“Better Than We Found It”
Written by Jessie Jo Dillon, Maren Morris, Jimmy Robbins, and Laura Veltz
Maren Morris doesn’t break new ground with her take on a protest song, but she does a great job showcasing the importance of being an ally.
“Better Than We Found It” is a more than adequate rebuttal to “Love it or leave it,” making the obvious point that wanting to see your country change for the better is a noble form of patriotism. I give Morris tremendous credit for not being mealy mouthed, as she explicitly articulates the threats that black Americans face because of systemic racism in policing. It may not have the visceral power of Rhiannon Giddens’ “Better Get it Right the First Time” or Mickey Guyton’s “What are You Gonna Tell Her,” but it serves the important purpose of validating the experiences captured in those songs, rather than dismissing the lived reality of black Americans who have faced injustice in their community.
The desire to make her own son proud is a powerful framework for her moral awakening, and it points to a larger truth that the song subtly implies. Simply put, remaining silent is not remaining neutral in the fight for justice. Choosing not to use your voice is still taking a side, because silence is always in service of the oppressor. Speaking up has social consequences within white spaces, but the more of us who do it, the easier it is to dismantle systems of injustice.
You can’t do that with just a song, even one as good as this song is. But it’s a start.