As a punk and as a woman of color, I’ve found that I’ve been an oddity at so many punk shows I’ve been to. Maybe I’m just living in the wrong place, but when I attend punk shows I often find myself to literally be the only woman of color at a show. But fear not, we may be rare, but WoC punks, post punks, and other derivatives do exist!
Poly Styrene of X-ray Spex
Vocalist, songwriter and front woman for the X-ray Spex of London, England. Poly was born to a Somali father and is among some of the first women of color in the punk scene.
Pauline Black of The Selecter
Vocalist for the late 70′s 2-tone ska band The Selecter, Pauline Black was born in the Greater London Area to a Jewish mother and a Yoruba Nigerian father. The Selecter was a prominent band in the ska scene in London in the late70′s and early 80′s and Black’s dramatic and bold voice was a defining characteristic of the band.
Shingai Soniwaof Noisettes
Also from London, vocalist and bassist Shingai Soniwa is of Shona Zimbabwean descent. She is the front woman of the indie rock band “Noisettes”, but has also lent her soulful vocals to various other indie and punk acts.
Adee Roberson and Osa Atoe of New Bloods
All girl post-punk band New Bloods is an interesting act that features characteristic minimalist joy division-esque bass lines and drums and unique use of the violin in their tracks. This band from Portland, Oregon featured two women of color, Adee Roberson and Osa Atoe.
Allysa Lowe of The Atomic Tanlines
A relatively new and little known act in the scene, The Atomic Tanlines are a punk rock band out of Denton, Texas that features lead vocalist and attitude-wild WoC Allysa Lowe. Women like her remind us that we can still make our mark on the punk scene.
Alicia Armendariz of Bags
Alicia Armendariz (AKA Alice Bag) was the vocalist for the L.A. punk band “Bags” and later “Cholita!”, and is of Latina descent. “Bags” was among the first generation of punk rock bands in Los Angeles. Alice later went on to become an activist for Chicanx and women’s rights.
I’ve only scraped the surface of the many WoC in the punk and post-punk scenes of the past and present, and I didn’t even touch the scores of woman-led punk bands in Latin America and Asia, so I encourage everyone to add to this appreciation post.
Some people think that women are meant to be passive, obedient objects with nothing to say, but these chicks show that they can be more aggressive, opinionated, and independent than others want them to believe.
✿ oh bondage up yours! // X-RAY SPEX ✿ bruise violet // BABES IN TOYLAND ✿ i believe in me // THE AVENGERS ✿ no offense // SLUTEVER ✿ eating toothpaste // BRATMOBILE ✿ diet pill // L7 ✿ white boy // BIKINI KILL ✿ don't // FIFTH COLUMN ✿ monster snack // THE THIRD SEX ✿ one sided society // THE DEVOTCHKAS ✿ shut up slut // BARB WIRE DOLLS ✿ can the can // SUZI QUATRO ✿ sick of it all // THE DISTILLERS ✿ bunk trunk skunk // BE YOUR OWN PET ✿ retard girl // HOLE ✿ suburban relapse // SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES ✿ do you want me on my knees? // THE NUNS ✿ dirty queer (rock n roll) // ATOMIC TANLINES ✿ your phone's off the hook but you're not // X ✿ st. what's her name // THE LOIS ✿ you don't own me // LESLEY GORE ✿ just a girl // NO DOUBT ✿ just go away // BLONDIE ✿ typical girls // THE SLITS ✿ in control (you think you're) // LIPSTICK HOMICIDE ✿ get out of my head // HEAVENS TO BETSY ✿ song for anne bannon // TEAM DRESCH ✿ right in the eye // THE MUFFS ✿ putin lights up the fires // PUSSY RIOT ✿ c'mon // THE RUNAWAYS ✿