Lead by this generation of change-makers, artists and activists, Afropunk brings its 2018 Carnival of Consciousness to the streets of Atlanta’s Mechanicsville neighborhood for its 3rd year.
A festival celebrating the avant-garde, Afropunk reflects a thriving subculture of individuals that have not only made a space and platform for themselves but also spurred a movement for alternative blackness. These influencers, creatives, artists, and muses work outside the conventions of what blackness and art are “supposed to be,” and not only define what it means to be “Afropunk,” but embody the concept itself.
Afropunk musical culture is wide spanning and ever-evolving, describing lo-fi bedroom pop melodies as much as R&B influenced screamo. The lineup of the 2018 festival particularly stands out for its diversity, featuring headliners such as The Internet, N.E.R.D. and Pusha-T.
While the lineup contains a myriad of distinct artists, sounds, and genres, performances by Txlips, SATE, Benjamin Booker, and the Internet particularly blew away crowds.
However, Afropunk acts as more than a music festival, also servings as a creative platform and art showcase for a range of works such as film, installation, painting, and multimedia. The art exhibited, illuminated in neon hues, exists in a spectrum of color and form. Art pieces splatter and hang from the walls, from abstraction and conceptual work to portraits and pop culture pieces; installation climbing to ceiling heights and ephemera like found-object art perplex and intrigue festival-goers.
The fashion and aesthetic choices of Afropunk’s attendees reflect the offbeat and eccentric philosophy the festival promotes and the culture that it fosters. Afropunkers unbound their locs, braids, coils and curls adorned with crowns of glitter and flower petals. These creatives and influencers display their individualism outward, and don fashions made of vinyl and plastic, corduroy and velvet, silk kimonos floating in the breeze, and the thin gauze of long maxi skirts accentuate the golden melanin of the skin underneath.
In a society in which blackness is criminalized and defined by stereotypes, Afropunk reminds the world that black people are more than FOX News headlines and mugshots, and black culture is as beautiful as it is nuanced. Afropunk fuels its unprecedented creative expression from a DIY-aesthetic and culture, existing at the intersection of punkness and blackness. Experimental and experiential, the festival showcases multifaceted blackness and outlier creative expression. The philosophy and nature of the festival expands as its community does. But the bottom line of it is this: To be black is to be punk, and to be Afropunk is to be radical.
Erin Davis is a journalist and photographer dedicated to documenting the avant-garde and unconventional and strives to uplift the creative expression of marginalized communities and subcultures.
All photos by Erin Davis
Thousands upon thousands of men, women, and children flooded the streets for Atlanta’s 2018 PRIDE parade, marking the 48th consecutive year that the LGBTQ community has marched on the city, flags flying high and unapologetic. The festival took place Sunday, October 14th, from Midtown to Piedmont Park. Festival-goers began to flood into the streets at around 10 a.m. to kick off the vibrant revelry early, despite the march starting well into the afternoon and the festivities continuing into the late evening.
The energy of the parade was infectious. Color, sound, and music exploding from every corner and every crevice of the streets of Atlanta. Joy weaving itself into every hue and bleeding from the rainbow blanketed crowds.
A cacophony of music and laughter wove itself into the environment of the parade, and vendors with carts full of vibrant PRIDE merch shouted into the streets waving various strings of beads and flags and t-shirts. People decked in PRIDE wear and rainbow flags grasped signage painted with a spectrum of colors in their hands, the empowering statements on them as vivid and impassioned as its hues.
Though PRIDE is a celebration meant to empower LGBTQ communities and promote LGBTQ visibility, it is also about more than that; it is about community and solidarity. It is about family. PRIDE is a wholesome demonstration of human strength and compassion, of the human capacity to persevere and love despite all circumstances. Set against Atlanta’s rich history of minority empowerment and public acts of civil disobedience, the continuing tradition of this powerful hallmark of queer culture and empowerment gives honor to a legacy of leaders and courageous acts of resistance for equality.
The parade serves as a call to action in the context of a current tumultuous sociopolitical climate where LGBTQ visibility is more prevalent and necessary than ever. The march becomes a radiant reminder that the struggle for queer rights will always be at the forefront as long as individuals have the courage and ability to fight for it, march on the city in their bold colors hand in hand, and scream to all the world that this community is still here and isn’t leaving anytime soon.
For the upcoming generation of social change agents and leaders, the power of their voice and actions not only drives the future fight for LGBTQ rights and visibility but is also shaping the ‘now’ of it. The most beautiful and hope-eliciting aspect of PRIDE was the concentration of young people there who stood unafraid to reclaim their identities and fight for their communities, and for themselves.
Many say that the youth are shaping the future. However, a closer look at the youth-driven movements for change and social activism prove that they are changing the world today. And as these young people pave the way for the generations that will come after, the empowering legacy of Atlanta PRIDE lives on.
Erin Davis is a journalist and photographer who strives to uplift marginalized communities and subcultures through her work and happens to be one of the youths who is shaping today.
All photos by Erin Davis
VOX ATL reporters Amariyah Callender and Erin Davis had the opportunity to receive exclusive red carpet access at the Atlanta press screening for “The Hate U Give.” Watch as they interview cast members including Amandla Stenburg, Kai Ture, Algee Smith TJ Wright as well as author Angie Thomas. The critically acclaimed film is out in all theaters on October 19, 2018. Stay tuned for more “The Hate U Give” coverage all week at VOXATL.com.