Meet the Linda Lindas, the Tween Punk Band Who Called Out Racism & Misogyny and Scored a Record Deal

“Sticks and stones may break my bones,” we chant­ed as kids, but “words will nev­er hurt me.” The say­ing seems to both invite phys­i­cal vio­lence and deny the real effects of ver­bal abuse. Maybe this was once effec­tive as a stock play­ground retort, but it’s nev­er been true, as any­one who’s been picked on as a child can attest. When the taunts are racist, the dam­age is expo­nen­tial­ly mul­ti­plied. Not only are kids being sin­gled out and mocked for immutable char­ac­ter­is­tics, but their fam­i­ly and entire cul­ture of ori­gin are being tar­get­ed.

What to do? Lash out? Fight back? Ignore it and pre­tend it isn’t hap­pen­ing? To quote anoth­er cliche, “the best revenge is suc­cess.” More appro­pri­ate­ly for the case at hand, take an orig­i­nal line from Radiohead’s Thom Yorke: “Be con­struc­tive with your blues.”

The Lin­da Lin­das, a four-piece punk band rang­ing in age from 10 to 16 would agree. When one of the girls was harassed by a class­mate, they got bummed about it, then ral­lied, wrote a song, went viral, and scored a record deal. Deal­ing with bul­lies will rarely lead to such joy­ful results, but it’s worth pay­ing atten­tion when it does.

The song, “Racist, Sex­ist Boy” has “become some­thing of a 2021 anthem,” writes NPR, with its glee­ful call-outs (“Pos­er! Block­head! Riffraff! Jerk face!”) and crunchy pow­er chords. “In what has become a very famil­iar cycle to music-indus­try watch­ers, the band land­ed a record deal almost as soon as its video went viral,” sign­ing with L.A.’s Epi­taph Records. “By Fri­day, the band’s per­for­mance of ‘Racist, Sex­ist Boy’ had been post­ed on Epi­taph’s YouTube chan­nel.” The video comes from a per­for­mance at the Los Ange­les Pub­lic Library, which you can watch in full above, with an intro­duc­tion and inter­view with the band. (See a setlist on YouTube and don’t miss their cov­er of Biki­ni Kil­l’s “Rebel Girl” at 35:56.)

So, who are the Lin­da Lin­das? On their Band­camp page, they describe them­selves as “Half Asian / half Lat­inx. Two sis­ters, a cousin, and their close friend. The Lin­da Lin­das chan­nel the spir­it of orig­i­nal punk, pow­er pop, and new wave through today’s ears, eyes and minds.” You can meet the mul­ti-tal­ent­ed tweens and teens in the video above, made in 2019 by a fifth grade teacher to inspire his stu­dents. The girls are hard­ly new to the music busi­ness. Clips in the video show them per­form­ing with Mon­ey Mark and open­ing for Biki­ni Kill. They got their start in 2018 at Girlschool LA, “a cel­e­bra­tion of females chal­leng­ing the sta­tus quo,” and they’ve been men­tored by Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

The Lin­da Lin­das also cap­tured the atten­tion of Amy Pohler, who fea­tured the band in her Net­flix doc­u­men­tary Mox­ie. See a clip above. Not every kid who fights bul­ly­ing with music — or art, sci­ence, sports, or what­ev­er their tal­ent — can expect celebri­ty, and we shouldn’t set kids up to think they can all win the inter­net lot­tery. But the Lin­da Lin­das have become heroes for mil­lions of young girls who look like them, and who dream not of fame and for­tune but of a unit­ed front of friend­ship and fun against racism, misog­y­ny, and the pains of grow­ing up.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Ven­er­a­ble Female Artists, Musi­cians & Authors Give Advice to the Young: Pat­ti Smith, Lau­rie Ander­son & More

Ele­men­tary School Kids Sing David Bowie’s “Space Odd­i­ty” & Oth­er Rock Hits: A Cult Clas­sic Record­ed in 1976

Hear 11-Year-Old Björk Sing “I Love to Love”: Her First Record­ed Song (1976)

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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