I finally finished the piece on my history on being a black female in the metal scene. Below is the first draft. Please make comments for any improvements. Hope you enjoy! 🙂
What is it like for me to be apart of the hardcore/metal/punk scene?
Music has been apart of my life since I could remember. I feel in love with the rock genre at the age of 10. I was needless to say a “weird” kid. I loved all things that were different and all music… Except country (just can’t get into it).
My “entrance” into the scene was in 1998-1999, when I saw KoRn and Staind on the sic and twisted tour. It was my first concert and I was too excited for words. It was that “new feeling” and I knew I would be changed forever! I went with four black females, my friend from school (who was also a weird black chick) and her two cousins. That concert made me feel less alone and part of a secret world that only few understand. Needless to say, I feel in love with metal and concerts.
As the years progressed, my musical taste evolved to a heavier sound. I craved to see and listen to black people (particularly females) in metal or hardcore genres. Then I discovered Candiria and God Forbid. I was happy to see a speck of color in this genre however, still craved more.
I came of age in a time when there were a lot of black people in the metal scene. I realized that this what not the norm when I branched out from Philly and now I appreciate the small mecca in the metal scene of Philly. At 14, I decided I wanted to start an all black female metal band. After making this decision, I devoted myself to playing music and learning guitar. I didn’t meet my musical soul mate until I was 15 years old. She had green hair, an awesome hippie coat, shiny black combat boots, and was from Harrisburg .. Her name was Chante. When I met her, I knew things would fall into place and it very much did. She had two black girlfriend who were into metal and also musician thus Roullette was made. Although the band was not complete outfitted with all females, it was still an all black metal band.
Discrimination and Undertones of Racism
The name of the band, Roullette, was addressing racism and the music industry. The name suggest, the world, should take a chance on us. I know, cheesy, but it was the early 2000s. It was basically a continuation of the 90s. I never felt true racism in the scene until I started playing music. It felt like you had to prove that you’re a metal-head and prove that you’re a musician. That band was my way of telling the world that black girls can rock too! However, despite the racism, the major problems for black females in the scene is sexism.
The worlds perception of black females are that you are either, overly sexual or the asexual mother/mama figure. There are no in between. In the metal community, this is just the same except its more a perception of beauty and femininity, either you considered a whore or not sexual at all. At shows, it was always a toss-up of are you being protected/respected inside the pit. Some guys look at you, just like any girl and other feel like you are just another dude. Sometimes the pit can be a frightening place. It’s always a question of if I fall we someone pick me up… I wonder if other people of color feel the same way? I think people of color have developed a sense of “feeling out” a show to determine if the pit is going to be a safe and fun place.
As a female musician, it hard to get respect, especially playing heavy music; however, as a black female, I feel like sometimes your skills are dismissed and not appreciated, no matter how talented you are. There are a lot of issues in the scene for black females; however, there are many positive and empowerment features in being apart of the hardcore/punk/metal scene. When I played in the band, I felt strong and empowered. I felt like the baddest bitch in the world and I was not to be disrespected. I believe that metal builds a character that is strong and worthy of respect. I love hip-hop (old school) but in a blink of an eye women were de-valued and uses as pawns. I hope one day this will change, that there will be women of all color respected and represented in all genres.
I believe that my experience in the metal scene as a black female is complicated. Like life, things are complicated. It took a long time, from the conception of this article, for me to really analyze my experience in this scene. I faced a challenge of explaining something that I am passionate about. I read, What are you Doing Here? A Black Woman’s Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal by Laina Dawes, before writing this very brief history of my metal story. It gave me the courage and direction to complete this piece. Dawes writes a witty, honest, and inspirational book. I recommend people of all colors, backgrounds, etc, to read this book… it really good! I hope that this is a beginning of breaking down barriers for the black female rocker and musician.