When I moved to Brooklyn from Atlanta in 2012, I told people I’d escaped. After spending six-plus years in the South, I needed to break free and find my own personal joy on the other side of the Mason Dixon. So every time I attend the Afropunk Festival, the annual gathering that comes to Brooklyn and provides a alternative, multi-colored haven for black artisans who like funk as much as they enjoy punk, I get a glimpse of what that joy looks like.
The 2016 event was my fourth, and my third representing EBONY, and every year, I’ve approached it with an increasing level of enthusiasm. Witnessing so many beautiful Black people dressed in their weekend best, dancing, singing, laughing, smiling—happy! It is almost exactly what I had hoped I’d find when I hopped in a rented Penske truck filled with my worldly possessions and broke north. And through the festival, I have found a little piece of joy that I thought I lost. It has been awesome.
In the midst of the ongoing brutality and injustice being hurled at the Black community, it’s comforting to have moments of joy like those provided by Afropunk. It’s a space where we can come together as a people and freely express ourselves without fear or judgment, repercussions or violence. I may have a more of a romantic attachment to the festival than most, but that sense of joy still permeates throughout the entire fairgrounds and is shared by all in attendance.
So this year, EBONY decided to take the initiative to help #ShareBlackJoy with the festival-goers by asking them a simple question: “What does ‘Black Joy’ mean to you?” Check out some of their responses, as well as some pics of the street style (I’m no fashionista but the ladies were KILLING it in the hair department) and performances and the overall Black Joy that was AFROPUNK Fest 2016.