White Supremacy is…
White supremacy is
a many-headed snake.
Each of these songs is
our way of
chopping off their heads.
Ever since coming across the band COMPA, a screamo/hardcore band from Brooklyn, I’ve been unable to shake the short and concise liner notes on their Bandcamp page. It pinpoints so precisely the exhausting nature of being a brown person. To undo years of programming is a painful act. I feel as if I’m simultaneously having a thousand deaths, all the while knowing that the work is never really done. I exist simultaneously as the oppressed and the oppressor. I’ve been followed by an undercover cop in the neighborhood I spent most of my childhood, that being Bridgeport, the home of the Daley family, and a haven for many of the cops that patrol Chicago’s streets. But sometimes anti-black rhetoric from previous generations wraps itself around, manifesting in snap judgments while walking down the street.
White supremacy, in general, wraps around your neck in insidious ways, wielding the idea of “whiteness”, conflating the idea of being American with being white. This chokehold eventually results, at least for me, in the hatred of self and the cultural identity of being Mexican, even if its never voiced. It’s assimilation by annihilation and a tactic that has been used by any incoming immigrant population. The erasure is not even necessarily evil on first look. My parents, the immigrant generation wanted to make sure I spoke English as fluently as possible, and as a result, decided to speak Spanish in the household, creating a rift that can never be repaired. The gulf would become more apparent in high school, where I’d feel separate from the bilingual students, existing in some undefinable middle ground. Too white for the Mexicans and a little too Mexican for the whites.
An article from Truthout lays it out much more clearly:
American nationalism fashions a glorious identity for those who accept the erosion of their heritage and embrace the shared plainness of the most elite identity our country has to offer — that of a white American.
It’s these thoughts that continue to run through my head as I play the fourth song on COMPA’s self-titled debut.
I tried denying my brown,
avoided conversations about who I am or where I came from
And I learned to hate myself
until I learned to hate white supremacy.
I don’t like to get super personal when writing about music but it feels, at least right now, important to at least lay my limited perspective out. Existing in spaces, online or in-person as the minority is super draining, even if I have never voiced it. Having to find parts of myself in the lived experience of white people is disheartening. But it’s the road I decided to take when I found myself drawn to the world of Emo and Pop Punk as a teenager.
That’s why it has been at least heartening to at least be able to find the few artists that are Latinx, and bathe in each of their lived experiences. It requires a little bit more digging, given that a lot of these artists can’t afford to or don’t feel super comfortable doing self-promotion. I think about the band, Fear Not Ourselves Alone, a Brooklyn band. Since discovering their single, Father Fashionista, I’ve been rattling each word sung. It’s a reminder that the Latinx struggle isn’t a one size fits all, and how different artists choose to express their identity and lived experience. Fear Not Ourselves Alone chooses to address their experience with radical empathy, exploring themes of gender dysphoria, and intergenerational trauma.
if I’m the son you have dreamt of
then hold me as I cum
or is too hard to admit
i’m your other daughter’s death?