|Commenting on the story behind “Rock ‘N’ Roll Is Black”, Maya shares:
“As POC/Black people in this space, I feel we have to constantly prove our position – we have to explain that we are not “whitewashed” nor traitors to our culture. Many times in our own community, we are seen as outcasts if we listen to anything outside of Hip-Hop and R&B. We are outcasts in our own communities if we dress punk, wear dark makeup and black nail polish, listen to metal or watch anime. Anything not stereotypically black makes us seem like “weirdos” or “outcasts”.
As an ALT POC, not only do we face discrimination in our community, but the majority in those spaces (white people) also gatekeep us or test our validity. Alt POC feel like they belong nowhere sometimes. The funny thing is Black people are gatekept out of the very genre they created – ROCK.
I made the song “ROCK ‘N’ ROLL IS BLACK” in response to all the people who seem to have forgotten the founders of this genre of music – AFRICAN AMERICANS like Ike Turner, Bo Diddley, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Little Richard, and Chuck Berry. And before you say, ‘Ok black people may have made Rock N Roll, but metal is white blah blah – I credit the invention of metal to Jimi Hendrix and Blues.
The point I am making is that, as a black woman, rock music is my culture just as much as hip-hop is. Rock is for me, and I am tired of people telling me I do not belong in this space because of my skin color. This song isn’t saying that only black folks can make rock; it’s not saying anything hateful towards anyone. It’s expressing that this is Black culture, we belong in this space too, and we are the true voices of the unheard and oppressed, so if anyone needs to express themselves the most, it’s us.
I was an ALT black kid in middle school – listening to MCR and shopping at Hot Topic. I wore cat ears to school and loved Paramore, but by the time I hit high school, I started to hide my true interest in anime and heavy rock because I was bullied so badly. I was called a freak and no one liked me. I was in Black/Hispanic neighborhoods and it wasn’t accepted or cool. I want to help open the door for POC alt kids to be themselves and know this is for them too.”