For three decades, African Americans have often been depicted in the popular press and in independent media as embodying the legacy of a hip hop nation, which the media would signify as an urban, misogynist, and materialistic musical genre and lifestyle. Such representation diminishes or negates, through absence or scant coverage, African American participation in punk and rock'n'roll. In doing so, the media perpetuates hegemonic notions of African Americans as a homogeneous community without nuance and individuation. This essay interrogates the misconception that punk is essentially a white (or Anglo) Do-it-Yourself participatory subculture, and argues that the neglect of a mixed, diverse, and inclusive punk history demonstrates that African American punk cultural productions are undervalued, absent, or deleted. Such interrogation leads to what Stuart Hall has termed "making stereotypes uninhabitable" in his lecture, "Representation and Media" (1997). The essay reclaims the roles of people of color in punk, thus undermining fixed, normative assumptions about race in American pop culture, rendering them unstable and arbitrary. Rewriting punk music as a transhistorical, crosscultural, and synergistic negotiation between African American and Anglo music cultures creates new potentials for meaning and a mode of empowerment for a generation previously unaware of punk's truly democratic ethos.

Additional Information

Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.