WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?: A Black Woman’s Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal by Laina Dawes TP

Product Description

“A fantastic book”—AOL Noisecreep

“Thoughtful and inspiring”—Publishers Weekly

Eight Must-Read Heavy Metal Books, Phoenix Sun-Times

What Are You Doing Here? investigates how black women musicians and fans navigate the metal, hardcore, and punk music genres that are regularly thought of as inclusive spaces and centered on a community spirit, but fail to block out the race and gender issues that exist in the outside world.

“The first time I heard rock music it was really exciting. I felt that this new music and vibe was really me. I remember going to bed and having dreams that I was performing this music and visualizing myself on stage, way before it actually happened… What always appealed to me about rock music is the feeling of freedom, that I could finally be who I wanted to be and sing the music that I felt in my heart. Some black people that I met in the music industry felt that we could be stronger and better empowered if we all stayed within in the same box, but I had always relished the fact that I never belonged to any cliques, or any scenes…”—Skin, Skunk Anansie

“I wanted to find other black women like me: metal, hardcore, and punk fans and musicians that were rabid about the music and culture and adamant about asserting their rightful place as black women within those scenes. I wanted to find other women who put aside the cultural baggage that dictates that we must listen to certain musical styles, and simply enjoy the music that influenced us, not just as black women, but as individuals who grew up in an era when, thanks to technology, a large variety of music is accessible and available to everyone. I found many black women and have shared their stories, but I also realize there is still a lot of work to be done.”—Laina Dawes


“Who Put That Shaven-Headed Black Woman on the Stage?” Foreword by Skin

Introduction, by Laina Dawes

I. Canadian Steel

II. Metal Can Save Your Life (or at Least Your Sanity)

III. I’m Here Because We Started It!

IV. So You Think You’re White?

V. “The Only One” Syndrome

VI. Too Black, Too Metal, and All Woman

VII. The Lingering Stench of Racism in Metal

VIII. Remove the Barricades and Stagedive!


Appendix: “What Are You Doing Here?”—The Survey

Laina Dawes is a music and cultural critic, and a Ph.D. Candidate in Ethnomusicology at Columbia University. Her writings and photography can be found in various print and online publications in Canada, Europe, and the United States. Born and raised in Ontario, she lives in New York City.

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