To put it simply, Afropunk is a celebration of all things black. Over 10 years ago, the Afropunk Festival was first conceived in Brooklyn, New York and over time it has now made its way down South.
Tucked away in a corner of a rather quiet Atlanta neighborhood. 787 Windsor was transformed into AfroPunk, the official meeting grounds and safe haven for so many like-minded yet unique individuals. The timing for this festival could not have been more perfect, as fellow Atlantans across the city were celebrating Atlanta Pride and gearing up to participate in the upcoming midterm elections next month.
In today’s political and social climate, it can seem as if those who are deemed “abnormal” by society are constantly fighting to be and feel accepted by a society whose ideologies and standards are violently crashing against their own. Afropunk’s “Carnival of Consciousness” served as a stark reminder to every single attendee that they had a voice and that they were important. The reminders were expressed in various creative outlets, from fashion, physical paintings, graffiti work and of course, music.
Attendees made their presence known with loud and boastful colors paired with daring print. It was a fashion-forward event just as much as it was musical. A variety of musical acts graced the stage one by one, providing the perfect soundtrack for guests to dance (or mosh) the night away.
However, outwardly expression of oneself wasn’t the only focus for the two-day festival. Wellness was also heavily emphasized through things like Toyota’s Green Initiative, where the company provided green juice samples from radio personality Angela Yee’s Juices For Life along with group yoga sessions. Out of the Closet, a local thrift shop in Atlanta, encouraged an active yet healthy sex life by conducting HIV testing in just under two minutes.
In between artist sets, attendees also had the opportunity to get involved and get active within the local community. As midterm elections roll around in November, supporters for Stacey Abrams were encouraging others to go out and vote next month. According to Zack, a lawyer living in the DC area, it’s rare right that we are able to have a choice in who represents us and he’s impressed by how informed the general public at Afropunk seems to be in regards to the legislative and executive process.
Trekking through the festival, it was easy to wonder what exactly Afropunk meant to those who attended it. For Ohmi, a festival-goer who flew from San Francisco, California to attend the event, it meant being whoever she wanted to be and being surrounded by those who looked like her but were also different. It was a space for black people to be themselves, whatever that may be. Ekua Adisa, an Atlanta transplant from Milwaukee, saw the festival as a place to come together with her people, an opportunity to “pop out and get cute.” For many others, freedom, creativity and pure expression were the opportunities that Afropunk gifted to them.
At its core, Afropunk Atlanta became a place of mental and physical rest and rejuvenation for those deemed as “abnormal” in society and whose core beliefs and values are constantly crashing against societal norms. The festival quite literally created a space for individuals to rest, relax and engage in discussion with one another.
Though it was brief, one of the most exhilarating and surreal moments of the festival was during day two as Patrisse Cullors took to the stage. The activist and co-founder of social justice group Black Lives Matter led the crowd in an electrifying chant. Reaffirming to the crowd their importance and self-worth, even outside of the festival’s imaginary walls. The social justice group also celebrated with the crowd a rather large milestone. Just a few months back, the organization had celebrated it’s 5th anniversary of creation. While so much has been done to propel the community forward, there’s still work to be done.
For some, Afropunk brought healing, for others it became an escape from the monotony of day to day living. No matter the reason, Afropunk did not discriminate against those in attendance for their race, sex, gender or overall difference. Instead, the festival served as a beacon of light and greeted every guest with a welcoming and warm embrace.
Photos by John Adams for Bullet Music