Over the last few years there’s been a boom in the term “indie,” as well as its equally used colloquial synonym, “alternative.” These terms have been used to describe many different things, but as of late, it’s the term used to described people, and because I happen to be a black person, I want to touch on why I choose not to adhere to such labels.
This is actually a pretty simple premise. To call something alternative, suggests that there is a standard – a constant. So to say that I am an “alternative black person” assumes that there is a such thing as a “normal” or “standard” black person, which then lends itself to stereotypes.
To me, “alternative” is a gratuitous label. It’s pointless. So I dig rock music, and blues, and european fashion, and whatever else folks use to oust me (or question my authenticity) and others like me, deemed different. So what? People are people, and black folks, given their history in this country, are vast, expansive and diverse, and always have been.
Look up William Grant Still, a black orchestral composer from wayyyyy back, and though Hendrix is popular, check out DEATH, an all black punk band from the 70’s. Darius Rucker (yes…Hootie). Gary Clark Jr. Tracy Chapman. Adrian Sauvage, a young, brilliant designer. All the skaters, dandies and artists. All the forward thinkers, free thinkers, past and present. The list is infinite.
We have always been everything, and done everything, therefore there is no need to try to nail down a standard, or to create new categories (and new stereotypes) to compartmentalize us into special groups…because we already are, and always have been a special group, as a whole.