Does country music have an obligation to fight for social justice? This is a question that’s often been asked in the mainstream of America. After all, country music has always been lambasted by big city elites as a “white” music genre that’s all about Republicanism and xenophobia and dozens of types of bigotry all bottled up in one. For instance, in early 2002, when Alan Jackson wrote “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning),” a touching tribute to the victims of the 9/11 attacks, the mainstream world considered Jackson to be playing on the emotions of uneducated southerners in order to make a buck.
These are people who have no idea just how great a man Alan Jackson is, or how the bulk of country music fans and artists are God-fearing, charitable people with no hatred in their hearts. If you want something objective, here’s what the deal is: It’s not country music fans out in the world beating and shooting other people for having different political ideologies. It’s not country music fans scaring other people off stage and not allowing their opponents to speak. So for every one big-city elitist to think of a country music fan as a backwards bigot, there’s an entire handful of actual country music fans who just grin and bear it and get on living their lives and enjoying their music.
That said, many in country music do find it important to fight for social justice. We see police brutality as a problem. We see mass incarceration as a problem. We see a need for many areas of society to be reformed, and we want to help spread awareness. This is why many country music songwriters are putting their pens to some transformative, emotionally moving lyrics. You can find one right here who does this often. Ben Krahne has a thick catalog of music he’s written that’s very emotionally driven and about finding true justice for every group. It’s not any sort of obligation; it’s because he, like most country music fans, is a good person who wants true change and people to be treated equally.
No musical genre is under any obligation to push for social justice. Though more than any other genre, country music is striving to make a difference. You can find songwriters from all over the globe who pen country music and realize that they’re using their power and prowess as artists to draw attention to society’s problems.
The thing about country music and its fans is that we approach true change differently. We don’t start fires. We don’t block roads. We don’t lash out at people wearing red hats. Though that in no way makes us any less passionate. We do our talking through music. We want social justice, and we fight for social justice. Though we don’t do it because we feel obligated or are bullied into it. We do it because we want to; because country music has always been diverse and about peace, love and equality for all.