In the Scene: Chris L.Terry Writer of Black Card: A Novel

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“Us Black girls are here, where the **** are you?!” Was our first screaming cry into the universe, and then #BLKGRLSWURLD
ZINE was born. Six years later we are still making zines, but we have also had the opportunity to meet and partner with other small press magazines, news organizations, punk festival organizers and creators in the scene. One such creator we would like to spotlight is Chris L. Terry, author of the freshly minted, Black Card: A Novel. Just recently released on August 13th, 2019, I recommend anyone who is interested in what it means to be a punk of color read this book. The main character of this novel ensnared me in a love hate relationship that reminded me of my own experiences growing up in a mostly Caucasian American midwestern town, right before we made that rallying cry. But identity isn’t just race. It’s geographical. It’s cultural, it’s gender. The book smacks you with how all of these attributes can play a part in not only shaping our own experiences, but our reactions to the worst circumstances.

I had the opportunity to interview Chris L. Terry about his newest novel and I am excited to have him participate in #BLKGRLSWURLD first ever Punks of Color Panel Talk this Friday September 27th, 2019 in Philadelphia, PA at the Institute of Contemporary Art. Don’t miss out on the chance to meet Chris L. Terry in person! On Thursday September 26th, 2019 from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM Chris will be having a book talk and book signing at Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee and Books in Philadelphia too!

Chris graciously answered a TON of questions I had about the book. Below I have chosen my top 7 responses from our conversation.

How closely does the book follow your own personal experiences? Did you use any personal situations or memories in particular to guide your writing?

Black Card is fiction inspired by my experiences as a mixed-race black person in the early ‘00s Richmond, Virginia punk scene. The street names and emotions are real, but that’s about it. Before writing Black Card, I spent a few years writing essays about my black identity, and that gave me the perspective and tools to write this character in a way that felt honest. Also, I wanted to write about Richmond. It’s an unusual, inspiring and frustrating place and I spent my formative years there. Besides, there are enough books set in New York!

In the book we see that one of the main character’s goals is to attempt to regain his black card through a series of actions. How old were you when you first heard someone use the term, ‘black card?’ What was your relationship to the person who said it? Did your relationship with this person change at all after hearing them use this phrase?

I don’t remember when I first heard the term Black Card, but it’s always sounded like a tongue in cheek way of talking about something that’s dead serious: about if someone is being true to their community of oppressed people. It caught my attention because I didn’t feel secure enough in my black identity to joke about it, or to pull rank and talk about someone else’s Black Card.

My favorite Black Card memory happened maybe ten years ago when my boss/mentor joked that she was going to fire me and take away my Black Card if I didn’t get off my ass and watch Love Jones. In my head I was like, “Wait, I have a Black Card? Hell yeah!” 

I don’t love the idea of having to experience certain pop culture to be authentically black, but after devoting myself to punk as a teenager, I still feel like I’m playing catch-up on stuff I missed while bumping Fugazi. Now I know what someone means when they talk about that funk in their right thigh.

What made you decide to leave the main character unnamed? What an awesome writing style! What did you want to show the reader by doing this?

Thanks! I did it in tribute to Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, which also has an unnamed narrator. I’m simplifying here, but that book’s about how no one sees black people for who we are, they just project their own ideas about black people onto us, rendering us invisible as individuals. I was working in a similar space with Black Card, thinking about how being mixed-race can make you unusual-looking and how that gives people the need to categorize you. In Black Card, most of what happens to the narrator is because someone has made a decision about him based on their own prejudices. 

I loved the flashbacks to when the main character was growing up as a little boy. In the flashbacks we saw instances where the main character did not want to behave in a way that was predictable. Like when he cut class, or wanted to play his music louder than his father would have liked just because. I saw him going left instead of right just because he could, and making up his own mind. What is it about kids and not wanting to seem predictable? In some ways, almost striving to be different in the face of authority or even just their world. I could relate to that so much. Can you expand upon your own personal experiences with this growing up? 

Both as a kid and as a young adult, Black Card’s narrator is trying to carve out his own space in a hostile world. He’s trying to take control and, as he loses faith in the structures around him, he begins seeking alternatives. I think that part of maturing is finding a place where you can be yourself, so that you can spend time there getting to know yourself. That can be more complicated or layered for mixed-race people who might feel pulled in multiple directions.

In the book we saw that with everything happening, he never really sat down and took a moment to examine his feelings. He never took a moment to even just cry about what was happening to him, to release some of those emotions. That really moved me. Was this an important theme in the book?  

I wanted the narrator and his bandmates to all be closed-off, emotionally stunted men. And I wanted the narrator to start to understand that, as he starts checking his reactions to the serious things happening around him. It’s toxic masculinity that has guys telling jokes instead of sharing their feelings and it leaves them unable to deal with serious stuff. Chances are, a black person is going to be confronted with more serious shit sooner. White guys…they might be able to coast for longer.

I think that looking for emotional release is a big part of the book. The narrator’s trying to do it through music but it doesn’t quite work, then he winds up putting a burden on Mona by unloading during their first real conversation. 

When I think of punk, I think of a culture of rebellion, and often rejection of the mainstream. We see the main character taking solstice in this genre yet even still, somehow struggling to fully immerse himself in it as a minority. #blkgrlswurldzine has heard echoes of this experience in interviews with minorities running around NYC’s punk scene. I also saw in your bio, that just like the main character, you too have toured with different punk bands. In a genre that prides itself in accepting the underdog, how do you think they could improve their inclusivity?

I see punk as a subculture, not a counterculture, so I have the same suggestions for the punx that I have for society at large: listen more and believe others. For example, if someone who isn’t a straight/cis white man has a concern with the way things are going in the scene, hear them out, and remember that they’re bringing a new perspective to the conversation. You’ve probably got it easier than them, so take the time to empathize instead of minimizing their experiences. 

After reading your book, where does your audience go from here? What conversations are you hoping that they have or that this book will spark?

I hope that Black Card helps people to understand that racism is rarely as obvious as, like, someone wearing a KKK uniform and saying the n-word. It’s usually smaller stuff—microaggressions—that are harder to pinpoint, and that can feel minor and difficult to discuss on their own, but that create a toxic atmosphere that can feel like death by 1,000 cuts for people of color.    

Thank you Chris for the opportunity to interview you! Can’t wait to see you!

Upcoming Appearances:

Thursday September 26th, 2019Book Talk & Book Signing at Uncle Bobbies Coffee and Books from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM. Address: 5445 Germantown Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19144

Friday September 27th, 2019 #BLKGRLSWURLD Punks of Color Panel Talk from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM. Address: Tuttleman Auditorium, 118 S. 36th St, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

Black Card: A Novel

Want your own copy? Please find it here:

Pre-Order Our Summer Zine

Ahh, it’s crazy y’all. We tried a new printer this time and we are so pleased with the bright colors and glossy pics.

Only did a short run of 30 copies for now but we’ll probably print more for live events as the season kicks off. Keeping our prices under $10 for the youth so head over to Etsy to see the deets on this fun and fresh #blkgrlswurld zine 😘

Your Voice Matters: Register To Vote

This is quick reminder from all of us at #Blkgrlswurld Zine to please register to vote so that you can participate in the November U.S. Presidential election. If you notice ads or billboards telling you its too late or that you may not qualify, IGNORE them – double check with the offices that know for sure like your local DMV or Secretary of State Office.

For NYC folks the deadline to register by mail is October 14, 2016. HeadCount.Org offers voter info for every state if you live elsewhere. New Yorkers can also register to vote online through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)

Forget about the news, and what your friends are saying or what social media is saying about the presidential race. We don’t have a crystal ball to look ahead and see where all of this lands, but the one valuable thing each of us can do is participate in voting.

The presidential election takes place on November 8th, 2016.

And if you Really want to see some change in your community, spend an afternoon on Google checking out your local representatives who are also on the ballot towards making a more informed decision that will have direct impact on your block. Its more valuable than donating to that cool project you just saw on Kickstarter, we promise…

xoxo

Album of the Week: Mariner

 

How do you deal with an album that presents itself as not likely to ever be performed live?

A musing I heard from Cult of Luna in a Spotify: Metal Talks interview, the long distance collaboration between Cult Of Luna  based in Sweden and Julie Christmas based in Brooklyn is a stellar pairing or ethereal vocals with heavy forward moving riffs.

From afar the album had less than 10 songs but in progressive rock tradition you’re still taking care of in moving songs that drift into the abyss for 7 minutes and longer. (I long for the days when a 2 hour album consisted of 3 songs or movements.)

I highly recommend the song, “The Wreck of S.S. Needle” and if you’re not familiar with the talents of Julie Christmas, check out her performance below. The way she controls her voice is a true skill.

 

As it happens the artists are actually going to do a brief European tour of the album this fall. Check this statement from Cult of Luna below:

“Mariner was never supposed to be played live. It was under this premise that we started working together with Julie over two years ago. 

The goal was to release the album, which was hard enough considering that we live on two sides of the gigantic Atlantic ocean. But if there’s one thing that life has taught me, it’s that you should never say never – however unlikely an event seems to be. 

Usually unlikely events are bad things that happen despite all precautions but in this case… well, let’s just say that the outcome is yet to be decided.

The stars have aligned perfectly and I am going to have take back what I’ve repeated in numerous interviews this past year: that Mariner will not be played live, because it will. 

We have managed to sync our schedules and in November we will do a select few shows in Europe. Note that we will only play Mariner from start to finish. 

There will be five Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas shows in Europe, nothing more and nothing less. There are no plans to perform the album live again.”

Worth a flight to Stockholm? I’m thinking yesssssssss 😀

#Blkgrlswurld featured in 30th episode of Paper Cuts on Clocktower Radio

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The latest radio episode of Paper Cuts is streaming online at Clocktower.org 😀

Interviews from participants of the second annual Pioneer Works Zine Exchange on May 13, 2016. The sessions were orchestrated by Clocktower radio Paper Cuts host and zine expert, Christopher Kardambikis.

The playlist of participants includes:
#BLKGRLSWURLD Zine (on mandolin)
Mustarrrrrrrrrrd
3 Dot Zine
Pegacorn Press
Small Editions
Goldbrain Press

Pioneer Works’ Zine Exchange brings together zine authors and aficionados to display, trade, and sell their zines.

Clocktower radio host DJ Black Helmet served as Master of Ceremonies. The night included a celebration of three inaugural titles: At The National Monument / Always Today by poet Ted Dodson, by artist Christopher Kardambikis, and The Making of Gertrude Stein: Charles Ruas and Janet Hobhouse in Conversation, from Clocktower Radio’s archives.

Thanks so much to Paper Cuts for indulging us! xoxo #Blkgrlswurld

Album of the Week: THRICE

To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere was released earlier this month by Thrice and here at #Blkgrlswurld we can’t stop playing it.

I’ll be the first to admit, I always mistake Thrice for a heavier grunge band of the early 2000s, rocking the grinding tones similar to that of Chevelle or Staind but they aren’t really like that at all. Now that I’m older I realize their true skill rests in producing amazing rock ballads, the smooth voice of Dustin Kensrue taking us through a soulful alternative sound of release and retribution. I even detect some bluegrass elements that remind me of Kings of Leon….mellow? Yes. Its a nice break in playlist of post-hardcore metal.

My favorite tracks from this new album include, “Black Honey” “Blood on the Sand” and the big ballad, “Hurricane”- 30 minutes of this album and I’m swaying side to side in my car under some sort of post-grunge spell.

Thrice performs in NYC this June 16th at Playstation Theater, Times Square . xoxo

#Blkgrlswurld Zine

 

Architects New Album Out Today for U.S.A.

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I’m so proud of the Architects guys for releasing their latest album ‘All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us’ today in the States.

blkgrlswurld w/ Architechs masterminds Tom and Dan, Warped Tour 2013

blkgrlswurld w/ Architechs masterminds Tom and Dan, Warped Tour 2013

They are the last band from my college days that I personally supported as a fan and fellow musician. In earlier days of the Midwest metalcore scene, it was common for bands to fall apart in less than 2 years from loss of confidence and personal drama.

To help combat this my little sister and I would do our best to encourage the bands we liked most to keep making music, and stick with tough cross country touring so we could see them again. It became really important to not just support DIY band merch, but to help keep their self confidence up if the audience wasn’t sold yet on their musical style.

blkgrlswurld w/ Architects lead vocalist Sam Carter in NYC, 2014

blkgrlswurld w/ Architects lead vocalist Sam Carter in NYC, 2014

We’d meet up after shows, chatting over what was good about that nights performance and where they could improve; provide them snacks, candy and care packages for the road ;P it was a lot. So when bands like Architects would come back to town a year later saying they were still committed to this music it was a huge deal.

Glad to see how far we’ve all come from a little music community that no one thought would last over a decade or become such an international movement. We’ve all grown so much and their latest work ‘All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us’ speaks for many of us.
🙂

 

Architects Tour USA this year and will be in NYC on August 5th, 2016: Architects, Counterparts at The Gramercy Theatre

NYC Summer Metal Line Ups

The Metal this summer season is heavy this year for the East Coast. I’m really bummed at all the great bands coming through like Deftones and Architects that I’ll miss during my August trip abroad, but I will be catching Manson and Slipknot at the beach 🙂 Plus Warped Tour is crazy heavy for 2016 with dozens of #metalcore bands rocking middle America and AFRO PUNK’s lineups are heavenly as well. For even more metal show listings check out Matt’s site nycmetalscene.com

Listen, grab tix early to keep costs down and if you can’t make it later just resell them online. \m/

May 17th, 2016: The Sword, Purson, From Beyond at Brooklyn Bowl

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Alesana at Webster Hall, 2015

May 17th, 2016: Lamb of God at The Paramount 

May 18th, 2016: Filter, Orgy, Vampires Everywhere, Death Valley High at Brooklyn Bowl

May 20, 2016: Apocalyptica, 10 Years, Failure Anthem at Irving Plaza

May 21, 2016: Emo Night at Irving Plaza

May 30, 2016 Discharge, Eyehategod, Toxic Holocost at Webster Hall

June 3, 2016: Gov Ball, The Strokes,The Killers, Death Cab for Cutie, Beck, Bloc Party and more.

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Levitate Tour Poster, 2016

June 4, 2016: WAX IDOLS & KING WOMAN: LEVITATE TOUR, w/ Primitive Weapons @ Saint Vitus, Brooklyn.

June 4, 2016: WSOU presents: Hatebreed, Devildriver, Devil You Know, Ashes Of Your Enemy at Starland Ballroom

June 6, 2016: Beartooth, Sylar at Webster Hall

June 8, 2016: PVRIS, North American Headline Tour w/ Lydia, CRUSIR at Webster Hall

June 10, 2016: Sworn Enemy, Maniac Rise at The Studio at Webster Hall

June 11, 2016: Punk Rock Bowling and Music Fest featuring: Descendents, Dag Nasty, Subhumans, H2O etc at Asbury Park

June 15, 2016: Unlocking The Truth (Album Release Show) at the Studio at Webster Hall

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June 16, 2016: The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus “Don’t You Fake It” 10-Year Anniversary at Webster Hall

June 17, 2016: Blue Oyster Cult at B.B. Kings Times Square

June 18, 2016: Rockstar Energy Drink Presents Taste Of Chaos – Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, Wantagh, NY: Dashboard Confessional, Taking Back Sunday, Saosin, Motion City Soundtrack, The Early November

June 18, 19, and 20, 2016: The Cure at Madison Square Garden

June 19th, 2016: Punk Island Fest: All Day – All Ages – All Free on Governor’s Island

July 2nd, 2016:  The Iggy Pop Festival at Lucky 13 Saloon *Free event*

July 6th, 2016: Slipknot, Marilyn Manson, Of Mice & Men at Jones Beach Theater

July 6th, 2016: letlive., Seahaven, Silver Snakes, Night Verses at Irving Plaza

July 9th, 2016: Vans Warped Tour at Jones Beach Theater  feat. Every Time I Die, Emarosa, Oceans Ate Alaska, Sum 41, The Color Morale, The Word Alive, Whitechapel

July 15th, 2016: Jane’s Addiction – 25 years of Ritual de lo Habitual at The Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk

blkgrlswurld, christina long art, mfa, saic, zine, nyc, afropunk fest, warped tour, rock, metalcore, black girls rock, www.christinalongart.com

Afro Punk Fest, Brooklyn 2015

July 22-24: Panorama Fest on Randall’s Island, LCD Soundsystem, Arcade Fire, Kendrick Lamar, Alabama Shakes, FKA Twigs and more…

July 30th, 2016: Disturbed, Breaking Benjamin, Alter Bridge, Saint Asonia at Nikon at Jones Beach Theater

August 5th, 2016: Deftones, Refused at The Amphitheater at Coney Island

August 5th, 2016: Architects, Counterparts at The Gramercy Theatre

August 10th, 2016: Deftones, Refused at Stone Pony Summer Stage

August 13th, 2016: The Go-Go’s Farewell Tour at Central Park Summer Stage

August 27, 28, 2016: AFROPUNK FEST at Commodore Barry Park, Brooklyn. Featuring Janelle Monae, Cee-Lo Green, Ice Cube, The Internet, George Clinton, Saul Williams, Trash Talk, Tyler the Creator, TV on the Radio, Living Colour, Bad Brains

xoxo!

Underoath: Rebirth Tour Recap

As Underoath’s comeback tour finishes up in a couple of weeks, I wanted to weigh in on the experience of seeing these guys again after a 3.5 year breakup. For those of us familiar with the band’s history, you know it was a ‘Breakup’ in the most serious way. The band’s departure in 2013 became a coming of age moment as intense as Peter Pan getting kicked out of Neverland for many of the twenty-somethings in the scene. After nearly of decade of touring and creating amazing genre bending heavy music, the boys had grown into men with different ideals, families and long term career goals. The pain of leaving behind their joys of youth was real. They decided to create one final exit tour for the fans in 2012, which became an emotional roller coaster for all involved and was further exacerbated by the documentary filming that sought to capture their last moments together as a band.

As a fan going through similar growing pains I was beside myself when they first announced retiring, a metalcore scene without Underoath leading the way? WTF did that even look like? Every move made with each metal album was new and different from what everybody else was doing at that time. I think a lot of us wondered if the metalcore genre was over altogether.

Here are some old posts from my Facebook that capture so much of our journey as fans of this band.

“One time in college, I was sitting in the local Kzoo (Kalamazoo, MI) beauty salon raving about some crap band I had just seen with my sister at the Taking Back Sunday show in Ypsi. ‘They were the worst! I exclaimed, I think they called themselves Underoath or something – terrible set man, they looked so confused on stage…’ Suddenly, a girl who’d been sitting under the dryer jumps up and says, ‘Wait a minute, are you talking about UNDEROATH?! Like Spencer and the guys? I LUV that band! They’re awesome!’ What ensued next was a 45mintue debate on metalcore and what elements stay true to the style…we must have been 19/20yrs old at the time…” Mar. 2012

“I’ll never forget the first time I saw Underoath, I was not impressed, I thought they sounded terrible, unfocused and disconnected. But they kept practicing and performing and each time I saw them perform they were better and better. Still hard to believe they’re gone after 10 years of great work.” Jan. 2013

Seeing them back on stage at NYC’s Playstation Theater this month was like falling in love with them all over again. There were so many moments where I found myself shouting from the barricade, “Yes! Yes! Exactly!” to various riffs and vocal shifts that touch upon so many metal styles of the past towards creating novel moments. Back in the day they were the one band that drove my parents crazy when I blasted metal from my bedroom- moreso than System of A Down.

The Rebirth tour focused wisely on performing in full the albums, Define the Great Line (2006) and They’re Only Chasing Safety (2004). You can call Underoath metalcore, mathcore, post-hardcore, I don’t care – one thing I do know is they’re original. There’s an authentic style about them that so many bands have attempted to mimic but never can and its that ability that has inspired so many fans to hold them with high regard.

The album that really solidified my interest in them was their later work on Lost In The Sound of Separation. In songs like Emergency Broadcast: The End Is Near, you can feel them landing on musical narratives as if they’d surprised themselves. They had in fact landed someplace amazing and weren’t lost at all.

The fans of Underoath are a great snapshot of the larger metalcore scene too. They’ve always had a vast multicultural reach, inclusive of the most punks of color boys and girls I’ve seen at an NYC show in a long while. At the show I found myself standing among 7 other Black girls in a space that is often known locally as housing the caucasian hardcore kids from suburbia, Long Island.*Sidenote: I wore my From Autumn to Ashes band shirt to the show and as I walked into the venue there happened to be a song from The Fiction We Live blasting during soundcheck, with people singing along :P* Post side note: From Autumn To Ashes are a post hardcore Long island band…

 

At the end of the day the boys have moved on to other projects, with Spencer touring with Sleepwave and Aaron producing solo work, so the likelihood of them fully coming back and making new work as Underoath is slim. I think it would be great to see them transition to bi-annual tours or fewer similar to cult favs like Deftones or System of A Down, without the finite declaration that they’re over. A talented band with an established legacy doesn’t have to pressure themselves about making new music every 18 months. It’ll be nice to see if Underoath’s fan-base could inspire them to see themselves this way towards hitting the stage every once in awhile.

I’ll close this out with a final rambling I found on my Facebook from 2015:

“It’s a Spencer kind of night, where only the roar of the band and the chants of the crowd will do. Bodies clamoring towards the stage, arms twisted, weaving through the sound while limbs float above our voices-drowning out our dreams. Aaron’s on the drums shouting, “You’re a part of something! This matters, this moment matters for all of us!” July 2015.

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Underoath Rebirth Tour, 2016 Photo by Blkgrlswurld Zine