You are a rockstar. You used to be my favourite rockstar. But not any more. I forgave you when you went to Afghanistan and played for the American troops. I thought that you were there to support the guys who accidentally ended up fighting in the war, not because you supported the war itself. But today I walked past a massive billboard with you on it. For Converse. I don’t know. I know I’m not perfect and that I’m a hypocrite, but being paid to be in an ad for Nike, wearing shoes made in sweat shops with child labour? And on that note, what is it with all these female musicians and their Nikes? Melissa and I were talking about it the other day, is it some joke we don’t get? Then again, male rockstars sell out all the time. Maybe it’s time the girls got paid.
Over the next few entries, I’m gonna write some short pieces about punk women of colour. I’ve recently become obsessed with finding out more and more bands featuring women & queers of colour in the riot grrrl/punk/diy music scene, and this has been partially fuelled by me finally getting my hands on the zine “Evolution of a Race Riot” edited by Mimi Nguyen back in the mid-nineties. Mimi herself has been a total inspiration to me, and I check out her website constantly, Worse than Queer, reading the archives she’s got up there about being a woman of colour in the punk/hardcore/riot grrrl scene. Added to this was my discovery last year of the band the New Bloods, and noticing that one of the band members was facilitating a workshop on being a woman of colour in the punk scene at a music festival, I think in Olympia. What else? Oh yeah, and I guess the fact that I am a woman of colour (I am mixed Fiji-Indian/Pakeha) who likes punk and riot grrrl, and the discovery of bands such as the Voodoo Queens who were mostly Indian (omg!!) and and and … there’s so many reasons and inspirations really.
I helped facilitate a workshop at Ladyfest Auckland held a couple of weekends ago entitled “Worse than Queer: women & queers of colour discuss “race” in alternative scenes” – which was partially inspired by getting angry at this lamely-themed lesbian night that occurred in Auckland the week before. The theme was “Take a Trip to the Exotic East”, and used sexualised, stereotyped images of Asian, South East Asian and Arabic women. Ok, while I know being a lesbian doesn’t give you a free ticket out of dumb-ass-ville, it was still disappointing to see that women of colour were even shut out of a women-focussed, women-loving space, so in our workshop we discussed our thoughts on race/skin colour/identity/power in different alternative scenes we were involved with.
It made me wanna talk more about this issue in the music scene, though, at shows and in zines and in conversations about record buying. I’ve never really felt out of place at any of the shows and things I’ve gone to, but then I’ve never really seen a band that really truly reflects my own image of myself, either, and I wonder what that would be like, to be able to go and see a band who have the same skin colour as you, playing music that you’re really really into? I wonder if I’ll get that opportunity in New Zealand? I mean, there’s the Coolies right, and they’re from NZ and that’s totally totally great, but what else? Who else? Let me think, there’s got to be others. There was Hollie Cook who sang with the Slits last year – she was amazing, I couldn’t take my eyes off her, just the pure amazingness of having a black woman on stage doing punk…Hopefully there have been others that I’m just not remembering right now.
Anyway, so that’s what I’m going to be writing about for a while. If you have any comments or recommendations of bands/musicians I should look into, send an email or leave a comment!! My plans for future posts go along the lines of:
oh I don’t know, and others! I’ll do more research. So til next time!