The metal community is built on expressing individuality and alternative ideas. We are proud to embrace people who look different — whether it be style, tattoos and piercings or wild hair. So, how can racism exist here? We accept everyone, right?

The reality is that racism is a systemic issue that has seeped into all facets of our lives, and metal is not excluded. And while we are an accepting and diverse community, there is, of course, room for improvement. We can't help eradicate something without accepting that it is here and understanding how it manifests.

That's why we asked a group of metal musicians to discuss some difficult topics around racism to help us all better understand how it finds its way into the music industry, and to hopefully make our community even more compassionate and accepting.

Moderated by rock and metal expert, TV presenter and radio host Sophie K, this panel features Bad Wolves’ Doc Coyle, Fire From the Gods’ AJ Channer, Lamb of God’s Mark Morton, Oceans of Slumber’s Cammie Gilbert and Sepultura’s Derrick Green.

The chat topics span from artists using the n-word and cancel culture to privilege and the Confederate flag —but first we explore why so many metal heads insist that there is no racism issue in metal to begin with.

"Go to a God Forbid music video on YouTube and look at the comments and ask yourself if there’s racism in metal," Bad Wolves guitarist Coyle shared at the start of the discussion.

"There’s this idea that if I haven’t experienced then it must not exist. It kind of speaks to this idea of the limitations of empathy. You can try to see the world through someone else’s eyes, but you just can’t," he adds. "And the truth is if someone feels like that’s their experience, even if I haven’t experienced it, I have to give them the latitude to express their experience. By saying it doesn’t exist — that’s the definition of gaslighting."

Sepultura's Green agrees that it can be hard to understand if it's not something that affects you directly.

"Unless you really experience it then it’s hard for you to really imagine it’s happening," he says. "But it’s consistently happening. It exists all around the world."

Fire From The Gods' Channer says he can understand why people say that racism doesn't exist in metal.

"I do understand what people might mean, because you go to a show — especially here in the states — and you see people of all sorts of races, backgrounds, genders. It can seem like this is such a homogenous community where everyone loves each other, but then again it’s like Doc said, look at the comments on a God Forbid video, look at the comments on a Fire From the Gods video, look at the comments on a Sepultura videos when Derrick first took over I mean it was insane," Channer says.

"I was not really in a band or touring at that point, but I was a fan, I looked up to Doc, I looked up to Derrick, I looked up to Lajon [Witherspoon] from Sevendust, so I saw what they went through. And I understood what that was, and I understood what I was going to go through being a Black guy in a band."

When asked if he’s seen racism in the metal community, Lamb of God's Mark Morton says that he’s definitely been made aware of his own privilege.

He shared a story of a long ago conversation he had while staying up late and drinking with God Forbid's Corey Pierce.

"He was like, 'You’re the next Pantera,' and I was like, 'I don’t know you guys are better players and a tighter band. I think it’s you guys.' And he was like ‘Dude, you know there’s only so far we can go with this thing.’"

Morton didn't understand the obstacles and limitation God Forbid faced being a predominantly Black band.

"For me to not even have my head wrapped around the conversation before it was pointed out to me speaks to my experience and me not having to be confronted with that idea," Morton shared.

"I don’t really experience racism as a white dude, but I know that there’s certainly privilege and to me [that's] the most shining example of when it was most glaringly pointed out to me."

As for the future, Oceans of Slumber's Cammie Gilbert said she'd like to be seen more as a unique person than an anomaly.

"It would be so nice to just be seen and treated as an individual without all the qualifiers that come with what people see first," she says. " So it’s like Black and now it’s a Black woman and all these assumptions roll in and block me out as a person and what I’m contributing."

Once again, we encourage you to open your minds and hearts as you watch the conversation below, and make an effort to understand how racism exists in metal so that we can actually make a difference and move forward as a stronger, more accepting community.

Thank you to Sophie K for moderating this panel and to AJ, Cammie, Doc, Derrick and Mark for taking the time to participate.

Oceans of Slumber recently released their self-titled album, which you can check out here

Lamb Of God will be performing their album ‘Ashes of the Wake’ in full for the first time ever (along with some special treats) in a livestream concert this Friday (Sept.25) at 5pm EST. Get tickets here.

Sepultura have been hosting a quarantine Q&A’s titled Sepulquarta. Find details here.

Fire From The Gods release the music video for their latest single “Break The Cycle” on Juneteenth, which you can view here.

Bad Wolves recently celebrated their fifth No. 1 single at rock radio with “Sober,” which you can view here. Doc also hosts the weekly podcast ‘The Ex-Man,’ which you can find here.

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