Americans affirm our common value, that ‘We don’t leave anyone behind’.”
A song that is both introspective and retrospective, “We Americans” calls attention to our unprecedented era of leaders running amok through a new low-point in representative democracy. At the same time, the track challenges common platitudes of our unnecessary political tribalism and defies the forced binary of Left vs. Right.
As such, Lealiza has managed to make a powerful statement on the state of things, while avoiding the rhetorical trappings of our current political climate of ‘divide and conquer’, instigated by powerful corporate and governmental interests who have too much to gain by sowing discord around cultural difference. “We Americans” is not a partisan political song; it is a human song with a vital moral message.
“I don’t think my song is going to heal the world,” reflects Lealiza, “but maybe we should all think bigger …as if we’re not Democrats or Republicans, but Americans. That’s how I feel. The common person sees something wrong with this messed up situation, regardless of who the leaders are. I would like the people who were left behind in Afghanistan to know that this was our failed leaders, not us as a people. We don’t feel right about what happened. I would like those in Afghanistan to know that I’m thinking of them and that we are holding them in our hearts.”