... the other Black experience

AP Quickie: 'White Riot' Book Explores The Politics of Race In Punk Rock

'White Riot', published on Verso Books, offers a collection of essays about punk rock's intense relationship with race. Edited by Stephen Duncombe and Maxwell Tremblay, the book also features photos, reports, lyrics, and a foreword by Afro-punk movie director James Spooner. The official book description explains: "From the Clash to Los Crudos, skinheads to afro-punks, the punk rock movement has been obsessed by race. And yet the connections have never been traced in a comprehensive way. 'White Riot' is the definitive study of the subject, collecting first-person writing, lyrics, letters to zines, and analyses of punk history from across the globe."
Looks like the rebels also have their own internal riot to deal with, not just rebellion against the rest of society.
- L C-D

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Comment by AFROPUNK on January 24, 2012 at 3:35am
Comment by Lavita on January 23, 2012 at 1:27pm

Here's a clip of Don Letts ( black-british punk legend and documentary filmmaker) talking a bit about his experience in the early punk scene. It's worth checking out. His documentary Punk Attitude is also worth the watch.

Comment by The Deacon on January 22, 2012 at 3:01pm

BBC had a great history piece about the origins of Punk Rock; which is essentially a unity of outcast white and black kids (black kids that were mainly from Jamaican ancestry). People always found it unusual that the Bad Brains did Punk & Reggae; but when you know the history of the Punk movement, it makes sense. That's why the Clash did tunes like Police & Thieves, originally recorded by Junior Marvin. Steel Pulse was a big part of that Punk movement, though they didn't do Punk Rock. They took it down but maybe you can find it on Amazon or Torrent

But take what I'm saying with a grain of salt, there's always secondary and overlapping history with these things.

Comment by Hitch on January 22, 2012 at 2:21am

Reading some of these  comments, it's good to see a conversation about the internal conflict that takes place with being black. Race made it too difficult to be as involved in punk music as I would have liked ( I wasn't a big fan of the fashion either or I should say wearing it myself). Not listening to the music but going to shows and having people to hang out with that I can relate to as well. I found Afropunk at a time that I was strongly seeking more hip hop and some times listened to punk. I'd like to check this book out because I always liked learning about the different groups in punk that were so strongly against racism and were influence by black movements as well. The song White Riot comes to mind...

Comment by The Deacon on January 20, 2012 at 3:15pm

The only question I would ask is why would one expect the Punk Rock movement to be different than what goes on in greater society? But particular stories are always interesting. Honestly, the black Punks I knew (more like knew of) coming up couldn't give two shits about black people. They were more than happy to get away from anything black; one of the reasons some became Nazis. I knew of a Jewish Punk that was beaten, almost to death, by black and white Nazis. Sounds almost comical, but not when you understand self hatred. I think that's the other side of the equation we don't discussed in these forums. Everything comes off as black people mocked me for being different.

Comment by Double D on August 21, 2011 at 9:37am
To GuitarGrrrl76: the straight-edge white guys who bash boneheads that you've heard of is probably FSU (Friends Stand United/Fuck Shit Up). They're now primarily a defunct organization and though they certainly weren't a "gang," they did their fair share of work within the scene to weed out the undesirable. Trouble is, they eventually became undesirables given their penchant to deliver beat downs to anyone smoking a cigarette or wearing an article of clothing with the confederate flag emblazoned upon it. I'm not a believer in the south rising again, but I'm also not so inclined to damage a person for listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd. There are those, including myself and other multi-colored friends of mine, committed to disallowing Neo Nazi's access to our scene and plenty more like us. If you're ever in Philly, we'll hit a show together.
Comment by guitargrrrl76 on August 21, 2011 at 1:40am
I think I will definitely have to get this book. I try to explain to my white friends what it is like to be a black person into the punk scene. How before I go to a show, I have to research a band if I'm not familiar with. You never know the kind of shit that you can walk into. She tries to convince me that she goes through the same thing being a lesbian. My response to that is, the first thing people see when you go into a show is a white chick with a mohawk, same as dozens of other chicks. You have time to assess the situation. The first thing people see when I walk in is a black person. No time to assess the situation. I saw a documentary about a group of straight-edge white dudes that would fight neo-nazi skinheads at punk shows. The show tried to label these guys as a gang, but I'm thankful for dudes like that when I go to a show. I'd love to read about other people's perspectives and experiences.
Comment by malachi smith on August 17, 2011 at 7:41am
Looks like an interesting read, although honestly I probably won't read it. I just wanted to say, in response to Dan Hodges, that sometimes Black people will segregate themselves. I know this from decades of pushing against the grain myself - I was always trying to get my cousins and friends from school to come check out the hardcore matinees at CBGB's, the Red Reading Room to study the S.H.A.R.P movement - if not for the music, then for the politics or just to see what the hell was going on in the larger world. Punk like everything else develops it's little divisions, it's stylistic flashpoints and spin off sub -sub cultures...Black males getting a sense of a truer enemy, like the very alive and well Neo-Nazi, would mean an upheaval that America is just not ready for. Not that that's any reason to wait.  Just like the English riots which just jumped off, the bulk of what you see is people going for electronic products, and burning down indie label distro's! What can you say to that? On the White side of things, when the Clash had Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five open for them during the Bond's Casino residency, the majority White crowd booed them off the stage. People still just keep certain filters up, and those same filters are enforced by society at large. Check out this brief article, and all the different opinions it got out of people:
Comment by Bosanova Bill on August 13, 2011 at 10:26am
Looks like I have a new book to go and get.
Comment by Double D on August 13, 2011 at 1:48am
I am ecstatic over the opportunity to read this opus. As one of many white anti-racist activists involved in the punk rock scene for decades, I've always been intrigued by the concept of such a white-driven subculture being so committed to the idea of multiculturalism. Culture of environment and upbringing of course has much to do with the development of interest in music but I'm primarily interested in seeing how they tackle the topic of "unintentional exclusion." Having just this evening, come from the THIS IS HARDCORE show in Philadelphia and seeing a XXX hardcore band Youth of Today, composed of two white men, one puerto rican and one black man perform, I again find myself asking, why don't I see more of an African American attendance presence in the punk rock/hardcore scene? (Especially since the battle between neo-nazi boneheads and traditional & anti-racist skinheads is so ingrained in the scene).


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