This year’s Afropunk Festival wrapped up this past weekend, Saturday August 23rd, and Sunday August 24th, in Brooklyn’s Commodore Barry Park. Artists who performed include funky soul band Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Trash Talk, King Britt, Bad Brains, Body Count, Cro-Mags singer John Joseph, Cro-Mags themselves, Shabazz Palaces, Jesse Royal, Fishbone, Corey Glover of Living Colour, R&B singer D’Angelo, and Mars, the rapper who, with Daryl of Bad Brains, is in White Mandingos. D’Angelo’s presence especially was a big to-do, as his attendance had been under speculation for several weeks before the show, so much so that the audience at Afropunk were still unsure if he would actually appear.
As with many of the free music festivals attended this summer, Ferguson, and especially Michael Brown and Eric Garner, were fresh in the minds of the artists and the audience. Although the fest itself was upbeat and generally pleasant, most of those involved happen to be people of color, who are all too familiar with police misconduct and racial profiling. “As a person that has been a black man for 48 years in America” said Binky Griptite, guitarist for Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings, to MSNBC, “it is obviously distressing but unfortunately not news. It’s good that these cases have gotten so much attention because there are people that might not be aware that this type of brutality is really routine.”
2014 marks Afropunk Festival’s tenth anniversary, and the fest is quickly becoming a public forum for discourse to be exchange between people of similar sentiment. Progressive Pupil Professor Robin Hayes organized an informational booth, to provide info about social justice organizations such as Milk Not Jails and Black Alliance for Just Immigration, and to provide a message board for people to post their views and thoughts concerning police brutality on. Hayes said, “Now what we’re seeing is ‘hands up don’t shoot,’ the whole hoodies up marches, and social media campaigns after Trayvon Martin’s unfortunate death, is that young people are interested in creating change.” As for her booth at Afropunk, she said, “We wanted to show that there are people who are working right now and need our support.”