Is indiepop racist?

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Tom Mascot
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Re: Is indiepop racist?

Post by Tom Mascot » Tue Jul 21, 2015 17:51

I'm not sure it's statistically valid to draw this conclusion based purely on the discrepancy in ethnicities between indiepop fans and the general population. You could argue that it's more racist to pose the question, as it overlooks every other factor that may be correlated with whether or not a person likes the genre (I'm not arguing that).

You could conduct a survey of indiepop fans and compare it to the general population - asking those sampled about their economic background, proximity to a city, level of education etc. I'm pretty sure you would find that there a a wide range of characteristics that are more common amongst indiepop folk and a wide range that are less common. I don't think it's reasonable to single out this one factor and draw such a conclusion.

That's my maths/stats geek take on it anyway. Personally, I have never witnessed what I consider to be discriminatory behaviour amongst the people who attend gigs in this genre and am confident that it's less prevalent than in wider society, but this is purely anecdotal.

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Re: Is indiepop racist?

Post by shangrilala » Tue Jul 21, 2015 18:36

I don't think anything can truly be labelled as racist or discriminatory unless it has been deliberately formed or founded on the back of some of those exclusionary and hateful principles and ideas (i.e. the B N P, EDL, Britain First, the far right skinhead movement etc). The indiepop movement certainly wasn't born or didn't develop out of any of those principles. I'm sure there have been individuals within Indiepop with racist views because let's be honest there are racist individuals in all areas of life, but from my experience within indiepop they are extremely few and far between. If there are some exlusionary elements (and I think a lot of you are right when you say there are) I don't think it has been deliberate. But at the same time we probably haven't seriously stopped and asked ourselves and each other why it has always been like that and what could be done to change it. Regardless, I think we are probably overlooking the fact that this isn't just an issue within Indiepop. This is an issue within western music period. Perhaps most obvious within the the indie, rock and alternative scenes but certainly not exclusive to it. We can put the microscope on our little corner of the musical world but this is a much bigger and wider issue, within both the mainstream and the underground. Then you start to get into conversations about the role and responsibility of both major and minor recors labels in trying to represent the ethnically diverse socities we all come from etc and also how we could be doing more to ensure that becoming actively involved in music (particularly from an early age) is something that is easily accesible to everybody and all those kinds of issues that certainly have a role to play in the bigger picture.

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Re: Is indiepop racist?

Post by Carys » Tue Jul 21, 2015 22:57

shangrilala wrote:I don't think anything can truly be labelled as racist or discriminatory unless it has been deliberately formed or founded on the back of some of those exclusionary and hateful principles and ideas (i.e. the B N P, EDL, Britain First, the far right skinhead movement etc).
I really do disagree with this. Even our useless anti-discrimination laws in the UK differentiate between direct and indirect discrimination, and recognise that indirect discrimination is still racism. In indiepop I reckon it's more often indirect discrimination that is the problem: every time a POC has been asked "Where are you from really?" or been treated as the sidekick or exoticised or has their lived experience of racism glossed over, it's indirect discrimination, and these experiences compound over time.

Racism is a form of structural oppression that white people benefit from. Society is racist because it a mechanism for structural oppression. Indiepop exists within society: ergo, indiepop is racist. It is pretty much is by definition.

I'm not saying we (meaning white people in indiepop) need to be all self-hating and writing "racist" on our foreheads. We just need to listen to POC, reflect on how we can improve our spaces for everyone, and be hell of a lot less defensive.

Apologies - this rant isn't targeted at anyone in particular. I just feel like we're going round in circles here.

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Re: Is indiepop racist?

Post by crystalball » Tue Jul 21, 2015 23:29

What Carys said. It's not the white person's place to dismiss the experience of racism as 'not EDL enough'. We don't know; we'll never know. We shut up and listen and act.

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Re: Is indiepop racist?

Post by deerful » Tue Jul 21, 2015 23:32

I don't think anything can truly be labelled as racist or discriminatory unless it has been deliberately formed or founded on the back of some of those exclusionary and hateful principles and ideas (i.e. the B N P, EDL, Britain First, the far right skinhead movement etc).
I also take issue with this.

Can we not accept

1. that it's possible for people to feel uncomfortable and discriminated against and out of place without people outright insulting/name-calling/being far-right wingnuts?

2. that it's possible for folk even with good intentions, even without meaning to who are the majority within a particular group to upset or discriminate against those who are not, and that this does not negate how it makes the person on the receiving end of it feel?

It is entirely possible to be discriminatory by accident. Without meaning to be. You can be super well-intentioned and go out of your way to be nice and STILL do racist (...or sexist, or homophobic, or transphobic, or classist, or ableist, etcetera) things. And the way that you fix it is not by denying it ever happened, but by listening to people when they say they're impacted and hurt by it and figuring out how to stop that happening in future.

If you're not looking where you're going, and you step on someone's foot by mistake, the fact that you didn't mean to do it doesn't mean their foot doesn't still really hurt.

(wow, what an elegant metaphor.)
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Re: Is indiepop racist?

Post by deerful » Tue Jul 21, 2015 23:50

Tom Mascot wrote:I have never witnessed what I consider to be discriminatory behaviour amongst the people who attend gigs in this genre and am confident that it's less prevalent than in wider society, but this is purely anecdotal.
Also, the bolded doesn't matter. Who cares if it happens amongst our friends less than it does in wider society? Wider society is pretty terrible. If it happens within my scene or social group or one of my friends becomes involved in it even ONCE, I consider myself at least partly responsible and would hope others within the same social group would feel similarly. We are individually very limited in how much we can impact wider society; we have a *lot* more influence within our social groups, particularly when they're as insular as indiepop often seems.
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Re: Is indiepop racist?

Post by tonieee » Wed Jul 22, 2015 09:19

I agree totally with what Carys, Marianthi, Hayley and tonightwefly said. Until relatively recently I also used to think that indiepop was all good in terms of racism but I've learnt from what other people have being saying, not just in indiepop, that racism isn't just overt abuse and that white people are often racist without thinking they are, especially as a group. I think the evidence of a very small minority of non-white people in indiepop, both in bands and in the audience, indicates that it is (even if unintentionally) somewhat exclusionary. I don't think we need to beat ourselves up about it but we do need to be aware and to take whatever steps we can to prevent it - the first of which is acknowledging that it exists.

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Re: Is indiepop racist?

Post by shangrilala » Wed Jul 22, 2015 16:09

Well my whole point was that overall I don't think the scene is intentionally or overtly racist. I wasn't trying to deny racism exists within it and I wasn't disagreeing that there are certain elements that seem to be exlusionary but was more suggesting that perhaps we don't fully understand those reasons and need to make more of an effort to do so. Perhaps I didn't convey what I was thinking very accurately. I think it's far more complicated than tackling racist individuals within the scene because I truly believe that is a small number of people. It's something that runs deeper and is historic. Perhaps changing the whole culture to make it far more open which I think is something that is happening now but there has always historically been this feeling that it's something of a closed circle or exclusive group. But again, I don't think this is just an indiepop issue. Just look at any kind of music within western culture and ask yourself if any of it whether underground or mainstream accurately reflects the diverse nature of the societies we live in.

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Re: Is indiepop racist?

Post by RITH » Wed Jul 22, 2015 17:45

Everyone (and that is ALL of us) carry around with us negative biases. Often these are hidden, or lingering in our subconsciousness. It's important that we acknowledge our biases (as individuals and as the groups in which we feel we 'belong'), and then seek out how to change our bias/discomfort. It's nothing to be ashamed of. It's a good, and necessary thing to admit your biases. It's when we start denying bias that we risk moving closer towards 'real' racism.

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Re: Is indiepop racist?

Post by Tom Mascot » Wed Jul 22, 2015 21:08

tonightwefly wrote:
Tom Mascot wrote:I have never witnessed what I consider to be discriminatory behaviour amongst the people who attend gigs in this genre and am confident that it's less prevalent than in wider society, but this is purely anecdotal.
Also, the bolded doesn't matter. Who cares if it happens amongst our friends less than it does in wider society? Wider society is pretty terrible. If it happens within my scene or social group or one of my friends becomes involved in it even ONCE, I consider myself at least partly responsible and would hope others within the same social group would feel similarly. We are individually very limited in how much we can impact wider society; we have a *lot* more influence within our social groups, particularly when they're as insular as indiepop often seems.
As far as I'm aware, nobody within my social groups is racist unless the workplace counts (or other acquaintances that I don't choose), where racism is rife. I call people out on it when they do it. Just saying I've never felt I've had to do this with friends or fellow gig-goers. Like I say, it's anecdotal. I don't claim that it doesn't happen at gigs because I don't see it, or that it can't be happening in a more covert way. I go to many gigs in other genres where ethnic diversity is greater than indiepop, but as I intimated before, that is not the only proportional difference in demography. Other things vary- age, gender, choice of clothes, hairstyle and possibly countless other less visible attributes (occupation, income, level of education?).

Whilst I don't tolerate racism, the sort of people who I have challenged about it before weren't necessarily in a hurry to pay any attention to me whatsoever. I hold my ground and hope that a seed of doubt about their views is planted. That's as much influence as I can hope to have, as people can get pretty entrenched in their opinions. Also, as more of an indiepop dabbler, I exert even less influence over this scene! I'm not going to start feeling guilty if people I do not know have views that I find abhorrent. That kind of thing tears you apart. Every kind of bad thing will always happen, but I can at least sleep at night through not contributing to it and encouraging others not to where possible!

Sorry if I get a bit stats-y. If there's an average level of 'good' that a person can be, there's an above and a below...

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Re: Is indiepop racist?

Post by deerful » Wed Jul 22, 2015 23:22

Guilt isn't the point! It's really not. It's not productive. Apologies can be productive, self-awareness can be productive, effort can be productive, listening can be productive. I can't think of a situation in which self-flagellation gets anything much done.

If you haven't witnessed racism at shows, you haven't witnessed racism at shows (yet). It doesn't mean it isn't there though. It doesn't mean we shouldn't stay switched-on to it. I didn't notice it either until I started talking to more folk who aren't white about it.
Tom Mascot wrote:Sorry if I get a bit stats-y. If there's an average level of 'good' that a person can be, there's an above and a below...
Ah, but that's the thing, isn't it. Goodness (and what is perceived as 'goodness') is not a fixed thing. It's constantly in flux. You can be someone who everyone around you would describe as a lovely person, and still do insensitive things or hold prejudices. The trick is listening and trying to correct them when people point them out.

None of us are being held to any standard of perfection here.
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Re: Is indiepop racist?

Post by leon » Thu Jul 23, 2015 00:08

It seems whenever these difficult questions are posed, some people get defensive of 'indiepop' in a way that suggests a thought process of 'I'm a good person and I've invested a lot of my personality and faith in this indiepop thing, so if someone says "indiepop is racist" that means they must think I must be racist and I therefore have to defend indiepop (and compare it favourably to other genres) in order to defend myself.

As others have said far better than me, that's not necessary or helpful (see the Indiepop Tea Room shenanigans for example). Us white straight cis folk need to listen to our friends and just do what we can to do things better without taking offence if pulled up on stuff. Hope that's not over-simplifying things.
I dunno, it's late, there's been wine and that. This is probably just another white voice waffling on.

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Re: Is indiepop racist?

Post by ShaunBrilldream » Thu Jul 23, 2015 00:55

Waffling on is OK, but it's the listening that's important. As a 6ft6 white man I've never seen racism or sexism in indiepop (though I have read about it) until the Evans the Death show in Leeds on Monday. Some meat-head attacked Katherine for being female basically. His point was that women are only designed to have babies. After quite reasonably taking offence at this, Katherine was verbally abused (the term 'intelligent bitch' was used, which gives you some insight of the level of idiot we are dealing with), and when she went to go to the van for her safety, the man started to grab at her through the door and punch shit out of the van.

The point to this is just because you don't see it doesn't mean it doesn't happen. When it does it can be terrifying for the victim. I learned a lot from that night. A lot.
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Re: Is indiepop racist?

Post by Cloudy Cat » Thu Jul 23, 2015 11:49

White people can't experience racism. Maybe but when I was in Morocco I was approached by two local lads who wanted to act as guides. My friend and I refused in a polite manner. It was then that the racist insults started calling us whites who hated blacks etc. Maybe if I was black I wouldn't have been abused, maybe my skin colour was just used as an excuse but if I were black and a white person did that he'd be accused of racism. I'm obviously not denying that black people have a far more profound and distressing experience of racism, I'm just saying that it's possible to experience racism whatever colour you are. If some disagree and deny what happened as racism then that's fine, I do understand their viewpoint.

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Re: Is indiepop racist?

Post by Carys » Thu Jul 23, 2015 13:14

Cloudy Cat wrote:I'm just saying that it's possible to experience racism whatever colour you are. If some disagree and deny what happened as racism then that's fine, I do understand their viewpoint.
Not sure I agree with this. I believe racism is rooted in power structures, and is systemic oppression. It's the power differential that makes it 'racism' as opposed to someone just being a dick based on someone's skin colour or perceive racial background. See also: misandry isn't a thing.

There's quite a neat summary here: http://www.dailydot.com/opinion/reverse ... snt-exist/

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Re: Is indiepop racist?

Post by lloydybwoy » Thu Jul 23, 2015 15:14

That's what Cloudy Cat is saying though, isn't it? In the UK the power has historically been held by white cis males, whereas in Morocco that's only 2/3 true and the fact that they were white was used as a basis for discriminatory behaviours. So anyone can experience racism, depending on where they are and with whom the power is seen to be held.

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Re: Is indiepop racist?

Post by tonieee » Thu Jul 23, 2015 15:45

lloydybwoy wrote:That's what Cloudy Cat is saying though, isn't it? In the UK the power has historically been held by white cis males, whereas in Morocco that's only 2/3 true and the fact that they were white was used as a basis for discriminatory behaviours. So anyone can experience racism, depending on where they are and with whom the power is seen to be held.
Are white people an oppressed minority in Morocco though? I wouldn't have thought so, even though they may be a numerically minority.

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Re: Is indiepop racist?

Post by Cloudy Cat » Thu Jul 23, 2015 16:43

Carys wrote:
Cloudy Cat wrote:I'm just saying that it's possible to experience racism whatever colour you are. If some disagree and deny what happened as racism then that's fine, I do understand their viewpoint.
Not sure I agree with this. I believe racism is rooted in power structures, and is systemic oppression. It's the power differential that makes it 'racism' as opposed to someone just being a dick based on someone's skin colour or perceive racial background. See also: misandry isn't a thing.

There's quite a neat summary here: http://www.dailydot.com/opinion/reverse ... snt-exist/
Yes I agree with you, racism is rooted in power structures but what power structures exist in Mugabe's Zimbabwe? Is he racist against whites? Or is he equally tyrannical against those who oppose him whatever colour? If you can measure one act of tyranny against another.

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Re: Is indiepop racist?

Post by noLooking » Thu Jul 23, 2015 17:07

Cloudy Cat wrote:Yes I agree with you, racism is rooted in power structures but what power structures exist in Mugabe's Zimbabwe? Is he racist against whites? Or is he equally tyrannical against those who oppose him whatever colour? If you can measure one act of tyranny against another.
I know what you mean, but Zimbabwe's a bit of a tricky one, isn't it, in that Mugabe's anti-white elements are a reaction to Rhodesia and Ian Smith and all that.

I agree that racism is dependent on the power structures of where you are. I don't doubt that if black or Asian people were on top in a national or global sense, then a supremacist narrative might well develop against whites - we are all human after all and bigotry is a nasty trait everywhere.

But that doesn't really have much to do with your Moroccan boys, I don't think. Whether or not the power structure favours black people in Morocco, there is also still a sense that white people are on top in a global sense, which is what fuels that particular mistrust. It's related to race, but it's not really "Racism" in the same way, I'd suggest.

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Re: Is indiepop racist?

Post by Cloudy Cat » Thu Jul 23, 2015 17:14

andyi wrote:
Cloudy Cat wrote:Yes I agree with you, racism is rooted in power structures but what power structures exist in Mugabe's Zimbabwe? Is he racist against whites? Or is he equally tyrannical against those who oppose him whatever colour? If you can measure one act of tyranny against another.
I know what you mean, but Zimbabwe's a bit of a tricky one, isn't it, in that Mugabe's anti-white elements are a reaction to Rhodesia and Ian Smith and all that.

But I agree that racism is dependent on the power structures of where you are. I don't doubt that if black or Asian people were on top in a national or global sense, then a supremacist narrative might well develop against whites - we are all human after all and bigotry is a nasty trait everywhere. But that doesn't really have much to do with your Moroccan boys, I don't think.

Indeed Mugabe's regime is a reaction to I. Smith. A case of you reap what you sow I suppose.

No, those Moroccans were just using the racist line. They even resorted to slapping me. I didn't respond thinking they might have a knife but if I had and done them some harm , pretty unlikely I must say, I wonder if they'd claim it was a racial attack?

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