By Juliette Coleman
Edited by Chloe Gross
We spoke to Carly Harris, drummer of Roach, as she shares her thoughts and feelings about the anti-racism movement and its importance in the music industry.
In terms of the current political climate we are in, how have you been feeling?
So overwhelmed. So many people are messaging me about what they can do and asking me to educate them. I really respect people wanting to know more, it's just that I don't have the time to educate tons of people and give my opinion on whether it's appropriate to say certain things. I feel like a lot of it should be common sense, but I understand people's inquiries because they’re unsure. Overall I'm really happy that people are talking about this and for a long period of time too. People are really getting up, and saying something because they actually want to see things change and you can really tell. So, in that sense, it's really comforting and exciting. Of course, just being a black person myself and having had to deal with certain things from when I was younger to now, it is getting a little bit anxiety provoking. A lot of it is kind of scary and alarming, especially what's happening in the U.S but it’s also exciting because people are really standing up for themselves now. Even the old Black Lives Matter movement didn't generate this much attention. It's exciting to see and kind of comforting as well. I've never seen certain friends of mine get involved in these issues and some of them have claimed that it’s not their business, and that, politically, it's not their issue and now they're kind of stepping up. So, I really respect people educating themselves, that’s what we need right now.
What sort of a ripple do you hope to see this movement make in the music industry, specifically the community that you are part of?
What I'm hoping to see change is the amount of black people playing/being offered to play shows and events. I’ve dealt with this myself where people are reluctant or maybe not even thinking of having shows/festivals that include people of colour, women or transgender individuals performing. That just seems like a blatant slap in the face and looks very obvious that organizers are not trying to be inclusive so, I'm hoping there will be a change with that. Just in general, I want people to be more aware of how their words and how their actions affect people. To be conscious of how they’re presenting themselves and making sure their music and work is respectful to all cultures so that you're not offending anyone or directing things specifically to white people/males and being more inclusive in that sense. I also want to encourage more black individuals to come up to the front at shows, and that’s fully why I do it! I enjoy being at the front of shows and I don’t see any reason why I can't. There's usually like tall white men at the front of shows and I’ve talked to some women and some people of colour and sometimes they say that they wish they had the bravery I have to go to the front - but there's no reason you can’t! I think it’s good to encourage people to push themselves and to stand up for what they want to do instead of letting worries like those hinder your enjoyment of going to events.
"At this point, being the person that I am, experiencing racism before and understanding it, I shouldn't be told that it's not valid."
How do you think we can open up the dialogue further so that people of colour feel comfortable sharing their experiences in the music industry?
This movement is opening up the discussion and people are talking about these issues, and it's showing that people are actually really concerned about what's happening. The more people talk about how they want to help, then the more comfortable people of colour will feel when talking about their experiences because they know they are supported you. Whenever I talk about my experiences with racism a lot of my friends are open to listening to it. And it's not so much blatant racism, it's what I like to call “undercover racism” where people will say things like "No, I don't really want to talk about this right now" or "You know, not everything's about race, you shouldn't worry about it". At this point, being the person that I am, experiencing racism before and understanding it, I shouldn't be told that it's not valid. If I'm telling you about it then it must be something that I'm obviously worried about and it must be something that's bothering me. I'd rather have the respect of people and have them listen to me instead of them brushing it off and not really caring. So, it's things like that. When people start opening up the conversation like they are now and continue to do that, it'll make it a lot easier for people of colour to get involved and feel comfortable with the people their around because they know that they support them. And it won’t be like you're being attacked by everyone because that's kind of how a lot of people feel and that's not right.
On June 4th, Roach released a few demos on Bandcamp, donating all the proceeds to the Women's Health in Women's Hand Community Centre. https://roachband.bandcamp.com/
Are there any aspects of this movement that you would like to discuss?
A lot of people have been saying things like, "If you're not posting anything online then you're anti-black." I don't know, I've had some friends who are going through hard times right now, and they haven't posted anything and they're getting a lot of hate for it. So just to kind of address that: what I see a lot of is performative ally-ship and it's kind of bothersome. There's a lot of people in our music scene who I've had issues with in regard to race before who are posting things like that, and they’re not really engaging with what's going on. They're kind of just reposting things so that they seem like they're involved and I kind of draw the line there. I don't think that if you post things all the time that it means you care about the situation necessarily. A lot of people (not organizations!) are posting how much they donated, and they're dragging on other people because they haven't donated, or they haven't posted about donating. I don't know, I feel like that's an attack on bunch of people and I also feel like it's a performative thing as well. You don't need to show off to people that you've donated, I don't need to see your receipt. The fact that people are talking down on each other is not the most beneficial way to support each other, it's just making them feel bad for maybe not donating or not posting about something or not talking about it enough. But you never know, that person could be educating themselves and maybe they were already pretty “woke” about everything going on. I don't think that we should be attacking each other right now, I think that it's about learning and understanding the situation that's happening and that's been happening for over 400 years. Attack people who have power, but don't attack your community. Dont attack your friends and the people you're supposed to be allying with. It’s really important to make sure that you're cautious about what you're saying and how you're posts come off to other people and to know the difference between performative ally ship, versus actual ally ship.
Is there's anything else that’s been on your mind?
I see a lot of growth in people that I didn't think I would see it in, which is really good. It's making me really happy to see people on their feet wanting to be at the frontline helping people of colour. I really respect the amount of time and effort people are putting in and even though it's been so long that we've been dealing with issues like this, there's always a time to start learning and there's always a time to get involved. You could just be learning about some of the stuff now, without having realized how bad it was because the education system is absolutely horrendous. That what I want to see. I want to see people educating themselves and maybe challenging their point of view on things that they are seeing or listening to, beliefs they may have or were taught growing up. You have to challenge everything that you see nowadays, especially when it comes to something this socially involved.