“I worked as a journalist for a lot of years, and I’ve tried to see things from as many sides as I could,” says Jesse James DeConto of Durham, North Carolina-based folk-rock outfit The Pinkerton Raid. “But on election night in 2016, America just didn’t make any sense anymore, as though we had stopped being a nation because we were no longer working together toward what was best for everyone. The more I read the polls and analysis, there was only one way I could look charitably at the Trump voters, and that was to see their fear.”
Inspired by this idea, the band met up with friends this winter at CityWell, a United Methodist congregation in Durham which is currently housing undocumented immigrant Samuel Oliver-Bruno in sanctuary protection from ICE. While there, they shot a music video for “These Colors Don’t Run,” a poignant track from the band’s upcoming album Where the Wildest Spirits Fly, set for release on Tuesday, May 1st.
“So many white people, especially older, white Americans, they live in places that haven’t seen much of the economic progress that has benefited me in places like Portsmouth, New Hampshire, or Durham, North Carolina, where I’ve lived,” DeConto explains. “They see America becoming a multi-colored, multi-cultural place, and they won’t all name it this way, but they’re afraid they might not fit into it anymore. They’re afraid if they don’t keep pushing Black people or Muslims or immigrants down, they’ll end up losing somehow.”
The live performance video features the band playing to the congregation, who sings along with the band in a touching display of unity; it shows us that we can stand together in love to overcome sadness and fear, that hope is possible in the midst of suffering. “In ‘These Colors Don’t Run,’ I’m trying to invite people – to invite myself, really – to keep having the conversations, even the ones we’re afraid of, to respond to the fear with curiosity, rather than grasping at control or intimidation,” he says. “I think there’s an integrated future where we can all sing together, but not if we run from one another or shoot first or build walls.” The Pinkerton Raid asks the most important question–“Why are we afraid?”–and beautifully reminds us that Lady Liberty’s torch is not easily extinguished.
Without further ado, Mother Church Pew proudly presents “The Colors Don’t Run” by The Pinkerton Raid:
As much as I appreciate your band’s music and passion as a songwriter, I think it’s a gross over-generalization to blame the results on Election Night (or the people who support the current inhabitant of the White House) for the divisive nature of the country as we stand here today. A lot of factors contributed to the end result (and as an avid Bernie Sanders supporter, you should consider the sins of the DNC in that regard), and while many people share ideologies that run counter to the ideals of America, you will find them on all sides of the socio-political spectrum.
Sometimes, the hardest thing to do is look within, and ask the tough questions that self-critique demands of us, rather than merely play into the “us and them” paradigm that does nothing to bring us closer together, spiritually or ideologically. Perhaps looking at our own fears and bringing them out into the light can help us to be more compassionate toward those we disagree with. Perhaps replacing righteous anger with empathy will open the dialogue that will allow us to agree to disagree, and reach out to our so-called enemies, and see the God-light that shines in them as equally as it does in ourselves.
correction: That is me speaking as a Sanders supporter in the above reply.
Hi Rev. Trier –
I’m not quite sure if your comment is intended to respond to anything I said or sang or if it’s just a more general comment.
In any case, I can’t disagree with any of it! I certainly did not blame our social divisions on the election results; in my view, the order of causality is quite the opposite. Our inability to work out differences gave us two nominees that not many of us on either side were particularly excited about.
I don’t think I supported nor criticized any particular ‘side’ of the political spectrum, but I AM criticizing the Trump campaign and presidency and his Republican allies with regard to immigrants, Muslims, Black Lives and gun control (not to mention respect for women). To the extent that any ‘side’ refuses to welcome all types of social contributors (much less fellow human beings) into full social status or to restrict the firearms that are killing our children, I believe that side is acting against our collective human interests, the common good and America’s ideals.
I do think, at the political level (as opposed to the personal), we can overemphasize ‘listening’ to demographics who reject facts and wield societal power in ways that are oppressive to others, but we’d have to get pretty deep into the weeds to talk about all of that. We need to listen for lived emotions and human experience, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept the ways those experiences are interpreted so as to “trump” the facts and realities we all need to live with, manage and plan for. All the data will tell you that immigrants are good for America, and yet I see a lot of factors — sometimes racism, sometimes greed, sometimes economic despair, sometimes generalized fear of the other — creating a narrative that immigrants are bad and need to be stopped.
Political observations almost always tread into “speck-in-your-neighbor’s-eye” territory. Yes, we all need to be wary of the beams in our own eyes, but that can’t stop us from our duties as citizens to try and make the world a better place.
Thanks for reading and engaging with our art. We won’t all agree, but I hope what we create is at least worth interacting with.