Book Review: Laina Dawes- What Are You Doing Here?

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Not many posts ago, I revealed a book written by Laina Dawes entitled “What Are You Doing Here?” In the book, Ms Dawes tells us of her experiences as a black woman who is into heavy metal, the music she was into and the bands she saw. She also relates the experiences of other African American women who love heavy metal as well as some black female artists who can totally rock. Now that I have read the book in its entirety, I can say that what I read was truly eye opening indeed.

Let me get one thing clear and I know that no one is actually saying this but I am not ashamed of being born white. No one can help the colour of the skin they were born with and that is one reason I take a huge exception to anyone of any race who persecutes human beings who were born of multi- racial parentage. That aside, I am often embarrassed by some of the things my ancestors have done throughout history like slavery, discrimination, the colonization and subjugation of the African continent by Europeans. Now, having read this book, I am ashamed that white, male metal heads could act this way. I have always said that heavy metal could unite the world but after reading I still see that metalheads have a long way to go before we can do this. Furthermore, while I have campaigned against the right wing belief that heavy metal turns you into a criminal and gets you to hate your country, I have also campaigned against the left wing view that our genre of music is sexist and racist. I now know that I may have been wrong because Dawes tells of many experiences of both.

Laina Dawes

Laina Dawes

In “What Are You Doing Here?” Dawes tells quite openly of her negative experiences and some of the positive ones. She had to face down attitudes such as “You think you’re white” as well as the “only one” syndrome being the only black female at many shows. However, the whole time she never comes across was playing the victim. In fact, she tells how she doesn’t let those attitudes stop her enjoying the music she loves and reading some of the acts she’s into, I would love to go to a concert with her. Just no one tell Mrs 80smetalman.

The one thing that is really done well in the book is how she traces the history of rock and metal back to its origins. I began this blog with Jimi Hendrix, (another great black musician who help found metal as we know it today) but she goes back even farther than that to some of the great old blues musicians including BB King. In this case, Laina is absolutely correct in the fact that we as metalheads owe the origins of our music to music originally started by African Americans.

So, I would encourage all to grab a copy of “What Are You Doing Here?” It not only shows us the true origins of our music but also points out that heavy metal still has quite a long way to go before we gain true harmony.

Next post: The Moody Blues- Long Distance Voyager

To buy Rock And Roll Children go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

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4 Responses to “Book Review: Laina Dawes- What Are You Doing Here?”

  1. Metalheads I’ve met have always been really liberal and inclusive and into equality.

    It surprises me to hear the nasty side of our subculture.

    Shame on them for being idiots.

  2. Sad there are idiots everywhere!

    Strange enough have my black friends that are into metal never Heard a White person commenting on them being metalheads.

    They only Heard other black people telling them not to listen to metal because it´s White Music and that they should listen to black music. Even their parents tell them that.

    Carla Harvey “Butcher Babies”

    Carla Harvey has cited her influences as Pantera, Slayer, Slipknot, and the Plasmatics. . She said: “As a biracial kid growing up in the Detroit area, I got a lot of shit for loving hard rock and metal, I told them “Fuck you, I’m going to like what I want.

    • I like Carla Harvey’s attitude! Laina Dawes does mention getting a lot of pressure from blacks on account of her musical tastes. That she was somehow selling out or betraying her people. I just think that people should listen to what they want to and stuff everyone else.

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