In 1964, Bob Dylan wrote a song in response to the shooting of Medgar Evers.  In the song, Dylan talks about the man who murdered Evers and other white southerners who opposed integration as only pawns in the game of those in power.  Although the song was written with regards to a specific incident, connections can be made here. We could say that we are all only pawns in a materialistically-driven world that attempts to package men and women in certain ways. Yet once we’ve become aware of the presence of these forces that act upon us and cause us to focus more on difference than on similarity, can we still call ourselves only pawns? By continuing to act in a manner that promotes stereotypes based on false divisions we go from pawns to active agents in the game.

Take a listen, the lyrics are below so you can follow along:

“Only A Pawn In Their Game”

A bullet from the back of a bush took Medgar Evers’ blood
A finger fired the trigger to his name
A handle hid out in the dark
A hand set the spark
Two eyes took the aim
Behind a man’s brain
But he can’t be blamed
He’s only a pawn in their game.

A South politician preaches to the poor white man
“You got more than blacks, don’t complain
You’re better than them, you been born with white skin” they explain
And the Negro’s name
Is used it is plain
For the politician’s gain
As he rises to fame
And the poor white remains
On the caboose of the train
But it ain’t him to blame
He’s only a pawn in their game.

The deputy sheriffs, the soldiers, the governors get paid
And the marshals and cops get the same
But the poor white man’s used in the hands of them all like a tool
He’s taught in his school
From the start by the rule
That the laws are with him
To protect his white skin
To keep up his hate
So he never thinks straight
‘Bout the shape that he’s in
But it ain’t him to blame
He’s only a pawn in their game.

From the powerty shacks, he looks from the cracks to the tracks
And the hoof beats pound in his brain
And he’s taught how to walk in a pack
Shoot in the back
With his fist in a clinch
To hang and to lynch
To hide ‘neath the hood
To kill with no pain
Like a dog on a chain
He ain’t got no name
But it ain’t him to blame
He’s only a pawn in their game.

Today, Medgar Evers was buried from the bullet he caught
They lowered him down as a king
But when the shadowy sun sets on the one
That fired the gun
He’ll see by his grave
On the stone that remains
Carved next to his name
His epitaph plain:
Only a pawn in their game.

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