Avenged Sevenfold Singer M. Shadows Pens Reflective Essay Urging Support of the Black Lives Matter Movement


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With so much of the country caught up in protests, curfews and controversy surrounding the May 25 police killing of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement has been on everyone’s mind lately — both those in support of it and otherwise. The racial issues at the heart of our current situation are divisive, to say the least, and social media and the internet seem to heighten everybody’s tensions as much as they do inspire unity. M. Shadows, vocalist of the metal band Avenged Sevenfold, couldn’t sit back and watch the discourse evolve without offering his thoughts, as he did on Wednesday in an op-ed column for Revolver.

Shadows (real name Matt Shadows) fronts the Long Beach, Calif., band, and has since the group was formed in 1999. A7X has released seven albums to date and amassed a worldwide audience in the millions, and his message has no doubt reached many since the article went live.

A few key passages:

There is a massive rift in this country and our fellow Americans are hurting and have been hurting for a very long time. Peaceful protests have resulted in nil. Screams have fallen on deaf ears. Kaepernick takes a knee and half the country goes into a frenzy about it being “the wrong type of protest.” What exactly is the “right” type of protest? One where YOU don’t have to see or hear about ideas you don’t like? That take seems to defeat the purpose, in my view. Many claimed Kaepernick’s stance was “disrespectful to the ones who have served,” but I believe this is the sort of freedom that many have laid down their lives to protect. I respect and appreciate our veterans while also fully standing behind Kaepernick’s and others’ right to freedom of expression. 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. 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. Until we address it as such, the tides will remain the same.

Shadows gets a bit personal, reflecting his perspective as a white man with an African American best friend and relatives, and how that’s helped shape him into the man he is today.

My best friend over the past decade is African American. My brother-in-law and nephew are African American. Our crew members, peers, associates … these are humans I love dearly that simply live a different experience than me because of their outward appearance. The off-handed comments I’ve heard behind their backs should make any decent person sick to their stomach. The dirty looks, the mumblings, the drive-by taunts. This is just part of their daily lives, and somehow, they take it on the chin and carry on. It’s normal to them. To my white friends, can you imagine living like that for a moment? It’s horrifying and unfair. Hell, I took my brother-in-law to a Slipknot show a couple years back (his fav band) and the tension of a black man being in that crowd was palpable. Which brings me to my point.

If you are white and have been sitting on the sidelines of this situation, we need you to stand up. Taking a stand for our fellow Americans does not mean you condone the riots. It simply means you are listening and want to help. 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 yourself why. It’s time to show our fellow Americans that we hear them and feel their pain. This can’t be about your political alliances. This can’t be about what your friends or family are going to think of you. This is not a fight our fellow Americans should be going through alone. If someone says, “Black Lives Matter,” and your response is “All Lives Matter” then maybe take a look at the core of that reaction. Every life is valuable — that is a given — but right now the lives of the oppressed require our undivided attention. Yes, the police have an incredibly daunting job, and many uphold the integrity of their position, but if that is your point of contention, I say AGAIN: the lives of the oppressed require our undivided attention right now.

Willing to be somewhat self-deprecating for the sake of transparency, Shadows calls out some of Avenged Sevenfold’s questionable decisions in the past, such as posters with Confederate flag imagery:

I understand that the Avenged Sevenfold fanbase is made up of very few black Americans. 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. I, for one, enjoy black American culture. The music, art, films, clothing, sports, food. All of it has made my life better. I have no doubt we are a better country because of the black American influence. Hell, Chuck Berry was the Father of Rock & Roll! Standing against inequality and systemic racism is the very least we can all do.

Click here to read the full essay from M. Shadows at Revolver, as he has much more to say than just the portions quoted above.

Given  his band’s sizable global audience, Shadows’ decision to write this essay comes with some risk of alienating those in his fan base who disagree with his message — and that’s entirely the point.

This is precisely the time for tough conversations, a chance to do more than go “black” on social media and challenge others’ perspectives, all in the case of finding common ground.


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