03 4 / 2014
dandelionn-rootz asked: What is your reason for putting punk into academia? Seems interesting.
This is a question I ask myself a lot, and I don’t know if I have a good answer. I’ve been wanting to write something about this for a while, though, so bear with me.
I didn’t actually intend to write about punk when I started grad school, I just wanted to do something related to Chicana/o music and identity. I grew up in a farm town near Saginaw, MI, really removed from any kind of Chicana/o community, so reading about the Chicano Movement and listening to musicians like El Vez were really important in developing some kind of consciousness, and that’s what motivated me at first.
And then eventually I discovered East L.A. bands like the Brat and Los Illegals, and finding out that Chicana/os had been in punk since the beginning was a big moment. I played in punk bands all through high school and into college, but I got really dissatisfied with the scene in Saginaw at a certain point, so I kind of gave up on music and started focusing more on academia. Finding out about the East L.A. scene and other early punk bands with Chicana/os in them, like the Zeros, the Plugz, and the Bags was a big deal, and then finding out about everything that’s coming out of the South L.A. scene right now was a huge deal because it got me excited about current punk for the first time in a long time. So I decided that this was what I wanted to write about.
That being said, I feel a lot of ambivalence about writing about punk within an academic framework. There are a lot of reasons why academia as an institution is at odds with a punk or DIY ethos, some of which I wrote about here in response to Punk is a Moving Target, a really insightful conversation between Golnar Nikpour and Mimi Thi Nguyen. To reiterate one part of that, though, I’m uncomfortable with the way that researchers gather knowledge from people outside of academia and then publish writings that generally only circulate within academia. That kind of gatekeeping just doesn’t seem compatible with the goal of creating non-hierarchical communities.
More specifically, though, I feel a real tension about writing about punks of color within an academic framework. On one level, my experience of being Chicano is very specific and very different from that of many of the people I’ve talked to in the course of my research. So I sometimes feel like the arguments I want to make come out of my own understanding of being Chicano and don’t necessarily reflect the actual lived experiences of the people I’m writing about, which is problematic.
On another level, academia is a largely white world, and I feel a lot of discomfort about presenting punks of color to a white gaze. Just one example of what I mean, I went to a conference last year and gave a paper critiquing theorizations of DIY as primarily an anti-capitalist ethos, which is the way it’s generally understood in academia, arguing that for marginalized communities it can also be understood as a survival tactic. I gave the example of the singer of Social Conflict going to services at a local church so that he could take the devotional tapes that they gave out, which he would then record over with his own music and distribute. It is a funny story, but when it got a big laugh from the room, I had this moment of panic, like I was making brown people perform their poverty for a room that was probably 90% white. It was really unsettling, and it’s something I’m still trying to figure out how to manage.
At the same time, though, most academic writing about punk is generally really bad, and most of it also ignores punks of color. And what has been written about Chicana/o punks has mostly been about the early East L.A. scene (and mostly just about the Brat and Los Illegals, hardly ever Thee Undertakers or the Stains or anyone else). So, as disillusioned as I am with academia, I do hope that whatever I’m able to come up with will at least expand the conversation in ways that are really important.
24 3 / 2014
"This person took meticulous time destroying EVERYTHING that was important to me; everything that I have worked very hard for all my life. He destroyed the plumbing and heating system in the building. He then completely destroyed all my medical equipment, ripping apart, breaking every glass object, bending, stabbing knives into or punching hammer holes into, and then methodically cutting and sticking knife holes into the faces of my friends and family, including pictures of my baby grandson. In my opinion, this is NOT the act of someone who was ‘high’ and didn’t know what he was doing, but rather someone who knew EXACTLY what he was doing."
Dr. Susan Cahill’s health clinic, All Families Health Care, was destroyed last week by Zachary Klundt, son of a board member for Hope Pregnancy Ministries, an anti-abortion organization.
Please donate to help Dr. Cahill repair the damage to her clinic and return to providing essential health care to Montana residents.
I am continuing to reblog ‘til they reach their goal.