Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello drops police brutality protest song

Musician Tom Morello
Musician Tom Morello has released a new protest song, “Stand Up.”
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello is continuing to fight the power with a new protest song condemning police brutality, racism and transphobia.

On Thursday, Morello released “Stand Up,” a collaboration with producer the Bloody Beetroots, singer and transgender rights activist Shea Diamond, and Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds. According to Pitchfork, proceeds from the single will benefit the NAACP, the Know Your Rights Camp, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Marsha P. Johnson Institute.

“When I call the police, will they just kill me? / Will they just kill you?” Reynolds screams on the track. “When I call the police, will they just protect me ‘cause I’m white-skinned too?”

Country trio the Dixie Chicks removed a reference to the American South from its name after Lady A (formerly Lady Antebellum) recently did the same.

In a statement obtained by Variety, Morello shared some of his personal experiences with racism, as well as his thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement.


“I grew up in the tiny lily white, archly conservative town of Libertyville, Ill.,” Morello said. “When I was a kid, someone hung a noose in my family’s garage, there was occasional N-word calling, etc, etc. On June 6 of this year, there was a Black Lives Matter rally and march in that same town that drew over 1,000 people.

“It seems that the times, they are a-changin’. I was so inspired that night, I reached out to Dan from Imagine Dragons. The Bloody Beetroots and I had conjured a slamming track and within 24 hours Dan had sent back a completed vocal. We got Shea Diamond, a Black transgender woman with a long history of activism, on the track and the coalition was complete.”

Diamond, who sings on the track about being judged “like I’m just my gender” when she’s “a living soul” with her “own agenda,” praised her collaborators for putting “the ‘a’ in ally” while noting others practice only “surface-level” acts of solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community.

“When I hear people talking about being allies of the LGBTQ+ community, mainly in the Black and Trans community, it’s almost laughable,” Diamond said in the statement to Variety. “We watch them profit from our pain, making these surface level posts of solidarity — especially in music.

“When I think about Black Lives Matter and Trans Lives Matter, you don’t get to see any representations of collaborations — many would never share a post, let alone do a song together. So when I heard Dan Reynolds wanted me on his song, I nearly flipped. ... This is a proud moment in music history.”