Racism and intersecting forms of discrimination (e.g. sexism, homophobia, ableism) are major social problems that are also present in heavy metal culture. The widespread narrative of an apolitical metal scene, inclusive to all, is a misconception which contributes to discriminatory ideas regarding race, gender, sexual orientation, social background, disability and age. To remain silent in the face of structural racism and other bigotries is not an apolitical or neutral stance, but a form of complicity. One needs to be aware of these discriminatory structures in order to create fundamental changes. It requires a willingness for self-reflection as well as the willingness to critically examine the culture of heavy metal itself.
Many members of ISMMS highly value the culture of heavy metal, which makes it all the more important not to excuse or trivialize existing racism, sexual harassment or social exclusion. The key to a fundamental change lies with each individual as well as in academic institutions.
We, the executive board of ISMMS, are aware of the fact that we write from a position of relative power and privilege. One must always be aware of one’s own position, revealing it and questioning it critically. It is our hope to work as allies rather than as “saviors” of any type; to support people without presuming we have the right to speak for them. A first step is our upcoming conference which will take place in Mexico City in 2022. Our biennial meeting will be organised and hosted for the first time by a university in the Global South, is themed ‘Heavy Metal Music in the Global South,’ and will feature an unprecedented number of researchers from the Global South. But this can only be the beginning of our engagement with global inequalities in metal and academia.
Metal has never been apolitical and neither are the researchers who deal with it. It is up to each and every one of us to continually address existing inequalities as well as to commit to ongoing questioning of ourselves and reflection upon our actions. The ISMMS Executive Board is committed to antiracism and antidiscrimination in both metal scenes and academic communities.