“I figured out the problem yeah the problem is you. You didn’t see us comin’ now there’s nothin’ you can do. Times are gonna change, change or step aside. It’s out point of view that took you by surprise. Actions could erase all the fear that we suffer. People segregated no one understands each other. He’s a different color, but we’re the same kid. I will treat him like my brother, he will treat me like his.” -Rancid
I think my words were something along the lines of “Trick, don’t you dare appropriate my culture!” This was my response to Candace Owens calling Donald Trump “Punk Rock.” Something she has repeated multiple times now. My ego was bruised. I felt personally assaulted hearing someone who I feel has no clue about what Punk culture is and what it represents, say something so outlandish. But did she have a point?
Her claims are that he rebels against the establishment and mainstream media and that’s what makes him Punk Rock. He definitely says wild stuff to the media, no doubt. And I do believe that he says things that play well to a base that feels they are forgotten and he leans into their fears to exploit. He’s brash and vulgar doing it, which is edgy. He may say things that seem against the DC normal talking points. But in my eyes his actions show him to be the epitome of the establishment incarnate. I’ve had issues with Trump that go back far preceding his presidency and I don’t want to get into that much here. That’s not what this is about. I do want to talk about what my identity as a Punk means to me and why I felt so assaulted by this claim.
“There was a boy who had too many toys and and an ache inside of his bones. He sought extrication through chemical vocation and now he answers to Jones. It’s deadly and alluring – the sound of pounding heat – enslaving all who dare succumb to the temptations of the forbidden beat.” -Bad Religion
Few things have struck me in my life like that song, that album and that album cover did (Bad Religion, Suffer). I was given a copy of the cassette by some neighborhood Punks when I was 11 and it forever impacted my life. They drove one of those huge old school Chevy Blazers with “Doom” spray painted on the tailgate. Those were the cool kids to a kid from a broken home who’s day’s were spent with other latch-key kids, running around getting into whatever mischief we could muster up.
I was a broken-hearted kid from a home stricken by alcoholism and felt that God had missed our house. Traumas I went through as a child made it easy for me to build resentments at God. I was surrounded in a region of Bible-thumpers who said racist, homophobic, xenophobic and all kinds of bigoted things – then used the cross as a shield for their fear based judgments and generational hatreds. It was easy for me to find something to rebel against. Punk Rock was my alleyway into the counter-culture I needed to escape my own mind and much of the time it’s what kept me alive. Even if it also nearly got me killed.
A general disdain for authority, parents, school or any system was all that was needed to enter into this way of life. And it is a way of life. A skateboard also helped. Skating the suburban streets we found kids with the same pains and grudges we had. It became a foster family. There is a real DIY (do-it-yourself) sprit in the Punk community that only exists where you can find the down-trotted. We advertised our individualism by being a loud, bright, abrasive and sometimes a very troublesome group. Everyone had everyone’s back despite the trouble we got into and there was one thing and one thing only that came as a priority: We don’t talk to police.
I could wax poetic about going to shows, house parties, crashing other people’s house parties and all kinds of various Punk things but I won’t. I can give you hundreds of examples of Punk songs about bucking the system, fighting against racism, social injustices, stamping out corporate greed, etc… Inquire within if you like . The spirit of Punk started in the streets and tells stories of people rebelling against injustices caused by systemic failures. The same exact thing can be said about Hip Hop. The two have similarities many people don’t realize. But if you’ve been out here then you know it. Real recognize real.
Culture; the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.
So when Candace Owens said Trump was the Punk Rock President why was I losing my shit? Maybe I couldn’t fathom the thought of a “law and order” president being Punk. There was nothing Punk at all about his response to Charlottesville. As someone who grew up in the shadow of losing flags and monuments made to intimidate, segregate, discriminate and miseducate, hearing a president defend them isn’t anything Punk has ever taught me. Again, I took this very personal. And she hasn’t been the only one to make this claim. My ego was taking a beating.
Identity; the fact of being who or what a person is.
Uniqueness; the quality of being the only one of its kind.
Calling myself a Punk but yet being able to look like an otherwise “normal” person is something I’ve always taken pride in. It’s often been the point. If a tee-shirt, spiked belt and dangerous mind are the only things separating you and me then it’s easy to assimilate and infiltrate from within. These were honest thoughts I had growing up. I can seem normal, but be a Punk on the weekend. And I did that for a long time until the lies of hiding who I really am caught up with me. That’s a privilege not everyone has. If you can’t connect those dots please meditate on it. If you already know then you know. But, I also suffer from “terminal uniqueness.” My mind used to make me think I was so special and unique that no one could possibly understand what I was going through and maybe I was just meant to suffer. That made it easier for myself to go on self-martyrdom/God-complex trips. But, thank God that I’ve recovered enough from that insanity to see that I’m not the only person in the world.
“Dick Gregory told me a couple of secrets before he laid down in his grave. All of us serve the same masters. All of us nothin’ but slaves. Never forget in the story of Jesus, the hero was killed by the state.” -Killer Mike, RTJ4
P.S. I want to add a couple random solution nuggets on here as talking points I pick up from various places incase you are reading it all the way down. As always this is about healing and I want to share my personal experiences that you may not see. Thanks.
- All Police Body Cams MUST be linked to a third-party cloud monitoring device. Figure out the details somehow, but they should not have control over those cameras ever.
- Mental Health reform across the board. And this goes big for Police. I’m going to write my thoughts on Defunding the Police. And I’ll sum it up as we ask them to do way too much. Take away money in areas they aren’t equipped to deal with, BUT resources have to be dedicated to handling PTSD on the job and more therapists and counselors need to be available if not mandatory. Don’t just dismiss what some of the cops have to deal with. I’ve seen firsthand what witnessing violent crimes does to minds. Asking someone to go right back out to the job is not a good idea. I’ll leave it at that for now, thanks! ❤️