To recognize the power of protest music, acknowledge its role in keeping dissent alive and how musicians translate social issues and systemic problems into song, The Dissenter has launched a daily feature that highlights a protest song every weekday.

“Every second Monday in October we hold a celebration for a western soldier/Who brought over a culture manifestly destined to rule and take over,” raps Head-Roc, a Washington, DC-based hip-hop artist. He was one of the artists, who played a major concert put on by a coalition called Operation Ceasefire on September, 24, 2005, to protest war. And, he wrote this song for his album, Negrophobia, called, “Chris Columbus.”

It presents the people’s history of Christopher Columbus or a history of Columbus “discovering” America from the oppressed’s point of view. He says of the album of which this song appears:

As a descendent of African slaves, I wanted to look at American history and the atrocities the American government committed. I wrote and produced this album to deal with my frustrations about the complicity America had in the story of enslaved Africans and disenfranchised people, people who don’t follow the western paradigm…[and] out of my anger as an American citizen watching the actions of my government and that they and other western governments can do anything to the rest of the world.

The song begins:

Chris Columbus, a man of his time,
Slaughtered Arawak natives to further his kind and they state of mind,
And their take on the divine, allowed them to be so inclined
To send ships with guns,
Filled with men with swords so filled with the love of the Lord,
That they do whatever’s necessary, for their position!
Death is the decision, when they on a mission!
Death is the decision, when they on a mission!
What we talkin’ ’bout? IMPERIALISM!

From the chorus to the first verse, the song highlights how religion was used to justify seizing land from the Native Americans (“Funny how in the name of Jehovah, you supposed to be the/Landowner more so than the first holder”). It hits upon the reality that most school children do not learn the actual history of Columbus in school. It also draws a line from Columbus to more recent history where superpowers have treated the globe like a grand chessboard:

Like cool cats they sit back to see who is dispatched, persist at coup d’etats,
Promote armed attacks with gift packs plus import crack.
Now tell me what you think about that? Do it sound familiar?
To me too cousin I feel ya!

As he raps in the song, he only knows what really happened because he “picked up a book, then looked, and was shook by the shit these crooks done took!”—which is representative of a majority of Americans, who are capable of accurately recounting the history of Columbus and how the country’s manifest destiny-complex has meant bloodshed and horror for millions of people in world history. They would not know what led to the genocide of Native Americans and how it made it so easy for the rulers of America to then support slavery if they did not seek out the information on their own.

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The Dissenter will be putting one of these up every weekday morning. If you have requests for songs that should be featured or if you have a protest song you recorded, which you would like to see featured, email [email protected]

And all previous Protest Song of the Day selections can be found here.