I’m a black female metalhead
I can’t really tell you how it happened. Maybe it was growing up in the ’80s, being fed a steady diet of Ratt videos on Chicago’s quasi-MTV uhf station. Or maybe it was coming of age at the same time heavy metal reached public consciousness as the Voice of the Disgruntled Adolescent White Male. Sure, I wasn’t white, male, or even particularly angry as a 10-year-old—but I recognized the force of those electric guitars, relentlessly pounding drums, and growling vocals. Even then, I knew that heavy metal was power, and power was irresistible.
But if nothing else, we get the chance to screw with people’s heads a little, by messing up their image of who the “average” metal fan is supposed to be. That’s a victory in itself, and damn fun, too.
But metal did empower me. Because the music was so far away from my experience, it didn’t place definitions on who I was or could be as a black female. When I listened to Metallica or Corrosion of Conformity, I wasn’t a “bitch,” a “ho,” or some anonymous jiggling booty in a rap video; I wasn’t a woman who needed rescuing by some dream-date pop star. I was someone who felt weird in high school, who wanted a place to belong.
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