Punk music and the subsequent punk movement is deeply rooted in fighting for the rebel cause and the fight against social injustices. I’m not talking the pop-angst of Blink 182 -type bands that are splayed across MTV, but the bands at the root of the brit-punk rock uprisings in the mid-70s as well as the emergence of the political hardcore punk rock scene in DC in the 80s. The lyrics are intertwined with anti-injustice words such as, “…and now I can’t sleep from years of apathy, all because I read a little Noam Chomsky” (NOFX), or with “…all the power’s in the hands, of people rich enough to buy it,” (The Clash).
I’ve been going to punk shows for the past 10 years, early on as a rebellious punk teen and more recently, clipboards in hand registering youth voters at the show, with non-profit groups like Music for America or SAAVY. Most often though at these punk shows, I was one of a handful of desi kids.
Unfortunately being a desi punk has its consequences…
Harraj Mann, 23, asked a taxi driver to play The Clash’s London Calling through the vehicle’s stereo. But the cabbie rang police after he heard the song which includes the line: “War is declared and battle come down.” A spokeswoman also said that it was not just the music Mr Mann requested, but the “overall impression” he gave that aroused the taxi driver’s suspicion. [link]
The irony is he was listening to The Clash, a brit-punk band of the 1970s known for their anti-racism sentiments as well as Led Zepplin’s “Immigrant Song.” Even more ironic is that it was the taxi-wallah that turned this guy in, though no mention of the ethnicity of said cab driver.
Police said Mr Mann, from Hartlepool, was released without charge after his arrest on board a Bmi plane at Durham Tees Valley Airport. Durham Police said a security check revealed he did not pose a threat.
p>He told BBC Radio Five Live: “I said to staff you’ve taken me off my flight due to my taste in music, in a more colourful way…I mean where does it stop? What if I was wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt, what if I was wearing odd socks, you know…I mean obviously the political climate these days is like walking on egg shells, but I mean there’s caution and then there’s taking it to the point where it’s absurd and ludicrous.”
Here, here, punk desi youth! “Look at those crazy kids, with their wild hair, and loud music,” is the most oft heard gripe from elder people but additionally, we have to deal with the profiling that comes with being desi as well. It’s a double whammy. Obviously, in light of the london bombings last year, I’m sure things must be harder for the day to day lives of desi youth across the pond. But would a terrorist really play The Clash in a taxi on the way to the airport? Common sense says no. Should I now start having to worry that today I wore a shirt that says, “Major Labels Lie” and was listening to Dead Prez in my stickered car? Well, maybe they have reason to worry just a little bit there… All I gotta say is, stay strong brother, and punk on.