What being a Person of Color in the Scene Means to Action/Adventure - "Pop-Punk in Color" Review

Photo by Floyd McCraney

Written by Julieta Vega

Those who have been growing up in the pop-punk scene, have all witnessed a big change as of late; diversity and inclusivity have all begun to take center stage. However, with that success comes great challenges.

Chicago pop-punk group Action/Adventure discusses how it feels to be a band in the scene including people of color (POC) in a video series titled “Pop-Punk in Color.” The group is made up of vocalist Blake Evaristo, guitarist/vocalist Brompton Jackson, guitarist Oren Trace, bassist Manny Avila, and drummer Adrian Brown.

The first video, titled “Growing Up Black in the Alternative Scene”, is led by Brown. He holds a sign that reads “You’re not Black enough.”

The drummer discusses how the phrase was repeatedly said to him growing up, ultimately asking, “Who are you to judge my Blackness?” This sparks the conversation of judgment within our communities, and how a lack of validation for one's identity can leave lasting negative impressions on the individual.

Moving forward, the second video, titled “We Need to Change This Pop-Punk Stereotype”, is led by Oren Trace. Trace holds the sign that reads “I’m surprised you guys were that good.”

The guitarist discusses how many read that sign as a compliment rather than an insult, continuing by saying, “Sometimes it makes you wonder why they were so surprised we were that good”, alluding to the reasoning being because they look different from other bands in the scene. Much like the words discussed in the first video, these backhanded compliments leave a negative impact.

The third video, titled “You Can’t Say That to People at Shows”, is led by Brompton Jackson. He holds a sign that reads, “You sound so white”, a phrase that is too often seen as a compliment rather than an unnecessary comparison.

Pop-punk's portrayal as a "white" genre has unfortunately led to assumptions that white people make up the entire community when this couldn't be further from the truth. Jackson states, “I don’t fit in this image of somebody who would be into pop-punk”; on a bit of a lighter note, it certainly is refreshing to see him and his band as well as many others in the scene challenging this stereotype.

The fourth video, titled “Stop Calling Us Rappers”, is led by Manny Avila, holding a sign that reads, “Let me guess. Rappers?” He describes a situation where a waiter assumed Action/Adventure was a rap group, a belief is based purely on assumption and misrepresentation.

Avila speaks directly to the audience stating “You’re not tied to what society tells you to be tied to.” The emphasis is put on doing what makes you happy rather than trying to fit into a mold.

Lastly, the fifth video is led by Blake Evaristo, with the final sign reading, “You don’t look the way you sound.” He touches on the idea that pop-punk bands must look a certain way to sound a certain way, a notion that is entirely false; no one should have to work harder to make people believe that they "belong" in a community, especially because of the color of their skin.

This series helped Action/Adventure further the discussion of racism and stereotyping in the pop-punk scene that fans and bands alike have been starting over the past few months, helping to reframe the mindsets of those who may not consider these issues. The band's willingness to be candid and honest make this essential viewing for members of the community looking to unlearn harmful stereotypes and challenge their own pre-existing beliefs.

You can watch the Pop-Punk in Color series here, and you can support Action/Adventure, whose music is available to stream everywhere, by picking up some merch (some specially themed to the series) and following them on Twitter @ActAdvBand. If you've watched this series, feel free to continue the conversation with the band as well as our team by tweeting us @lgndsoftmrw!