Last weekend, AFROPUNK’S beloved Carnival of Consciousness returned to Atlanta, GA, at the 787 Windsor complex. The Southern version of the festival with locations in Brooklyn, South Africa, and Europe curated a lineup designed to bring together musicians, activists, and artists for a two day celebration of black culture and art.
Immediately upon entering, one can see just how special AFROPUNK Atlanta is. Consisting of two stages, the Green and Red, the size of the festival is much more akin to an outdoor block party than your typical festival; it’s not Coachella or Governor’s Ball. However, this size made it all the more intimate and memorable. The banners that lined the stages proclaiming “NO SEXISM, NO RACISM, NO ABLEISM, NO AGEISM, NO HOMOPHOBIA, NO FATPHOBIA, NO TRANSPHOBIA, NO HATEFULNESS” immediately created a vibe for the festival of absolute inclusivity. This inclusiveness was reflected in the attendees; in all of my years of attending festivals, I had never encountered such a wide variety of people congregating together to celebrate art. Everything about this festival was set up as a safe, welcoming space for the beauty of black culture to be celebrated and enjoyed. The fashion of the festival-goers and the sheer variety of activities such as the Spendthrift Market, where patrons can support black-owned businesses, and Activism Row, centered upon ways to promote black-oriented policies in local and national government, are yet another way that AFROPUNK Atlanta sets itself apart in comparison to other festivals in the United States. There is a conscious effort at this festival to do more — to bring light to the struggles faced by marginalized populations, and for black culture to be taken back in the hands of those who created it with the proper respect and appreciation. The lineup reflected this incredible diversity and inclusiveness, as well. Alongside standard festival headliners such as Anderson .Paak and the Free Nationals and Danny Brown were hometown heroes EARTHGANG and Lucky Daye, and genre barriers were broken down with the presence of punk artists FEVER333 and blues magician Fantastic Negrito. AFROPUNK’s dedication to gender equality was present as well — FKA twigs brought a masterful headlining set to the Green stage on Saturday night, and the presence of Mahalia, Brittany Howard, and Ravyn Lenae was remarkable in breaking down the “boys’ club” that is often represented in festival lineups. This special festival is only going to become larger and larger, and we hope to see it continue to spread its message to become a movement and template for larger festivals to follow. Check out our coverage of AFROPUNK Atlanta below:
Coverage by Natalie Tidwell, photographs by Jones Willingham:
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