Some might hold onto some stale ideas that punk is at odds with the political and personal values of people of color. Granted at its worst, punk has been recently dominated by some self-indulgent children of white rich yuppies screaming about their hard lives. But at its best, it gives some room for a young Chicana, who doesn’t quite fit in because she’s too opinionated, too critical or too confrontational, to own her difference as a strength. Apparently, it’s helping out young Muslims similar to me during those hard years of high school. Azadeh Ansari profiles a Boston-based Muslim punk band, The Kominas, who found taqwacore (Muslim punk) as an effective venue to express their frustrations with conservative Muslim culture and confront the racist stereotypes of Muslims in the US.
"We aren’t [just] some alternative to a stereotypical Muslim. We actually might be offering some sort of insights for people at large about religion, about the world," said 26-year-old bassist Basim Usmani. Blending traditional South Asian rhythms with punk rock beats, they sing in both English and Punjabi. (Kominas means "scum-bag" in Punjabi, according to the band.) Their songs can be at once political, serious, satirical and insinuating. Their risqué lyrics and provocative song titles such as "Sharia Law in the USA," "Suicide Bomb the GAP" and "Rumi was a Homo" — a protest song against homophobia in the American Muslim community — have drawn the attention of Muslims, non-Muslims, fans and critics alike.
Unfortunately, I missed their summer tour this year, but this almost makes me want to bust out my old black Converse sneakers, Dickies pants and dye my hair with purple streaks again.