Datgum is a protest song written to reflect the current struggle of Black people and people of color in America against white supremacy. The term “Datgum” itself is a euphemism that is used to express anger or shock. Despite being born into a country cloaked in white supremacy, and raised in full awareness of it – I am always freshly surprised at how easy, if not downright profitable it is to kill us in full view with the whole world watching. The surprise I feel over this is what causes the anger and out comes the expression “Datgum!” to stand in for feelings for which there aren’t words. Those feelings can be distilled into a mix of anger, despair, sadness, and confusion.
The song was largely inspired by the protest of Colin Kaepernick refusing to observe the national anthem during the NFL games for which he was playing. The simple act was poignant and accompanied by a very concise and thoughtful explanation for his choice. My goal was to give greater context to the issue of racism to show that not only does it still exist but it is just as widespread as any other point in this nation’s history. The opening line is “Slaves on a ship, frays on a whip, chains on a hip, gangs on a strip, names on a list”. This short list documents the metamorphosis of the institution of racism. First we were bought as cattle (slaves on a ship) then we were tortured to destroy our minds (frays on a whip). When slavery was deemed illegal then Jim Crow laws were put into place to make sure we remained target and the prison yard became the new plantation (chains on a hip). Gangs originally developed as a means of protection against racism (gangs on a strip) but devolved into another beast entirely once The Black Panther Party and other likeminded pro-black groups were destroyed. In 2017 it is apparent we still have no recourse when an officer decides to end our lives for any apparent reason (names on a list). The officers actions are always justified by mainstream white society and the victims are always posthumously villainized. “Did he comply?”