Hails to the National Day of Slayer Task Force!
On June 6, 2007, the University of California at San Diego’s own Hessian Student Union held a public celebration of the holiday, National Day of Slayer. The annual event honors the band Slayer, comprised of some of our most historically important cultural figures. Beyond this, we took the opportunity to raise awareness of metal culture, including facilitating fairness and diversity in education by advocacy for the creation of a Hessian Studies Program at our school. Currently UCSD, a large and prestigious American universtity, lacks any courses representing our culture, even though other classes examine hip-hop, pop music, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Our event lasted four hours on Library Walk, the largest walkway on campus. A continuous soundtrack drew attention to the fact we are a culture especially noted for our many musical achievements. Slayer’s music was the highlight, and Reign in Blood and Seasons in the Abyss were played several times in their entirety, but we also sampled Mercyful Fate, Emperor, Deicide, and Darkthrone. The inclusion of Scandinavian bands illustrated the diversity of Hessians by showing the fruits of other countries with important Hessian communities. We made announcements to the passers-by regarding the nature of the holiday, and calling on the university to demonstrate its progressive aspirations by accomodating the Hessian minority. Pamphlets were available explaining the objectives of a Hessian Studies Department.
Unfortunately, the usual reaction was apathy, and some was negative. Numerous people refused fliers, rolled their eyes, mocked us, or crossed to the opposite side of the path. We were even shunned by students wearing Sepultura and Master of Puppets gear. There were positive encounters as well. A student who helped run an Islamic cultural booth told us he enjoyed “Angel of Death.” While recognizing there has been historical conflict between Hessians and Abrahamic monotheists, we saw no need for personal animosity and invited the opportunity for cross-cultural dialogue. He gave us a CD about Islam and took a Hessian Studies brochure. Another metalhead discussed helping us get university funding for our group and recruiting new members. One young lady eagerly inquired about the difference between true and false metal. Some “positive” attention was discouraging: a few professed metalheads claimed to prefer bands like Slipknot to Slayer, or even to have never heard of Slayer (!) Another woman thought we were promoting Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
We believe some disinterest may have been affected by technical issues: printer problems meant we had only a limited number of blurry fliers, and our inadequate speakers failed to fill the whole area with the sweet strains of nihilistic speed metal. Therefore we recommend other Hessian groups plan further ahead and make sure they have top-notch equipment. Also, we suspect some Hessians shunned us because they were too concerned about discrimination and did not want to bring too much attention to us as a group. Indeed, there has been a trend of metalheads cutting their hair, listening to distorted-guitar emo and otherwise attempting to assimilate instead of embracing their heritage. This is an unfortunate indicator that we are still affected by a negative image and underscores the importance of our efforts.
The event was small and some of the attention received was negative. This shows we still have a long way to go toward being recognized as equal members of society. However, that we were able to hold this event anyway (and despite equipment trouble) is a sign of progress, so we are optimistic about Hessians gaining more respect. We write to you in the hope you’ll share our story with your readers, spreading awareness of grassroots Hessian activism and inspiring others to stand up for their culture!
Hessian Student Union of UCSD
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