[published in Issue 4 of Silence]
Profile name: respectfulchild
Description: “Non-binary Woman of Colour, violin and noise maker, always with an apple”
More specifically: Friends of Colour
Especially: Female, Queer, Trans Friends of Colour
Seeking friends who like music (Ex: the respectful, non-culturally appropriative kind, etc.)
Seeking friends to go to shows together
Seeking friends who make music, so I can be front row every time you play
Seeking friends who make art that isn’t based around the experience of being a straight white man
Seeking friends who have a complex relationship with their race and this “multicultural” country
My status: it’s complicated, but I’m open to new relationships
I have grown tired of listening to music made by white people, hearing poetry made by white people, seeing art made by white people.
It is everywhere.
I woke up this morning and tried to name the people of colour in our music scene. I got to maybe 12. When I listed the women of colour, including myself, we fit on one hand.
Is local music just a thing for white people, especially white men?
on race & identity
My life is bound to race. It doesn’t matter if I’m consciously noticing it in some sick-twisted way to intentionally alienate myself, or if I’m just trying to enjoy the show. I feel it. It finds me.
I once told a friend, “There are times I forget I’m Asian until it gets pointed out to me.” And they responded, “I forget you’re Asian all the time!”
I know they didn’t mean harm, but their words denied an essential part of me and made me realize how white-washed I have become. At the expense of being a part of this white arts scene, my cultural identity is fading and I’m blending in as a result. Race may be a social construct, but it’s also essential to my identity.
I do not want my Asian self to be ignored and erased, so don’t tell me that it doesn’t matter and that we’re all the same. I also don’t want my Asian self to be the only thing you see in me. I am Asian, and I am proud of it. But I am also so much more.
I need to be seen as Asian, but not only seen as Asian.
How often have I attended a concert, only to be hit with the realization of the sexism and racism in the music or in the room. How often have I been one of the few to notice these things. How often have I been one of the only women of colour present. How often has this made me feel discomfort and fear.
How frustrating and terrifying. How alienating and disappointing yet again.
It makes me not want to attend shows. It makes me feel lonely when I do.
I worry that I don’t belong. Telling me otherwise means that you are missing the point. This isn’t about just me. This isn’t about what you personally want to say to me. It’s about what this scene says to me and people like me. It says that this space is made for white people, and you can enter it, but you have to conform to us. It won’t come to you.
It’s not that people of colour don’t like local music. It’s that most of us feel that we aren’t meant to be there.
What about the other women of colour that we don’t even know because they’ve never felt comfortable enough to attend a local show or play in a band?
They don’t see themselves on stage. They don’t see themselves in the crowd.
I want to go to poetry, an art reception, a concert, and not feel in the minority.
I don’t want to feel like an anomaly. I don’t want to be a delicacy.
I need to see more of me in those around me. I need to know I am in a space that is safe from sexism and racism, but also a space that I can relate to. I need a space where I feel safe to express and enjoy myself. And I am not the only one who feels this way.
This scene is white by default. This scene is male-dominated by default. This scene is straight by default.
Our culture is white, male, and straight by default. This scene is just a reflection of that.
We need to switch off our default culture. We need to be intentional about what culture we want to create. Otherwise this scene will default to white, and me and my new friends won’t be there.
— email@example.com —