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post-AfroPunk black bliss

How is it September already?!  I can't even front-- I’m sad to see summer end, but low-key I’m always ready for autumn accessories and boot weather (#blackyankee #srynotsry). I feel like I can’t really mourn #summer16 because I basically spent it exactly how I wanted to. If AfroPunk Paris was the perfect start to the season, AfroPunk BK is the best ending. I’m hard pressed to think of another intergenerational multi-disciplinary space that affirms blackness in all its many variations. It’s like fly the black people of Instagram come to life, complete with baby’s breath pinned in afros and dudes burning sage—see for yourself (or peep these vids).

Though it obviously attracts young people, there were plenty of OG alterna-black folks, too. At one point the lead singer from Fishbone got on the mic and said, “We’ve been waiting for this for 35 years!” I realized my years of black teen angst are a blip compared to those who've been out here battling stereotypes since before I was born. The youth and fly brown babies were definitely out in full force, though. I remember being young and creepin on the Suicide Girls website, scrolling through pictures of porcelain-skinned pin up girls that looked nothing like me, feeling a type of way. So dope to think that the next generation of black weirdos won’t have to grapple with the alienation that comes from complete lack of representation. I know they're going to create things we can't even think up right now--  can't wait to see what they'll innovate in the years to come. 

Also: all the non-black POC present were giving me liiiiiife. On the performance tip, Prayers, the cholo-goth band from California, held it down for the alt-Latin@s in the house. The audience was hella diverse, too. I know indigenous homies who came to New York from New Zealand, just to attend AfroPunk. The non-black POC presence feels significant. Anti-blackness is real in many non-white communities, so it’s dope to have all these brown people showing up to celebrate and stand with black people. Secondly, many of these homies are probably grappling with issues of acceptance and representation in their cultures, too. Black struggles and successes have often been proxies (and stepping stones) for other marginalized ethnic groups.  Why not use the festival as an opportunity to make space for more brown folks, too?                             

It wasn’t all black and brown bliss, though. Black culture has always been a commodity white people are quick to consume, and AfroPunk is no different. More on that later... Regardless, AfroPunk has me fueled up for whatever comes next. So much to create and be grateful for. As Aubrey said, it's a new season, and we still breathin.  Scroll down for:

  • Peep this Poet ft. Maggie Nelson’s recent interview on the New York Public Library podcast
  • AfroPunk Recap with a few pics + some thoughts on white people at AfroPunk
  • #BlackExcellence: 3 Dope AfroPunk Artists (Who Aren’t Men)
  • #WashPoppin with misc. info on what I'm up to in the weeks to come

In the meantime-- fists up, fros out.

PS- Happy new moon! Listen to this track by Laura Mvula while you set your intentions for the season to come. 

Peep This Poet

Maggie Nelson
Reading Maggie Nelson’s collection Jane: a Murder really impacted the way I thought about documentary poetry. Jane tells the story of Nelson's aunt's sexual assault and murder through the letters, diary excerpts, and news clippings. In her NYPL interview with Wayne Koestenbaum, Nelson discussed process, poetry, and commitment to long-term artistic pursuits.   I’ve only read Jane, but in the course of this interview I put holds on some of her other books at the Boston Public Library. So amped to get into to more of her work. Check out the entire interview here.

AfroPunk Recap

So, I didn't take a ton of media during the festival. It's hard to get quality pictures when you're only 5'2 and everone's fros are picked out to max volume. I did get a few good pics, tho! Check them out below:
Top to Bottom, L to R: Nikki Giovanni (!!), Laura Mvula slaying the keytar (with her younger sister/bandmate in the background), CeeLo Green, Kayus Bankole and Alloysious Massaquoi from Young Fathers, Earl Sweatshirt, me and my day 1s  #nonewfriends

For Those Without Fros: On White People @ AfroPunk

The white festival goers ranged from down white baes™ to benign-but-oblivious homies to the downright offensive (think: white couple in headdresses, white dudes in dashikis, etc). This blogger over at Daughters of the Diaspora must have seen the same problematic people I did, because she mentioned them in her article on white people at AfroPunk here. Obviously an all-black space isn’t possible, and no one’s tryna shade interracial couples or families. Still, some of us are nervous that AfroPunk’s increasing popularity will translate to an audience that gets whiter and whiter every year. It's worth noting that this issue isn't Brooklyn-specific-- I saw plenty of white people at AfroPunk Paris, too. It's cray to think that AP Paris, which has only been around for two years, already has a palpable presence of white people. I've gotten into multiple conversations about this in person and online, occasionally having to explain my perspective to a curious white person. For those folks and others, here are three things white people who want to attend AfroPunk should consider...
  1. Do some deep thinking about whether you really need to attend in the first place. If there’s a specific artist you want to see, do some research and find out if there are other opportunities to see them live without taking up room at an event for POC. If you do go to AfroPunk, treat it like a meditation on [not] taking up space. (A lot of brown people live that meditation on the daily—marinate on that for a moment.) Additionally, maybe you can...
  2. Purchase an additional ticket to give to a POC who can’t afford to go. Lots of black and brown people live in in economic situations that might preclude spending money on nonessentials, like music festivals. Especially a music festival that’s getting more and more expensive... White people who can afford to attend don’t have more of a right to go than black people who can’t. Representation and affirmation shouldn't be the sole province of people with expendable income. If you’ve got the funds to buy a ticket, consider purchasing an extra for someone who should be able to go, but can't afford it. (Maybe AfroPunk should start a scholarship or endowment fund? Hmm...)
  3. Only go to one AfroPunk Festival every four years (aka The Olympics Rule). If you’re visiting a friend in a different city and it falls on festival weekend, whatever. If you want to check out an international AfroPunk while on vacay, fine. Just don’t be That White Person trying to be seen at every single one. The every four years time frame is arbitrary, but the sentiment stands. (I'd probably push back on someone who wants to go to one a year, tbh. Somehow that still feels like too much.) It's dope that you want to support and participate, but more white people is the last thing AfroPunk needs. If you don’t understand why attending multiple festivals could be problematic, maybe revisit #1 above...
That’s just my two cents. What do y’all think?

#BlackExcellence: 3 Dope AfroPunk Artists (Who Aren’t Men)

When I reread the Summer Listening guide from last month, I realized one glaring fuck up: there were only cis straight men on that list. This shortsightedness became even more obvious at AfroPunk when I got my black queer life again and again watching talented women and gender nonconforming artists. To right my wrongs, here are a few dope artists who are worth checking out. Click the images to watch their videos, and peep the links in the comments for more content.

Angel Haze
Angel Haze - Impossible
(See also: their interview on Sway's Universe here)
Laura Mvula
"Diamonds" Live Performance for Hunger TV
Kelela - Rewind (Official Video)
(See also: this epi of the podcast Song Exploder, where Kelela explains how this song was made)


The National Black Women's Society's Next Generation Women of Color Summit is right around the corner! There's still time to register if you plan to go. If you're not in Boston (or not a WOC) don't worry-- I'll be sending out a freebie with some of my workshop content in the next couple weeks. Stay tuned! 
There's still time to donate to my CrowdRise campaign for the half-marathon I'm running next month! Click here to donate or share the link. 

Copyright © 2016 simone ivory john, All rights reserved.

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