ShareTools - The Playlist
Music inspires us. It teaches us. It moves us.
Each of these songs was carefully selected with an ear
towards the themes of each module.
Created and curated by Emergency Medicine Remix
How to Use:
These songs are thematically paired with existing ShareTools modules, but can also be used as inspiration to jumpstart a stand-alone discussion. They can also serve as prompts for individual reflection. There is no specific recommended duration or format - the conversation, discussion, and analysis can be scaled to different groups and durations - the songs can be appreciated and analyzed on their own or in conjunction with the accompanying liner notes.
When possible, edited versions were chosen to limit language that might compromise the overall message. However, language and themes remain that some might find offensive. We do not expect agreement with all the messages or language in the music we have selected. We thought it important to share the imperfection of the art and the artist. These selections are intended to serve as references, conversation starters. With difficult conversations, hard things must be said and heard. Offense should be minimized, when possible, rarely is it ever preventable.
Module 1: The Personal Response Tour
Song: The People
Music like visual art is often layered and complicated. Yet, it seeks to point out universal themes that exist amongst all people while attempting to negotiate the fragile borders that provoke thought, stoke controversy, or outright offend. The final interpretations are often left to the listener and time not solely the artists’ intent. Art as a communication tool utilizing sounds, symbols, and interpretations is universal among all peoples and what binds us together and sometimes separate us. In essence, it is what makes us uniquely human.
The artist, producers, and samples from our fist musical offering present a menagerie of themes that are universal yet are perceived as disproportionally dominant in specific groups of “people”. Listening to the themes in the lyrics and you will be able to extract universalities that are not restrictive to race. And, even highlighting such universal themes through music, as this 2007 Kanye West produced track proves, does not prevent us from committing the same offenses of racism that affect us all. To combat racism, all “people” have work to do.
Notable inspirations and samples: “We Almost Lost Detroit” -Gil Scott-Heron 1977, “Let the Drum Speak” -The Fatback Band 1975, “Long Red” Live at Woodstock -Mountain 1969
Module 3: Microaggressions Towards Patients
What does it mean to “Be”? To be Black? To be Brown? To be seen as other or somehow inferior because of a perceived appearance? Does “being” equate to a predictable behavior? Or is the behavior sometimes a reaction to simply being? Being Brown in all its biological expression of melanin does not automatically equate to the sociological constructs of a particular race or behavior of any one group. Thus, the way we interact in all spaces, even clinical spaces, must not be seen as a result of one’s “being” -Black, Brown, or otherwise.
We should all be given the space to be (in our skin) without aggressions, slights, punishment. This is especially true in spaces where the power gradient is the greatest and persons are at their most vulnerable -the clinical bedside.
Interesting Fact: The sample for “Be” comes from a 1977 song entitled “Mother Nature” by Mother Jones. This sampled song celebrates the diversity of life and creation. Should not our physical appearances be celebrated in a similar manner?
Module 5: Cultural Humility in the Medical Arena
Song: Black Folk
Artist: Tank and the Bangas, Alex Isley, Masego
Soul new-comers and next gens combined talents for this offering.
Setting the tone: Can we lean into our differences while simultaneously embracing our similarities? Merriam-Webster defines a folk song as a traditional or composed song typically characterized by stanzaic form, refrain, and simplicity of melody. One could argue that this song fits that definition. Better yet, it fits the definition of a folk song because it’s about folk. Listen to the lyrics and embrace the things that you might not assume define Black folk. Now substitute the lyric Black for any other ethnic group. Are the lyrics now any more or less true? That is the essence of cultural humility. It is an openness to never stop listening and learning about what makes us alike and different. It’s a commitment to redefine what you long thought was already defined. It is a life-long mission to embrace the diversity within the diversity that is ever-present within all folk.
Interesting Fact: Tanks and the Bangas were the 2017 NPR Tiny Desk Contest Winners. Alex Isley is soul royalty being the niece of Ron Isley and daughter of Ernie Isley of the famous Isley Brothers. If you don’t know their music, you have likely heard them sampled from Ice Cube to Notorious B.I.G. Lastly, Masego, songwriter and saxophonist, is a Grammy nominated artist who was born in Jamaica but also raised in the Virginia hometown of the curator of this playlist.
Module 7: The Hard Truth: Patients’ Perspectives on Race and Equity in Health Care
Song: If You Don’t Know Me by Now
Artist: Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes (featuring Teddy Pendergrass)
A classic story deserves a classic ballad. A story that stirs the soul told by a soul stirring singer, legendary drummer and later solo artist, Teddy Pendergrass. The song is chosen because it highlights the central issue, trust. Trust, rather the lack thereof, despite years of relationship is central to the discussion of race and equity in healthcare. The follow up question is whether trust is deserved?
Interesting Fact: While Teddy Pendergrass would go on to enjoy a successful solo career, one of his greatest commercial successes with the Blue Notes was the theme song for an actual commercial. The song, “Wake Up Everybody”, became a “commercial” success as the theme song for the United Negro College Fund. The popular slogan for the commercial was “a mind is a terrible thing to waste.”
Module 9: Being an Upstander
Song: Everyday People
Artist: Sly and the Family Stone
An eclectic group composed of men, women, and members of various ethnicities, Sly and the Family Stone were note both musical and social pioneers. By utilizing instruments, technology, and styles from multiple genres. Their sound was as progressive as their look and message. A Black woman on trumpet, a White drummer, and a Black lead singer were not out of place in this new American music group that was taking the country by storm. Why should they be? No matter how they look, they were just “Everyday People” just like our patients, just like our healthcare providers. When we accept this truth, it’s easy to stand beside and up for one another.
For a deeper dive, check out the extended playlist featuring offerings by Nina Simone, Gil Scott-Heron, and (Baltimore’s own) Fertile Ground.
Module 2: Microaggressions Causing Macrotrauma in the Workplace
Song: Watch What You Say
Artist: Guru featuring Chaka Khan, Branford Marsalis
Respect, Aggression, and the power of the tongue: These are some of the early tenets of hip hop. They also play a powerful role in communication dynamics across various personal and social constructs such as race. The principles of respect, aggression and language also play powerful roles on multiple levels not just in “the streets” which is often the setting of hip hop. Interactions in healthcare spaces and institutions of higher learning too are heavily shaped by these principles.
Interesting Fact: Keith Elam aka Guru (1/2 of the duo Gang Starr) was the son of Boston Judge and Director of Boston Public Schools Libraries. He was a graduate Morehouse College and a pioneer of jazz hip hop. He died in 2010 at age 48 due to complications of multiple myeloma.
Module 4: A History of the Present Illness: Exploring Injustices Perpetuated by the Healthcare System
Song: Manifest Destiny
The history of racism in the healthcare system is only now being fully revealed in the light of truth. The legacy of racism is still very much shrouded in darkness. Like our great nation, many of riches and accomplishments in healthcare are a result of racism in policy and practice that extends well beyond any one group. This song highlights the sad institution of the transatlantic slave trade that normalized racism in structural ways the continues to benefit medicine, science, and industry at a cost that no persons should be asked to bear.
Interesting Fact: UK funk band, Jamiroquai’s, lead singer, Jay Kay, is often seen adorning a Native American stylized headdress. This headdress symbol can be seen on several of the group’s album covers. Jay Kay is English and not Native American. Some see this as a poor choice due to the problematic historical relationship between the British and Indigenous people. Jamiroquia explains that the headdress is an attempt to pay homage to the sustainable environmentalism of some indigenous North American cultures which parallels Jamiroquai’s musical message. Again, we can all learn from each other in matters of being antiracist even if we are champions of the cause.
Module 6: Stigmatizing Language in the Chart
Song: Dr. Carter
Artist: Lil Wayne
In the finest traditions of hip hop, Lil Wayne blends imagery and allegory to create a layered image painted with words. This powerful form of the written word also creates strong images and messages in the medical record. In this way hip hop and the medical chart share a common space. Words can be used to inform, explain, codify, deride, uplift, empowers, reinforce, condemn, and even slander. Would we say what we write to an audience of many. Would we record those words vocally? Would we mic check -rather write check before performing rather printing? Would we review the chart for content before saving? How about content about race, bias and stereotypes? Even Lil Wayne stumbles here. Racist Asian stereotypes pop up in a lyric within this song which once again proves that we all have work to do to become more anti-racist.
Interesting Fact: Words can mean the beginning or the end. The words “Bling, Bling”, an onomatopoeia for the sound jewelry makes when it shines, were first coined by a teenaged Lil Wayne. The term would not only launch Wayne’s career to the upper stratosphere of success but also find itself in pages of the Merriam-Webster dictionary and households worldwide. In contrast, many a MC has had their career and even life ended by the words (lyrics) of another. Examples include Notorious B.I.G ending the career of rapper, Kwame with one line about polka dots. Ironically, the words/lyrical exchange between B.I.G. and 2Pac likely contributed to the demise of both artists. Life and death lie in the tongue and the pen. We in healthcare are not excluded from this fact.
Bonus Track (Rare Groove) “Words I Manifest” Gang Starr
Jazz fans might recognize the sampled bassline jazz trumpeter, Dizzy Gillespie’s, “A Night in Tunisia”. Listeners might also recognize Guru again as he lays lyrics expressing what his words manifest. Considering the medical record and race, what do our words manifest?
Module 8: Systemic Racism and Impact on the Health of a Community
Song: Pick Any
“Can’t We Smile” Johnny Hammond Smith
“Contradictions” Total Experience
“I Apologize” (Poem) Oscar Brown, Jr
“No Tengo Palabras” Common
“Baltimore” Nina Simone
“Freedom” Jurassic 5
“Little Brother” Black Star
“Keep Ya Head Up” 2Pac
Community means a group, thus a group of songs. Each selection addresses the impact of systemic racism in policy and structure. The instrumental selections attempt to evoke emotions and themes that exist in communities affected by generations of systemic racism. If by no other means, the instrumental titles should communicate this. The messages contained in the vocal track should speak loudly enough. The extended playlist provided several additional tracks from musical luminaries forged by the fires of an unjust world. These additional selections are as diverse musically as the messages of hope, frustration, and inspiration offered. They are as diverse and the experiences of Black, Brown, and every ethnicity within and in between.