On Being Black And “Weird”: 4 Articles to Read

I recently came across an article I read in 2001 about being a Black woman into heavy metal music. I remembered the impact it had on me and how much I needed to read something like this at the time. I was 22. Twenty-damn-two. Now that we have a little more access to connect to others who share interests that we were told Black folx don’t have, I’ve started gathering them to keep them handy for anyone who needs. I’m starting with these four. If there are others you think fit, please feel free to add it.

Sister Outsider Headbanger: On Being a Black Feminist Metalhead by Keidra Chaney

This is the aforementioned article. A new friend I made just as I was getting into graduate school handed me a copy of Bitch magazine and told me to read this because she thought about it after we met. At the time, I probably still wasn’t admitting that I did indeed like heavy metal, hard rock, punk and those other “white” music genre. But by then, I had discovered Jimi Hendrix and was beginning to understand that it all came from us anyway. This article is an excellent starting point for Black women dealing with their identities as Black feminist music fans. (You should also then go check out Laina Dawes’ What Are You Doing Here? A Black Woman’s Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal.

Why Black Weirdos Are Real and a Postracial Society Is Not by Charles Mudede

This article from 2013 is not so much about music or pop culture but makes reference to the Black Weirdo parties by THEESatisfaction. It profiles the duo along with Erik Blood, Asia Catherine Clark, Terrence Nance and a few others in the not-exactly Black Weird “movement.” However, for those of us into things like afrofuturism, nonlinear story telling, and other artistic endeavors, we are always having to negotiate racial and other identities in our art and lives. This article focuses on being weird while acknowledging we indeed do not live in a postracial society.

Being Weird and Black Doesn’t Mean You’re Interested in Being White by Heather Jones

This article is only a few months old but I only recently came across it. Jones’ motivation for this piece is a response to a Blavity post about being a “weird” Black girl. However, the article spoke mostly to being an outlier in the Black community and smacked of respectability politics. Jones explains that Black geeks expressing their interests are not doing it out of a desire to be white but to be themselves. This article is a good reminder that whiteness has no ownership over geek culture(s) and we as Black people are allowed to partake in every aspect of it.

A Black Woman Who Loves “White Folks” Music by Inda Lauryn

Okay this is a bit of shameless self-promotion because I wrote this. Quite frankly I’m still proud that it resonated with so many and every once in a while I still connect with other Black women who have had a similar experience. It is my personal essay of coming to terms that my music interests didn’t mean I wanted to be white and that the music has always been, well, ours. I discussed this issue of conflating whiteness and being alternative a little more in this article, The Issue with the Perceived “Whiteness” of Being an Alternative Black Girl, and also still make connections with other Black women who get it.

Whether you are a Black weirdo or geek, there are lots of us who have had similar experiences. Thankfully, we can share them now and realize we have always been here and we were never alone in our experiences. We accept each other and create safe spaces for ourselves. Please feel free to add to the reading list so we can bring even more of us into the fold 😉