Updated: Mar 29, 2020
Punk: I guess it's a noun. Not gonna bother defining it. Bite me.
Just scroll to the TL,DR if you're in a rush.
Many greats whom I look up to and study emphasize the importance of personal work as a professional photographer. While throngs of my fellow camera wielders and myself fall into the documentary category of art & history at events like this, I like to think of AfroPunk as an opportunity to exercise my creative muscles in extremely short bursts at a time.
It's a gift to have outings like this as a playground for seasoned and budding artists alike. AfroPunk is unique however, in its projected goals list: Black empowerment. Black ownership. Respectful discourse. Anti-violence. Anti-bullying. Creative expression. The list goes on, both in their press and interpretation.
That said, some festival goers for the past couple/few years have slowly begun to feel a collective discomfort, without a vastly immediate point to place the finger on. Admittedly, that collective discomfort could be an entry by itself -- potentially a long series of entries. I won't really be having that conversation just today.
In short, a great many of we, the people of color in this world, don't think we're asking for a lot to have a handful of things that are exclusively black or exclusively brown. It's not much of a huge request to have something that belongs to us and us alone. I can understand how some folks, white or non-white, could construe this as a form of perpetuating long-existing histories of segregation or inequality for our fellow citizens of the world, but -- colonialism.
It's mildly laughable that in 2018 this is still a concept that many "headstart" cultures struggle with, but...
Anyhow, below are my initial thoughts previously posted on my Instagram feed, concerning the need for AfroPunk to remain as great a positive entity as it strives to be for black and brown folks, creative or not. We always need a safe haven in this world, and too much of a safe haven is never enough. These thoughts were triggered after learning about an incident that took place at Commodore Barry Park during the weekend of the festival:
"AfroPunk, I have a confession: I need you. I need you because I've struggled greatly in my youth (and even some to this day) with feeling like I belong. I've often wondered whether I'm black enough or brown enough. I wrestle with identity among a people with whom I at once share complexion, nativity and complete ignorance. And wherever you show up, championing the safe and inclusive spaces that you create, I've seen myself struggle the least. It's because of this petrichor that I misplace my nerve with your house, especially given the thought that there may be only one person or a very small few putting the wrong drapes up in your windows. Ebony Donnley & @ihartericka's recounted grody experience during this year's Brooklyn festival call to mind themes of hypocrisy, confrontation, egoism and -- shockingly enough -- inequality.
Afro-wielders and punks each alone have historically had a very odd run toward equality and civil respect for the common being in this country. Perhaps doubly so once those two peoples found themselves occupying the same body. This said, I'm hoping you'll consider, @afropunk, the means by which you present your home to the public and the haven-less people who walk in our worlds. After all, just as I've begun today, I need you. A lot of us do. Folks, please pour some positive energy and kind words into Ericka Hart and Ebony Donnley when you can. Won't take much energy."
Ultimately we're human. It's not an excuse to allow character flaws to simply be -- personal growth and betterment should remain as high a priority as the forgiveness expected after the social inconveniences and tragedies of today. It's my hope that the advancement in social equality and justice continue to be examined radically and improved consistently. It's my hope that we cease being merely humans and start being better humans.
If you've made it this far down the page, you're a real one; everyone knows and less will admit that the attention span of many is not... well.... it's just not.
Shameless plug time!
I'm delighted to share the galleries below with you, the readers! If I took your portrait and you're reading this, I thank you! If you're a friend of someone whose portrait I've taken, please let them know they can find them with me. You'll only find a few highlights on this page, however -- for the full gallery, please visit:
If you see yourself, privilege yourself to take the file -- the download is free, just like my love. Please also consider engaging in part of my livelihood by purchasing a beautiful print of the image! Simply select the photo or hover over it and click the cart icon that appears near the top of the desired image.
AfroPunk can to remain super dope, with a little work.
I only managed to go to the second day of the festival.
Below are 21 of my fav images.
There are more images here: neatshinyowl.pixieset.com/afropunkfestbrooklyn2018/
If you see a portrait of yourself, consider supporting me by purchasing a very nice print!
Yes, the file is free. So's my love.
FOR THE FULL GALLERY, VISIT: