Jasmine Nichole
Veronica Graves/ The Root

Afropunk is where melanin and metal music collide.

Advertisement

The two-day festival of blackness that is Afropunk took place Saturday and Sunday at Commodore Barry Park in Brooklyn, N.Y. In its 11th year, the event continues to create a space for left-of-center musicians and their fans to, well, just be.

This year’s acts included CeeLo Green, George Clinton, Ice Cube, Fishbone, Afropunk veteran Janelle Monáe and the Internet. Since the festival’s inception in 2005, it has strayed a bit away from the entirely punk and heavy metal ethos—as evidenced by many of this year’s acts (read: Ice Cube)—still, the festival completely defies the notion that black music is narrow and limited.

Advertisement

In fact, black music is vast, just like the festival’s attendees.

We asked some Afropunkers to define their blackness. Here's what they had to say, along with a few candid photos:

Reign Apiim
Veronica Graves/ The Root

Reign Apiim, 27, Pittsburgh: “I don’t define my blackness at all. My blackness is everything. Everything is blackness.”

Sabrina Lynch
Veronica Graves/ The Root

Sabrina Lynch, 35, London, by way of Jamaica and Grenada: “My blackness is who I am. My blackness is how I live my life, and how I force people to change their perceptions of what blackness is—whether I’m in London or in New York or traveling the world.”

DJ mOma
Veronica Graves/ The Root

DJ mOma, New York: “My personal blackness is the resilience that I’ve gained from an everyday struggle. It starts from the time that you’re a little kid living in the Western world. You might not even know it. You’re building character, and you’re strengthening your soul.”

Karim Bello
Veronica Graves/ The Root

Karim Bello, 29, Brooklyn, N.Y.: “My blackness is being free. My blackness is accepting. My blackness is open. And my blackness is just being who you are.”

Quincy Adams
Veronica Graves/ The Root

Quincy Adams, 39, Brooklyn, N.Y.: “I don’t even know how to define it. It’s West Indian Afro-Guyanese American. I think I’d put in all of those pieces of West African descent.”

Attendee at the Afropunk festival, Brooklyn, N.Y., Aug 27-28, 2016
Veronica Graves/ The Root

All smiles at Afropunk.

Attendee at the Afropunk festival, Brooklyn, N.Y., Aug. 27-28, 2016.
Veronica Graves/ The Root

Good vibes.

Dan El
Veronica Graves/ The Root

Dan El, 25, Brooklyn, N.Y.: “Imitating my ancestors.”

Tiara Jackson and Rennae
Veronica Graves/ The Root

Tiara Jackson, 25, Brooklyn, N.Y. (left): “My blackness is strong, royal, elite and cultural.” Rennae, 26, Brooklyn, N.Y.: “Natural, strong, royal and beautiful.”

Rich Williams
Veronica Graves/ The Root

Rich Williams, Brooklyn, N.Y.: “I don’t. I don’t consider myself black; I live for what I am right now.”

Kenneth Adams and April Qualls
Veronica Graves/ The Root

Kenneth Adams, 30, New York: “I define my blackness through my intellect, through my talents, and my adaptability.” April Qualls, 29, Los Angeles: “I define my blackness by being true to who I am as a black woman and not giving in to what society wants me to be.”

Ladene
Veronica Graves/ The Root

Ladene, Jersey City, N.J.: “How do I define my blackness? I don’t.”

Olutoyin Agbelemose
Veronica Graves/ The Root

Olutoyin Agbelemose, 25, Los Angeles: “Infinity. It goes forever and ever and ever. It’s multidimensional. Unlimited. Space-age. Very spaceful.”

Attendee of the Afropunk festival, Brooklyn, N.Y., Aug. 27-28, 2016.
Veronica Graves/ The Root

Melanin on fleek. 

Wendy Washington
Veronica Graves/ The Root

Wendy Washington, Brooklyn, N.Y.: “Right now, everyone is saying ‘Black girl magic.’ I agree with that, and I love that, but really, right now, being black is being in a state of resistance and a state of defiance because it’s not so great to be a black woman.”

Members of CeeLo Green’s band
Veronica Graves/ The Root

CeeLo Green's band members strike a pose at the Afropunk festival. 

Attendee of Afropunk festival, Brooklyn, N.Y., Aug. 27-28, 2016.
Veronica Graves/ The Root

Free to be. 

Attendee of Afropunk festival, Brooklyn, N.Y., Aug. 27-28, 2016.
veronica Graves/ The Root

Dance like no one is watching. 

Actor Donald Glover
Veronica Graves/ The Root

Donald Glover attends his first Afropunk Fest.

Felicia Jones
Veronica Graves/ The Root

Felicia Jones, 30, Baltimore: “Honestly, my blackness doesn’t fit into any box. I can express it however, whenever, wherever.”

Dash Carter
Veronica Graves/ The Root

Dash Carter, 25, Harlem: “Strong and free.”

Tiffany Pierce
Veronica Graves/ The Root

Tiffany Pierce, 24, Brooklyn, N.Y.: “I define my blackness by the melanin in my skin, the curls in my hair and the versatility in fashion. Appreciating all colors and all of my fellow black people.”  

Juwan Bizzell
Veronica Graves/ The Root

Juwan Bizzell, 32, Washington, D.C.: “Strong, unique and brave.”

Christian Paige
Veronica Graves/ The Root

Christian Paige, 35, Washington, D.C.: “My blackness is just me. I define my own self—I don’t need anything else to define me.”

Jasmine Nichole
Veronica Graves/ The Root

Jasmine Nichole, 24, Queens, N.Y.: “I define my blackness by sight, expression, word and art. Definitely art.”