By Cammie Gilbert (Oceans of Slumber),
My name is Cammie Gilbert and I am the lead singer of progressive metal band Oceans of Slumber. Hailing from Houston, Texas, we’ve been grinding our gears for around the last 10 years. Our newest self-titled album is out now on Century Media, but, as expected, other more important societal themes have been on my mind.
I scroll through Facebook and squint at the comments. These comments lead me to other comments, and then profiles pages and then disturbing content. I look at these threads and wonder what it would be like to be on the other side. I only know what I have seen, what I have learned, and what I have experienced with such topics.
I look at unadulterated racism and I feel lost and troubled and sad. Hatred. I don’t know that I fully understand what it means to hate something. Empathy is my curse. I’d like to think that how these people appear online is not how they would conduct themselves in real life, with flesh and blood, but I cannot be certain. There is so much fear in the air. So much baiting and confrontation. The reasons have all blurred, but they classically come back to race. What a common and easy denominator. We look different so we must act differently. I know we are the same, but time has told us all otherwise and we believe it.
People take up arms literally and figuratively and we fight. For what? Over what? Seeking what outcome? Fear driving these decisions to do harm. This is not a world I want to live in. But here we all are. The metal community is predominantly white and male. I myself have black hair, brown eyes, and tan skin. I am also a woman. I may have an existence quite different and far from your own, but I know that we have things in common. Something very particular in fact. The nostalgia that binds us to a familiar artist, the foundation of emotions that are wrapped up in the extreme threads of our auditory escapes, the electricity that moves through each instrument and into our ears. We are united in metal.
If that was the first thing people knew about me I’d be OK with that. All the other inferences and stereotypes I’d like to do without. My hope is to lead with what binds us, find our common ground and build from there. I am a black woman in America, and I love electric guitar, heavy drums, and guttural vocals and I am a metalhead just like you.
** To read more about Gilbert, her position on race and fronting Oceans of Slumber, by all means read the excellent J. Bennett Q&A in Decibel #192 (October 2020). Back issues of Decibel can be found HERE.