In the midst of ongoing protests following the police custody killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Avenged Sevenfold singer M. Shadows has penned an op-ed. In it, he aims to educate what he admitted is a predominantly white fan base, explained why he stands with the Black Lives Matter movement and tackled moments and ideas that help sharpen perspective.
In his opening remarks in the piece for Revolver Magazine, Shadows stated he does not want to take a neutral stance with the understanding that racial prejudice has “festered for 400 years in this country.”
“I hope we can be honest with ourselves; take a step back and choose between right and wrong and reject political hyperbole,” the singer urged before viewing the current unrest through the lens of what we could have done differently to avoid reaching this point. “Peaceful protests have resulted in nil,” he relented, citing NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s one-knee protest during the National Anthem that divided the nation just a couple years ago and left the athlete without a team.
“If we had heeded the protests leading up to this with an open mind and open heart, we might be in a different boat than we find ourselves in now. Had we collectively demanded reform before so many hit the breaking point, then we might be sharing ideas rather than battling over differences. The reality is, this is not a ‘black problem’ — it is an American problem. Until we address it as such, the tides will remain the same,” Shadows insisted.
Counting his best friend, nephew, crew members, peers and associates among African Americans with an enriching presence in his life, the Avenged Sevenfold frontman went on to outline some of the negative moments he’s experienced when with them.
“The off-handed comments I’ve heard behind their backs should make any decent person sick to their stomach. The dirty looks, the mumblings, the drive-by taunts. This is just part of their daily lives, and somehow, they take it on the chin and carry on. It’s normal to them,” he lamented. “To my white friends, can you imagine living like that for a moment? It’s horrifying and unfair.”
Shadows said “the tension of a black man being in that crowd was palpable,” when recollecting a time he brought his brother-in-law to see his favorite band, Slipknot, “a couple years back.”
With that said, the frontman’s message became abundantly clear — silence is not an option. “If you are white and have been sitting on the sidelines of this situation, we need you to stand up,” Shadows demanded, acknowledging that certain things are mutually exclusive when he added, “Taking a stand for our fellow Americans does not mean you condone the riots. It simply means you are listening and want to help.”
Urging reflection, the veteran rocker offered, “If you posted in opposition of the riots yet were previously silent on the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, among too many others, please ask yourself why. It’s time to show our fellow Americans that we hear them and feel their pain.”
“Every life is valuable — that is a given — but right now the lives of the oppressed require our undivided attention,” stressed Shadows as he laid out why the “all lives matter” response to the Black Lives Matter movement is inherently flawed.
Clarifying his motivation for writing the op-ed, the singer explained, “I understand that the Avenged Sevenfold fanbase is made up of very few black Americans. That is why I feel more compelled than ever to write this to you. We can be the ones — the rock and metal community — to reach out and show the compassion that I know is in us all to help raise up our fellow humans. I, for one, enjoy black American culture. The music, art, films, clothing, sports, food. All of it has made my life better. I have no doubt we are a better country because of the black American influence.”
In closing, Shadows was entirely understanding of some disagreeable moments in Avenged Sevenfold’s past and owned up to it. He admitted their past use of the Confederate flag was both to pay homage to their influences, but to also provoke controversy.
“I’m sure we will be called out, and rightfully so, by people reading this,” he realized, but confessed, “No excuses. But everyone grows up at some point, and I feel grateful that we have an audience that has allowed us to evolve with them. I can only hope that the rock and metal community, and the white community at large, can move forward with an open mind and come together to help out our fellow Americans in this desperate time.”
To learn more about the Black Lives Matter movement, head here.
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