hardcore in my bedroom.
I was asked to write about the hardcore scene and my experiences recently. I’ve written about a dozen drafts for this piece, and didn’t even know where to begin. I wanted to speak something poignant and real about the hardcore and punk scene, and what it means to me as a black woman but i don’t have much emotional energy right now. I don’t have much emotional energy for anything lately, outside of protecting my psyche and keeping my mental health as a priority. The murder of black people has always been a reality, but never before has it been so rampant and consumed like vine clips or snuff films. Only a few weeks ago did I see someone’s murder in my facebook timeline, like it was a video of a cute puppy or a silly clip that was on a reality tv show. I am having a hard time coming to grips with the idea of the hardcore and punk scene, and what it means to me.
No doubt my formative years were interesting and adventurous because of the music, being different and an outsider was something I embraced and cherished, especially since the outside status quo thought I was one anyway. I realized that my kind of outsider wasn’t and isn’t always welcomed openly in these spaces that are often heralded for being diverse and friendly. I spent many years trying to assimilate. I wanted so badly to be embraced by the scene that I spent my time, energy and money supporting, loving and caring about. More often than not my pleas and gestures of goodwill were undervalued or ignored. I am not unique in this situation at all. More and more people I talk to and meet both new to the scene down to the jaded folks like me, are tired of our voices being ignored and silenced. And they are almost always marginalized. In the last few years of me going to shows things got worse for me in the scene, so bad that I stopped going to shows. As a result I stopped really having a social life. I didn’t realize how much of my social scene was intertwined with hardcore and punk, or how people stop seeming to care if they don’t see you out and about at shows every week.
But despite being what I call boring now, I have gained my sanity. I never want to have to prove my worth to people, which is something I have to do constantly in society and something I should never have to do at a show. I grew tired of being the only black girl in spaces. I grew tired of people looking at me as the voice of black people, or the end all be all. I grew tired of correcting micro and macro aggressions and being treated as the offender, the assailant. I grew tired of spending my hard earned money to be overlooked and underappreciated. I grew tired of asking to make fliers, book shows, help bands and start them. I grew tired of having to prove my social rank, music knowledge or intelligence to be accepted socially amongst the crowd. It is personally hard for me to care or talk about things like hardcore and punk at a moment when they are extremely trival in comparison to the real dangers in my life as a queer woman of color. Hardcore and punk used to be the place where I brought those frustrations and woes and let myself free in the pit, on stage, in the crowd. Where I channeled and focused all of my energy and released it in order to keep moving on with my life that is lived through fortification. I am sure this isn’t the lovely dovey embrace most of us in the scene are used to reading or seeing in hardcore or punk zines. We are often so eager to point out the praises and the surface level positives, without digging deeper and seeing that some of the issues I and others face within the scene are rotten to the core. Hardcore is not a safe space, but it should be. I don’t have the energy or will to try to make it so anymore. I dedicated over a decade of my life trying to do so, advocating for those changes. It has not been easy, and things have not been changing as rapidly as they should or can. I also know that there are plenty of others who have more hope in the scene than me, that actively try their best and keep fighting each day at a time. I commend your strength and cheer you on.
That isn’t me anymore. This is for the ones people call bitter, jaded and out of touch. The ones who consider the scene trivial for a dozen different reasons and are always met with the same unity and community banter. I love hardcore and punk — it has changed my life for the better. It has taught me to stand tall, even if that means standing alone. It has taught me to be myself and to be proud, even if that means no one else is down. It has taught me to fight for what I believe in, even if I am fighting by myself.
And while I take those lessons with me into my future, there’s plenty in hardcore that I am leaving behind. I am leaving behind the racism, the sexism, the homophobia, the toxic masculinity, the rape apologists, the transphobia, the classism. I am leaving behind the legions of cisgender men who are using this as an opportunity to exploit and flex their societal power in a smaller space. I am leaving behind those who bully others just to get ontop of a false ladder. Because of everything that is going on in the world I am choosing to focus the energy I have on myself, my well-being and positive energy. I haven’t had positive experiences in hardcore in a long time, but I have hope for events like Not Just a Boys Club and others who the opportunity and ability to make real differences. I am hoping for the day that the younger generations behind me and those who still continue to participate in the scene actively try to make a change in their lives and in the scene. Until then however, I’ll be listening to hardcore in my bedroom, reading bell hooks and watching The Wire re-runs. At least in here I know that I will be heard, respected and safe.