By: Clarice Metzger, Life+Style Editor (@_itsClarice)
Throughout last weekend, my Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook feeds were perfectly saturated with copious amounts of black beauty at Afropunk Brooklyn. I scrolled through countless photos of black people singing and swaying in the sunshine adorned in everything from bold statement shirts to bright colorful Ankara against a backdrop of even more beautiful black people.
Afropunk, which now hosts festivals throughout the year in London, Paris, Johannesburg and Atlanta, is more than just a music festival. It is a multicultural haven where showgoers can celebrate, embrace and express everything that is marginalized culture, music, fashion and beauty.
Since its inception in 2005, Afropunk has been synonymous with self-expression, freedom, beauty and inclusivity. “No Sexism, No Racism, No Ableism, No Ageism, No Homophobia, No Fatphobia, No Transphobia, No Hatefulness,” were the rules listed next to the main stage at Afropunk Brooklyn 2017. Afropunk creates a space where one can transcend every stereotype ever placed upon them and just be comfortable in their multidimensionality. It is a space where everyone is accepted, admired and appreciated.
Afropunk is just one example of the magic that can occur when black people come together and relish in each other’s beauty that we are so often condemned for celebrating. Curlfest, the world’s largest natural beauty festival, Essence Fest, the annual music festival hosted by Essence Magazine, and The Roots Picnic, the annual music festival hosted by hip-hop group, The Roots, are other examples of cultural incubators that allow us to celebrate one another through the creation of a safe space.
In my opinion, black beauty in itself is an act of defiance. We have been conditioned to believe that the white oppressive beauty standard is the only beauty standard and it’s not. Expressing our blackness is a direct dismissal of that. To see marginalized people celebrate in a firm rejection of every expectation society has ever placed upon us is not only refreshing but also empowering. There has always been and will always be a need for safe spaces.
In a world where the president of the United States condemns both sides of a white supremacy rally, policies rooted in hatred such as the Muslim and transgender military ban are put into effect and threats to women’s healthcare are constant, safe spaces are as important, necessary and vital as ever. We’re here, we’re beautiful and we matter.