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So we're different colors and we're different breeds | by J.G. Park
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So we're different colors and we're different breeds

I remember when the Los Angeles riots happened in 1992, the venerated LA radio station KROQ began playing "People Are People" on heavy rotation. I was living in Orange County, so the riots were happening an hour's drive away and, at the same time, another world away.

 

In 1992, I was listening almost exclusively to Depeche Mode (I was only 15, but I didn't look good), so I wasn't complaining about hearing one of my favorite bands on the radio, but I began to get this sense that while Gore and Gahan meant well, "People Are People" was insufficient to explain the complex history and numerous factors that led to the LA Riots. And the problem isn't one individual hating another individual so much as systemic discrimination and injustice that was devised so long ago and has become so entrenched that all participants -- those who benefit and those who get stomped upon -- develop the false impression that the way things are presently is a natural outcome, allowing us to explain disparities as the result of an individual's personal shortcomings or presumed (but false) intrinsic characteristics of a minority population.

 

But that doesn't make for a catchy new wave song, does it? And it's not really a pop song's responsibility to address social issues, much less in an informed and thorough manner, so I'll give Depeche Mode a pass.

 

(Flickr user plasticfootball and I once had a lengthy discussion in which he explained that he always heard it as a song about homophobia -- if being a young man listening to Depeche Mode in the 1980s resulted in your peers harassing you for the imaginary crime of possibly being gay, he argued, imagine what it was like -being- Depeche Mode then!)

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Taken on June 23, 2015