neloner: How do you feel about the stigma that black people are only supposed to listen to Rap/R&B or “black” music? I pretty much listen to indie pop/rock only and I constantly get called “white” for it. How do we get rid of this?
Wow. This is a great question. I’ve dealt with this almost all my life. I grew up in a household where all types of music was played from rock to gospel to R&B to country. We had Smokey Robinson, Hank Jr., Whitesnake and Mahalia Jackson all being played on the same day. When I was a kid, I didn’t know anything about what type of music I was supposed to listen to. I just listened to what I liked. None of this “white music”/”black music” shit clicked until I moved to Georgia when I was 12. When I started talking to kids about shit like Whitesnake, Guns N Roses or Pink Floyd, they looked at me like I was playing a joke on them. Black kids thought I was a weirdo and white kids thought I was crazy. I really had no one to take me in except the nerds, the freaks, the few goth kids and the metalheads. Through these guys I learned about shit like Metallica, Cannibal Corpse and Carcass.
But this is also when I found punk rock. The whole outcast idea of punk rock spoke to me. But when I started rocking my Operation Ivy and Dag Nasty shirts to school, shit just got way worse. I was “that oreo” or the “black cracker” because I was listening to what they all considered to be “white music.” I dealt with that shit up until I graduated college in 1996. It’s sickening to know that these types of sentiments are still active in 2012.
Now, of course I’m not naïve enough to ignore the fact that some genres of music tend to attract more people of a certain race, but I think that has more to do with upbringing and social pressures rather than the actual music itself. Look at country music, for example. I love Merle Haggard. Always have. Always will.
One of my all-time favorite albums is “Going Where The Lonely Go.” Now, if you were a little more musically ignorant, you could easily mistake that album for one being sung by a black man. I’ve said a million times that R&B/soul and country music are easily close cousins. Listen to some of Otis Redding’s more delicate songs up against Willie Nelson’s “Red Headed Strange”r and if you can’t hear similarities, your ears weren’t made to listen to music.
A lot of black people won’t go to a Black Sabbath concert, but will rock a Jimi Hendrix shirt all day. Shit like that makes no sense to me. And when I hear these idiotic race classification comments coming from admitted Jimi Hendrix or Lenny Kravitz fans, it makes me wanna slap the shit out of them. They’re basically admitting that their criticism of music is solely based on race and nothing else. Let a white person say that a black Slayer fan is listening to “white music” and black folks would be enraged. But it’s perfectly acceptable for black people to say the same thing.
It’s weird that we make it perfectly acceptable for white people to be a part of hip hop culture, but it’s still an issue for black people to be a part of anything outside of hip hop and R&B. You asked how we get rid of this. I think the only way is for black folks to stop caring about what other people think about your music taste (blacks or whites). Listen to what the fuck you wanna listen to and fuck the people who have a problem with it.
The more black kids who take heed to this, the quicker it’ll get accepted. If there’s a large multitude of people involving themselves in something that was previously taboo, eventually, the masses will have no choice but to accept it. Look at skateboarding for example. When I was 14 and skating, it was not popular for black kids to be on a skateboard. You needed to be on the blacktop with a basketball in your hand. But look at skateboarding now. Black kids are a welcomed addition to the sport because the numbers of those involved increased.
So, my only advice to you is…do you. Fuck them.