2.14.2017

RESISTANCE 101

NYLON curved me on this article because it "doesn't fit their editorial tone." Whatever, man. What can I expect from a website with Lena Dunham posted on the front of it? So here, enjoy it.

Resistance. That's a one word summation of the Black experience. Every act is one of resistance when your existence is political. American dominant culture is rich, suburban, straight, cis, and overwhelmingly White. When your great grandparents are slaves it's hard not to live a life that is political. Wars were fought over your bloodline's right to be treated like human beings. In the present day this makes simple, small acts become vehement protests of culture at large.

When I shave my head, I am protesting.
When I wear bamboo hoops, I am protesting.
When I go to college in hopes of being a doctor, I am protesting.
When I listen to Migos and twerk in the club for fun, I am protesting.

The thing about dominant culture is it doesn't stop at oppression. It wants you to either assimilate or go extinct. So, when I embrace Black culture I am resisting. Respectability politics is how they get us to assimilate, thinking if we abandon what our elders taught us we'll be accepted. The ugly truth is that no matter how little or how much slang I use, I'm still a second class citizen. Once I attain a degree and become a doctor, I'll still be a second class citizen. Why let them strip me of my culture that is so beautiful just to win a facade of favor from them? It's nothing more than a pat on the back for being a good monkey.

All of that is just inherent resistance; it's as easy as falling asleep. As an active member of the DIY hardcore community I find myself often countering counterculture. Navigating the punk scene as a nonbinary Black person is about as difficult as any other aspect of life. I'm tokenized and if I'm not being tokenized then I'm likely being patronized. The difference is punk gives everyone agency. I wanted to book shows so I did - I didn't need to ask permission. I wanted to start a magazine so I did - no "green light" required. I'm respected now because I worked hard for it. In "real life" I could work twice as hard to only end up with half of what everyone else has.

Of course there's the question of bigotry in the scene. The only answer is that nothing is perfect. Subculture is just a microcosm of society, the same problems are bound to exist on some level. The only difference is that I know my peers here work daily to make it a safe haven from the world. I feel safer presenting the way I want at a show than I do at college or even at home. There's too much good to focus on the bad in a way that isn't trying to fix what's wrong with this scene.