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Excerpt: “Why You Listening To That White Sh-t?”

Writing this book, I found other black women who had felt rejected by friends, family members, or their communities because of their musical preferences.

At one point, I distributed a mass questionnaire, and nearly three-quarters of the replies described negative reactions to listening to heavy metal.

Many of the replies were predictable: “Many people say the style of music I like isn’t really music, it’s just loud noise. Or that I’m not black because I like rock or punk music.”

Others were encouraging: “Especially when I say I like rock, they think it’s like devil or white music. I find it hilarious. I revel in my musical tastes and find audio joy wherever I can.”

Some were unfortunate: “When I was younger, I was criticized for listening to ‘white’ music and told I was weird and [that] there was something wrong with me for being a black girl listening to rock ’n’ roll … [Then] I learned that black folks actually created it.”

And many stories were downright infuriating: “Especially when I was in my teens and twenties, comments from some family and friends if I was listening to rock or punk music were like: ‘Why you listening to that white sh-t?’ I once dated a white guy who grew up in a black neighborhood, and was trying to be ‘down,’ and he yelled at me for listening to Led Zeppelin: ‘Don’t you listen to any black music? Why do you listen to that white music for?’ — the funniest thing I ever heard. Now that I’m in my forties, I don’t tend to associate with anyone who is so narrow-minded about me or my tastes in life.’

From “What Are You Doing Here? A Black Woman’s Life And Liberation In Heavy Metal” by Laina Dawes [Courtesy Bazillion Points Books, 2012. ]