Afropunk 2017: This Ish Is For Us
I had a chance to hit up Afropunk yesterday and for the uninitiated, it's an annual music and arts festival that celebrates Black creativity and being different from the mainstream. It is a space where Black activism and leadership can co-exist with style, music, and fashion. It's a festival, but also a movement, born from the need to create a safe space where Black culture can be freely celebrated, positively embraced and redefined on our terms.
I love Afropunk for the music and ambiance, but especially for the positive and accepting space, it creates. Women were literally calling each other 'queens' all day and it was truly a beautiful experience. Hence, the title of this post named after the chorus of a song Solange performed last night, 'F.U.B.U' (For Us, By Us)
What exactly does the song lyric mean by "this shit is for us"? It's the creative, beautiful and loving space that Afropunk has built for people to be themselves. To be loved by each other, "this ish" is for us. To be supportive of each other, "this ish" is for us. To be cared for and appreciated by each other. Yes, "that ish" is most definitely for us. The whole space = "this ish" where "the other" can feel welcomed, appreciated and celebrated. This ish is for us. That sentiment is the best way to capture the festival's purpose.
I found myself challenged mentally because sometimes we acquire such bad habits from a society that constantly seeks to destroy our self-worth and devalue us as people of color. I admittedly have formed the very nasty habit of calling other women "bitches". Not just to be insulting or when I was angry, but just casually and as a matter of fact. "So, I went to this store the other day and this bitch......" or "This bitch is so hot. I love her style." or "Bitch, can you please give a sister a call?" When I was at Afropunk yesterday, I really had to check myself on why I continue to speak about other women in this way. The day was a beautiful reminder and sensitivity adjustment to be mindful of how I refer to my fellow queens and to realize how easy it is to descend into the degradation of people I should be motivated to uplift.
No matter what your flow was at the festival yesterday, you were accepted. Not only were you accepted, but you were given love and complimented. I do not know sign language but a deaf man, his girlfriend and I were still about to communicate about our outfits and it was so touching and special to me. This is the beauty of Afropunk and why I will continue to support and attend this festival. There is nothing more powerful than bringing people from all different backgrounds together in a shared and loving space.
Did you have a chance to attend the festival this weekend? Please share with me your thoughts or any noteworthy experiences.