As the Village Voice notes: One doc, ten years, two Websites and eight festivals later, Afropunk–home of “the other black experience”–seems to be going strong, growing pains and all.
You can check it out in NYC this coming weekend, if you’re not familiar. However, it’s worth noting that I’ve been covering the black alternative culture community since 2007 via my other site, Bold As Love Magazine. Afropunk is just one manifestation of what was fringe culture–black kids who originally felt like misfits because they liked punk, metal and hardcore music–moving towards the mainstream. In many ways, it’s been buoyed by the success of artists like the critically acclaimed TV On The Radio, the now-Covergirl model Janelle Monae and progenitors such as Grammy winners Living Colour, whose lead guitarist Vernon Reid is one of the founders of the Black Rock Coalition.
One of the things that’s clear from the article is that brand Afropunk is still struggling with its identity. But it’s certainly made “black weirdos”–that whole category of black kids who don’t necessarily listen to hip hop out of course–much more visible and, therefore, more normalized. One young woman says:
“I still deal with hipster racist douchebags [at shows] every now and then, but at least now I’m not afraid to slap someone in the mouth if I have to,” she says. “If anything, Afropunk has made us weird black kids more comfortable being weird black kids.”
Interesting article, no doubt. And, I urge all smart marketers to keep an eye on this audience, as it’s ripe for engagement beyond this annual festival.