This is the opening track from Freedom Highway, an album in which Rhiannon Giddens talks about different aspects of the African-American experience. The title of this song is a phrase from a contemporary slave advertisement that Giddens read. She told Uncut:
"That's an aspect of slavery that is the subtext for other things, and a song can apply to people in slavery today. I sang the song at a gala for an organisation that helps to free women who have been trafficked. Modern slavery is huge, and there are still women who have no control over their bodies and their children."
Giddens was originally going to title the record after this song as she felt it right to name the album after such an enormous topic as modern slavery. "Then the election happened," she explained. "And it just don't feel right anymore. So we changed it to Freedom Highway."
Fall Out Boy's "The Kids Aren't Alright" song title is not a reference to The Offspring's 1998 single of the same name. It actually alludes to The Who's 1979 rockumentary film called The Kids Are Alright.