Afropunk represents soul, defiance, strength, unity, bravery, and yes impeccable style. This message was very clear and resounding in the 2017 Afropunk Fest. Afropunk is a chance for black people to show off their style, hairdo, and social standing. It’s a chance to speak up with more than words. A chance to embrace and celebrate magnificent and diverse black hairdos, black beauty and black style without fear of judgment.
As a black girl living in a diverse world, I find that answering numerous questions about my hair and skin is almost always a brazen experience. And so Afropunk was a chance for me to see uniqueness celebrated. I’ve realized that to embrace my beauty has required a form of defiance. Fully accepting my uniqueness has become a radical statement.
My beauty is radical because the most popular and accepted beauty standards seem to go against it. My hairdo is a statement of defiance because your “innocent” curiosity about it has an underlying disapproving undertone.
Hence, choosing to show up in my braids and Bantu knots requires courage and strength. It requires accepting myself for who I am without fear of judgment. Afropunk means celebrating this uniqueness in the loudest way possible.
Many feel affronted by black bravery and fearlessness. This affront is sometimes translated into a feigned interest borne out of discomfort and not appreciation. This is what leads you to deep your fingers into my afro. No, my hair is not a shiny new thing you need to touch and feel without my permission. It is who I am, it is a part of me, it is my normal. It is a demoralizing feeling to see you treat it as otherwise (good intentions or not). I am tired of apologizing for who I am. Trying to explain why my hair is different, why I have braids on, what are braids, why I need sunscreen too. It is exhausting. Don’t touch my hair.
Afropunk creates a space for black girls and boys to unapologetically embrace their uniqueness and individuality. More times than not, my identity as black overpowers my individuality in society. Blanket assumptions, stereotypes prevent people from connecting with me as an “individual”. Do not assume to know who I am, what I like, what my taste in music is, my style choices, or my preferences just because of my skin color. In the same breath, do not assume that I am who I am because it is what is expected of those that look like me.
Me gritaron: ¡Negra!
Your curiosity and questions only make it obvious that my presence disrupts your perception of “normal”. Somewhere between your overbearing compliments and well-intended questions, I started to feel less like a person and more like an exhibit. And yet again, just as I was beginning to forget, I’m reminded that I’m seen as an outsider, out of place, different. But I have learned to take control of the narrative. I am outstanding.
Afropunk celebrates individuality and beauty and I’m grateful for its message.
“AFROPUNK is defining culture by the collective creative actions of the individual and the group. It is a safe place, a blank space to freak out in, to construct a new reality, to live your life as you see fit while making sense of the world around you.” – Afropunkfest
Below are some great looks from Afropunk fest.