Are criticisms of Kanye West motivated by white supremacy?



Christopher Keelty is a writer and artist based outside New York City.
Image of Zakk Wylde with meme-style caption: HEY KANYE, PRAY TO GOD THAT I NEVER WIN A GRAMMY

By now you’ve already seen it, or at least you know the story: At the 2015 Grammy Awards, Kanye West responded to Beck winning the year’s best album award by intruding onto the stage, apparently ready to relive his infamous 2009 moment with Taylor Swift before reconsidering and returning to his seat. Afterward, Kanye was quoted as saying Beck “needed to respect artistry” and give his award to Beyonce.

If you didn’t see the little drama play out live (if, like me, you ignore the Grammys as one more among a slew of bloated, masturbatory and irrelevant award shows) then you probably learned about Kanye and Beck from the ensuing controversy, pre-packaged and ready-made for social networks. By reversing course and not taking the mic, Kanye even kept his intrusion brief enough to fit in a Vine. At last count it had just over 3.2 million loops, and I bet only 100,000 of those are from Kanye watching himself. Shirley Manson of Garbage delivered a carefully worded skewering, and millions of everyday viewers have either chided or cheered Kanye.

…and this is where I get a little uncomfortable. The image above was among the many memes and responses trending on Facebook and other social networks. Any pop culture controversy, especially one involving Kanye West, is going to wake up Racist Twitter, but something about this image felt subtle and coded. I didn’t recognize the man in the picture (first mistaking him for Metallica frontman James Hetfield) but it turns out this is Zakk Wylde, former guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne and founder of the heavy metal band Black Label Society.

Now, to be clear I’m not accusing Wylde of racism–but he’s almost certainly not the one who created this meme, and heavy metal has long been a favorite of the white supremacist movement. With his beard and long hair, the leather wraps and gothic font, he becomes is a nordic warrior, his chosen weapon on a studded leather strap, standing atop a mountain and promising implied harm to his interrupting foe.

Heavy Metal didn’t get to be a favorite of white supremacy by accident. Bands and musicians in the genre have long-embraced symbolism and imagery that is central to supremacist culture, including Odinist, nazi, and American confederate iconography, songs about norse myth and southern pride, and aggressive positions against rap and hip hop. While some of this is certainly marketing, other bands have openly embraced the white-power philosophy. Pantera frontman Phil Anselmo delivered white power sermons during concerts, and other bands have included thinly-veiled messages in their lyrics. Motorhead often used Nazi and Confederate iconography, and frontman Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister collected Nazi paraphernalia, though when confronted about it he said it was only for aesthetic value and strongly disavowed racist thought. The embracing of punk and metal by white supremacist hate-groups has been documented by publications like Tablet and Noisecreep.

As for Zakk Wylde and Black Label Society, their branding includes icons like the celtic and iron crosses, both frequent symbols of white pride, though Wylde, like Lemmy, says he uses such symbols only for their aesthetic. Wylde was a close friend and protege of Pantera guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott, and in the early 1990’s played with a band called “Lynyrd Skinhead.” I’m not alone in my suspicions: A 2012 conversation on the white supremacist community Stormfront is titled “Is Zakk Wylde one of us?

Even if Wylde is only blowing that dogwhistle by accident, it’s still being heard–and the message of the meme above, decoded, seems clear. Beck may have handled Kanye’s interruption with class and even admiration, but a soldier in the white nationalist army would’ve taught Kanye West to “know his place.”

White supremacists have a special hate for Kanye West, beyond the mere fact of his race. In 2009 he interrupted and embarrassed Taylor Swift, an ivory-skinned pretty white girl who got her start singing country ballads (and who went on to perpetuate black stereotypes in the guise of “good clean fun”). This, after calling out George W. Bush in 2005, and Kanye’s habit of comparing himself to Jesus. Of course he’s also a successful, outspoken, and ubiquitous black entrepreneur with what might politely be described as “an ego issue.” Poke around in online white supremacist discussions for a while [friendly warning: it’s not a pleasant experience] and you’ll find Kanye’s name comes up a lot, often in conversations unrelated to his work.

Is it fair to criticize Kanye? Of course it is; his behavior at the Grammys was entitled and narcissistic, as it so often is. But the modes of expressing that criticism suggest the motives, for many on social media, are less about Kanye West’s behavior and more about his race.

The Founder and the Fraud

Elon Musk versus Hank Green, the online influencer who is everything Elon pretends to be. Since I left Twitter I’ve been fulfilling my social media

Read More »

63 thoughts on “Are criticisms of Kanye West motivated by white supremacy?”

  1. Im gonna agree with like 99% of this post, but the whole Taylor Swift “went on to perpetuate black stereotypes in the guise of “good clean fun”” thing is really a narrow attack on something that is SO CLEARLY satire. In fact it is satire of the very thing she is being accused of. It also tends to come from taking 5 seconds of the video and trying to make a point disregarding the entire video and the entire sentiment there in, which is to not let stereotypes and other people’s assumptions about you affect you.

    The entire video is taking recent music video tropes and stereotypical relationships of dance and poking fun at them and it ultimately consistently breaks down to Taylor and others just breaking out of it and goofing off.

    I would say there is a problem when we get to a point that we start attacking people who are not only agreeing with our points, but are putting forward the same points in the very medium we are attacking them for.

    To critically look at the video itself as a whole you see the first 2/3 of the video essentially taking scenes from other videos/tropes from music videos generally and then placing Taylor swift in them where she then breaks the trope itself by often just failing at existing in it. Then the final 1/3 of the video is Taylor and an assorted and diverse group of people just dancing silly and having fun, in essence supporting the entire point of the song which is to just be you regardless of expectation, stereotype, peoples presumptions, etc., cause “Haters gonna hate” and in response we should all “Just Shake”.

    I’m personally waiting for the Ballet community to come out against her for her use stereotypical ideas of ballet dancers, or the modern dance community for her making them look less silly than they really do.

  2. PS, Chris I still love you and always will, I’m glad to have you as a friend who consistently gives me great and thoughtful things to read. (even if you’re hating on T-Swift, you bad bad man you)

  3. What is this garbage?! Here’s something to think about on the subject of racism; did you notice how the people Kanye interrupted were white people & the winner in his eyes is a black woman? He doesn’t have a problem when any black artists beat out Beyoncé for an award. But if it’s a white person, he must publicly voice his concern. Or maybe it’s on account of his head being so fat he thinks his friends have to win, regardless of skin color, because they associated with him.

    Zakk Wylde is probably used in a meme responding to Kanye’s actions, because he’s a grown ass man & not a small girl like Taylor Swift or scrawny guy like Beck.

    As for Lemmy, he is a very big fan of history especially during the world wars. People have sent him souvenirs from that time period & he’s also collected items on his own. He may qualify as a nerd, but not a racist. Besides, he’s had multiple colored girlfriends, you know, like the ones a white supremacist wouldn’t want to associate with.

    Heavy metal fans probably don’t like rap for the same reasons raps fans don’t like heavy metal & disco queens don’t like honky tonk men. Everyone has their own opinion & to label someone a racist for not liking your favorite artist or band is a dickhead move.

  4. Suuure it is white supremacy and not the fact that this guy Kanye is a molester of arts.
    Suure ” heavy metal has long been a favorite of the white supremacist ” because if they were ( as they are ) listening to medicore stuff( as all the F* racists I know personaly ) there will be nothing to say about their music preferences. It would just be the same as any other idiot’s taste ( LACK OF TASTE ).
    It wasn’t a Vagner meme, was it ?
    Wylde is representing a famous modern day artist, not a nazzi warrior.
    People want to see a snuff featuring Kanye for stuff like his King Krimson humilitaion, not because he is black. If it was vanilla ice we’d still hate him.
    Sepultura’s frontman is black.
    Type O negative have a song titled ‘Kill all the white people’, because of people like you.
    And I was brought here, cause I googled the meme. Disapointment.

    1. …so because one specific black man criticized Kanye (years ago, I might add) that means no one else who criticizes Kanye might have ulterior motives?

      1. But you assume that criticising Kayne has ulterior motives. And anyone who disagrees with you is shouted down. Maybe you are just making shit up in order to stick up for someone who is obviously your hero. I myself think that Kayne is an untalented moron. I have no ulterior motives for this other than he is an untalented moron. I suggest that you stop making rash generalistions about metal fans based upon your own limited perception. Is Wagner the preferred Classical Composer of the Racist simply because Hitler was a fan? Are Zack De La Rocha, Tom Morello, Vernon Reid, Ice T (yes he has a metal band), Henry Marshall, Howard Jones (Not the 80s pop star), Byron Reid, Derrick Green and Benji Webbe self loathers for being Heavy Metal Musicians? What you need to begin to understand is that just because a genre has a tiny racist minority that genre is not racist. Any argument that said genre is then racist is on a par with the “All Muslims are terrorists because of a few Wahhabi Fundamentalists claimed to be spreading the word of Islam. Now please stop tarring the vast majority of normal non-racist metal fans with the same brush and maybe go and educate yourself. *Awaits as the author (sic) goes Googling the names that I have mentioned*

        1. Actually I don’t need to Google anyone, because:

          (a) You’ve misread the argument entirely–saying that racists love metal is NOT in any way the same thing as saying all metal fans are racist. That’s like me saying “cows are mammals,” and you hearing “all mammals are cows.” It’s the very most basic logic there is, and you failed.


          (b) A big chunk of your comment essentially backs up my original argument. So thanks.

  5. Mate, you’re an idiot.
    The picture was made because Zakk is a weight lifter and of a very large build.
    He is a legend in the heavy metal community and has paid his dues more than Kanye ever will.

    This isn’t about black and white hate, this is about Kanye being a wank and the underground genre of heavy metal standing up as it is more over looked.
    Kanye hogs the air waves and is a narcissist.
    Zakk has toured the world for his art and in turn, has a legion of fans behind him.

    The picture just means that if Zakk were on stage and Kanye even tried, he would be knocked the fuck out. Nothing else. But yet again, heavy metal is put down because someone has looked into it too much.

    1. I’m not putting down heavy metal. As it happens, I’m a fan of some metal music–though clearly not in touch enough to recognize Zakk Wylde, which is probably a failing on my part. But it’s not “putting down” a musical genre to point out patterns among its artists or fans.

      Certainly if I were a metal artist myself I’d be disgusted to know that white supremacists connect to my music, and I’d be an outspoken opponent of that view–as many metal artists have done, to their credit. But I also wouldn’t use iconography like the Iron Cross, or try to evoke imagery that has been co-opted and tainted by white supremacists.

  6. The author seems to be a self-loathing idiot. Could the same charges be flung at hip-hop? Oh no, that’s “artistry”. Hiding behind the skirt of “racism” seems to be the default reaction for boors and politicians.

    1. Of course accusations of racism could be leveled at hip-hop, and I’m sure of them would be justified. If you’d care to take the time to present such a case, I’d be happy to read it.

      My question, though: What part of this post made you use the term “self-loathing?”

  7. if you had done your homework, you’d probably know that Wylde is a Jimi Hendrix admirer. So is Lemmy (he was actually Jimi’s roadie for some time), who was also a big fan and friend of Phil Lynott. Not exactly “white guys”.
    So, no, it’s not about supremacy, it’s about West being a moron, and his so called music being pure crap.

    1. Now, see, these kinds of comments strike me as funny. For the record I am not accusing Lemmy or Wylde of racism themselves, as I make clear in my original posts–rather that their image and iconography appeals to white supremacists and racists. But that point aside, how is “admiring Hendrix” or being a fan of Phil Lynott exculpatory evidence against racism or white supremacy?

      I mean, Donald Sterling owned an NBA team, that employed and made millionaires of lots of black men. He dated black women. But he was (is, I suppose) a racist and white supremacist. Mel Gibson basically became a star playing “buddy cop” to Danny Glover, and yet we found out later that he had long harbored white supremacist sentiment.

      Again, the intent of this post was never to accuse any musician of racism, but with that said, defenses like this one are so simplistic as to be laughable. Real life is just much more complex than “he had a black friend,” or “he admired a black performer.” People are complicated.

      1. People are complicated, but at least they don’t jump to stupid conclusions like you did. Lemmy’s not racist, and I know that for sure: he respects people for what they are. And I know metal heads, many of them, actually. I’ve worked in the field as a journalist and fan for 15 years, so I know something about them. There’s racists metalheads, of course, like there’s racist people in the world: the percentage is just the same. And if we despise West is for his crappy so-called-music and for his moronic attitude, no other reason than that. He could be just as white as Eminem and he would get the same treatment. So, stop with this crap.

      2. the author is just a troll posing as an author- he wants this reaction. No one could write such an asinine peace of garbage and really mean it, he can’t be that stupid, can he? Wow.

  8. Representing myself. Zakk Wilde is an amazing guitarist. So there is many, many people that are attracted to more underground music that is not so pop culture. I myself love hip hop, rap, jazz, blues and of course metal. Snoop Dogg, BIG, Lil Wayne,Drake, love them, but I can’t stand that M.F. Mr. West, let alone his wife. But for the writer of this article to say that Zakk Wilde or whoever put that caption on his picture is racist or whatever your intent was, put some more research into your writing. It may seem to you that this type of music is more universal than you thought it’s just not popular, & I’ve got to say I kind of like it that way. That was the attraction. You may want to know that Miss Jada Pinket Smith loves metal, she also sings for a metal band, &also what about the band In Living Color, they are awesome, & also Tom Morillo from Rage Against The Machine, another amazing band. Ted Nugent’s newest favorite band is Bruno Mars & he & his band are considered metal. I guess you just pissed me off as much as Mr. West, by trying to turn this into a race issue. It’s more disrespectful what Mr. West did twice not only to whomever he interrupted but I would think to his wife as well. Clearly he has a major crush on Someone else other then his cute little wife. And your just a Prick trying to piss people off. Fuck off!! Thank you very much. By the way in case you were wondering I Am a Woman of Color that loves metal and rap, and happily dating a White Man!!!!

  9. ‘Heavy Metal didn’t get to be a favorite of white supremacy by accident.’ – What utter nonsense Heavy Metal is not and never has been the musical choice of the White Supremacist?

    Heavy Metal started in the late 1960s and emcompasses thousands of bands and many sub genres of metal.

    The White Power, neo-nazi, white pride movement or whatever they want to call themselves has their own music that grew out of the late 70s skinhead, punk, hardcore movements. I would even put my neck on the line and say there is a bigger racist Country and Western movement than any form of Metal.

    Why not investigate what the White Power movement listen to before making such a sweeping and factually incorrect statement.

    I am sure you will find racist metal bands out there. I know you will find racist metal fans but to say it is the favourite music of white supremacy is way off the mark.

    White Supremacists = Skrewdriver not Sabbath, Angry Aryans not Iron Maiden and Bully Boys not Bullet Boys.

    Seriously take a bit of time to look into this – it is both eye opening and terrifying the underground music scene that has followed the white power movements for decades. It is also reasonably interesting spending a night on youtube realising how musically untalented neo-nazis can be and how many real nutcases out there 🙂

    If you still come to the same conclusion at the end of looking into this I would be very surprised.


  10. this article is rediculous.. by this logic you could call rap music racist because the fan base of a genre of music is mainly black. Kanye is an idiot, it has nothing to do with the color of his skin…it has everything to do with his actions and the things he says in public. as for those moron white power folks, they like metal music because a lot of white people like metal music…im sure there is a black racist group that exists somewhere that likes rap music a lot….im a fan of both btw. i also like some of kanyes music…but metal music has nothing to do with racism for the most part…sure there are racist bands, but im sure you can find a racist rapper also

  11. Honestly for me the exaggerated reaction to Kanye, no matter what He does, small or big, good or arguably “bad” is precisely what makes me feel their is and has been an undertone of racism towards him since the Taylor Swift incident. I’ve searched around the internet to see if anyone else, like I had, made the connection between the Taylor Swift incident and what has basically become a “culture of hatred” towards him and so far this seems to be the only one that comes close to dissecting what the real issue is.

    By and large the reactions towards him tend to fall into two camps; where you have those that feel that He’s a complete moron and idiot and His music is “complete crap” (which unlike the latter two reasons, is probably the most ridiculous and if there is racism here, maybe the best indicator of it, the repertoire of music covered in Kanye’s work covers everything from Rock to Classical to R&B and a whole bunch of other genre’s, it’s no stretch to say that believing his work is “complete and utter crap” would basically require that you hate 2/3 of every kind music that is out there, not to mention insulting a whole host of legendary artists as you do it including ‘Black Sabbath’, ‘Jon Brion’, ‘Elton John’ and whole host of other artists which might even end-up including miss Taylor Swift Herself if their collaboration does actually see the light of day) and then the camp who (because they hate everything and anything mainstream or maybe because Taylor Swift is technically perfect, and they hate perfect or maybe just by some misguided attempt to defend Kanye from what was, honestly, a miscalculated attempt, on his part to fight for Beyonce or Artistry) applaud him for what He did. Which in my opinion He shouldn’t be as it only robs his fellow artists of their confidence in their work, instead of correcting “undeserved” or “wrongful” award giving by these Awarding institutions be it the Grammy’s or MTV’s VMA’s or what have you (Probably be more effective if He jumped on stage while that dude with the Glasses who owns the Grammy’s or whatever and Ryan Secrest were making those long ass speeches, I think everyone one would welcome the interruption).

    That said the continued and, as aforementioned, exaggerated persecution of Mr. West by the media or general public is precisely what drives or gives validation to the Racism angle or argument. Honestly at this point and so many years later, I feel everybody’s reaction to the Taylor Swift “I-ma let you finish” incident should be, ironically, akin to Taylor Swift’s own reaction to it, where she forgave Him after his apology and moved on (and is now even presumably friends with Mr. West). Yet for the section of the media that continues to crucify him for this “sin” He committed and a section of the general public (those that pay attention to this crap anyway) who continue to berate him over every little thing, all these years later, as if He were jumping on stage every other Sunday to interrupt speeches. It’s this “eternal hatred” if you would that these people have towards him where things go awry and the whole thing starts to smell of something foul; namely racism. Honestly as far as entertainment scandals go the action or his mistake does not deserve half the hatred it has garnered him and continues to.

    To cut to it, the whole dynamic seems to be: how could you Kanye West, a Black man, jump on-stage to interrupt this White All-American girl to tell Her she is not deserving when She had “more of a right” to that stage than you ever will? How can you, Kanye West, a Black man, Ancestry of a slave, be so damn entitled? That perception, one which can aptly be held by both White and Black people, is precisely why I believe many will not only insult him but also go out of their way to demean or berate his achievements, as if to say you were given more than you ever even deserved. The “entitlement”, that level of pride in a Black person (in a country that has historically viewed Black people as lesser in every aspect, one were for the longest time Black people were basically a live gag reel) that Kanye demonstrates and demonstrated with “Taylor-gate” (if you would) is what what I believe really erk’s people. Honestly I don’t believe it’s ever really been about Taylor Swift, like anyone genuinely cared what She was going through, people could give a damn, probably feel like She’s too damn entitled herself, silver spoon and all that. I mean Pink made some kind of defence of her at the, calling Kanye a “piece of shit” for what He did, yet she basically made a career undermining the image of the kind of girl that Taylor Swift personifies.

    When you boil it all down, the real anger seems to stem from what Taylor Swift or at-least her image represents to certain people, She is symbolic of a certain kind of America (or White America or even generally White people) and the pride that comes with that and how Kanye in his actions defiled or insulted this symbol by basically being just what He is, a Black American man, far off child of a slave.

    That or maybe it’s like He said, maybe people just look at him and think, “I don’t like Kanye. Look, he looks mad. I don’t like his teeth”.

    1. Soooooo….Those other artists are less deserving than Kanye or Beyonce and it’s ok to disrespect somebody elses moment in the spotlight??? Oh and it’s ok to have black or latino pride but not white pride?? What a crock of shit and a double standard that only continues the absurdity of superiority of any race and only feeds negativity into race relations…good job guys…

  12. This is literally the biggest pile of shit I’ve ever seen. Never ONCE have I met a white supremacist that liked heavy metal, and I live in a state that has an extremely large amount of Neo Nazis on it. Before you accuse me of being a white supremacist because “LOOK HE’S WHITE AND BLONDE AND LIKES METAL AND HATES KANYE”, I’m not even close to being remotely racist. Not only am I and many other metalheads a fan of rap music, but so are the vast majority of heavy metal musicians, this includes the members of Slayer and Pantera, and maybe even Zakk himself. I know he loves Jimi at least. Even if he wasn’t a fan of any black artists, that doesn’t mean he’s racist.

    You just need to accept the fact that people are stupid, and Kanye is a stupid person. He’s a spoiled little brat and race has nothing to do with this. If we as a society decide that I cannot criticize Kanye West simply because he is black and I am white, that is not fixing the situation, that is simply driving the two of us apart even further and making things more poisonous.

    If anything, listening to heavy metal and hardcore punk made it even less likely of me to become a white supremacist, because I understood that the roots of the genre lie in music created by African Americans, mainly being the blues and rock and roll. To stress things even further my girlfriend is not only also a fan of heavy metal and hardcore punk, but she’s black and she hates rap music! I hope your head didn’t explode at that revelation.

    Let me stress again, I am a HUGE fan of rap music. I know all the lyrics to every song on NWA’s first album and I’m only 19 years old and from MONTANA of all places. Me being a fan of rap music makes me hate Kanye even more because he’s a shitty rapper. He’s not a good musician. He could be a white man who makes metal music and I’d still hate him because he would still be a shitty musician because he’s Kanye West. Anybody named Kanye west is destined to be a terrible musician and an insufferable human being.

    You strike me as somebody who has never met a black person before and as such feel like you have to go overboard in your “defense” of them because you don’t have any black friends. What I’m getting at here, is that although you are not a white supremacist, you are still extremely racist. You’re not MALICIOUSLY racist, you’re just ignorant and don’t know any better.

    Black people don’t need your help to “defend” them. I can guarantee you that a lot of African Americans hate Kanye even more than I do. You may think you’re being some great crusader against the forces of bigotry and hate, but you’re just embarassing yourself.

  13. It’s funny… What I saw that waste of protoplasm get up and advance to the stage as Beck was accepting his award, I thought many things, but one of them was… Where are all my beloved Rock stars? Where are my metal heads who, in the 80’s and even the 90’s, would have gotten up and done something about these continued outbursts from that talentless douchebag, West. I specifically thought of Zach Wylde and wished he was there and fantasized of him silently getting up and obstructing Kanye’s path to the stage… Never uttering a word… Just fixing his gaze on Kanye until he sat down and shut the fuck up. This has nothing to do with racism… Zach is just a tough as nails dude with massive arms and a bad-ass, rock and roll attitude, to go with them. He is a scary looking guy who will call you out on your bullshit and that is what so many people are craving! Where have all the rock stars gone? Where is that spirit? Where is that angst and defiance of authority and fearless, raw energy that personified a genre and helped it even transcend itself and seep into other genres? It’s dead or dying… And while it suffers it’s death in the downward spiral of its death throes, we are many to suffer the likes of Kanye West… With no one to stand up and tell him to sit the fuck down! I mourn the loss of rock and the attitude that embodied it… I mourn.

  14. Very interesting perspective I would like to hear more about your opinion on a few things. In your critique of Kanye, you cite great rock/metal groups of the 80’s and 90’s. I completely agree with you on that measure. Although not my favorite genre I do like metal. Many groups of the past perpetuated a great energy of anti-establishment.

    Where I’m confused is why you think Kanye West is pro establishmemt. I’m not sure if you have listened to his music but its quite provocative. I think him voicing his opinons was more of a fuck you to the Grammy’s for not recognizing artist from different generes.

  15. The imbecile asks if criticism of Kanye West is motivated by racism.

    And I ask the spineless freak why is it always racism when a white person criticizes a black, but when it’s the opposite, it’s not racism?…………

    I’m waiting.

  16. Kanye West is a talentless cunt just like his Mrs. If this is the best America has to offer then America is doomed! How sad.

  17. Anytime a black individual (could be a sports star, entertainer, murderer, president) is criticized by any white individual(s) there are many ignorant/small minded people, such as the writer of this junk, that seize this as an opportunity to yell “Racists!! You are only saying this because he is black!”. That (this article perfect proof) is exactly what makes these ranting people bigots themselves without even realizing it. All they see is color until it comes to a white individual being criticized by black individual(s)…..all is fair and justified in those situations.

    1. Nonsense. Did you even read this post? I laid out my precise reasons for suspecting race is a motive in this specific instance, none of which you addressed, I’m assuming because it’s easier to attack a made-up strawman than to actually respond to the argument presented.

      I don’t even agree with your premise, frankly. I don’t see black people crying race at random–I see white people responding to legitimate accusations of bias and/or racism with the dismissive, lazy argument you made.

      1. “I don’t see black people crying race at random”….wow, you really are blinded by your own wishful thinking!

  18. It just makes me sad that this sort of analysis even exists. No doubt the author has found some far fetched grains of truth in the article but thinking someone is an ass doesn’t make you a racist if you “over” analyse any situation you can probably find a racial motive till we all just become so passive we can’t even stand up against people (fellow humans regardless of race or religion) behaving like idiots.

    I would suggest that if someone had chosen a known white supremacist as the symbol then perhaps the author would have a point but some vague link between celtic symbols and racism is just clutching at straws! It’s a bit like saying well they used a picture of a human I know of a racist human therefore the person who made it is a racist.

    1. I’ve never asserted that thinking Kanye West is an ass makes a person racist–quite to the contrary, in fact. What I’m taking issue with is the shape and form the opposition takes, and why certain people decided to use THIS artist (who is totally unrelated to Taylor Swift or Beck) as the symbol of their opposition.

      I’ve given my reasons for seeing white supremacist motivations in that choice. The link between Celtic and Nordic symbols and white supremacist movements is *not*, in my view, vague. If you disagree, that’s your right of course.


        Celtic and Nordic symbols are not racist, get that through your small minded world view. These are pagan symbols used before race was even an issue. Seriously, you sound like a completely uneducated fool. How embarrassing for you.

      2. Chris, stop trying to defend yourself. You’ve already made a fool out of yourself and are past the point of redemption. There are plenty of blatant, consequential acts racism that occur every day; if you want to write about racism, then write about actual racism. Stop analyzing stupid memes through the convoluted lens of your broken rhetorical electron microscope. Step your game up, this piece is pathetic.

  19. Let’s consider another trait common with the metal scene; while outsiders may say “prone” (those that could confuse Wylde with a poser like Hetfield) I would say that metal musicians and fans are “not opposed” to violence.

    The message I always took from this image is that if Kanye (or ANYONE of ANY race) interrupted Wylde during an acceptance speech, he would likely be knocked out and/or thrown off the stage.
    Not an image Taylor Swift, nor Beck, cultivate.

    In my experience both as a fan and as a security guard at clubs; metal fans are highly inclined to stand by fellow fans of their favorite band, regardless of race. Fights over which band was greater were not uncommon, and almost always followed by buying each other drinks.

    1. Definitely don’t think you’re wrong, and this is one of the better-reasoned counterpoints I’ve seen here. I’m not accusing every person who shared that meme of holding racist animosity–but I’m highly suspicious of the motive behind its creation and popularity. I simply don’t see the link between Wylde and Beck or Taylor Swift. I don’t expect their fan-bases have a lot overlap, and I don’t see why a person watching those incidents would think to invoke Wylde, unless it was someone for whom there is already a particular narrative of race conflict.

      I definitely could be wrong–that’s why I used a question mark in the headline, something I’m usually loathe to do. It would be great if I was wrong. I’d love to find and interview the person who first created that meme, but I suspect that is impossible–I put a bit of effort into that when I wrote this piece, but it’s way beyond my Internet sleuthing abilities.

      1. Kanye and Beyoncé are talentless, manufactured rap pop, get over it, they suck. no matter how much you put down heavy metal, they. will. still. suck.

  20. Hey Chris,

    Good Article. Glad that in 2015 there are a few people who still give some relevance to heavy metal.

    I’m not white and I’ve been a die-hard heavy metal fan since 1992. That being said, I’ve never shrugged off music that sounded good – whether it was hip hop, rap, rnb, country, jazz, blues…name it. And this open minded attitude of mine has been seen in virtually 90% of metal fans I’ve had the privilege of interacting with.

    Yes, there are a few metal fans who are into the whole white power thing. There are a few who believe that symbols, signs and lyrics of some metal bands hint towards white nationalism. Where they cannot find white power symbolism they assume and dig for it, trying their hardest to believe that their favorite bands are “one of them.” Try as hard as they can, but most of the popular heavy metal don’t sing about glorifying race and heritage. These themes are found mainly in bands who openly support white supremacy…not the ones like BLS/ Zakk Wylde or Pantera/Down/SJR/Phil Anselmo.

    But there is a cancer spreading among metal fans…and that is openly embracing right wing Redneck stupidity. People like Zakk Wylde and Phil Anselmo come at the top of my mind when I think of examples. Such a shame because these two are beyond outstanding musicians but the whole hick thing/redneck gimmick has gone too far. Dressing up in Camo, Confederate Flag thing doesn’t belong to something as amazing as heavy metal.

    This comes down to the meme which you spoke about. If you follow heavy metal (I suppose you don’t, because you couldn’t differentiate between Zakk Wylde and James Hetfield…that’s a major FAIL!!!! 😉 you will realize that Zakk Wylde is a drunken idiot who has insulted everyone from Fred Durst to Billy Corgan (!) and he openly states his hatred towards several people. He comes off as a maniac who talks too much with a stern hatred for anything he cannot understand especially music. So it is funny to see a picture of Zakk Wylde threatening his equivalent in rap music – Kanye West.

    Believe me, Zakk is the first person who comes to my mind if you would ask me if who would be the first metal musician to kick Kanye’s ass. So this picture, possibly the most intimidating pic of Zakk I’ve seen, is something to take lightly.

    As for the Nordic Warrior imagery….bands like Amon Amarth, Ensiferum, Finntroll etc. pose like a Viking all the time. They sing about Vikings and pride etc…and it has virtually nothing to do with white skin. It’s all about power and glory…something the US military openly does as well. For a newbie in metal, you could feel a little scared I agree, but this is nothing to fear. Fans didn’t use his image because he looked like a Viking ready to kill, but because he is Zakk Wylde, a potty mouth buffoon.

  21. You have ZERO understanding of Heavy Metal music whatsoever. Where do I begin?

    If you think Lemmy is a racist you clearly have no clue as to who his heroes are. Try Little Richard and Chuck Berry over Elvis. His favorite song is Stand By Me. You’ve also never listened to his anti-war ant-authoritarian lyrics. You’re probably just scared of the way heavy metal sounds, which would put you in company withe the Christian right you bleeding heartfake.

    As for your accusations of Odinism. LOL. Norse mythology in music is not racist, Norse mythology is predominantly referenced by Scandinavian bands. Relevant myths to Scandinavian countries. The fact that you would accuse Norse imagery of being inherently racist shows your own prejudices against Scandinavia and pre-Christian European culture. Which brings me to my next point, the main love for Norse imagery in Heavy Metal music is that is pre-Christian, thus seen as pre-modern civilization and more primal and exciting.

    As for the Zakk meme. For years heavy metal has gotten no respect from the critics and it is constantly shunned and degraded by ignorant people like you. Despite being the single most difficult style of popular music to perform it gets no recognition from mainstream critics. The point of the meme is that heavy metal deserves recognition and if critical darling Kanye were to ever interrupt a Zakk Wylde, and tell him that lip synch queen Beyonce ever deserved an award over him, Kanye had better sit back down.

    Heavy metal music itself is not aggressive towards rap music, it’s not even mentioned in the songs. You’ve seen Anthrax collaborate with Public Enemy and you’ve seen Ice T on a Tony Iommi Black Sabbath effort. You’ll probably never hear a lyric that goes “kill all the rap artists because they’re black” in any legitimate heavy metal effort, you’d be hard pressed to find that, period.

    Moreover I’ve never once heard a single racist lyric in any song I’ve owned and I own quite a bit. Race is a subject that Heavy Metal and Hard Rock ever rarely address. The only song I’ve heard address race is Empire by Queensryche and it criticized the war on drugs.

    What heavy metal fans are aggressive about is inferior music that constantly gets recognition over the genre that they love and are so passionate about. Just because black rappers can’t play instruments, that doesn’t mean guitar based music played by whites is racist, you moron.

    You are the one who has shown his own prejudices and ignorance.

  22. I’m thinking Kanye is a black supremacist, he’s always trying to jump in front of white people to say black people are better than them. Bottom line he is an egotistical jerk and deserves to be raked over the coals by anyone and everyone. Doesn’t matter what color you are if you do an idiotic thing in public like that you’re going to be called out on it. This article is stupid.

  23. Wow…a whole lot of rap music blatantly endorses killing police officers and anyone without black yet this “writer” (I know…he has a lot to learn/long journey ahead if ever to be taken seriously as a writer) slams heavy metal music as racist and its fans as racists. What is next….the ever elusive LGBT-gene proving the “I just know I’m a black woman stuck in a white man’s body” has been located? Stick to comics, you may at least make $20-22K per year. Any legitimate news outlet would make you pay them a whole lot more than that to be a journalist on their payroll.

  24. As a longtime metal fan (40 yrs old) I can definitely see the link between metal and white supremacy. I have crossed paths with the racist element of metal fans. Scary stuff.

  25. Extremely ill informed narrator.. I am guessing American? I listen to heavy metal because I love it. I wear celtic design because I am a Celt and have strong Scandinavian genes. I also listen to and idolise the men and women who created Heavy Metal, Rock and every other form of popular music the blues artists that came mainly from southern states. I live in Scotland where we dont have the racial tension that I encountered when in the states. ( I have travelled the world and the states was the most narrow minded of all)
    Ask Lemmy who is idols are “Little Richard” a gay cross dressing black guy.. yup Lemmy must be a nazi indeed.. 🙂 he roadied for Hendrix , working under under an african american/ native american/white race, yup that sounds like a nazi to me.. 🙂 get a grip man..
    Attend any rock or metal festival and no matter how you dress, gender, religion or race no one will bat an eye, the most friendly accepting crowds ever.

    1. Zakk Wylde racist???? He’s had many non white musicians in his various bands through the years- and his some of his biggest influences are black musicians – seems to me this author needs to do his research benefits he spouts off half truths to get some notice- terrible journalism

      1. Thought Experiment

        it is very fashionable right now to call things racist that we don’t agree with. On both sides. This immediate adoption of polarizing language on any subject that is disagreeable does not help to build bridges of understanding. I guess I don’t mean to pile on here, as it seems enough people have expressed their opposition your thoughts, but you might consider that most woke mindsets are as closed, racist, gender-biased and hateful as any fascist opposite white supremacy camp, Chris.

  26. This is the dumbest theory I’ve heard in a while. Kanye is an egotistic hack, with no manners. That’s why people hate him.

  27. Black supremecists have their lil computerized hip hop jingles, taking blows at white culture every chance they get, but yall appologists have a problem when white people strike back? Pft

  28. You are a babbling sack of wind! I guess now black supremacists indetify with rap so it’s “their music”?
    You are the problem and not helping to find a solution. And you have zero idea about rock & roll, let alone metal.

  29. The meme is clearly saying: Pick on someone your own size.
    I have looked into this also and I have no reason to think Zakk is hate monger. Btw, they come to same conclusion on that Loserfront forum, although they seem disappointed, LOL

  30. This may be the dumbest shit I have ever read. Zakk is a large dude. He is s guitarist. He doesn’t put up with shit. In all likelihood, he would whip Kanye’s ass. You get it now dipshit?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top