What I found most interesting in both Greg Tate’s “Black Rockers vs. Blackies who Rock” and Michelle Habell-Pallán’s (MHP) “Death to Racism and Punk Revisionism”   was how poorly minorities were treated in the rock music scene.

Tate talks how the music industry use genre to separate black people from most popular music. Black artists are portrayed as being shunted into “black rock” like funk rock and soul music and are thus being marketed exclusively to black people. The artists never received air play on the radio unless they conform to the sound the industry proscribes them. If they did not sound like Michael Jackson rip offs, black artists never got much attention. It denied black artists their chances at stardom, but also stifled the discussion on rock and roll and the roles of minorities in it.

MHP discusses a somewhat related idea through a discussion of the Hollywood punks and their treatment of Alice Bag after she said the LA punk scene developed as the Hollywood punks became less accepting. Since the Hollywood punk scene’s main narrative was about being a scene that accepted all, they did not like Bag’s description of the Hollywood punk scene as being racially divisive. They attacked what she said as “punk revisionism” and as “playing the race card.” .Punk fans insulted and tried to discredit her. Though Bag was trying to have an honest discussion of race, the punk purists would have none of it.

In both cases, minorities are suppressed in the music scene. Even if they are visible, their voices have to be in line with the scene’s view of things. They could not go in their individual way.

I do think it is necessary that minorities have their voices heard in the music scene. They deserve acknowledgment of their contributions to music and the chance to tell their stories and be part of the main music narrative.