Activism at Afropunk

(Photo by Dante Bowen via BK Reader)

In covering this past weekend’s Afropunk Fest at Commodore Barry Park in Brooklyn, Ghazala Irshad writes in BK Reader that the musical festival is “perhaps, the one ‘safe space’ where black people can gather annually en masse to express their gloriously diverse, true punk selves.”

From “giant murals of Black women in power poses” to the presence of activists such as Angela Davis, DeRay Mckesson and Yasiin Bey (or Mos Def), “the protest air is thick at Afropunk.”

Just as blackness has always been politicized, so too has Afropunk, beginning with its launch in 2005. In fact, Afropunk came out the womb “anti-establishment” simply by virtue of its niche community: black punk musicians and the fans that love them (because they dared to be different, bold and expressive in a social climate where lumping racial groups into one box was more about political convenience than truth).

While some criticize Afropunk for becoming too commercial, Irshad notes how activism remains a critical component of the festival:

But the organizers’ most obvious effort to tap into their community’s consciousness exists in the lineup of artists unafraid of speaking truth to power: from Princess Nokia, who boldly raps about colonization of her indigenous land and culture; to Sinkane, who sings about how the political climate forced him to reckon with his fraught identities of being black, Muslim and the son of Sudanese immigrants.

Go to BK Reader for more on Afropunk’s “Activism Row,” the “Afropunk Army” program and what is more fitting at Afropunk than a “simple” Black Lives Matter shirt.

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