Make space for POC in punk. Support black artists. Support xicana artists. There are more than a few killer local bands in Seattle, not to mention the plethora of punk coming out of Olympia right now. In most cases, these bands are wholly, or the majority of the members are, white. Consequently their fans and friends tend to be white as well, resulting in a non-inclusive crowd who, ironically, love to boast about liberal politics for social capital (more often than not, there is little to no physical manifestation of their proclaimed values, i.e: actual activism and support).
The white majority in punk has a lot to do with racially fueled possessiveness over the birth story of the genre. It’s a topic that tends to be divisive, as most punks don’t want to admit, or genuinely are oblivious to (because they did not personally experience) the overwhelming whiteness in the DIY scene. Coming to terms with it may be uncomfortable for white punks especially. Quite frankly, those individuals’ comfort doesn’t matter in this conversation. The space allowed for us as white people is listening room only. Listen to what the punks not actively represented on stage have to say. Uphold their experiences as truth. It is more uncomfortable to be a person of color in a white dominated space than to confront your own racism and exclusionary lifestyle.
For the aware folx who wish to be better allies to people of color, specifically punk musicians of color, I present to you a peek at the exhaustive, but ever-growing, catalog of diverse punk, post-punk, goth, and metal bands which I am always looking to expand. Know of local acts that I ought to include? Let me know! Send me a Bandcamp link, show me the merch. In 2018 we are supporting musicians and artists with all the little love in our hearts as well as all the spare cash we have to offer.
Before you ask, it’s pronounced “EYE nuh-co.” They’re queer punks shredding more than just guitars. Melodic tunes explore themes of personal trauma, racist and homophobic oppression, and abuse. Though the project was created out of boredom, it has become, as stated on the band’s Facebook page, “a venue of self-expression and opportunity to seek solidarity with others living in the margins.”
Imagine 80’s DIY Punk and Riot Grrl politics, but inclusive. Women of color have always been the heart of the punk movement; they live the anger, oppression, and hardship white men only sing about. The three bada** women of Big Joanie actively dissect POC erasure in the punk scene. Their music is a battle cry, one echoing years of pent up frustration, or flat out infuriation. Big Joanie is a self protection measure; the band is a safe space for those who have not been given their deserved platform by punks.
Frontman Rob Watson says his lyrics are not for white people, and he doesn’t care what they think. As he bluntly put it in an interview with American University, he “[lives] to make white people uncomfortable.” Pure Disgust, Watson affirms, isn’t a political statement; it’s just his life as a black man.
Sick Sad World (Chicago)
This band’s Facebook page reads more like an activism guidebook. Sick Sad World is a bilingual rhythm and rage five piece band. Anti-oppression, anti-capitalist politics shape their music; their values are reflected not only in their art but in lifestyle. These punks show avid support and promotion of their marginalized or victimized mutual friends. They were recently featured in an independent film Anarchy Nowadays speaking about their experiences being punks of color navigating the world and, more specifically, white-washed music scenes.
TCIYF (Soweto, South Africa)
TCIYF are skaters turned thrash punks hailing from Skate Society Soweto. I won’t say what the acronym stands for, but it’s worth a Google search. Disaffected African youth is their audience; rebellion is their message. No doubt the racial divide in South Africa is experienced more harshly than here in the United States, but these punks have continually affirmed their passion for the genre. While their sound conveys explicit messages of activism and anarchy, the young members deny race as an influence for their music. Punks are punks, regardless of race. Politicizing their identities is inevitable—given the white domination of punk music, when an all black band breaks out into the mainstream scene, people are going to pay attention—but policing their process is inexcusable.
Wizard Apprentice (Oakland)
Honest, transparent, and multimedia proficient artist—she’s an independent creative with a mission. Wizard Apprentice describes herself as an extreme introvert; her art is a coping mechanism to ease the emotional burden of living as a black femme in this overwhelming world. Aside from her musical creations, Wizard Apprentices publishes a personal video journal on YouTube in which she unpacks and addresses difficult personality traits. Her Youtube channel, linked below, also catalogs personal performances and showcases the works of other queer artists.
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