Chuck D, Tear Down That Wall
A rare reprise of Public Enemy’s By The Time I Get To Arizona, Tear Down That Wall is nothing short of a call for listeners to heighten their awareness and exercise their often unused muscles of solidarity. It’s also a denunciation of the complacency and blindness that have allowed us to remain indifferent to our common plights, which in a sense have allowed the kind of environment to develop where a law effectively separating and subjecting a class of people to the state’s police power can pass with popular support.
For us here at tirado/thrown, Tear Down That Wall, closes a loop that opened up in 1990, when Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet activated the mind of a reserved, confused, and otherwise rootless fourteen year old in Woodland Hills, CA into thinking about race, justice, history, and the emancipatory potential of music. Chuck D and PE threw us a lifeline from across the country in the form of a magnetic tape spooled into a plastic cassette, courtesy of Def Jam Records. It couldn’t have come at a more crucial time.
Twenty years later, Chuck D’s most recent gesture arrives at a more important juncture, where the State of Arizona has taken such egregious measures that effectively designates the state of exception as the rule, where anyone who vaguely resembles what the police considers an illegal immigrant (read: is of Latino or Latin American descent), is rendered suspect. It’s a reminder that the work of solidarity is the ongoing production of our common humanity’s taking-place. This work of solidarity sutures folds along and across lines of difference: language, gender, race, class, culture, religion, sexual orientation, and legal status.
Image: Guerilla Funk