The events of the past couple of weeks have been well-documented everywhere, and I don’t wish to add my own cutting analysis of that – and nor am I in a position to – but it has created an environment of soul-searching, particularly in the music and entertainment industry, and those issues raised go way beyond the idea of #blackouttuesday.
/Repeater/001.1/Experiences of Women at Gigs
/Repeater/001.2/Experiences of Women at Clubs
/Repeater/001.3/Experiences of Women as Performers
/Repeater/002/Lessons and Questions from Twenty-Two Years of Gig-Going
/Repeater/003/Is Fan Entitlement a Problem?
I should clarify my own origins, lest they get confused. I come from a multi-racial, multi-national background. My paternal grandfather was black, as far as I’m aware Brazilian-Italian and born in northern India, and came over to the UK as one of the many immigrants from the Empire in the mid-1950s. He married a white woman from Brighton and served in Germany in the British Army – as did my maternal Grandfather (who was white and British). From what I’ve discovered thus far on my maternal side, I appear to have had generations of my family serving in the British Army overseas, and at least one such ancestor may have been involved in putting down the Siege of Lucknow.
But in some respects, that’s irrelevant to my own experiences. I’m a white, middle-class male with a professional job, married to a white woman – and my other partners are white too. I have white friends, I have non-white friends, and I work with a mix of people – many of whom who have origins and life experiences very different from my own, from different countries, places and cultures.
Which as far as I’m concerned, is an important thing. Do you know that idea about bubbles? If everyone has the same interests, the same experiences, you learn nothing. You don’t find out new things, get new experiences, broaden your horizons, and most importantly, you don’t get your views and perhaps prejudices challenged.
And this brings me to our “scene”. Let’s make one thing clear now – in the UK at least, the Goth and Industrial scene are overwhelmingly white. It is a scene that takes influence, mainly, from other white artists, and is often resistant to change. This is hardly unusual – the European scene is not especially different. A mention of the fact that I have a keen interest in drum’n’bass and hip-hop, for example – both genres I’ve been listened to since the nineties – never mind the more recent evolutions into dubstep and grime, will see polite indifference or outright distaste.
Interestingly, though, the early days of industrial, often intertwined with punk, was perhaps more multi-racial than the current Goth and Industrial scenes but had an uncomfortable habit of flirting with far-right imagery much too often. It does make me wonder, how much of the playing with imagery – of which there has been a lot of – pushed away non-white goths?
How do we change this? I don’t have the answers to that. But a better understanding of the issues others face – from the tiny things, like a throwaway comment that offends, to the structural things in society that engrain racism – would be a start. Not dismissing other people’s views just because they don’t correlate with your own. Other things: voting with the facts, as opposed to “gut feeling”. Voting for change to ensure that we don’t get the trash-fire Governments that we currently have in the UK and US, unable and unwilling to deal with the major issues they face. But also, confronting your own views, and understanding how to accept and change.
But most of all? Listening to the people that are experiencing these problems. Don’t dismiss, listen, understand. As others have said, we need to be allies, allowing people to speak, protest, and lead change. We as allies need to support that, and to help move the politics toward a fairer discourse and a fairer and more just place to live for everyone (and this applies to issues of gender as well as issues of race, it should be noted).
/amodelofcontrol.com is a proudly anti-fascist, anti-racism and pro-inclusivity site, and the only time I will write about or feature artists with questionable views are where I will be putting them to task about this. While this site perhaps originated as a website where I covered industrial music primarily, it has long since widened the scope to be my window into the musical world, and I will cover and feature any music that I feel is of interest and worth writing about – regardless of racial origin, gender or country of origin. It also remains a site unencumbered by advertising and is entirely self-funded, so any views are mine and my alone (or if I’m quoting someone else, they are their views).
Also worth reading: I Die: You Die with black artists in “our thing” to support on Bandcamp, the same site’s podcast this week on industrial culture and race, and this Spotify playlist shared by Alex Reed of Seeming is a great primer on goth and goth-adjacent music of black origin.