Bon Jovi’s “American Reckoning” reflects on today’s protests

Emma Bartlett, Arts and Culture Editor

Bon Jovi recently recorded a new song called “American Reckoning,” which honors George Floyd and the movements that started largely as a result of his passing. The American rock band was inspired to write a song about the current U.S. protests as a witness to history.

“I believe the greatest gift of an artist is the ability to use their voice to speak to issues that move us,” Jon Bon Jovi said in a Rolling Stone article.

The somber and reflective tone of the piece tells the story of George Floyd’s experience, quoting his “I can’t breathe” statement and telling how a police officer knelt on his neck for eight minutes. The lyrics “when did a judge and jury become a badge and a knee on these streets?” resonate with the singer’s disbelief and disappointment in how America could get to this point. The song moves on to say the singer will never understand what it’s like to walk in their shoes and how he will “never have to have the talk so it don’t happen to you.” He then goes on to mention a twelve-year-old child with the words “Am I next?” depicted on his chest. In many ways, the symbolic words speak volumes on the reality of injustices and the impact they have on the youth of today.

“American Reckoning” is an extremely heartfelt song and shows the compassion the band has for the protest movement. Until Dec. 31, 2020, the band and Island Records’ net proceeds from each download of “American Reckoning” will support Bryan Stevenson’s Equal Justice Initiative. This initiative seeks to end mass incarceration and excessive punishment within America and address racial and economic injustice.