Archive for the ‘identity’ Category

Believe it or not there are people of color who are fans of rock. Especially Black women. I am a woman of color. I am a Black woman and I am a metal head.

I am from Phoenix, AZ which is a mecca of multiculturalism. Not only is there a diversity of cultures, there is also a diversity of music. I grew up in the west valley of the Phoenix metro area. Not the shiniest of neighborhoods but helped develop me into the woman I am today. The majority of the west valley was and is still today Black and Latino. I grew up surrounded by rap, hip hop, Norteno, old school R & B.

I first discovered rock music when I was around 10. I saw the “Enter Sandman” video by Metallica. It scared the shit out of me. All I could remember was that driving guitar riff with the flickering lights from the video bore a lasting image into my brain. I would be afraid to go to sleep sometimes in fear of James Hetfiield would bust out of my closet bringing the sandman to life. After that, I began to pay attention to other bands of the era such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day among others. At the age of 15, I discovered Jimi Hendrix and my life changed for ever.

I had a part time job working at a check manufacturer. My supervisor was a Black woman, probably in her late 30’s at the time, was a huge rock fan. She listened to local classic rock station and that’s were my tutelage began. I was listening to great bands from the 60s and 70s such as Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, The Doors and of course Jimi Hendrix. From there, I began going back and listening the bands that were popular in my youth from the 90s. I absorbed as much rock music as I could find and loved every minute of it.

I stumbled into metal out of survival. My parents divorced the same year that I had discovered Jimi. As the months past, their trials and tribulations were over to me. My mother worked more to make ends meet. My father became an obstacle with his illogical delusions and paranoia. I became the parent to my younger brothers ensuring they had food, did their homework and went to bed on time. The pressure that I was under led to overwhelming stress to eventually a panic attack. What made matters worse, my parents disregarded my stress as being the typical rebellious teen.

To escape the stress I turned to writing, reading and music. The music that I was listening to became darker and more haunting. I would sit in my room reading classic literature listening to Korn and drifting peacefully into the music. Korn was the biggest influence during those turbulent years. From Korn, I began listening to other metal acts such as Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie James Dio, Marilyn Manson, and Slayer. I found myself from the piles of CDs I had collected from these bands and I have been hooked ever since.

My father thought this rock music thing was just a phase. Today, I am a 30 something year old Black woman, married with a child. One of my dreams is that my son grows up to become a member of a heavy metal band. But if he decides to become a doctor or an engineer I guess that would be okay too. The point is, this was not just phase. Metal saved me, defined me and gave me hope for a future.

If my old supervisor is reading this, thank you. Thank you for sharing your music with me. And thank you for showing me that it’s okay to be a Black woman who loves heavy guitars and driving bass lines. I became who I am because of you. I am a Black Girl Metal Head. \m/