The Linda Lindas returned to the Los Angeles Public Library for NPR’s Tiny Desk (Home) Concert, a year after their first viral library performance.
The half-Asian, half-Latinx punk rock girl group has three members: Mila de la Garza, Lucia de la Garza, Eloise Wong and Bela Salazar. They went viral in May 2021 for their performance of Racist Sexist Boy at the Los Angeles Public Library. Mila, who was 10 at the time, was spurred to co-write Racist Sexist Boy after a racist encounter.
“A little while before we went into lockdown, a boy came up to me in my class and said that his dad told him to stay away from Chinese people,” Mila told Hip Latina. “After I told him that I was Chinese, he backed away from me. Eloise and I wrote this song based on that experience.”
The performance has over a million views on YouTube. With lyrics like “you are a racist, sexist boy / and you have racist, sexist joys / we rebuild what you destroy,” The Linda Lindas are unapologetic in calling out the racism many Asian Americans faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A year later, the group is back in a library for their debut NPR Tiny Desk (Home) Concert, according to Rolling Stone. The Linda Lindas performed songs from their new debut album Growing Up, ending with Racist, Sexist Boy.
According to Mila, Racist, Sexist Boy was a way for her to take back her power in the racist encounter. However, the song — written over a five-hour Zoom call — has now become more than just a response to the encounter.
“It’s become so big that we’re trying not to make it about [the boy] anymore—it’s about how we can help prevent racist, sexist kids from becoming racist, sexist adults,” Lucia, Mila’s older sister, said in an interview with Pitchfork.
Lucia, in an interview with The Music, said that the boy from the encounter likely didn’t even know what he was talking about either, but just backed away from Mila due to her ethnicity. This is likely acknowledged in the song when Mila sings “you say m’ean stuff and / you close your mind to things you don’t like / you turn away from what you don’t wanna see.
Their ferocity has been praised by South-Korean American singer Karen O, who the band performed with in 2018. Relating to her own experience as an Asian American, O finds inspiration in The Linda Lindas.
“[The Linda Lindas] really speaks to me, because I feel like a lot of us grew up kind of reserved and in the shadows, not in the limelight making music, which is this kind of mainline into self-confidence. It’s so inspiring, and so surprising, to see these young girls having that,” O said in an interview with The New York Times.
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