M. Shadows, lead singer of Avenged Sevenfold, wrote a letter to his fans imploring them to support Black Lives Matter. He also admits to antaganizations in the past with Avenged Sevenfold’s lyrics and imagery, apologizing for the behavior. He wrote the op-ed for Revolver magazine on earlier today.
Shadows begins by addressing how racism in the United States first began 400 years ago, emphasizing how he believes now is the time to address issues which hurt many in the country. The United States reached a boiling point last week after the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed while a police officer knelt on his neck for nine minutes, inciting protests in all 50 states, as well as in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, France and other parts of the world.
Shadows then went on to discuss Colin Kaepernick and his peaceful protest during his time on the 49ers football team, where he would take a knee during the national anthem. Kaepernick’s protest led to his contract with the 49ers not being renewed in 2017, not playing in the NFL since.
“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,” Shadows said. “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.”
He then describes how many of his close friends and even family members are African American, detailing micro-aggressions of racism he experienced while in their presence. He says the comments should “make any decent person sick to their stomach,” but adds how it is normal for them. He recalls a time where he took his brother-in-law, a black man, to a Slipknot concert, saying the tension in the crowd was “palpable” due to the presence of a black man.
Shadows then tells his fans, and all reading his op-ed, that if they are white they need to stand up against injustice. He explains taking a stand does not mean saying one is in support of the riots, but to see the problem of racism in America and commit to working towards a solution.
“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 yourselves why,” Shadows said.
Ahmaud Arbery was a 25-year-old black man who was allegedly chased and killed by armed white residents in a neighborhood in South Georgia on February 23. Breonna Taylor was shot by Louisville Metro Police Department officers on March 13 in her own home, the officers entering her apartment in plainclothes while serving a “no-knock warrant.” Floyd died on May 25 at the age of 46, a Minneapolis Police Officer kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes. A video recording of the incident showed Floyd crying for his mother and saying he couldn’t breathe.
Shadows admits to police officers having a daunting job, but emphasizes how the incidents leading to the death of a black man or woman need to have America’s undivided attention.
“I understand that the Avenged Sevenfold fanbase is made up of very few black Americans,” Shadows said. “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.”
He then goes on to explain how much of music culture had been founded by black Americans. Shadows mentions how Chuck Berry, a black man, was the Father of Rock & Roll. Rock music as a genre also evolved from Blues, another genre created by black people.
“I am aware that in the past Avenged has antagonized with some of our lyrics and imagery,” Shadows said. “We have also used confederate flags in our artwork while paying tribute to artists we grew up listening to or simply trying to start controversy. I’m sure we will be called out, and rightfully so, by people reading this. 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.”
Shadows ended his piece by stating he hopes the rock and metal communities can move forward and help out fellow Americans. Below, he included a list of places to donate and petitions to sign, as well as readings to educate white Americans about becoming anti-racist.
Many other music artists have also spoken up about racism since the protests and riots began last week. Rapper YG helped organize a march in Hollywood while Halsey helped people who were injured during protests as she herself marched. Fiona Apple, J. Cole, Harry Styles, Ariana Grande and other artists have also marched in protest. Bandcamp announced they will be donating all proceeds on June 19 to the NAACP legal defense. Spotify added an eight minute and 46 second moment of silence track to their service, the same amount of time the officer kneeled on Floyd’s neck. Killer Mike joined Stephen Colbert to urge white Americans to educate themselves about racism. Yesterday, the entire music industry had shut down in support of Black Lives Matter.
To learn more about the Black Lives Matter movement, click here.