AFROPUNK Day 1: Freedom

Women Engaged
Women Engaged gobo at AFROPUNK Fest Atlanta 2017

During the summer of 2016, I was lounging around the pool with friends. A new girlfriend and I were chatting about men. While I can’t remember the specifics, I recall using the word “consenting” to describe her playful actions with her husband. She gasped and said “liberal feminist???”

I paused before responding. Mostly because I wasn’t sure how to respond. Yes, my political views tend to be more liberal. And yes, I believe in equality for women. But had I ever truly identified with either of these labels? Not necessarily, no.

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Not until recently. Maybe my subconscious bought the trope of the liberal feminist as a bleeding heart white woman with unkempt hair, tattered Goodwill corduroys, and an overwhelming affinity for incents. There are a few events that led up to my revelation, but the path to liberal feminist culminated in a glorious celebration that is AFROPUNK Fest.

AFROPUNK is the festival for the black counter-cultural, music-inspired movement, inspired by the AFROPUNK film and corresponding magazine.

For 10 Years AFROPUNK has served as a platform for the cultivation of urban culture inspired by alternative and experimental music. — AFROPUNK

I walked into the festival on Saturday, not fully knowing what to expect. I put on my tribal-inspired skater dress, sheer black skirt, and black suede boots, piled my hair atop my head like a crown of braided glory, and stepped off the ledge into the unknown.

What I found when I landed in the Gold Lounge for the Solution Sessions was a beautiful cornucopia of difference and variety. I saw a palette of melanin which served as the canvas for lilac-laced locs and afro puffs powdered with pink. I saw slender forms like those of the Tutsi of the tribe of Rwanda dripping in gold and rotund figures wrapped in sheer chiffon. I saw body hair and big bellies, glasses and gapped teeth. I saw wiry limbs and visible ribs, faces full of Fenty and those glistening au natural.

Every conceivable type of outer beauty and expression of inner beauty was represented there.

Although I’m not politically conservative, I guess you could describe my personality as somewhat reserved. I don’t typically wear a ton of makeup, revealing clothing, or bold hair colors. I don’t judge those who do, but it’s never really been my thing.

Aisha Adkins at AFROPUNK Atlanta 2017

That being said, I fell in love with the self-love curated by all of the beautiful people I encountered this weekend. I learned from these scantily clad bodies that a lot of bodies have interesting marks in visible places. I discovered that everyone’s breasts are not the same shape and size. But most importantly, I realized that these so-called imperfections had no bearing on the ability to have a colorful, vibrant, joyful, exuberant life!
At least at AFROPUNK Fest, anyway.

There was a person covered in cold with short, cropped, firey red hair. Michaela Angela Davis celebrated them in all their golden glory and asked them about why they made that particular style decision. They responded:

AFROPUNK is the one time per year that I can truly be myself.

That’s it. Right there. It’s about being yourself. It’s the freedom to be completely authentic and celebrated for that authenticity. No one person on the planet is exactly the same. And that’s okay. We are all handmade by God. What a privilege. How dare I attempt to be something other than who and what He created me to be? May we all try to be more and more ourselves each and every day.

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