Brown Skinned Rock ‘n’ Roller

February 26, 2008
By
The first time I ever heard AC/DC, I was smitten. I loved the unique noise that the live instruments made and the way that Brian Johnson wailed on the microphone, expressing all of the bands feelings towards everything that you could possibly think of. It was like that clichéd ray of light just beamed down and warmed my head, taunting me and influencing me to search for more. More of this brand of music they called ‘Rock’. The only problem was that I am black or African-American for those who are sensitive to the word. It not only made liking Rock ‘n’ Roll shameful, but it was almost unheard of. And growing up in Detroit, Michigan (Motown) didn’t make things any better.

Despite what my friends told me, I was always into the ‘alternative’. I never liked to do things the easy way, and I always aimed to cause grief for those around me through my actions. Let’s face it, I was an annoying, bratty little kid, but I loved it. At first, I thought that blasting an old Aerosmith cassette into my ears was the best way to get under my mother’s skin, but then, I moved to a whole new level. When I moved to the quiet suburban hills of Pennsylvania, is when things really hit the fan. I was the only black kid in my elementary school class and my classmates were relentless in introducing to their favorite bands. Even though my thirst for trouble making didn’t die down for a few more years, I had actually gained a true love for this alternative brand of music. I had become, addicted, in a way. I had found a type of music that used every element of what I loved to express emotions, and I soon became a devout follower. I started off small, with listening to classic bands of the 70’s and 80’s, but no one really ever gave me any grief for it. So, by the time I hit the seventh grade, I was excited to be moving to New Jersey, where I was expecting to be able to express myself on a whole different level. I was a changed girl and I was, the ‘Brown Skinned Rock ‘n’ Roller’.

East Orange, New Jersey, was unlike any place I had ever seen. When I looked around, I realized that I was again surrounded by those who looked like me. Broad noses, dark hair and eyes, and beautiful dark skin (Though at the time, I didn’t completely see my ethnicity as beauty). Baggy jeans, and over-sized t-shirts, I was basically a zoo raised cub, thrown into the lions den. I was terrified on my first day of middle school in this strange place, and it showed.

‘Fake white girl’, ‘Rock Chick’, was some of the names that I was greeted with everyday, and I began to loose the little sense of myself that I had worked so hard to gain in Camphill. But, as I came to become more acquainted with my new home, I realized that I had let my music define me.

Being black never meant that I had to be one type of way. Being black is something to be proud of because of my unique features, but all the while, still holding my OWN personality. Music was an expression that I had become fond of, because I was naturally a musician, and I was proud of that, they day that I picked up a violin and started to play. I realized that after years of trying to change myself to fit my surroundings, I had developed a unique style of life that many people in East Orange, New Jersey lacked. But, as we all grow older, we grow into ourselves. Hitting high school, I learned not to question my identity, but to let it develop on its own. I found friends who were just like me and they only encouraged my individuality. They showed me a new self-confidence that I had been lacking those days that I had let my class mates force their choice of music down upon me. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Rock to this day and some of my favorite bands are advocates for individuality, but I have also learned that I don’t have to shun the culture of my people to be unique. I can still listen to Tupac and Missy Elliot without being a traitor to what I believe in, because I define what I believe in, and no one else can ever do it for me.

My dark skin is something that I am proud of and no one can take that from me. My personality is something that I love, and no one will ever change me. I listen to Rock, Rap, R&B, Classical, Show Tunes, and even a little Country when the mood strikes me. Being defined by the music that you listen to is all a state of mind. You make you who you are and the way that you express how you feel is unique to your personality and mind. Even though, at one point in my life, I almost let myself become a different race because of the music I loved, I am who I am because of the life I lead. I would never change my experiences for anything else in the world.

My favorite band is My Chemical Romance. My favorite rapper is Eminem. My favorite singer is Rhianna. My favorite classical composer is Peter Illyich Tchaikovsky. But I am still black and I still worship rock ‘n’ roll as the catalyst to my music loving life. I am the Brown Skinned Rock ‘n’ Roller, but on a whole new level.





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