Barbarous Book Club

What Are You Doing Here?: Book on Black Women in Metal


What Are You Doing Here

It’s no secret that women and black people are few and far between in the metal scene; metalheads like to consider themselves an open-minded bunch, but one look at the comments section of any post on this site will show you that we’ve still got a long way to go. No one would know better than Laina Dawes, a metal journalist who has written for Metal Edge and Exclaim, among others,  and published a book this past fall called What Are You Doing Here? on her experiences growing up as a black woman in rural Ontario, Canada.

NPR’s Morning Edition — America’s 2nd-most popular radio program (!) — ran an interview this morning with Dawes about her book and what led her to write it. You can, and should, stream the entire 7-minute piece over at NPR (they’ve also got most of the transcription available at that link); Dawes is an intelligent member of the metal community who I had the pleasure of sitting on a SXSW panel with a couple of years back. Here’s an excerpt from the interview:

In black communities, music is so integral in terms of a storytelling mechanism. Back in the blues era, African-American women were actually able to talk about their hardships and sorrows through music, and be very personal. [The same is true of] hip-hop because it’s also obviously a black-centric music form. When I was in my 20s and hip-hop was coming out, a lot of black people felt that if you listened to hip-hop, that means that you’re really black, that you’re proud of yourself, that you know who you are. So when black people listen to ‘white-centric’ music — which is rock ‘n’ roll, country, heavy metal, punk, hardcore — it’s seen that they are somehow not proud of who they are.”

Order a signed copy of What Are You Doing Here? directly from publisher Bazillion Points for just $14.95.

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