Laina Dawes likes heavy metal. No. She loves heavy metal. And she’s a Black woman. When I heard her radio interview today on National Public Radio (NPR), I was instantly wanting to know more about this awesome BlackNEK lady hero. She shared her experience getting hate from Whites at heavy metal concerts and just as much hate from Blacks who questioned her race authenticity. This is a familiarly sad story often repeated by fellow BlackNEKs and one of the reasons this blog exist. A Black person who listens to rap is no more or less Black than one who listens to heavy metal or classical or Irish folk songs for that matter. This prison of life experiences some require us to submit to in order to demonstrate our racial essence is the utmost foolishness and has to stop. The name of Laina Dawes’ book is What are You Doing Here? A Black Woman’s Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal. This is a question we routinely have been asked from Whites and Blacks when breaking ground and exploring new territories. Certainly, Rosa Parks received this question. Certainly, the first Black students integrating schools did. Tiger Woods…Arthur Ashe…Charlie Pride…Barrak Obama…they have all taken this question on at one point or another. While heavy metal might be a little too headache inducing for my taste, Laina Dawes is a modern day torchbearer for BlackNEK values. Do whatever you want and don’t let the foolish idea of some how losing your Blackness limit your dreams.