BLACK VOICES

20 Festival-Goers On What AFROPUNK Means To Black Culture

"AFROPUNK is about celebrating differences, and us becoming more comfortable with differences."

25/08/2015 6:23 AM AEST
Taryn Finley

Enormous crowds of black hipsters, cool kids and trendsetters gathered in Commodore Barry Park in Brooklyn, New York this weekend for the 2015 AFROPUNK Music Festival. 

The two-day festival, which celebrated its 10th year this summer, was filled with a celebration of black entertainment and style. Matthew Morgan, festival co-founder, founded AFROPUNK in 2005 as "an alternative" to other summer music festivals that he thought underrepresented  people of color.

"It’s an alternative view on our culture and music and things that are important to us," Morgan told the Huffington PostThis year's artist line-up included musical performances by New York natives Lenny Kravitz and Kelis, as well as Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, and others. 

But more than a music festival, AFROPUNK is a part of black culture. It is a place where black people are able to express the full diversity of their lived experiences. This year was no different, and festival-goers of all ages, colors, shapes and sizes were in attendance.

HuffPost asked 20 of the rocking festival attendees to describe the music festival and what AFROPUNK means to black culture. Here are their responses: 

  • 20 Supe, 23, Brooklyn
    Aaron Barksdale/Huffington Post

    "Black culture is in everything that we do in America and AFROPUNK is a very big representation of that."

  • 19 Emily, 22, NYC
    Aaron Barksdale/Huffington Post

    "It provides a community for alternative kids: black, white, queer, however they define themselves."

  • 18 Sheree, 29, NYC
    Aaron Barksdale/Huffington Post

    "AFROPUNK gives us an opportunity to express our individuality without being concerned with what naysayers will say."

  • 17 Space, 24, NYC
    Aaron Barksdale/Huffington Post

    "It's a gathering of the creative minds."

  • 16 Austin, 21, NYC
    Aaron Barksdale/ Huffington Post

    "AFROPUNK is freedom, it allows people to express themselves"

  • 15 Queen, 31, Philadelphia
    Aaron Barksdale/Huffington Post

    "A space to express ourselves. These types of space are far, few, and in between nowadays."

  • 14 Njamba, 25 (left), Nalaja, 23 (right), NYC
    Aaron Barksdale/ Huffington Post

    Njamba: "AFROPUNK to black culture means comfortability--a place where we can all come together and ourselves."

    Nalaja: "A way of life with music and art."

  • 13 Quincy Adams, 38, NYC
    Aaron Barksdale/Huffington Post

    "AFROPUNK is about celebrating differences, and us becoming more comfortable with differences...when I think of pride I think of AFROPUNK as pride."

  • 12 Louis Michael, 27, NYC
    Aaron Barksdale/Huffington Post

    "Difference. Something for everyone to see we're different. We're not the same."

  • 11 Tiffani Gomez, 27, DC
    Aaron Barksdale/ Huffington Post

    "To me I think it means home."

  • 10 Andre, 28, NYC
    Aaron Barksdale/ Huffington Post

    "AFROPUNK for black culture is a way to reflect and bring us all together."

  • 9 Stephen, 27, Brooklyn
    Aaron Barksdale/ Huffington Post
    • "AFROPUNK is extremely important to black culture right now because it's one of the events that allows us to collectively gather in our own experience." 

  • 8 Endigo Saaphyr, 31, California
    Aaron Barksdale/ Huffington Post

    "AFROPUNK means liberation of expression to black culture. People are free to be themselves, wear whatever they want, do whatever they want, and feel accepted."

  • 7 Justin, 28 (left), Andre, 29 (right), Brooklyn
    Aaron Barksdale/Huffington Post
    • Justin: "AFROPUNK to black culture it's being able to be who you are unapologetically."

      Andre: "Specifically marginalized folks within a marginalized group tend to feel even much more to be celebrated because we still recognize each other, and with recognition I feel comes a celebration and AFROPUNK is that."

  • 6 Sharina Marisela Doyle, 28, Brooklyn
    Taryn Finley

    “I think it’s important because everything is on the platform where social issues are focused on art, in general it’s focused on music. Everything is touched on where there’s no limitation but it’s all on a mutual level where it’s welcoming so you’re not offending anybody but you’re making people aware of the things they need to be aware of and the diversity that’s so necessary… There’s no limitation. There’s nobody telling you that you can’t be who you are."  

  • 5 Mickyel Bradford, 24, Atlanta
    Taryn Finley/The Huffington Post

    “I work with chapters of Black Lives Matter, the national organization of Black Trans Lives Matter… we’re here to hold folks at AFROPUNK accountable to the black trans women that have passed… Something has to be done and it has to start at home. Our home is AFROPUNK. Our home is with quirky, weird black people that break the mold and expand what blackness can be."  

  • 4 Queenlin, 26, Washington, D.C.
    Taryn Finley/The Huffington Post

    “I think it’s all about bringing people together. Like even though it’s the Afrocentric culture, I’m seeing tons of different people, different artists, people from different cultures, people form different regions, people from different places and I love these things like AFROPUNK events because it brings people together."  

  • 3 Rich Rocket, 26, Washington, D.C.
    Taryn Finley/The Huffington Post

     

    “AFROPUNK is a redefining of stereotypes. We’re reclaiming what has either been a negative connotation or recreating a new connotation to define our people.” 

  • 2 Molly McCormick, 29, Philadelphia
    Taryn Finley/The Huffington Post

    “I think it’s beautiful, I think it’s an expression of who you can be, who you are and I think this is a place where I don’t think it exists every single day so I think this is important for people to come and experience.”  

  • 1 Farah Yusuf, 29, Stockholm, Sweden
    Taryn Finley/The Huffington Post

    “It’s important because we seldom get to see ourselves represented in this way. Now I’m understanding that punk is actually very much a black thing. I’ve always thought that it's white because that’s what we’ve been taught. So for the first time in my life, I can honestly say that I identify myself as punk.”  

Also on HuffPost:

Most Memorable Highlights From AFROPUNK 2015

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