Usher, 'I Cry': Protest Music In 2020 : We Insist: A Timeline Of Protest Music In 2020 This song, part of our 'We Insist' timeline of 2020's noteworthy protest music, was released June 29.
NPR logo Usher Channels The Grief Of Victims' Families On 'I Cry'

Usher Channels The Grief Of Victims' Families On 'I Cry'

YouTube

Empathy is a powerful tool; even if we can't immediately connect with the grief felt by families of police violence victims, a compelling song can help place us in their shoes. Usher channels this feeling in "I Cry" — one of his most moving songs to date. One can almost hear the R&B legend's voice crackle as he passionately belts on the chorus: "I cry for the sons without fathers / And the pain that their mothers / Hold deep inside / So I'll fight / For the future we're making / It'll change if we face it / 'Cause these tears won't dry."

Usher, who is a father himself to two young sons, says he penned the song to help teach them to own their emotions and show that it's okay for men "feel emotions deeply and to cry." Black men are often taught to not show vulnerability, but Usher dismisses that stereotype for the song's self-directed, black-and-white video. As thought-provoking photography by the late Gordon Parks (which includes Civil Rights protests throughout history) appears on the screen, the singer allows his tears to fall in intense close-up shots. But a question arises: When will Black Americans no longer be forced to grieve because of police violence?