How to survive Afropunk without letting people who aren't black drive you insane

How to survive Afropunk without letting people who aren't black drive you insane
Source: AP
Source: AP

Afropunk, the annual Brooklyn-based music festival that celebrates the beauty of black artistry, is once again upon us. It's got a stellar line-up that includes Janelle Monáe, the Internet, Saul Williams, funk legend George Clinton and many more.

From left: Janelle Monae, the Internet, Skunk Anansie, Laura Mvula, Young Fathers, Benjamin Booker, Skye and Ross (from Morcheeba) and Earl Sweatshirt.
Source: 
AfroPunk

The festival started in 2005 after the Afro-Punk documentary shed light on a subculture of alternative-minded black punk musicians and fans.

Source: YouTube

It's now become more popular than ever and has expanded to Atlanta:

Paris:

And London:

It's pretty clear why. On top of being an incredible artistic space that celebrates black art, it's also got this helpful reminder on its main stage.

But popularity also brings problems. In this case, how can a space that was built by and for black people stay black?

M.I.A., who's Sri Lankan, was recently tapped to headline AfroPunk London before being dropped after fans and artists pushed back. 

Some of the criticism had to do with an interview in which the rapper clumsily wrote off the significance of the Black Lives Matter movement by saying that it was a more politically acceptable position to take in America. But really it all boiled down to the idea that a black entertainer should headline the blackest music festival in the western hemisphere. 

In an email to the Fader, music journalist Jesse Bernard wrote: "M.I.A. as a performer would've been reasonable, but featuring her as a headliner sends the wrong kind of message that black people have heard for too long — when black people create their own spaces, they're expected to open them up to everyone, whilst it's not always reciprocated." 

But even away from the main stage, racism and cultural appropriation manage to find their way into the festival. Case in point: these unidentified white women who got into a shouting match with festival-goers in the United Kingdom for wearing headscarves:

So, what's a black person who loves blackness to do?

What would Grace Jones do?
Source: 
Giphy

First, find the beautiful soul who gives out free hugs.

Music is the main draw, but don't forget to support black vendors — here are a few:

A photo posted by (@) on

And, last but not least, enjoy black music made by and for black people:

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Jamilah King

Jamilah King is a senior staff writer at Mic. She was previously an editor at Colorlines.

MORE FROM

Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington was open about his pain. That doesn’t make his death less shocking.

“If it wasn’t for music, I’d be dead,” Bennington once said. “One hundred percent.”

Please stop hating on ‘The Dark Knight Rises’

Christopher Nolan's final Batman film is simply not as bad as some fans think.

It’s time for Steve Whitmire to let Kermit the Frog go

The veteran puppeteer is having a tough time relinquishing his 27-year relationship with the famous Muppet.

Debate: Is director Christopher Nolan the best or the worst filmmaker of our time?

Mic asked two staff members to debate the relative merits of award-winning director Christopher Nolan and his movies.

‘The Vampire Diaries’ ending could be what saves ‘The Originals’

The end of 'The Vampire Diaries' could mean a new beginning for 'The Originals.'

Let’s needlessly overthink these ‘Game of Thrones’ photos from “Stormborn”

Sam's still at the Citadel, looking miserable.

Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington was open about his pain. That doesn’t make his death less shocking.

“If it wasn’t for music, I’d be dead,” Bennington once said. “One hundred percent.”

Please stop hating on ‘The Dark Knight Rises’

Christopher Nolan's final Batman film is simply not as bad as some fans think.

It’s time for Steve Whitmire to let Kermit the Frog go

The veteran puppeteer is having a tough time relinquishing his 27-year relationship with the famous Muppet.

Debate: Is director Christopher Nolan the best or the worst filmmaker of our time?

Mic asked two staff members to debate the relative merits of award-winning director Christopher Nolan and his movies.

‘The Vampire Diaries’ ending could be what saves ‘The Originals’

The end of 'The Vampire Diaries' could mean a new beginning for 'The Originals.'

Let’s needlessly overthink these ‘Game of Thrones’ photos from “Stormborn”

Sam's still at the Citadel, looking miserable.