In a battle of political slogans, critics of the Black Lives Matter movement often come back with their own version: Blue Lives Matter.
But blue lives don't matter, Dallas punk band Sub-Sahara wants to make clear with its song “13-12,” which was released in late July.
“1312” is derived from “A.C.A.B.” an acronym meaning "All cops are bastards." (A is the first letter of the alphabet, so it's 1, and C is the third, etc.)
The hard-slapping single starts off with a police siren and stays steadily mosh-and-dance-heavy, despite the sound of a “cop” yelling out Miranda rights.
The lyrics go: “You act like a victim when you're under fire/ A badge and a gun you're nothing but a coward/
Why do you keep your head underwater?/ Because let me remind you that blue lives don't matter.”
“The reason why we say blue lives don't matter is because ‘blue lives’ don't exist,” explains the band’s frontman, Aarón Mireles. “Being a police officer is not a racial identity.”
Mireles' point is that blue lives aren’t a thing — unless you’re talking about Avatar or The Smurfs. A job, yes. A uniform. But not a life.
The band began working on “13-12” in February and revisited the song in light of recent events.
“Seeing all the injustice and lack of change in the police force and all the protests and people fighting for change inspired us to finish the song and share it with everyone,” Mireles says.
“13-12” was recorded mid-June in Cloudland in Fort Worth and includes guests from other celebrated local bands: Paulina Costilla of The Bralettes (who sings lyrics such as “With all respect, I hope you rot in hell”) and Nico Ortega of Aztec Death.
“We asked them to be part of this song because we share a lot of the same ideas and music styles,” Mireles says of his collaborators. “It was an amazing experience to work with them, and they did an amazing job.”
Many local artists have spoken out against police brutality and supported Black Lives Matter through recent singles. Rapper Bobby Sessions continues his activism through “Reparations,” and even Leon Bridges, who’s been criticized by NPR for taking a non-"explicitly political" stance with his debut album, released “Sweeter,” in July, which he called “a celebration of Blackness.”
"'13-12' is a song aimed towards a broken police system, and it's dedicated to all the people who have lost their lives to police brutality and incompetence,” Mireles says.
Sub-Sahara will donate proceeds for the song to local nonprofit Not My Son.
“One of the reasons we released the song was to gather funds to donate to an organization that focuses on reforming policies of oppression and injustice,” Mireles says of the organization.
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The band has been steadfastly supporting social causes for years and advocating for the abolition of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.
“We released an anti-ICE song called ‘10-15’ last year with the same concept of donating money to a nonprofit organization," Mireles says.
Other non-local bands have recently released songs called “Blue Lives Don’t Matter,” while there are also ample “Blue Lives Matter” songs and playlists that include "Heroes" by David Bowie, a relentless advocate for Black artists.