Black Voices – Rich Wilson

On Tuesday June 2nd, I, like many others, posted a black square to my Instagram with the #BlackOutTuesday hashtag. Almost immediately I realized that this was not nearly doing enough and that if I truly feel Black Lives Matter then I have to do something more. I figure something I do have is my modest platform here at DC Heavy Metal. With that in mind I started reaching out to some of my black friends to ask them if they’d like to make a guest post on DCHM. I told them they can write something, make a video or audio recording, share links, literature, whatever. The subject matter of each post is entirely up to them, it does not have to be related to metal or even the DMV area. This is the third of this series of posts I’m calling Black Voices and I hope you take the time to listen to them. You can find all the posts in this series using the Black Voices tag here.

For this post I reached out to Rich Wilson, the vocalist of local metal band One Slack Mind. He decided to share this very personal post about how police violence has affected his family. I think it is important to be reminded that the people affected by police violence aren’t just in distant cities but also live here in our community, going to metal shows with us and even taking the stage too. Please note that you can also read the full transcription below the video.

First of all, Chris, I would like to say thank you for doing this. It was a great idea and… respect.

I was planning on doing probably three or four stories but I decided to narrow it down to one. I feel like a lot of black families have a story or an event or some sort of huge event that’s happened in the family history that informs how they feel and perceive race, the police, race relations, etcetera, so here’s mine.

When I was about four years old I remember that my parents, we were living in Brooklyn, and my parents said to me, “we’re going to be moving to your grandparents’ house,” my dad’s parents, [my] grandmother and grandfather, “to help out your grandmother” but I never knew what they meant. I didn’t ask. I didn’t think to ask and I just knew that she needed help somehow so we were moving there. So we moved in there and I remember that being enjoyable. She gave me piano lessons and I remember I used to get up early in the morning and see my grandfather off to work and all that. So I found out, maybe six years ago, five years ago, that the reason she needed help is because my dad’s older brother, my dad’s the youngest, he had a brother, Linwood, who was three years older, and he has an older brother than that, Clarence. I found out the reason that she needed help was because she was distraught, she was inconsolable regarding her middle son, Linwood, being killed by the police. And in July of 1972, ’73, something in there, and so I knew that my uncle had been killed by the police and that there was some sort of a, something foul went down and it wasn’t justified but I didn’t really know, I still don’t know that much about it but, I had my kids interview my mom and that, a lot of details came out then and I found out that he was shot in the temple at point blank range and that he had powder burns on his face and this only happened maybe a block or two away from my grandmother’s house. So she had to go out of her way to avoid, it was July, and his blood was all over the sidewalk. My dad told me that it went to a grand jury but nothing ever came of it regarding… I mean as you can imagine that happens a lot. Nowadays I can’t imagine how often it, you know nothing ever came of a improper shooting in the early 70’s.

A memory that I had while thinking about all of this for this video, a memory I hadn’t had in 30 years, was that, I used to wake up I think when I was living there or I could come there during the summers also and I would hear my grandmother talking loudly to somebody and I would think, “oh I wonder who is here” or what have you, and I’m creeping down the steps trying to find, figure out who she’s talking to and she was praying. But it was a, almost like a Old Testament, God why have you forsaken me and taken my son, type of like wailing type of situation and this is something that I would, this happened many times when I was younger and I totally did not remember this until I started thinking about the whole incident. I talked to my dad about it today and he told me that, I guess as he’s going through different things, he found my uncle’s resume that he was preparing. He had graduated college and he was home and he was either going to get a job, he’d also been accepted into graduate school as well. So that was all going on and then he was snuffed out.

Anyway they say [to] say their names. His name was Linwood Wilson.

Linwood Wilson

Black Voices – Crushing Boo

On Tuesday June 2nd, I, like many others, posted a black square to my Instagram with the #BlackOutTuesday hashtag. Almost immediately I realized that this was not nearly doing enough and that if I truly feel Black Lives Matter then I have to do something more. I figure something I do have is my modest platform here at DC Heavy Metal. With that in mind I started reaching out to some of my black friends to ask them if they’d like to make a guest post on DCHM. I told them they can write something, make a video or audio recording, share links, literature, whatever. The subject matter of each post is entirely up to them, it does not have to be related to metal or even the DMV area. This is the second of this series of posts I’m calling Black Voices and I hope you take the time to listen to them. You can find all the posts in this series using the Black Voices tag here.

This post is another video, this time by my friend Crushing Boo. I think just about everyone involved in DC’s DIY scene knows who Boo is but even if you don’t I hope you can appreciate what he has to say about his experiences with heavy metal and police profiling in this post. You can read the full transcription below the video itself as well.

Hey Chris. Thank you for giving me a chance to tell my story.

I remember the first time I heard Napalm Death and thinking, “wow it’s really cool that a band can be brutal and talk about intelligent things that affect all of us.” I loved, you know I love metal I loved, you know, the evil shit but it was really cool to see a band that was socially and politically oriented with their songwriting and their lyrics.

I also remember the first time I heard Suffocation and I opened up the CD book for Effigy of the Forgotten and saw the band photo and was blown away by Terrance Hobbs and Mike Smith. You know, seeing these two black men just obliterating, shredding the shit out of the world musically and putting on an amazing show live. And one of the things that I also loved about the metal scene is, when I was a kid you, well when I was a teenager, it was possible, at least in the DC area for some of these bands when they came to town, to be able to hang out with them. So it was great to be able to actually meet like Barney [Greenway, vocalist of Napalm Death] and it was cool to like be in the same room and drink beers with the dudes from Suffocation. That was not without its downsides. I definitely remember the N word being dropped by the singer from Deceased and basically setting Mike from Suffocation off and almost ruining a really good time. And it’s really sad that in a scene where everyone hates authority [and] wants to buck the system that you can’t get past dumb shit like that.

So that being said, I want to tell a story about the first time I was ever profiled. Now [I’m] 19, a big ol metal head, baby dreads, black t-shirt, black jeans, black combat boots and waiting at the bus for, I’m waiting at the bus stop about to go to work and a police officer pulled up and turned on lights, got out of his car, proceeded to question me. He asked me where I was, where I was coming from, excuse me. What I was doing, which is weird because I was waiting for the bus. Where I was going, I was on my way to work. And how long I had been there. And I, you know, told him everything that, I told the truth. I lived around the corner. I’m waiting for the bus. I’m going to work. And he proceeded to ask, well I asked him why I was being stopped and he proceeded to tell me that I fit the description of a person that was breaking into houses in the neighborhood. This is in Silver Spring, Maryland, not too far from the DC line. And when I asked what he looked like the officer told me that the person, the suspect was a young, black male with braids in his hair, white t-shirt, blue jeans and sneakers. Again I’m, baby dreads, black t-shirt, black pants, combat boots. Explained to him this is what I’m wearing, this is where I’ve been and his response is “well, you could have changed your clothes.” So while this is happening my bus pulls up, slows down, stops for a second, and then keeps on going. A couple minutes after the bus leaves the officer gets a call on the radio and lets me go on about my business. My boss, I was late for work but my boss was cool. It was great to be able to not be taken into custody for false identification or being falsely identified. But the one thing that sticks with me from that day so long ago is the looks on the faces of the people on the bus when it stopped. And they all, most of them looked at me as if, just by, because I was being stopped by the cops like I had done something wrong. It really, it shook me. I can still see some of their faces. People shaking their heads and poo-pooing when I [was] just a young, 19 year old, black man trying to take the bus to work. So it was really disheartening and yeah, that’s my story.

Racism is bullshit. Black lives matter. Black voices matter. And we should do the most metal thing that we can possibly do and that’s smash racism in its fucking face. Thank you for giving me this space, Chris. I love you brother.

Black Voices – Dré

On Tuesday June 2nd, I, like many others, posted a black square to my Instagram with the #BlackOutTuesday hashtag. Almost immediately I realized that this was not nearly doing enough and that if I truly feel Black Lives Matter then I have to do something more. I figure something I do have is my modest platform here at DC Heavy Metal. With that in mind I started reaching out to some of my black friends to ask them if they’d like to make a guest post on DCHM. I told them they can write something, make a video or audio recording, share links, literature, whatever. The subject matter of each post is entirely up to them, it does not have to be related to metal or even the DMV area. This is the first of this series of posts I’m calling Black Voices and I hope you take the time to listen to them. You can find all the posts in this series using the Black Voices tag here.

This first post is by a friend of mine named Dré who I met several years ago through our local metal scene. Even before COVID came he’d stopped going to metal shows and in the below video he talks about why that is. There’s a lot to be learned about what we as a community can do better here. Enough from me, watch Dré’s video below and feel free to read the transcription below that if you’d like to as well.

Hey Chris this is Dré. So I’ll try to be just like brief on why, so the video is basically about why I stopped going from metal shows in the DMV, and just metal shows in general, to going strictly to electronic dance music shows.

The main reason I moved away from that was because of the fan base in metal. Now I love metal. Metal will always be a part of my heart. I listen to it everyday. I was grateful enough to be [given] the opportunity this year to go to 70,000 Tons Of Metal and to be their pool boy and to be a model for them and I’ve always wanted to go to 70k so I was so super happy. I had a great time. I saw most of my favorite bands on the boat and it was amazing but the main reason I went from going to metal shows to EDM shows is because [of] the fan base. I never felt so loved and accepting of a community in EDM than I did in metal. In metal there’s a lot of amazing people in that genre of music and I’m grateful that a lot of those guys are still my friends but the metal community is just judgemental assholes. I was tired of going day to day like going to shows trying to prove my metal credibility. I had to quote Slayer albums, I had to quote song lyrics from bands I’ve seen and I would not get the same amount of lovingness and care that I would get from in electronic dance music. I was getting into fights in metal over just dumb shit and it was mainly because people were just being assholes. People, I don’t know if they had a bad day or just their cat died or something like that but a lot of them were just really mean to me.

Then being a black man I had to prove to them, I had to prove my metal credibility in order for me to go to these shows. Like “oh, do you even know this band?” “What’s you’re favorite subgenre of black metal?” Like why the fuck would I need to go and answer that when I’m just trying to go hang out with my friends and listen to some good music? But when I go to EDM, electronic dance music shows, I feel so loved and so happy being there. These people will, they will do stuff do stuff for you and they won’t even know you. When I lost my wallet at an electronic dance music show this lady gave me $200 just for me to go home. I didn’t need the $200. I didn’t even tell her that I couldn’t be able to go home but she insisted that I take this money to make sure that she was good. Of course I didn’t take it but that’s just how the community over there is and I fell in love with it and when I got older I got pissed off at metal shows and metal fans because a lot of them were just obnoxious. Make you, a lot of them make you feel that you weren’t supposed to be part of it, at least for me. And I’m not saying that race was a big part of it but it was definitely part of it. When I went to West Virginia at shows I would get called the N word and I just grew tired of it. Especially with the DMV I just hated the metal scene and the community over there. There was drama happening every single day and I was just tired of it. Hardly had any drama in EDM.

So the main reason why I didn’t want to go to metal shows any more is because of the fan base. Unless the fan base changes then I’m not going to go. Unless the band is amazing and I need to see them or I get personally invited out from the organizer or if I know a friend who’s playing in the band I most likely, probably won’t go to metal shows mostly any more. It sucks but at the end of the day I feel much more loved and respected in the electronic dance community versus the metal community and it breaks my heart because I love metal but unless the people change then I’m not going to change my stance on it. So I know I traded in my Darkthrone shirt for candy and glow sticks but the people that have the candy and glow sticks are much better to me than the metal community. So, I’m just like, I mean… yeah.