Monday, January 31, 2011

Your Pretty Cool...For a Black Chick: The Backhanded Compliment

(Warning: This Is A Whiny Rant)


Any black girl into this scene has gotten this comment. I guarantee it.
Or the Oreo reference. (If you don't know what that is-look it up).


I've also received:
"Wow, your really pretty for a black girl".
"I've never met a black girl like you"
"Your skinny for a black girl."
"Your the nicest black girl I've ever met"
"I never considered dating a black girl until I met you "


Yadda yadda, these weird pseudo-compliments.

Apparently they come from a good place but if anyone ever seriously gave you a "compliment" like this, would you be pleased or mortified?

You can guess which one I am.

I'd say 75 % if this dribble comes from guys and the other 25% from girls.

Although I'm not a fan of the band Straight line Stitch I like to keep up with them because they are the biggest upcoming metal band fronted by a black girl...ever. At least that I know of.
Sometimes it frustrates the hell out of me reading the comments people write about them...and by them I mean her. Just peruse the Metal Sucks topics on SLS, as well as YouTube comments. on their videos.

It literally makes me sick. It must drive the lead singer crazy.

I don't know how many comments I've seen about her being a heavy metal Beyonce (of course, the only black singer they could come up with) or her 'whipping her hair back and forth' better than Will Smiths' daughter. All of these references are irrelevant because the girl has a heavy metal soul. I don't have an issue with them comparing her to Jada Pinketts' band Wicked Wisdom so much because I can understand that.

This issue is obviously due to her race. Plain and simple. No tip-toeing around it. And she's a female.

I think the issue with blacks in metal-the core issue-is that we want to be treated just like every other metal head and not bombarded with these tags and labels that confine us to the place we are trying desperately to escape.

I know, that equality shtick is such an overused motif for the black race but in this case it is extremely important. I hate harping on this crap but every time I see a glimmer of hope in humanity I read a few comments on YouTube and am thrusted abruptly back into the ignorant mass consciousness that we live in today.

I guess I should say unconscious rather than ignorant. They don't think its a bad thing to say but its not necessarily good either. And, I realize its a "free" country-anyone can say what they want (behind the safe glow of a computer screen-much like myself) but, call me crazy, I always try to think about what I write or type before I commit it.

To black people (and the other enlightened handful) into the scene, the lead singer is just a pretty girl who fronts a mediocre metal band. That is all.

To everyone else she is a surprisingly pretty black girl that fronts a nu metal band that isn't that good but that's okay because she's fuckable.

And for the record if the girl is pretty, she MUST be mixed with something for the person to have found her attractive let alone human.
I even weep for females in general when I read the comments comparing her to bands that don't even share the same genre within metal but because they are both female fronted-we have to compare and decide who is better. As if females don't compare themselves to each other enough already.


A few more points I want to make:

*I realize that not everyone thinks this way. Most of the time when I generalize in the blog, I really mean what I believe the mass (as a whole) of metal heads are thinking. There are exceptions in every minority and majority.

*Not to call black folks out but like I've said before-we don't help our own situation. I'm definitely not saying anyone should contour to anyone elses' sense of standards. However, I believe if most people are stereotyping us a certain way-that may be an incentive to change a bit, yes? I know that's a hard pill to swallow but just think about it.

So, any black girls that read this blog, post your own ridiculous back handed compliments you've received and lets compare. I'm positive that you have gotten your fair share.

I will close by saying if at any point you have thought of saying any of these "compliments" to a girl/guy-regardless of race or have said them; perhaps you should edit either black, white, brown, yellow or girl/guy out of the sentence and rather put person, woman/man, or human being.


"I am not an elephant! I am not an animal! I am a human being! I am a man! "

22 comments:

and then there was METAL said...

i have noticed alot of my friends say things like this to black people that listen to metal. always makes me kind of laugh.

-Heavy Metal Playlist

Oxymoron said...

Lol :) yeah I've definitely experienced this.

'You're pretty... For a black girl'
'Wow! You speak English SO well'
'You're such a coconut'
'You do realise that you're black right?'
'Why are you trying to be white?'
'Why do you listen to music that white boys listen to?'

Those are the ones I can remember

Lainad said...

Ha!

I agree with you - I'm not a fan of Straight Line Stitch but I applaud what Alexis is doing, and I do not read the comments on YouTube - I'm afraid I'd have an aneurysm. As a black female metal journalist I usually just get stared at, but a couple of things people have said to me;

"So, you're really white."
"Don't you people have your own music?"
"This is our music!"
(When standing in the photo pit at an Ozzy show), I got "look at THAT - isn't that weird?" by a white girl. If I hadn't been holding about 2 thousand dollars in camera equipment, I would have punched her out.

Actually I love being in the photo pit at a large show. The looks of pure envy and hate I get from white folks is priceless. They want to know why I am there and why they are not - it's called hard work, people and it's my job!

Or they start listing off black women musicians - they always list Jada and then they stare into space.

helluvadrug said...

wow @ "this is our music," and "dont you people have your own music?"

I dont think i would have handled that well at ALL, bypassing the history of blues and how rock and roll (and damn near everything else) evolved from it.

but ive definately gotten the classic "you speak so WELL!" (after explaining institutionalized racism to an 'interested intellectual') and "your pretty for a BLACK girl."

were all victims of the white supremacist social structure and the aftertaste called ARROGANCE.

Nuclear Mamba said...

Oddly enough, I don't think I've really gotten too many gotten comments like that outside of the internet. Usually, the "You're ___ for a black girl" is kept online, for which I am thankful for. However, the less blatant situations still exist in my real world.

For instance, in my guitar class last year, I explicitly said on the first day that I was interested in metal when the whole class was asked about what music they were into. I even wore an Opeth shirt to class one time, and yet, people were so surprised when I actually *knew* something about metal.

Also, when I was in my mid-late teens, my coworkers and "friends" would call me the dreaded oreo. A friend of mine even said that I sounded "white" on the phone. Interesting.

All in all, this makes me wonder what kind of people you live around to get all of these nasty comments. I was caught in disbelief and shame by what you experienced in a good portion of this blog. But, then again, I would probably face more of these back handed compliments and such if I actually went to metal shows as well. We shall see!

helluvadrug said...

you definately may. im going to see Finntroll in a few days, and considering the type of audience their music caters to, im expecting more than a few stares and sideways comments. hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Adrian said...

I don't see how anybody could think comments like that are a compliment. I'm technically white (I like to refer to myself as European because I'm an immigrant) and I have never even thought of saying that to someone of a different skin tone than me.

Actually I've had kinda the reverse happen to me on a couple of occasions when people have come into my car and heard my metal cds playing. I've had a girl of Guyanese and Spanish decent say "oh you listen to that crazy white boy music" when she heard some metal in my car. I had this other girl, who was black, turn off my cd, switch to the radio, and say "I'm not listening to that devil music" when she came in my car and I had a an Arch Enemy song playing.

VSM said...

"Your the nicest black girl I've ever met" actually sounds very reasonable after reading how Lainad would like start punching (white) people just for looking at her. There's one or two mentions of this just in the first page of his blog too, so it seems to be chronic. I am no expert in this but if I've understood correctly there's a common stereotype about the angry black woman in USA (just saw the Super Bowl pepsi ad), and well I suppose these stereotypes don't just come out of thin air.

However, I definitely agree that these "compliments" are rather odd if you try to impress somebody.

Lainad said...

VSM.......First, I'm a woman.

Yeah, I stand by my comment ( for a second I was debating whether I should have used my 'inner voice' on that), but naw, I do feel like punching someone out when they act ignorant, especially in these times when young people shouldn't be so racist and stupid. I do not like being referred to as 'THAT,' like I'm not a human being.

Ahh, the dreaded "angry black woman' stereotype. I dunno, I think that while my non-violent prone sistren might resent being lumped into that stereotype - which serves to pronounce the assumed differences between black and non-black women, and hearkens back to the belief that blacks, most notably black women should not be entitled to share a dissenting opinion or express themselves - foibles and all - to the majority. Fuck that shit - I actually love it.

Music is music, and people should be allowed to enjoy the music they want to, attend concerts and partake in the music scene without radicalized, sexualized stereotypes - some that can lead to violence. I'm not going to lie down and take bullshit. If you want to, that's cool but the whole running into a corner and crying or ignoring shit and not addressing it with people, doesn't seem to do a whole lotta good.

The Black Girl into Heavy Metal said...

@Everyone-I'm gone for a few days and I come back and there are a crap load of comments.
@VSM-She wasn't seriously going to hit any body. It was an exaggeration. I don't know why but if feels as though if a black girl gets angry for any reason (even if the situation seriously calls for anger) the context is taken extremely far because she is black. It's like everyone thinks we have some passive aggresive rage inside.
@Lainad-Usually I'm a calm person but I feel as though EVERYONE has a right to be pissed if the situation calls and rightfully so. It's not that black women as a general rule are angry, bitter, or have some attitude. I honestly think we just don't take crap that perhaps other submissive type of women would take. Men don't particularly often like strong women, so any women that is aggresive in love, business, and sports is seen as masculine and even 'angry'or obnoxious. However, I'm not defending women who are naturally this way because that is just their personality but to lump an entire race and gender together based on a few encounters or the media is as agreed-bullshit.

VSM said...

BGiHM,

If you read her blog you can see that she constantly makes violent remarks towards white people for slightest reasons. If that's not racist I don't know what is.

In my opinion everybody is free to express their opinions, but when disagreeing with someone and the first thing coming to your mind is to start beating people up then I definitely suggest to look in the mirror if you're searching for the reason why others might think you're crazy.

Stereotype doesn't mean that all the black women are the same. It doesn't even mean that the majority of black women are the same. It can simply mean that a significant minority (the louder you are the more people seem to notice you) of black women act this way and when reading the thoughts of Lainad and seeing a couple newsflash about black mobs attacking news reporters (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfYoJnlVxMM) I wouldn't be suprised if people tend to be wary. Media ofcourse shows only one side of the truth, but the truth all the same. It isn't some evil white conspiracy if black people acting violent are caught on camera.

Lainad,

I tend to think that if the only way you can show that you don't take shit is to act violent you must either have very low self esteem or you're just dumb as fuck. Try using an argument next time (no, yelling "racism" is not an argument).

VSM said...

Hmm, my comment disappeared.

Pitbullgirl65 said...

this is our music," and "dont you people have your own music?" bypassing the history of blues and how rock and roll (and damn near everything else) evolved from it.
Jesus **white people (we)can be assholes. If I heard someone say anything nasty to another concert goer, I'd definely call them on it. **It's too bad examining white privilage isn't something that is taught in public schools.
I love your blog, and I'm a heavy metal fanatic too. I have been seeing more poc at heavy metal venues, which is fantastic. I can't imagine the shit they've heard from idiots. Maybe a bingo card could be made?

The Black Girl into Heavy Metal said...

@Pitbullgirl65-Welcome to the blog. And thank you very much for reading. I'm still amazed at the number of people who read the blog.
Everyone can be assholes, especially if they come with a entitled mentality and I agree that they should be called out on it. That applies to all races of people.
Fellow female heavy metal fans unite (*rings activate!)
I've been seeing more and more poc at concerts every year and it always makes me a bit hopeful that black people are getting more adventurous. Oh yeah, and I'm sure a card could be made with all the similar comments we have received one way or another.

Lainad said...

VSM.....whoa.

The personal attacks say more about you than me.

I do feel that it is unfortunate what you take away from my blog, but you are so completely off the mark and foul with your comments, I really do not know what else to say. Don't read my blog if that is what you are getting out of it, I guess.

I apologize to BGHM for these comments. It is a blog to talk about black folks in metal, and metal in general and not a place to make personal attacks and to promote divisiveness. VSM, you can send me a message through my blog if you want to continue this further, otherwise, I think that out of respect for the blog owner, we need to end this here.

KaT NapPy505 said...

ive gotten pretty much all of those "compliments."
"youre very pretty for a black chick"
"you talk very proper, thats surprising!...no offense."
"wow, your such an oreo" (that one always grinds my gears.)
and i do know they mean good but sometimes i cant help but to feel alittle hurt by them. espicially the town i am currently growing up in(country town, pretty closed minded people.) i can see that.....i guess.
btw, i love this blog. :)

Seany Genovese said...

I've yet to get "backhanded" compliments(or maybe I have and was too aloof at the time to notice?), but I don't care if people notice or point out that I'm a Black guy that listens to metal or says "That's cool, I don't know any(or many) Black people that like metal, thus you're pretty awesome!" I take it at face value, and I see it as an acknowledgement of my uniqueness. Where most Black guys are out causing a ruckus and congregating on street corners, I'm in a circle pit or crowdsurfing.

Maybe someday I'll meet a passive aggressive racist guy who says "Oh, I didn't know your kind listened to Metal." or something along those lines, but I'll pay him no mind. I've got plenty of friends who value my friendship and metal-ness, race aside. Yes the obligatory "Oreo™" jokes are made, but I initiate them sometimes, and I'm not one for PC. Keep on keeping on, something cliché like that. ;D

Seany Genovese said...

Ah... I just noticed I'm the only guy who has commented on this... O_O

 ¨.HEGG.¨ said...

yeah you're right that was a whiney post, but I get you, I really do. I'm also a black metal chick. Oh the racist jokes, gotta love em >_>

I've never gotten any of those back-handed 'compliments' before. I guess the jokes are funny enough. I just laugh along coz then i don't wanna be labelled as the angry black chick :|

we should talk more i think, have a rant and such, see ye around

Lexi Lex said...

Seany hit it dead on with what he said about how the "backhanded" comments are more of an acknowledgment than an insult. I myself at times poke fun at myself and go along with the "oreo" comments. I think they're funny to me.

Beccy said...

Hi there! As always, I find these blog posts very interesting, as I am somewhat in a similar "situation" as you. Being the ONLY black girl in a white circle of metal heads (I'm talking about clubs and such). But I've never really gotten any back-handed compliments about my race.

Well, sorta from one of my best friends (the first metal head I hung out with many years ago) and he had a crush on me. I guess the subject was about black women in general, and he told me I'm the most beautiful one he's seen. I didn't take that as an insult, since I knew he liked me and we're great friends and all. *shrugs*

Oh wait, there was one time where I was in a metal/goth club (which I have frequented for years) when a "new guy" (not a metal head) knew the guy I was hanging out with. We all sat at the same table, and the "new guy" said:
"Oh, you're dating a black girl! - Well, she's really pretty."
Right there... I was sitting right. there. in front of him, and my friend was clearly feeling awkward and didn't respond to the comment and I was just "what the fuck was that?!", and left the table shortly after.

That's about the only times I recall any back-handed compliments.

Melissa Angelik said...

Yeah I got this kind of ridiculous commenting back in high school because (shock!) I'm a latina who happens to be a metal head and gothy. Oh what HAS the world come to! (Rolls eyes.) I happen to like Straight Line Stitch and good job Alexis for just going on.
On an off topic note, I hate that music can be categorised by race. Watching Kelly Clarkson be part of the latin Grammys (last I checked she was white and not latin white, American white) is irritating. Would they ever give accolades to Tom Araya? Would Alexis get credos from BET? Nope, these people don't follow what is "latin" or "black" music. Ridiculous!