As America continues to be shocked by the actions of its people, it's hard to not become upset in the face of those who are asking our communities to just "Be Kind" as if this act alone would solve all of our racial transgressions. I think not. The United States was not built on fairness or kindness, so what's the point now?
I found myself searching for an emotional release due to the current calamities in our country, but I didn't know exactly what kind of space or mental mindset I needed to be in for this release to happen. What I really needed was familial melanated strength, and that's what I found at AfroPunk 2017.
No words can describe the magic over Brooklyn.
As I write this, to my left I have a group of people playing double dutch, laughing and bonding, embracing each other like long lost cousins from a distant land having seen each other for the first time in 400+ years. To my right, I have a woman draped in Fulani braids, her pink crop top billowing around her, carrying her waves of sage smoke higher into the air as she twirls to the music, cleansing the area of any ill will. Ahead of me, I have a woman climbing a tree, desperate to get a better look at her favorite artist, but also a visual reference of the elevation of people of color rising and reaching higher ground and higher thinking. And not soon after I leave this space, I am welcomed into a dance circle of Afro Drum beats, voguing, and so much #BlackBoyJoy and #BlackGirlMagic that my cheeks hurt from smiling so hard.
My brown body has always been a source of unnecessary and unnegated conflict as my very existence is determined to be a threat to all those who do not look like me. But here I feel safe. I am allowed to take up the space that is rightfully mine, without feeling like I have to shrink into my being or sit by meekly.
Black & Brown people hold so much weight, and we are valuable and important, and necessary to the existence of this Earth.
We are revolutionary.
Performances from SZA put me all in my feelings thinking of failed loves that had no stake in my life, but I'm cuter and finer now so it's all good. Mother Solange consistently took me to the brink of life altering consciousness, as her artistic performances always do. And Princess Nokia yall! Her energy was unmatched, her faith was astounding, and her self-confidence RADIATED across the stage. She has a newfound fan in me. But while I didn't get around to see all of my favorites, watching the crowd was the highlight of my experience and the fashion was something out of the dopest cultural fairytale.
Starting in 2005, this was a festival created to celebrate Black people whom were left out of the Punk scenes in America. Afro Punk has since morphed into not just Punk culture, but an entire experience for all of the many facets of Black people. It's a celebration, and trust, I left it all out there in Commodore Barry Park with not one ounce of regret or expectation to fulfill. A true sensory experience, Afro Punk reaffirmed to me the power that lies in progressive community, what it means to be celebrated, and how impactful people of color are when we stand together as one, under the strength of our ancestors and the Earth, all while praising our existence.
Now if you'll excuse me, I must get back to whipping my teal colored locs to this Kaytranada song enveloping me right now. I am living my best BLACK life.
What did you think about AfroPunk 2017?
Let us know below, and for more on my Afro Punk journey, check out @WhatsUpLauren_on ig!