The Whitewashing of Punk Rock

talk, Uncategorized

By Kayla Gutierrez



Bad Brains


In all honesty, every other morning I wake up paranoid. Simple paranoia that creates panic. Not for anyone anymore but for myself. That I won’t make it through anything in life because of my pigment.

Punk Rock has always been a huge part of my life, but as I was growing up, I’ve been humiliated and belittled for it, because of my skin.

The fact that in reality, there is bias in punk rock is discouraging alone. People of color can’t enjoy the music without being debunked for it; although the origins of rock music come from colored people. There haven’t been a lot of articles written by people talking about their experiences with the white-washing of punk rock.

My experiences weren’t easy; it made life a bit hard to swallow. At the age of ten, I remember hearing Bikini Kill playing on someone’s CD player; the volume was incredibly loud. I loved it so much that I began making harsh enjoyable movement to it; the person playing the music was a Caucasian female with faded purple hair. She turned to me and said, “I’ve never seen a black kid like rock. It’s kinda weird to me.” Her tone was playful, but I felt her strain.

As if she was territorial for the culture.

Not to long ago, I was standing outside with a friend and a group of pale goth girls came up to us; and proceeded to insult my black eye makeup. They told me it was weird how a black girl wears black eye makeup, and basically told me to take it off. Telling me I’m “stale and cheap” for trying to be goth.

Is it wrong for wanting to be who I am? Apparently so, due to the whitewashing of punk rock. The stereotype of colored kids is that we only dribble a ball, rap a lyric and be insanely ghetto; and it’s driving me off the wall.

Another time, when I was in the seventh grade, a couple, both white punk rockers, came up to me when I was waiting for my mother to pick me up from school; and began bothering me about me listening to rock music (my volume was too loud and others could hear it.)

The boy began saying that “a nigger shouldn’t be listening to Iggy Pop,” “black kids can’t listen to rock,” “stop trying to be like us,” whilst the female companion began laughing at the embarrassment.

After more insults, both of them began punching me and hitting; making me fall off the concrete seat that is provided for people to sit on outside of the school.

I fell hard on the rough floor, my earphones ripping off my ears, and cried silently. They took my phone to stop the playing music, and threw it at me.

They left quickly, I fixed myself up, and waited for my mother to pick me up.

There are incredible bands that are notable that have line-ups that have African-Americans, such bands like: Death, Pure Hell, Bad Brains, Suicidal Tendencies, Dead Kennedys, Fishbone, Wesley Willis Fiasco, Suffrajett, The Templars, and Rough Francis.  

I have been spat at, have been screamed in the face, beaten over, and rejected all because I’m black and I love rock music.

Yes, the Riot Grrrl movement in the nineties had primarily white women on their line-up, but those women stood up for all types of women, including the ones of color. These female musicians being able to express raw emotions on either the government, social injustice issues, domestic violence, sexual assault, and many more day-to-day problems.

Regardless of the media only wanting to portray white women in punk rock, these musicians didn’t forget punk rockers of color and in any other situation. And for that, I will always love the Riot Grrrls of this special, powerful movement.

They spoke for me, they screamed for me and to the day I die, I will not stop listening to punk rock. It made me stronger, gave me skin of steel.

Punk Rock is for everybody. It’s meant for all humans; this white-washing has destroyed that moral of rock n’ roll. It has turned such an ugly direction that has caused racism and hate; when really punk rock was made for people to understand that we all go through struggles and create an unspoken equality among each other.


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