What exactly is the ‘other’ black experience…..
October 27, 2009, 11:45 pm
Filed under: Life....I wonder... | Tags: , , , , ,

Photography by Phil Knott

I dig Afro Punk. Anyone who has read my post Where You Been All My Life, knows just how dear and important this movement is to me. I have been an afro-punk all my life, but it’s hard for me to explain, because honestly I feel I owe no one an explanation for what I be. I cannot explain the depths of my being to you in a mere blog post so I won’t even attempt. I will say this though, within the Afro Punk community there are no stares, there is no judgement, there are no designated ‘tests’ or ‘indicators’ that reveal the ‘authenticity’ of your ‘blackness’, there is nothing but an irreverent respect for and nuturing of the the divine individuality present in us all, there is absolute freedom from what ‘they’ think you ought to look like, sound like, move like, and listen to. That is why my soul rests easy among the legions of those who embody this lifestyle. Among them I can be a ‘real’ black woman and be Takeema, something many folk I come across attempt to make me compromise daily. 

While on the Afro Punk site, which I have just recently become a member of, I came across the post of a brotha expressing his displeasure and belief that the scene had been “hijacked by hipster scene kids”. No disrespect to him or his views but after reading I felt compelled to write. His main point of contention was that the scene is called Afro-PUNK but there was not enough focus on punk, metal and hardcore. He felt that there had been an influx of people jumping on the bandwagon just because it is now “trendy to be different and they don’t listen to rock music”   He went on to say that if this is what is was going to be”…just change the name  to Afro-funk or Afro-Electronica…” I had mixed feelings upon reading this.

I feel exactly where he’s coming from. There are those who walk the walk and talk the talk and have done so before it was  “cool”, many have been ostracized, ridiculed, and have found a solace within this community that wasn’t available anywhere else. So what do you do when you see you’re community getting further and further away from it’s origins? It’s a lot like when your favorite underground artist gains mainstream popularity and your are subjected to the slow torture of watching them conform to a new audience and eventually….sell out. I feel him on that one, I really do, but then again in a community that is the personification of rebellious freedom, why the restriction of labels?

Punk itself is rooted in the philosphy of anti-establishment and homegrown DIY ideology.  The key words are wild and rebellion.  This type of mentalitiy can be and has been manifested musically in a myriad of forms.  Blues, rock n roll,  psychedelic rock,  punk, funk, new wave, metal, hip-hop……wild, rebellious, against the grain expressions of the musical impulse. Even within the genre of “punk” there are several sub-genres, just as within the vast sea of human life no two beings are exactly the same.  The tagline on the Afro Punk site is this “Afro Punk is a platform for the other Black experience, the one we don’t see in our media D.I.Y (Do It Yourself) is the foundation.” The concept of D.I.Y. deals heavily with reliance on independent effort. Musically it referred to the idea of bands distributing thier music independently, not dealing with big money contracts and studios, doing things thier own way on thier own terms. Applying this concept to a way of life, I take it to mean that I need not look to any source outside of myself to provide me with a structure on which to base my identity.  I create myself in my own way on my own terms.

With that being said, it would be a sad thing to let elitism and exsclusivity permeate a community such as this one. The scene jacking hipsters who don’t live what they talk about will not last long because real recognizes real. I have no doubt in my mind that once the breezes of trendiness change direction, which they always do, the flakes will float off right along with it. The spirit of Afro Punk, if anything, is enriched and fortified by the diversity of those souls which gravitate towards it.  I’ll end this with the comment of a sista who replied to the brotha’s remarks….

“…….I agree the stronger emphasis at the root, is punkrock, but I can’t be mad at the rebellions of other non-pop genres against the status quo feeling at home in the AP community. I think it’s beautiful; an expansive ‘Other Black Experience’ for wavers of various kinds of freak flags. Shine on”


1 Comment so far
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Excellent post.

Comment by PurpleZoe

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