Is This What Democracy Looks Like?

Check out these song lyrics by Michael Franti, and his narration to the documentary, “This Is What Democracy Looks Like” Both remind us of the power of the VOICE of the people in troubled times. I have listened to the song many times without knowing that Franti participated in the WTO protests, or even that he had the event in mind when he wrote the song. The documentary uses independent footage of the 1999 protests over the WTO meetings in Seattle. The film is well worth watching, shedding light on what really happened during the protests. Some of the footage is very DISTURBING…Police shooting pepper spray forcefully onto peaceful sitting protesters, arresting citizens for protesting even though the right to peaceful assembly is one of our basic rights! American citizens being subject to POLICE BRUTALITY and GOVERNMENT CONTROL. What are we supposed to come away with from this? Yet in light of the oppressiveness that the film conveys, it demonstrates the heart and spirit of the American people. Putting race, gender, class, color, religion, occupation, political preferences and all other demographics aside, we can come together in an attempt to manifest our dreams in the world around us. To uphold the ideals of democracy, the foundation of our country, is what reigns over the film, and what one can walk away with, ultimately, is that, “THE HARDER THEY HIT US, THE LOUDER WE BECOME”…. sorta like the skin on a drum?

LYRICS: “Skin On the Drum” by Michael Franti

I was born botanical
the soul of an animal
deep beneath the layers, I sink my roots
no need for mechanical
I come strictly organical
when I need to feast, I look to the East
that’s why I’m never scared of the beast
even though they try to prey upon me
I’m protected by the one always greater than me
so now I reveal to thee
because you wanna see
the contour of my mystery
the strength of my arches
the colour of my conscience
and the way that I process my diction
some fact some diction some mystery
some future fantasy
I’m the trunk that holds the branches
the leaves who do the dances
my flowers romantic
my love gigantic
from Africa, transplanted translantic
in the heat of the sun
I bring shade for everyone
like the beat on the one
I’m the skin on the drum

I keep on living with the fullness of the one
like the heat of the sun or the skin on the drum

I’m fully marinated and now I’m ready for the fire
so you can fire one
fire one
fire two

See I’ve been fully marinated
and now I’m ready for the fire
see I’m beginning to perspire
from deep within to the skin
yo, the feminine and the masculine
the pieces of the puzzle
see my reflections in the puddle
after the storm the purple of the sky
brings to mind another time
when we resided
below the water line
life was fine there human divine
but in the years following
evil men came swallowing
everything in sight
some learned to run, some stayed to fight
I kneeled at the tomb of the soldier
said I would love to behold her
the magic in store there
she touched me on the shoulder
she said, “in time all is revealed, box of light be unsealed
now listen to me son, be like the skin on the drum”

And as the pepper gas clears
and police and protestors go home
just as the morning dew are tear drops of the night
my emotions are always there for you
and will never leave you dry

To Listen: \”Skin of the Drum\” by Michael Franti

Too much pepper spray can make a brother congested, ya know what I’m saying?

Watch the full length documentary of “Is this what Democracy looks like” narrated by Michael Franti


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