I wrote an article on the Gothic subculture called “Goths Are Artists” to educate those unfamiliar with it. It’s my attempt to help end some of the discrimination and misunderstanding surrounding the community. With this article, I would like to focus on an issue within the community that I was personally surprised to learn about, after being with this subculture for over ten years.
As a group of outsiders, the Goth subculture is known for accepting those who aren’t accepted elsewhere; unfortunately, some Goths are excluding people of color from the subculture, possibly without realizing how hypocritical and damaging it is. These people are abusing the term “Goth.”
Goth is a subculture about style, art, and self-expression. It is not a racial movement. Although the meaning of Goth varies from person to person, all agree on the ability to recognize beauty in the macabre. In a world that clings to distraction from most gloomy realities, Goths accept and face the unpleasantries of life by making them artistically beautiful.
For example, even though Goths seem to concentrate on death, they are only celebrating the lives of those who have died. The tradition of Goths spending time in graveyards is to visit those who most likely receive few guests. Most people don’t make regular trips to see the final resting places of their dead loved ones. When Goths willingly pay their respects to the deceased, even strangers, they are intent on feeling the presence of those who have passed on.
Most mainstream images of Goths portray someone with very light skin and dark hair in dark clothes; however, not all Goths look alike or fit the stereotype. Some wear colors other than black. Each has their own unique style. It’s about being yourself.
Youtuber, Nikki is an Alternative person of color. She discusses the racial conflicts within the subculture. None of the alternative groups that she has connected with throughout her life have accepted her. She mentions the beloved magazine Gothic Beauty, which has yet to feature a Gothic person of color on the cover. This is a problem because Baby Bats (new and usually young Goths) of color need and deserve more representation. At the same time, she doesn’t want people of color to be used for profit, either. She wants more alternative people of color to be open about their love of the subculture.
Many Goths are surprised and confused by the racism against Goths of color. When Goths speak out against racism in the community it makes Goths acknowledge the problem. Having racism thrive in our community only does further damage to an already misunderstood group. Being Goth is about allowing diversity, not oppressing it. Racist Goths are a hypocrisy. After all, racism stems from illogical beliefs about a non-existent correlation between skin color and behavior.
My favorite Gothic YouTuber, Angela Benedict recently made a video addressing an increase of racism in the online Gothic community. With the pandemic, people are even more active online than ever; unfortunately, this is allowing racist Goths to unleash their disgusting nonsense. As I mentioned, this is a horrible representation for the newcomers to the subculture: “…Young Baby Bats seeing this behavior and potentially emulating it.” Lastly, it reinforces a racial divide within the subculture that doesn’t exist. It isn’t a group for only white people; unfortunately, racist voices provide misconstrued evidence for yet another assumption for people of color with family and friends of color in the subculture to use as proof that the group is in fact racist. In reality, Goth has nothing to do with race. It’s a group based around artistic expression of things society is afraid to explore:
“Then, you have the non-Goth people of color who are already on the fence about their Goth people of color friends, saying, ‘See, I told you. It’s just a weird thing that white people do, and they don’t want you anyway.’ No..”Angela Benedict
Goth has too many definitions to put restrictions on who can and can’t be included based on skin color. It becomes part of one’s identity from the minute they fall in love with it. The more diverse the group, the more likeliness that it will be accepted. The last thing that we Goths would want is a racism movement. If only white people could be Goth, it would be yet another thing that people of color are told not to do because of the color of their skin. They would find themselves full of hatred, and rightfully so. When we share our oppressions and turn our uniqueness into art, we are free. That is Goth.
Editor’s Note: This was originally posted by this author in 2015 on HubPages. It has since been revised and republished here.