Comic: Punk Is Not Just for Straight, White Guys

Punk is supposed to be inclusive, right? Artist Suzy X wrote and illustrated this comic about feeling excluded from the punk scene and eventually finding a comfortable place in music.

comic: it all started at a show in cambridge

condenada played for their 10th anniversaryfrontwoman: punk is for all peoplesome of the first punks were people of color and queer folks

I almost gave up on punk as a teen. High schoolers: "You're too ghetto to be punk."

now i'm inspired by people like kimya dawson and polystyrene

Read Suzy X’s other comic for Bitch: Trigger Warning

For more on race in punk scenes, check out Laina Dawes’ article “Why I Was Never a Riot Grrrl” and an interview with musician Mimi Thi Nguyen from Bitch magazine’s Micro/Macro issue.

by Suzy X
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Suzy Exposito is a writer, illustrator and musician in Brooklyn, New York. She is currently the online producer at Rolling Stone. She was previously the assistant editor at MTV Iggy and has contributed to Pitchfork, Rookie Mag, and Bitch. She volunteers regularly at Girls Rock! camp and once fronted NYC punk band Shady Hawkins. She graduated from the New School in 2011 with a BA in Writing and a minor in Gender Studies.

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32 Comments Have Been Posted

Man, why does Jayne County

Man, why does Jayne County always get snubbed?

Maybe the comic artist is not

Maybe the comic artist is not familiar with Jayne County?

I didn't intentionally snub

I didn't intentionally snub Jayne County, I know very well who she is. I just took this opportunity to showcase people of color in punk and their influence on me. The point is that they continue to be in the shadow of white punk musicians and they should be brought into the foreground.

i could agree more with you

i could agree more with you and its glad to know theres still some faith left in humanity thanks for posting!. I t would awesome for it could leave the shadow. Cause i mean lets all be honest racism isnt gone just swept under the rug

White Hispanic

As a side note and not as a dismissal of anyone's opinions or thoughts, I am sort of careful about observing race. Except for in the summer (I live in Oregon) when I acquire a tan, I am pretty pasty white (as some Spaniards are). Yet, I am Hispanic. On one hand, I don't really want people to see me as a Spaniard with a vagina who plays music (I'd rather just have people enjoy and not judge me on two fronts: gender and race). On the other hand, I have an incredible amount of pride in my people, so I do get a little irritated when I am lumped in with the "white" masses. Then again, I think no one really wants to be lumped in; we'd rather be seen as individuals with individual talents and flaws. In an ideal world, people wouldn't think anything of race, gender, creed, etc. People would appreciate art or not appreciate it, for the sake of the art and nothing else. Obviously, we are not at this point in the world. Because we cannot appreciate talent/influence/inspiration for the sake of talent/influence/inspiration, it is important to showcase the ignored. So, cheers.

mujeres zapatistas ftw!

mujeres zapatistas ftw!

rock on girl!

I kinda had a similar revelation lately. For the longest time I've loved metal, but I felt self-conscious wearing my favorite band tees in public and I didn't really go to concerts much because I don't really look like a stereotypical heavy metal fan (I'm a very small female. I try to go for fierce and it's like my pet bunny trying to intimidate the dog). And metalheads sometimes have a tendency to think everyone else is a poseur who doesn't meet their standards. But then I realized how dumb that was, especially when there are so many women making metal these days (including the lead singer of one of my favorite bands). And I was an adult spending my hard-earned money on albums and t-shirts, not a shy teenager in a small town. Why should I care what some strangers think?

And you know what? No one accused me of being fake and I was actually welcomed into discussions. Which sadly, makes the metalheads more accepting than the geeks (see: fake geek girls).

And this is why i love being

And this is why i love being a part of the east la punk scene

fuck off

punk is about music, not a vehicle for your personal political crusade. I don't know why people like you feel that punk is a catch all term for rebellion. I've been a punk for over 10 years and have never witnessed so called racist straight white guys calling out minorities for showing an interest in punk. Seriously, what a generic farce to have the audacity to turn a subculture about individualism, mutual respect, and subversion about race and discrimination. if anything it was my puerto rican friend (who was punk) getting his ass kicked in high school by other puerto rican kids for having blue hair and liking 'white boy music'. i don't ever remember there being a doctrine of punk by white males that drew the line for race, sexuality, gender.

congrats on being the creator of a generic maximum rocknroll-style online blog cartoon zine or whatever with a weak generic message with probably only based off of personal experiences. Do me a favor, next time your professor introduces you to another subculture that has yet to be ruined by blogs, tumblr and other mass social networking schisms, find something else to manipulate and use like a damp paper towel to work your insecurities out with.

kimya dawson, punk.... really?

Crash the Pose.... fuck off

You are an infuriating and

You are an infuriating and small-minded human being. You also sound like a very angry white guy.

And therefore your opinions

And therefore your opinions aren't valid right?

ha this guy's so mad that not

ha this guy's so mad that not everyone shares his simple, narrow-minded experience of life.


>"<b>I</b>...<b>have never witnessed so called racist straight white guys calling out minorities for showing an interest in punk</b>"

> "if anything it was <b>my puerto rican friend (who was punk) getting his ass kicked in high school by other puerto rican kids</b> for having blue hair and liking 'white boy music'. "

>"congrats on being the creator of a generic maximum rocknroll-style online blog cartoon zine or whatever with a weak generic message with <b>probably only based off of personal experiences.</b>"

*facepalm* Personal experiences up the wahoo.

I think you were a bit harsh

I think you were a bit harsh in your wording but I agree with you. She's generalised an entire group of people based on some adolescent experiences with "racist suburban white kids", seems very contradictory to the point she's trying to make about punk.


You're completely right, this comic is absolutely biased and personal. +1 to Kimya being about as punk as a Teletubbie.

"weak generic message with

"weak generic message with probably only based off of personal experiences"- the irony!

I think punk is a dead subculture, was never significantly political on the whole, and shouldn't necessarily be all political either. That being said, your comment is absurd. The problem with punk is that it's a contentious term- everyone who uses it is also staking a claim as to what it means. Your definition isn't much more valid than anyone else's, but nonetheless, you violate it in several ways, and do a great job of proving the author's theses.

You contradict yourself when you complain about people wanting punk to be about rebellion, then, less than two sentences later, defining it at "subversive" yourself. You talk about mutual respect and individuality, but completely dismiss the author's experiences as anecdotal, pull out the tired old authenticity card in order to label her a vampiric dilettante, while doing literally the same thing she did in your attempt to prove there's no racism in the punk scene. On top of that, you suggest that internal policing within minority communities is more of a problem than punk excluding minorities, neatly avoiding that punk is mostly straight, white boys, just like positions of power in society at large, and thus, while minority policing certainly exists, it has nowhere near the power that said white boys have when it comes to defining a genre and influencing behavior (as an emergent, macro-level phenomenon, racism doesn't need a "doctrine" to function, or even intentionally racist activity.) You also ignore the vast array of writing that already exists on the subject of discrimination in the punk world, both from back in the day and from our contemporary moment. Finally, you quote the stupid, reactionary lyrics of Gauze (I love them, too,) as if they're supposed to bolster your point, when in reality all they represent is the most idiotic element of punk since its inception, aside from violating your own standard of individuality and mutual respect.

Instead of simply reacting emotionally to the author's response and taking offense at the idea that maybe white boy punks aren't always as subversive as you'd like, maybe you should take a deep breath, listen to what she's saying, respect her experience, and do a little more digging to find out whether or not they're based in reality. Here are a few links you can start with, if you're interested:

Oh, rly?

<blockquote>I've been a punk for over 10 years and have never witnessed so called racist straight white guys calling out minorities for showing an interest in punk.</blockquote>

Oh, you mean just like you're doing right now?


here come the angry white guys telling minorities who likes punks to fuck off! His post actually made this comic. Good job, angry racist white puck rocker asshat.

You should have your ears

You should have your ears revoked for your staggering ignorance. Punk has been about "political crusades" since its bloody inception, and if you call yourself a punk, it'd be good to know a thing or two about the history and clashing ideologies that marked the genre's development. Maybe read a book or two -- or talk to a real punk once in a while -- instead of just listening to Blink 182 albums over and over.

Punk As Philosophy

PJ, you have part of the equation. More importantly, punk is a philosophy, At its best, it;s completely devoid of blue prints.
You have the freedom to define what it is for yourself. You define how, it will sound, what it will say, how it will be presented to the world. which is why bands as diverse as The Minutemen Talking heads, Sleater-Kinney, Raincoats, Mekons, Gogol Bordello, Bad brains, Blondie and many, many others have at one time or another have been considered punk. You're off to a good start if you can see that punk is not a "sound" or a "genre" Keep exploring!

lol, this comic is so not

lol, this comic is so not punk.

This is the height of

This is the height of worrying about things that don't matter.

This is awesome, keep it up!

This is awesome, keep it up! check out shotgun seamstress its an awesome zine that touches on race
and the POC race riot tour blog.
Not meaning to spam but people need to get more educated on race and gender issues within punk, especially them racist suburban white kids.

The author of this comic is

The author of this comic is part of POC zine project, which is also worth checking out!

ugh... why do you do this?

ugh... why do you do this? why do you take punk and go all hipster, I hate white people, gotta over intellectualize something so beautiful and pure in its ugliness and impurity? punk has always been about acceptance, rejection, the marginalized, the broken, the confused, the impassioned, the dead, and the angry... it's also been accepting of those who are non-acceptors. the beautiful thing about punk is that it's angry and confrontational and stirs the pot and gets people angry and talking. don't do it. don't ruin punk for us. don't sell us out and package us and tell us that because some angry white people did something to piss you off that all white punks are bad people or, well, whatever. maybe you should be angry. maybe you should be pissed off because you've been marginalized. maybe you should get that anger and feed it back to those that pissed you off and the world. just don't throw this emo bullshit at us and sell it off as punk. be strong in your weakness, not whiny and self absorbed.

"Thinking about other people makes my head hurt!"

<blockquote>be strong in your weakness, not whiny and self absorbed.</blockquote>

Pot, have you met Kettle?

you sounded like another

you sounded like another angry white people telling how non-whites SHOULD think and feel. You people just come crawling out of the crevices like cockroaches.

So what you're saying is,

So what you're saying is, this blog cartoon is more punk than you are? Gotcha.

shit got meta

as an off-white queer punk chick, i see a lot of white guilt manifesting as rage at the message, which the o.p. had touched on that attitude in the comix. instead, one should lead out with the welcome wagon. the ramones with their copped from "freaks" mantra, "gabba gabba hey, we accept you, we accept you, one of us."

but, whatever, i mean it's cool...keep yer clicks and sects. i am sure it's perfect in your town.

bad scene, everyone's fault.

Love And Rockets

Anyone interested in more queer/latin@ punk comics is strongly encouraged to check out Love & Rockets from Los Bros Hernandez......

Yay! Thanks for the

Yay! Thanks for the recommendation!

Congratulations... all of the assholes who are doing nothing but proving Suzy X's point!

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