Tuesday, January 23, 2018

A One-Woman Riot

At last year’s Women’s March a small cell phone video went viral. Milck aka Connie Lim came out of the shadows. Her song “Quiet” became the movement’s anthem.

Put on your face
Know your place
Shut up and smile
Don’t spread your legs
I could do that

[Verse 1]
But no one knows me no one ever will
If I don’t say something, if I just lie still
Would I be that monster, scare them all away
If I let them hear what I have to say

I can’t keep quiet, no oh oh oh oh oh oh
I can’t keep quiet, no oh oh oh oh oh oh
A one woman riot, oh oh oh oh oh oh oh

She didn’t start out thinking she was going to write a hit, go viral, or even make a lot of bucks. Lim, a self-professed geek and outsider who said she never felt like she fit in, composed the song from personal experience. From an NPR interview:

It has been stuck in my (laughter) throat and my consciousness for years and years and years. I have been trying to find a way to heal myself from the burdens of being silenced.
"I've been an independent artist for eight years. And I remember around year five or six, there was a person interested in managing me and he was kind of scratching his head. He's like, 'Well I don't know how to break a Chinese American artist here. Maybe you should go back to China.' And I kind of panicked because I don't view China as my home. I view America as my home. I've been presented that strategy many times, especially when I was first coming up. But I've just been really stubborn about wanting to do my art here. And so, I've just been following my instincts and trying to stay as grounded as possible."
I was just different, even physically. I was a chubby kid, and I became really ashamed of how I was different from the standard stick-thin, polite, classy, elegant Asian-American female image.

MILCK: (Singing) It runs deep, it's insatiable - that hunger to be seen, to be understood.

She’d demo-ed the song and with her manager was shopping it, but there were no takers. Finally with the Women’s March approaching she rehearsed with women via Skyppe and performed it at the march in Washington DC. From there she appeared on Samantha Bee’s Full Frontal and the song took off.

She could have easily given up. Her story was a common one. Why would anyone want to listen to or buy her song? We all have experienced this—the put downs, the negativity. Being invisible. Wondering at our own worth, the value of art. Lim took a chance to step out and just perform the song. And when she did, great things came from it.

She turned her grief and pain into an anthem. Her words became identified with a movement. Thanks Milck for not giving up.

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