Laina Dawes is not always the only black woman at metal shows, and she's not always the only headbanger among her black female friends. In her first book, the Canadian critic and music fan questions herself, her headbanging heroes, and dozens of black punk, metal, and hard rock fans to answer the knee-jerk question she's heard a hundred times in the small clubs where her favorite bands play: "What are you doing here?"
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About the Author
Laina Dawes is a music and cultural critic and opinion writer from Toronto, Canada. She is an active public speaker and contributor to CBC Radio, current affairs columnist for Afrotoronto.com, and contributing Editor (for race, ethnicity and culture) for Blogher.org.
Skin formed Skunk Anansie in 1994, releasing the albums Paranoid and Sunburnt, Stoosh, Post Orgasmic Chill, Wonderlustre, and Black Traffic. She has provided vocals for albums by Sevendust, Tony Iommi, and a number of soundtracks. Skin is also a DJ, and she currently resides in London.
Table of Contents
“Who Put That Shaven-Headed Black Woman on the Stage?” Foreword by Skin
Introduction, by Laina Dawes
I. Canadian Steel
II. Metal Can Save Your Life (or at Least Your Sanity)
III. I’m Here Because We Started It!
IV. So You Think You’re White?
V. “The Only One” Syndrome
VI. Too Black, Too Metal, and All Woman
VII. The Lingering Stench of Racism in Metal
VIII. Remove the Barricades and Stagedive!
Appendix: “What Are You Doing Here?” The Survey
What People are Saying About This
Courageous, honest, and without pretense”Albert Mudrian, Decibel
"Laina Dawes’ What Are You Doing Here? is a strikingly more powerful, penetrating, and passionate look at metal than the one written by the guy [Tony Iommi] who arguably invented the genre...brave, engaging, and unique"The Onion A/V Club
"What Are You Doing Here? is essential reading for those who have never felt the blow of intolerance, and for those who have felt it far too often."PopMatters
“As the title suggests, Dawes has a compellingly idiosyncratic tale to tell about cultural identity and personal passion [her] understandable difficulty is precisely what makes her struggle interesting.”The Atlantic
"Dawes has done the metal scene a great service, showing everyone that there’s still a lot of work to do towards making metal truly welcoming to anyone who’s interested in the music. We’re not quite there yet, but What Are You Doing Here? is an excellent start, an important addition to every metal fan’s bookshelf."MSN.com
“Thoughtful and inspiring”Publishers Weekly
"Dawes uses her sociological smarts to remind us that metal isn't just disenfranchised white dudes' musicit's a way for all of us on the outside to feel the power."Revolver (4/5 stars)
"Though focused on metal, these insights are relevant to anyone interested in how racism and sexism can impact any micro-community."Philadelphia City Paper
"Has the force of a powerful, eloquent typhoon... What Are You Doing Here? is fearless."Toronto Standard
“The good, the bad, and the ugly sides of being a black woman in the metal and punk scenes.”Afro-Punk
"In her debut book, music journalist and hardcore metal devotee Laina Dawes uncovers black women’s voices and stories of participation in punk and metal."Vice
"A fantastic book."AOL Noisecreep
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book is a good book and a great starter for any black women interested in the metal scene
I truly enjoyed this book. There were a few scenarios I could relate to, such as being one of VERY few black women present at a rock show. I can remember being in the mosh pit at a Mindless Self Indulgence show a few years ago, and having a few people stare at me as if I was an alien. I think people need to break away from social stereotypes and embrace the things they enjoy, whether other people accept them or not. I love punk rock, and I'll probably be listening to it when I much older. Some people probably think this means I'm trying to be White, and I'm not. I'm proud to be a Black Woman who listens to rock, and I'm thankful for this book. It has reassured me, I'm not alone.