I Was a Weird Black Emo Teen in a Misery-Obsessed White Subculture
So last month, after learning that My Chemical Romance was returning for its first tour in eight years, I called my mom, the woman who saw me through my embarrassing outfits and loved me enough to be seen in public with me. “I thought this was a phase,” she said, like all mothers of emo children. “You haven’t grown up at all.” Truthfully, I haven’t. Emo faded out by the mid-to-late 2000s (and for many of us, with the November 2010 release of Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys) and while we all inevitably moved on and grew up, many of us weren’t ready to say goodbye.
“I thought this was a phase”
I wasn’t just an emo teen—I was Black emo teen. If anyone was angsty, misunderstood, and slighted, it was me. By 14, I had moved from my pop-punk phase of listening to Good Charlotte, Gob and Sum 41 on my walkman—my clothes held together by obnoxiously large safety pins, my Converse scribed on with black marker, and rainbow socks—to black band T-shirts and rubber bracelets, bows in my hair, and skull jewelry. Hiding behind the anonymity of the internet, I didn’t have to worry about being the sole Black emo. But at my Toronto high school, where everyone was obsessed with hip hop, Ice Creams, and Air Jordans, I was the weird Black emo girl who no one—not even the boys—wanted to be around.
" I wonder if, like me, they still listen to the music because no one longs for emo culture like the kids of color who didn’t get the chance to experience it fully."
Now in my late 20s, I’m still a diehard emo lover, and though this confession still elicits shock from white people, it isn’t much of a surprise to the dozens of other reformed emos of color I’ve met. They had been hiding all along, crying emo tears to Dashboard Confessional albums in the privacy of their rooms because they knew that emo culture was reserved for white kids, not us.
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