If Not Now, Then When?
Updated: May 20, 2021
I started my first band when I was 16 years old and I started my first zine at 16 years old. I was stoked that oldheads were stoked on me. I recognized that I had a crucial voice and enough pent-up aggression to try and make a difference in a scene that seemed severely lacking in the diversity department. There were not, and quite frankly are not, enough voices with a large platform that could share the perspective and the knowledge I had that I wanted to weaponize to support my community in its growth.
Unfortunately, current events in the hardcore scene have shown that, while there have always been political undercurrents to the mere existence of the scene itself, the systems of oppression that aid in the marginalization of others are so deeply ingrained in us that they fester within our subcultures as well.
In the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement, hardcore has launched its own upheaval of misogyny and racism by bringing it to light at the largest scale we’ve seen yet, and this is just a fraction so far. As any powerful movement exists, naturally there is dissent in rejecting the status quo. Most recently that dissent arises in the argument that women in the scene speaking up about their sexual abuse at the hands of the men allegedly on their side is inappropriate due to the timing in the midst of a general revolution for Black lives. This idea that women finally feeling empowered to speak up is taking away attention from the Black Lives Matter movement is, to put it bluntly: batshit insane. As human beings, we are absolutely able to focus on more than one issue at once and for one to believe that you must hyper-fixate on one single issue at a time is an insult to human intelligence.
At its core, Black Lives Matter is about an upheaval of systems deeply rooted in bigotry. We cannot fight for Black liberation without also addressing the capitalist, patriarchal society in which we live. These systems are rooted in exploitation, one cannot fall while the others remain. The gut-wrenching death of Oluwatoyin Salau is a perfect example of this. She sought to find refuge in a world in which she was abused while fighting for the lives of those around her. She was abused by her own family and attempted to find shelter away from them, but when you’re young and poor you don’t have many options for where to go. Capitalism and misogyny are complicit in her death. If we want women, especially black women, to ever feel safe we must destroy everything that allows our lack of safety to persist.
In the grand scheme of things, hardcore is merely a microcosm of the world around us, it is simply a direct reflection of greater society just not as mainstream. This means that even while we scream about fighting for change, all forms of bigotry are so ingrained in our society that you cannot assume you are immune to enacting them just because you listen to guitar music. It is not enough to write lyrics about unity and how much racism sucks without doing the work to unpack, unlearn, and effectively dismantle. Many are complicit whether or not they have been aware of it. In the fight for Black liberation, we view things through an abolitionist framework that requires some form of community monitoring and community-based action. The police have shown us that they are not afraid of committing war crimes against protestors while aiding and abetting pedophilic sex trafficking rings, so no we are not acting like the cops by calling attention to the fact that misogyny and racism still run rampant in this scene no matter how woke you think you are for listening to breakdowns. If we cannot talk about the rampant sexual abuse along with racism in our scene now, then when? If not in the middle of a global pandemic in which our government has shown that they do not care for human lives in the slightest, during one of the largest civil rights movements we have seen thus far, then when? Let me know.
Bryanna Bennett is one of Digital Future's newest contributors from Chicago, Illinois. You can find their band's music here and their art here.