Attention, racists: ‘Indie’ and ‘indie rock’ are just code for ‘white’

Attention, racists: ‘Indie’ and ‘indie rock’ are just code for ‘white’
(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

[Ed. – O.M.G.  Don’t these people ever think about anything else?]

Sahim argues that there are so few artists of color in indie because of “overt and covert expressions of racism.” She points to a petition calling for the Glastonbury music festival to replace Kanye West as a headliner with a “rock band”—which is code, Sahim rightly argues, for “a white artist.” When you’re an artist of color and you see indie fans signing petitions like that—with 132,000 signatures, at last count—you’re going to get the message that you’re not welcome in indie.

One way that indie maintains its whiteness, then, is by telling people of color to go away. But the fact that “rock” can be code for “white” suggests that genre whiteness is not just a matter of discouraging artists of color. Genres like rock and indie are for many people defined by whiteness—that is, white skin becomes the genre marker, rather than the music itself. There are few artists of color in the indie scene because artists of color who make what could be called “indie music” get classified as something else. …

If indie wants to stop being unbearably white, its musicians, fans, and critics should stop defining the genre through whiteness. If indie means independent music, then all those hip hop mix tapes should count. If it means Bjork, then it should mean Dawn Richard. If it means guitar rock, then Valerie June should count.

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