bITS 'N CHUNKS
Dare I say black-black metal.
Well, ship mates, I intended to do this post a LOT earlier in the month, but like quite a bit in my life this cruel quarter of the year it fell by the wayside. BUT I refuse to be late at least in my own time zone, so I wanted to present you all with my favorite subject to digest during February: black people in places we don't usually belong!
As you might realize from my tags and music posts, I'm a big metal fan. Specifically, speed/thrash, groove, some of the early nu-metal when it was still cool and not at all derivative, industrial (and regular Industrial), prog... I could go on. I am and always will be some sort of metal trash.
But in the year of our lord T'Challa 2018, I don't need to tell you that POC representation in the metal scene is... lacking. Ironically, not really in the audience itself, but still on stage. I and many (many) others whether as hobbyists or professionals do these lists of black people in metal every so often and each year it's a struggle. At one point it was so bad that every black-specific list had to be expanded out to include everyone black and brown for coverage. I feel like for every ten years there is one or two more new bands that crop up. A lot of the problem is exposure but a bigger part of the problem that's KIND of getting solved is simply location. For example, a few years ago we learned that many African countries have quite large metal scenes. Do Americans see this? Probably not. Do people in Canada know about goregrind in China or Trinidad & Tobago? I'm willing to bet "no" unless they're on the look out for it.
So, there's that. What do these lists do? Bring attention to the issue and, hopefully, encourage you to go find more for yourself. Finding lists like this and trailing down the bunny hole definitely helped me find my way as a young'un and made the world seem less lonely, so I wish to pass that on to others. For more, I suggest BandCamp and the extremely arbitrary but useful Metal Archives. For reading I suggest Laina Dawes' What Are You Doing Here? memoir.
Now, before you hit the Read More you might be wondering, why black people specifically? There are groupings of all POC in music scenes out there, this seems a little specific. And the true answer to that is, representation and visibility matter E V E R Y W H E R E, I like to see people like me enjoying the things I enjoy, and lastly, why the hell not.
So here we go, a short list of black-black metal artists that inspired my young life. Oh, and song recs.
It's about that time again...
Southern Underground Pro careened into the Basement East once again on Feb 25 and as their social media accounts can attest to, we're all just happy this show even fuckin' happened. Really. The crew went through some biz that probably would have humbled anyone else but they didn't fold. A-men.
I mean, I can relate. 2018 hasn't exactly been my year either, yet. To me, perseverance is to thrive + finesse, and this show persevered in every sense of the word.
So the event happened, but, uh... what had happened?
Well, hello again friends!
I apologize for my absence, I've been wanting to do a little website work here and there (namely ironing out my blog tags and overall website presentation) but shit's been happening and life got in the way like it does. The reason I'm daring to show my face right now besides the fact that it's charming is...
Recently, I've been able to participate in a couple of projects based around religion/spirituality and marginalized groups, specifically black & brown (or POC if y'all hadn't ruined the label already) and trans people of color. As a nonbinary person I do fit in somewhere on the trans spectrum and that's been one thing I've been trying to come to grips with. Do I "deserve" to be trans? Because I present femme a majority, what does it really look like when transphobic violence affects me?
The thing that helped me a lot in transitioning emotionally was meeting queer elders first. It's one thing to participate with people my own age, but seeing the elders of any scene is a reassurance of resilience. And trans elders are incredibly important as statistically, the average life span of trans people is horrifically low and plummets for trans women, and plummets lower for black trans women.
Simply put, it is fucking dangerous to exist as trans. It is not nor has it ever been nearly as fun or easy as cis folk might think. When I see my black trans elders, I defer so much and I am so grateful. In my case, my nonbinary elders are by and large white which kind of says a lot about its own situation, but even then I am grateful.
For this most recent interview project, I felt heartened because I was invited in by someone who identifies as genderqueer, which was my original orientation until I shifted over into the general spectrum of NB. Coming to terms with myself in those times, there was the question of whether NB people belonged under the transgender umbrella and that was incredibly scary. It came from cis people (lol why are you HERE?) and it came from other (binary) trans people as well. Seeing my elders then made me feel a little better but it just felt like there was no home. I was told every which way to go start my own and after a while I asked myself did I actually need the trans label? Was I just being selfish?
So I lived without. In a way, I still live without. Not sure if that makes me a coward or not though I lean towards yes. It felt really good to have that confirmation from my own community that "yes, you belong here" but old habits die hard.
The old habit of dwelling miserably on presentation. For a week I thought about my appearance. I didn't want to femme it up because then I just look like a girl. I'm not. I should be allowed to do that and still accept my gender ID, but I feel like social media puts so much focus on NB femmes slaying for the gods and I don't feel like being fetishized anymore. Then I said, I'll just go masculine. But again, why? What does a truly neutral appearance look like? I'm not against it, but I had to consider my appearance as well.
In the end, I settled on what you see up top. I used a simple foundation and finishing powder and lipstick. For some reason, whenever I take casual trips outside I end up in a sleeveless turtleneck and jeans. That worked. I wore heels too, because y'know? Yeah. I felt good. I felt workable.
Prior to this, I had a conversation with a friend on Instagram regarding representation and feeling. I feel like all trans people go through the phase where we ask if we look trans enough. If we look how we feel. If we're passing and how much of our lives we put out there. What's at risk for not looking perfect and sometimes for even looking one hundred percent. And if you don't wish to pass or look traditional? God, god! It's easy to mull over for a long time, especially if you're someone like me and you've not had any fellow trans friends in real life. I do now and I suppose I could have always had them, but I was so frightened of looking... I don't know, regular. What does that mean? This is the kind of stuff you mull on without community. It sounds stupid as hell out loud but you really go through it. I don't want people to have to go through that for years on end and so I'm offering myself up on the altar of representation. Because representation matters and visibility, for better or worse, is important.
Ia! If you've come this far, you're either looking for weird or you know you've found it...