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AFROPUNK - Through the eyes of an Afro-Italian

Reportage by Sarah Von H.

AFROPUNK - Through the eyes of an Afro-Italian
Reportage by Sarah Von H.
AFROPUNK - Through the eyes of an Afro-Italian Reportage by Sarah Von H.

Rhythms meeting bodies possessed by the power of music.

Dusty vibrations run through your soul stricken by colors of a new bright future. Colors of hope, colors of Brooklyn: welcome to Afropunk Fest 2016
Situated in the Fort Greene area of downtown Brooklyn, Commodore John Barry Park is a 10 acres land that holds the title of "oldest park" in the borough. 
I needed to experience something like this once in a lifetime, being a black girl born and raised in a country like Italy, I never really had the chance to be around something so fully black and brown as Afropunk. Some people call it the "Coachella of black people", but personally, I don't like comparing something so amazingly connected to the everyday struggle of blacks to anything created by white men. Let's just have our own festival and our own space without necessarily compare it to something already existing. It's time to be us.
I dreamt my whole life about something like this.
Coming from a punk-rock background, I always felt like an outsider or a so called "oreo" to other people, only for loving a music genre that wasn't primarily represented by blacks. Truth is, this was all part of a big society mistake and stereotype on people and music genres. 
 
I always told myself there was something that represented me as well, I always relied on bands as Bad Brains and many other ska bands born in England in the 70's and 80's to remind myself that I wasn't alone in this, that I had to keep believing in this alternative part of myself, and in the latest years the discovery of bands such as Death (please don't miss the documentary "A Band Called Death"), totally confirmed my idea of diversity and possibility in a world where punk was only represented by white folks.
My whole adolescence was like a never ending questioning and a circle of weirdness for other people, shocked to even see a black person with a mohawk at a Misfits concert. 
After more than ten years going through this struggle on my own, being the black spot on a white piece of paper, I found myself in America, a place of hope and dreams, but also a place created by slavery and hate. 
A place of contradictions, a lie, a violent country where I heard gunshots for the first time ever, but also the country where I felt home for the first time for not being the only "one". 
 
I really wish most black Americans would see the greatness and positive aspect of not living in a place that doesn't offer any chance for you to be somebody from the first day you're born. By being somebody I mean every little normal thing you could end up doing in life: a doctor, a lawyer, an actress or simply a cab driver.
That's how it's always been, I gave up many things when I was very little just because I knew there wasn't a place for me in Italy, and I didn't even know where to start fighting 'cause I was alone. 
Although this may have been my personal mistake at the beginning, I never truly gave up while growing up 'cause if I did, I wouldn't be here writing for you guys, I wouldn't have a voice and a platform.
 
I absorbed all the negativity and anger that Italy transmitted to my soul and turned it into my strength and ability, becoming a musician, a DJ, writer, music manager and a soon-to-be law student for music and arts business. 
 
I know this is only my story, but I couldn't write anything about this festival without going through myself. Many of you might not relate and many others probably will. You see, something like Afropunk wouldn't exist without the strength and positive energy of a few people like me, like you, who believed in equality, who believed all kinds of music belong to everyone 'cause music is music.
Many speculations and things are behind this festival, but, as far as I'm concerned, everything we see and do - starting from our phones and social media and especially every festival we've been at - it's built with some dirt, so I just wanna focus on the music side in this article. 
 
Walking and hanging around between more than 60.000 people spreading love and good energy in a little as two days gave me chills, and at one point I looked at the sky talking to my passed grandmother and told her: "hey I'm here, this is all real and I'm not alone anymore, I'm happy now and I'll keep on with my mission".
 
It's been a long hard road for my family, from my ancestors in Mali 'till they moved to the Ivory Coast, and then me, born in Italy and now living in New York. I didn't make it so far for no reason, I always feel the hands of my ancestors pushing me toward something great, telling me not to stop believing 'cause if you stop, you lose yourself.
What is my mission? My mission is to bring all this love and diversity in my real home, the place where I found myself and the place that made me who I am, Italy. My mission is to go back one day as soon as possible and create something that will unite all the different, amazing culture that Italy has to offer. I don't want you guys to love blackness only for the radio music, I want you to love blackness from the roots, I want you to cherish blackness even outside that hip hop club. I want you to love, always. 
 
I want to thank Afropunk for making me feel so safe in such a big space, and I want to thank America for being the place that made me believe I could do anything I wanted to, despite the hate and ignorance surrounding the earth's surface. 
 
Music is the key of love, the power of notes is the most magical thing ever created on this planet. It's unexplainable, it has no color or gender, and it's better this way. 
 
Thanks to the cool bands and artists I love that participated to this year Afropunk: Trash Talk, Bad Brains, The Internet, Kelela, Fishbone, Flying Lotus, Laura Mvula, Skunk Anansie, Skye from Morcheeba, Janelle Monae, Tyler The Creator and so on...
And thanks to all black artists and non black artists that create real music everyday and believe in its healing and magical power, don't ever stop what you're doing, you're the only hope. 
 
See you next year!