Keedron Bryant, 'I Just Wanna Live': Protest Music In 2020 : We Insist: A Timeline Of Protest Music In 2020 This video, part of our 'We Insist' timeline of 2020's noteworthy protest music, was released July 27.
NPR logo Black Children Grow Up Too Fast In Keedron Bryant's 'I Just Wanna Live'

Black Children Grow Up Too Fast In Keedron Bryant's 'I Just Wanna Live'

YouTube

"I Just Wanna Live" by Keedron Bryant — a viral hit with humble beginnings as an Instagram post — reveals how fast Black children grow up when constantly confronted with racial injustice. In a simple but chilling chorus, the thirteen-year-old singer appeals to a higher power: "I just wanna live / God protect me".

Bryant's mother, Johnnetta, wrote the song after George Floyd's death. Bryant's verbal prayer spread widely after he posted the a capella video to Instagram on May 26, eventually grabbing Former President Barack Obama's attention.

Bryant joins the long list of Black children shouldering burdens of racial inequity. From Ruby Bridges to Little Miss Flint, Black youth are forced to become symbols, martyrs, instruments, calling for change in a country that doesn't serve them.

The gospel singer is no different, exclaiming: "My people don't want no trouble / We've had enough struggle." Collective grief weighs on Bryant, his thoughts running rampant until he can't distinguish victims of police brutality from himself ("Oh, but when I look around / And I see what's being done / To my kind / Every day / I'm being hunted as prey").

On July 27, Warner Records released a remix of and a music video for "I Just Wanna Live" after signing Bryant. There, Andra Day raps about her unhealed inner child ("They gon' tell you, 'Shut up, angry black girl'") while IDK shows how burdened children grow up into adults who demand justice by any means necessary ("Throw a molotov at the cop / Whether he crooked or not / Until them killing us stops").