As a Xicana in East LA raised by single mom, Gonzales’ upbringing was different than her bandmates

Michelle Cruz Gonzales and her bandmates didn’t fit the usual stereotype of punk rockers (read: angry white men). She told the Oakland audience: “I actually don’t like a lot of chaos in my life…but I became a punk rocker anyway.” As a founding member and drummer for Spitboy, a feminist hardcore punk band, their group was “friendly as fuck.” But as their band toured, factors outside their control drew focus on their differences. Namely: race and class. As a Xicana in East LA raised by single mom, Gonzales’ upbringing was different than her bandmates. Observing the other member’s privileges like balanced checkbooks, straight teeth, and college funds, Michelle internalized these differences and coped. She did it to make others feel comfortable. She made herself the other and performed. Listen to Michelle’s story of identity and internal chaos, watching her band’s roles reverse as they perform in Japan. Hear her look back at those punk years through her academic lens of schema and chaos theories, realizing her identies then were not and are not mutually exclusive. This is a story on code-switching, on the intersection of experiences, identities, and expectations. How can we sync the discordant, break down walls, and embrace the chaos? How can we rock what’s already there?

About the speaker

Michelle Cruz Gonzales, drummer and lyricist of the all-woman punk band, Spitboy (1990-1995), featured in Green Day’s Turn It Around: Story of East Bay Punk, is the author of The Spitboy Rule: Tales of a Xicana in a Female Punk Band. She is also an English professor at Las Positas College where she specializes in ethnic and dystopian literature, and teaches composition, literature, and creative writing. In addition to the Spitboy Rule on PM Press, she has published in magazines, anthologies, and most recently at Latino Rebels where she asserted that Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird is largely plagiarized from the 2002 Latina penned film, Real Women Have Curves.

Currently, Michelle is at work on a satirical novel about forced intermarriage between whites and Mexicans for the purpose of creating a race of beautiful, intelligent, hardworking people. She lives with her husband, son, and their three Mexican dogs in Oakland, California. She tweets from @XicanaBrava.

Favorite quotes from this talk See all

I realized that the relationship between chaos theory schema theory is that the realization that each of my different selves that I had kind of compartmentalized, and all my experiences and the knowledge, when accessed, combined, made me actually a fuller, smarter person. — Michelle Gonzales

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