by Jay H. Gorania
I was beyond stoked to see the complete original Black Sabbath line-up in Dallas (with Pantera opening, no less!) in 1999. Just prior to Sabbath’s set, the female half of a middle-aged couple showed their racist inclination for no apparent reason in the midst of a pleasant conversation. Looking me up and down, obviously noticing my dark complexion, she said, “You’re what they call a transplant.” I believe what she meant was “immigrant” or “foreigner.” I’m not overly sensitive, so it didn’t really bother me.
When the four metal Gods took stage and kicked into their evil hymns, I went berserk, banging my head like a madman. Apparently my behavior was too outlandish for the couple that seemed more at home at a bar with a juke box filled with Lynyrd Skynyrd, the man pulling the woman tightly to his chest as if to protect her. “You’re a weird (F-word) (N-word),” he exclaimed before they quickly walked away.
I can only assume that it’s because I’m physically larger than the average North American male that this is the only time I can recall facing racism in metal. But even though metalheads pride themselves for being outsiders, the underground metal “scene” is in many ways subject to the same norms and patterns of behavior underlying mainstream society. I assume that if I wasn’t bigger than your average dude, I might experience more prejudice. I hope I’m mistaken.
There are obviously pockets of prejudice, naturally, as it is an underground movement that stands at odds with regular society (facilitating the National Socialist Black Metal movement, for instance). Yet that isn’t very prominent. I can’t help but wonder, though: Do visible minorities, of any sort, face prejudice on a regular basis? Dear reader, I’d appreciate your feedback.