... the other Black experience

Photo Essay: My Punk Rock Youth 1987-1992

Looking through their eyes / it was hard for me to walk / walk / as I judged my walk / as stiff and “white” / and hated myself. / I saw myself / through their eyes / on the / Football field / Basketball court / Baseball diamond / Hell of high-school gym class / stumbling around / in ignorance of the rules / and fear of the hurtling spheres / and I judged myself / a useless faggot.

Words and Photography by Albert M Frank III

(Lubbock, Texas 1986)

I saw myself through their eyes

talking to white kids

and it appeared both

that I hated being black

and that I was better

than those black faces

watching me.

(Hanging with the outsiders. Lubbock 1987)

I saw myself in my

outdated boot-cut jeans

and leather jacket

as a nerd and

a freak.

Something beyond


(The only other black south side punk I knew, Chicago 1988)

I saw my delicate face

and thin limbs

and heard my “proper” talk

and saw myself as

a victim waiting to happen.

(He wound up stealing all my girls)

I saw my thin frame

trying to remain invisible

as I walked the halls

between classes

only to wind up hunched

over a spiral binder

drawing comics, while

the teacher talked on about


(My parents tried to make me them)

Through their eyes

I saw myself walking

stiffly to the stage

in my graduation gown

to the deafening sound

of no applause.

(I tried to make friends with everyone in my dorm. Some were too different.)

And later, through other eyes I saw

my nappy hair and

full lips

set against

the sea of punk rockers

all white.

I saw myself trying to be

punker than them

to camouflage the blackness.

(Winter love, Chicago 1988)

Through their eyes

I saw a strange dreadlocked

black man in an elevator

maybe a rapist

or robber

probably ignorant.

For 40 years I missed

everything that was

right in front of me.

half my life sacrificed

to the beast with a million eyes.

(Proto Emo. Texas Tech 1986)

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Comment by blanka on August 5, 2011 at 9:56am
Very compelling words and images! I love the whole "seeing yourself through the eyes of others" theme, almost cataloguing how self-damaging this is. Also nostalgic for late-eighties chicago, as i spent summers and winters there in my tender junior-high years!
Comment by Binky B on August 5, 2011 at 8:53am
This is amazing!!  So powerful.
Comment by The Charmed 1 on August 5, 2011 at 12:33am
Speechless!! That was awesome. Thank you so much for sharing! I hope all is well now.
Comment by Casanova Frankenstein on August 4, 2011 at 3:25pm
Hey if y'all like the writing then check out what I posted a couple of days ago:
Comment by Cami C. on August 4, 2011 at 2:42pm
Love this story.  Thanks for sharing the pics.
Comment by Winston Scarlett on August 4, 2011 at 12:13pm

I really dig this. Great mix of mediums! I tried to write a poem dealing with similar issues when I was studying Creative Writing at a 95% white college campus in the middle of nowhere:


It's hard, but I wouldn't be anything other than Black & Alternative if I could.

Comment by Fashionfreak on August 4, 2011 at 10:38am
Even tho it is a little more acceptable today we still have these same issues going on idc what anyone says it's STILL hard being black and alternative.
Comment by Fashionfreak on August 4, 2011 at 10:35am
WOOWWWW BRAVO! this was amazing! Words can't describe how powerful your words were. We need more like this!
Comment by Chantel Venessa on August 4, 2011 at 7:29am

I really love this!! Brilliant

Comment by Casanova Frankenstein on August 4, 2011 at 12:31am
I had to get out of dodge. Going to a small Texas city was shocking, but the funny part was that the white students in my dorm thought I was the coolest thing they'd ever seen. Well, most of them.


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