It’s no secret that heaven on earth for Black people is in fact, Afropunk. We know all too well that spaces designed for Black folks, rarely stay as such. Once they get an earful of what’s going on, they start flocking and taking over, more or less. And let me not even get into the stereotypes and misconceptions tied to us! My point being, when we hear that there’s a space for us by us, where we are free to be, you make it a mission to attend. If you’re wondering if Afropunk is as good as it seems; it is. I couldn’t even begin to describe how magical it is seeing so many Black people in one space, where the fashion, the hair, and the mindsets are all in sync with one another.
The festival was exactly the life changing experience I’d hoped it to be. Just lining up at the gates left me in awe of these beautiful people. I’m not just talking visually appealing either; call me crazy but you could feel the carefree and tranquil energy of everyone around you. It was all consuming in the most comforting of ways. Regardless if there were to be musicians or not, I can easily say I’d come for the culture alone.
The fashion is to an extreme that I wish was normalized all around. The hair shows just how versatile and magical Black hair truly is. The punk side of Afropunk was alive, as always, with skate parks, bands, and a Doc Marten sponsored art installation over at the Pink stage! I may or may not have been asked to be apart of an Afropunk video portrait, representing the punk culture!
But damn. The music. Macy Gray, Willow Smith, Sampha, SZA, and the queen herself, Solange! It honestly couldn’t have been any better! I’ve been rockin with Macy Gray for the longest, and to be able to see her so close and in such an intimate setting, left me full. In fact, the entire trip left me full. Of inspiration. Hope. Happiness. Yes, it sounds corny as fuck but this is no exaggeration! SZA’s performance was packed to say the least. Tens of thousands of kings & queens belted out the all too relatable lyrics of CTRL as well as songs seemingly forgotten. Pierre and I had to dip out a little early in order to get prime Solange viewing, but it was all too worth it. While waiting for Solange to come out and bless us, we roamed around the different tables and vendors. There were healing spaces, the Macy Gray’s Braid Bar, handmade clothes, and natural body, hair, and skincare products. Anyways! Solange was nothing short of an experience. The lighting, the choreography, the aesthetic, and of course-her, was so calculated yet the sense of spontaneity and joy were still present. I'd be lying if I said I didn’t shed a tear or ten during her set!
Afropunk and New York has given me something that my heart has been longing for, for some time now. I only hope that I'm giving Afropunk (and you all) something to feel in return. There’s some things that have to left unsaid about Afropunk Brooklyn, but that’s okay. Create and live in your own experiences. Go out on a limb and get a ticket for the next festival that is Afropunk. It’s taking everything in me to not book a couple tickets to Atl for Afropunk Atlanta this October! Afropunk and New York has given me something that my heart has been longing for, for some time now. I only hope that I'm giving Afropunk (and you all) something to feel in return.
Words by Maya Clark // @mayaexplains
Photographs by Pierre Ware // @bossforthecause