I’m a black guy who likes metal and I have been listening to it since I was 12 years old. When people ask me what music I listen to, I tell them I listen to Metal and most of them are shocked and ask why do I listen to that kind of music. They usually think that all black people listen to Rap/Hip Hop instead of Metal. So I was wondering what do you think about black people listening to Metal music. Also, have you ever hung out with black people who are into metal in your life?
Thanks for writing (back in August!) and I’m sorry for not publishing this sooner (I wrote a draft back in Sept, and got busy buying land and forgot about it). I think this is an interesting topic and would be keen to hear others opinions.
I’m sorry to hear that people are STILL claiming metal is music for white people. It’s as silly as saying that hip hop music is only for black people. Sure, it’s got a lot of elements of what I guess you call “black culture” in it, but how many nightclubs populated by white trendies dance away to that stuff? Hip hop is fun, catchy, and takes people away to a fantasy world in much the same way metal does. Although the experiences of the band members themselves are often unique, the appeal is relatively universal. Ditto with metal.
I should probably prefix these rambling thoughts by saying that I am caucasian, but I am from New Zealand, so our experiences of race and culture will differ somewhat for those of people in other countries.
I know back in the early days of metal it was considered music for white, blue-collar men. The majority of the early bands came from this group, and so they wrote music that, naturally, spoke to their own experience and appealed to other white, blue-collar males. There never used to be that many black fans, in the same way there never used to be many gay fans, or many female fans, simply because the music didn’t speak to their experiences. But over the years the music has grown and matured, and now there a metal bands in every country of the world, writing songs on a variety of topics and playing for audiences containing hundreds of different faces and nationalities. Metal is definitely not just music for white people.
But it can be difficult to explain that to an outsider, especially given the fact that within the scene there are a lot of sub-groups with clearly racist views. I kinda figure, with any music scene, you’ve got to take the good with the bad, and much of metal music I find offensive, unpleasant or boring, just as you probably do, too. No genre is ever going to contain ONLY bands you deem decent. And I don’t personally, believe that liking metal music means you condone things that other metalheads say or the messages that certain bands promote.
But try explaining that to non-metalheads! The truth is, if people don’t get it, it’s unlikely anything you say will change their minds. Most people will assume that liking a certain genre means you agree with everything they say. To use an opposing example, my sister is a huge hip hop fan. She’s as white as a lily, but she loves hip hop and rap and all that. She likes some songs by some bands that say horribly offensive shit about women, that talk about shooting white people for the hell of it, etc. Does that mean she thinks women are only whores or that she should be shooting white people? No, it just means she enjoys the music. It means she can like some hip hop music while discarding tha which doesn’t work for her.
As for me, the race and/or skin colour of fellow metalheads is not something I notice, probably in part due to the fact that I’m colour-blind, and in part due to the fact that it’s not something I really care about. “If you like metal, you’re my friend,” applies to everybody, regardless or race, sex, age, gender, political opinion or socio-economic status. I think whatever skin colour you have, if you like metal, that’s cool, if you don’t, that’s cool too. I’m definitely a “the more, the merrier”, when it comes to the metal scene. While I guess my group of friends are predominantly white, there are a few people from different backgrounds – Indian, Indonesian, Chinese, etc, and they’re all treated the same as everyone else. I’ve never seen any racism in our local scene (doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, just that I haven’t seen it), and I don’t know any metalhead who, say, wouldn’t attend a show just because they might be the only person with their racial background there.
There are a lot of books and essays and blogs that discuss this topic a lot better than I could, so I encourage you to hunt them out. Here are a couple of links to get you started:
Metalheads Against Racism. A loose association of metalheads and bands who are against racism in the scene and promote an inclusive message.
There are a lot of these message on Youtube if you look for them.
Readers – I’d love to hear your thoughts on people of different races listening to metal? Do you think metal is still “white man’s music”? Have you ever experienced similar prejudice to the OP for your musical tastes? What, if anything, do you think can be done to help keep our scene interesting and culturally diverse? Do you WANT it to be interesting and culturally diverse?