Video: “These warrior bones ache for revolution…”
Tamar-Kali – Warrior Bones Live at the 2008 Afro-Punk Festival. Source.
I killed a man today–do you believe me?
Still soaked in his fear and I know the stains will linger
I drowned my dreams today–can you forgive me?
The world’s weight proved too unbearable to keep a dream alive
Now can you help me remember who I am and what I am made of
What sacrifices paved the way for me to learn to fly
My name, and how I came to find my way home from disaster
And why there’s blood in my eye and I can’t stop crying
They make it worse when they tell you it’s for freedom
And you believe them
Imperialism, genocide, never a plan B
Someday we’ll all watch Armageddon on pay-per-view TV
Do you remember what it’s like to feel rain on your face that didn’t burn you
Drinking cold spring water that was clean and free
Reasons why you do what you do outside of money–do you remember?
And there’s blood in your eye and you can’t stop crying
These warrior bones ache for revolution
But the people ain’t ready
These pathetic souls yearn for revelation
But there’s no message, just silence
I was going to let this stand alone, but had to throw in that I was so glad to find Tamar-Kali through a recent interview at The F-Word. (That voice…) While I just haven’t had the energy to keep up with new artists very well the past few years, it irks me that this is so necessary if you don’t want more of the same. I was also totally unaware of the annual Afro-Punk Festival until I saw this video, which says a lot about the need for one. If that were anywhere near me, I’d definitely be checking it out.
A quote from that interview:
I definitely identify as a womanist/feminist. I live my life knowing my worth as a human presence on this planet could never be eclipsed by my gender, that’s ludicrous to me. Based on the power structure in which we exist I walk this planet in the path of the ‘other’ and my lyrics reflect that; my rage, my hopes and the challenges I face. I do not write with political intention but the fact that I am a black woman telling my story in the context that I do makes it a political act in itself.
Also throwing in another plug for Blackfire, while I’m at it. (Their own description: “Indigenous High-Energy Political Rock/Punk Sounds”–indigenist anarcho-punk, mostly. One disc of their last two-CD release was dedicated to Diné traditional music, which was pretty cool.) Both they and Tamar-Kali have rather good playlists available on their websites.
Asher Bauer’s Punk is Gay is also very relevant here. Good observations:
Being punk is supposed to be about messing with the status quo, which in the minds of some equates to flouting political correctness. Therefore, in a certain punk mindset, the vague idea of shock value makes targeting oppressed people OK.
I don’t know what’s so shocking about the word “homo.” I can hear it any time I walk down the street. I wasn’t any more shocked to hear that word at a punk club than I would be in any other public place, though I was perhaps mildly surprised.
I’ll tell you what surprised me more that it. It was surprising to me that one of the bands we saw was fronted by a woman, and another by a person of color. All the other bands were one hundred percent white male. The audience was at least eighty percent white male too, and apparently about ninety-five percent heterosexual.
And that’s typical. Punk has become such a straight little white cis boys’ club. At the average punk show we’ve got straight white cis boys singing about police brutality, about oppression, about lack of privilege, about how “we all get fucked.” And it comes across as little disingenuous. This is not to say there aren’t class issues affecting some of these guys, though its hard to know which ones, since affecting poverty or a working class ethos is the norm in this scene. Unraveling class in punk is a headache, not something I have time to do in this article, which makes my analysis imperfect. No matter what, it’s still really weird for the cis, white, heterosexual male take on things to be so over-represented in punk rock, which is supposed to be music for society’s outcasts.
From what I know, punk was always pretty damn white, and pretty male dominated, but it didn’t always look and feel so heteronormative…
Homophobia is not punk rock, but I think homosexuality is punk as fuck. You wanna talk about challenging the status quo? Let’s start with the gender binary. Let’s start with the patriarchy. Let’s start with the omnipresent assumption that boys are boys and girls are girls and they are made for each other, always. Because one of the reasons I am drawn to punk rock is because I see it, potentially, as a great big middle finger in the face of conventional masculinity. The archetypal punk guy, in my mind, doesn’t buy into machismo — in fact, he resents it because he sees how it tries to control him.
I am just getting totally fed up with more of the same old middle-class, dominant (mono)culture, straight White male experience and perspective. (And, yeah, I am so fucking sick of hearing about police brutality and oppression in general from that multiply privileged demographic.**) It gets boring, besides not having much to do with me or the majority of other people. To put it mildly. I just don’t have the time or energy to go more into gender/race/class/etc. issues in punk or in rock in general right now–nor how some of this shit helped discourage me from doing more music for any kind of public consumption. (I am trying to work past this and do what I need to do.) But all of that helps make me wearier, oh my yes.
* I don’t think this is full of mondegreens, but with my auditory processing, you never know. I couldn’t find any already published or transcribed lyrics.
** Even if Penny Rimbaud has some very good points in this video about how things seem to work in the UK with social conditioning keeping people down, from what I’ve seen as a difficult-to-pigeonhole outsider. Most oppressed nation? Hardly, and that did not come across well at all. Entirely too good at convincing people this stuff is their own idea, on top of just The Way Things Inevitably Work? You betcha. Coming from a totally different background, the classism still astounds. And it does work out a lot better for me when I’m read as eccentric in a “not much to prove, closest American equivalent to a ‘real’ upper class” way, oh my–besides being funny as hell. 😉 “Their bearing is noble and proud”#, indeed.