Depending on where you grew up —- say, from the middle school years through high school years — you probably didn´t know a lot of Black kids who were into punk rock. Not to get all Bill Cosby on you or anything, but when you grow up in certain neighborhoods, falling outside the ¨norm¨ just isn´t tolerated. There´s a whole sect of brothers who think Hendrix is some really exotic stuff, not socially accepted on some corners.
It´s all connected to the same vibe, the same origins and the same angst and rebellion, según yo. That´s why I like this week´s pick, James Spooner´s documentary, Afro-Punk (2003 ). While it´s a bit obvious in places, I felt it suffered from poor pacing. There were a lot of voices involved in the doc, and some great punk rock artists. It´s most astute on issues related to being Black in a punk environment, tackling some important topics such as the question of Blackness. How can Black kids in Southern California, New York City, Cleveland and Detroit, who are into punk somehow be considered ¨less Black¨? Like in my N.J. town, why do they get beat up and picked on, as they walk from school to their homes, wearing a Bad Brains, Slayer or Metallica shirt, in predominantly Black neighborhoods? Not sure if that still counts with today´s version of those same bullying kids, wearing colorful skinny jeans. Kind of balances things out.
Via the Google Video link:
Afro-Punk features performances by Bad Brains, Tamar Kali, Cipher, and Ten Grand. It also contains exclusive interviews by members of Fishbone, 24-7 Spyz, Dead Kennedys, Candiria, Orange 9mm and TV on the Radio, among others.
Spooner continues his involvement in the Afro-Punk space with a festival in Brooklyn. Check out coverage from last week´s Afro-Punk Festival in the NYT, SPIN, and NY Press.
For a more lighthearted take on what it means to be a punk outsider, watch SLC Punk! (1998).