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The Hilltop


PERSPECTIVE — Music, Fashion and Afropunk: The Inspirational Experience

By Amber Broaden, News Editor
Posted 9:18 PM EST, Sun., Sept. 11, 2016

It’s been close to two weeks since AFROPUNK Festival 2016 shook everyone’s lives in Brooklyn on Aug. 27 and 28. And, personally, I still cannot get over the music, activism and fashion legends that I passed by during my two-day experience.

AFROPUNK’s unapologetic dialogue against issues of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and hatefulness through ableism, ageism and fatphobia created a magically safe space for people of the Black Diaspora and allies, to gather and be express themselves for a day or two.

“This is a space for loving and being in a Black body that is positive, promotes freedom and imagination,” said Valerie Thomas, associate professor of English and Africana Studies at Pomona College. “I felt very protected and connected to everyone in this space.”

The two-day experience granted me the opportunity to witness my favorite artists on stage, some of which included Flying Lotus, Sángo, Tyler, the Creator, Ice Cube, Kelela and The Internet. Author and poet Nikki Giovanni, also presented a poem before Laura Mvula, upcoming British-American singer and songwriter, performed her set on stage.

The cool sightings of seeing other eclectic Black people also enhanced my experience. Princess Nokia, Kamau, Le1f and Spike Lee were spotted talking to many of AFROPUNK’s attendees during the day.

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“I have been coming here for three years and it always gets better,” said Kamau Agyemen, Brooklyn singer and performer at AFROPUNK 2016.

On day two, I heard that Spike Lee had been walking around the park, and at a certain point even had a line waiting to meet him. I was be eager to meet him as well, and I kind of did. I was in Spike Lee’s way as he tried to enter Commodore Barry Park.

“Excuse me, excuse me,” Lee said as he moved passed me. It was only until he was inside of the park that I had realized it was him!

Other AFROPUNK attendees also had the chance of meeting various music artists, such as Kamau and Le1f during the festival, as they experienced the festival with people who travelled from around the world to see the artists.

“It was really cool seeing Kamau after his performance because he was really sweet and seemed pretty willing to talk,” said Michelle Sanders, junior social policy and African-American studies major at Northwestern University. “He was really engaging as a performer and as a person.”

“I had the opportunity of taking a picture with Le1f, a rapper and producer from New York,” said Sarayah Wright, junior radio, television and film major from Northwestern University. “He asked me if a set was over and I recognized him immediately. His music and videos are so freeing.”

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Activism and advocacy organizations such as the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Care More and Families United for Economic Equality (FUREE) were also set up within the park to promote global outreach to fix universal and domestic disparities.

AFROPUNK was a festival that was so full of vibrant colors, political statements, body art and careless freedom. Outfits seems to reciprocate the energy of each person.

“I came to witness the beauty of the culture,“ said Jeannetta Cook, an AFROPUNK attendee. “So many people are strong in their own pride and me people have many unique styles.”

With body-positivity, eclectic afro-futurism styles and rad hair styles, AFROPUNK was not far from styles we see here on campus. This experience multiplied these stylistic flares that it was impossible not to stare in awe and get a picture.

“This is my third year coming here, and I love seeing people’s different styles, their hair, skin types.” says Brea Pipkens, Brooklyn resident and a AFROPUNK attendee. “Everyone has their own style, and they mix it up and own it!”

Within the photoset, I wanted to share some styles that caught my attention and really set the tone for this new-age punk festival. To follow one of the lovely fashionista’s I met during my experience, follow the hashtag #BriaApproved for fashion do’s around New York City.

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