This past weekend I had my first experience at Afropunk Festival in Brooklyn. By now a bunch of photos have flooded the internet of all the beautiful black and brown people at this years event, celebrating the fact that Black Lives Matter and that black is beautiful.
Standing in a crowd of hundreds of black and brown bodies was powerful; in the past, at many of my concert and festival experiences I can remember being one of a few black people in attendance. This year's festival was slightly different because there was an admission fee, but I was proud to see that it didn’t stop people from coming out and supporting their favorite musicians, and each other. Being prosperous and abundant is measurable in more than just monetary means, but to be reminded of the power of the black spirit and the black dollar was impactful (last documented at somewhere between $1.3-1.6 trillion and rising). Most of the performers I saw, particularly Kelela, mentioned how incredible it was for them to be performing for a black audience. The space that Afropunk creates for poc and other intersecting marginal identities, is one that is so necessary, especially in a world that seems to be getting progressively more brutal towards those it deems worthy of oppression and violence.
These statements hung over the crowd of the Green Stage all weekend, boldly defining the aura of the festival as a physical space of support for all contexts of queerness and freedom. The commemorative aspect of this event lives on in the internet, making the URL presence of NY Afropunk 2015 no different.
The internet as a space of self-liberation and collective validation for the identities of poc is especially powerful, particularly with populations like Black Twitter and Black Tumblr (Instagram is in their too). And as marginalized people continue to make their presence and their voices known, our agency and our access has grown with the millennial generation and beyond. The internet was out in full force marking Afropunk as a positive networking space. There was even a moment at the Red Stage when the host, Gitoo, was getting business cards (and chapsticks) thrown at him on stage while reading people's business and Instagram names out loud, urging people to go and support them (and himself).
The roles of the internet and social media have had such a huge impact on the way we identify ourselves and each other, that to be able to control our narratives through this platform is an incredible tool.
All of this positivity made me reflect on the entrepreneurial spirit of black and brown people, and how many young people are out here starting their own businesses, and valuing their communities enough to seek their support. It is sad that we have to create spaces (because they have not existed otherwise) that remind poc of the prosperity and ingenuity of their communities, but it is beautiful that these connections are forming. Our biggest support is each other and when we further recognize and value that, we begin to build something unbreakable.
As much pain and suffering as we are going through, and have been growing through as a people for generations, we are currently at a point in society where many people feel there is a tipping point about to be reached. Black people, and poc around the world, are shaping culture in a new way. As corny as it sounds, at the end of my weekend at Afropunk, I left with a renewed feeling of self-confidence and such excitement for the future of black and brown people and the aspirations of our youth to change the world we live in.