Mark Elzey

ArtRace

The hairstyles of AFROPUNK illuminate Black peoples’ powerful relationship with our hair

August 27, 2017
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Just like Black hair, our community is healthiest when the roots are strong. This is only one of the many important lessons to learn from our locs, which is why Black people across the globe have such a powerful—and sometimes fraught—relationship to them.

In a white supremacist world that deems our hair inappropriate and unprofessional, it is no wonder that spaces built for our safety, spaces like AFROPUNK, are ground zero for the most groundbreaking hairstyles, as attendees attempt to reclaim the magic that literally grows out of our heads.

This year’s festival-goers find themselves smack dab in the middle of the resurgence of a natural hair movement, in which Black people are re-committing to embracing the diverse histories of our hair despite being faced with what is effectively censorship. Just like punk, this embracing our hair is a collective act of resistance, one that is as beautiful as it is world-changing.

This is the history behind AFROPUNK headliner Macy Gray’s braiding bar at the Brooklyn Festival. Attendees were able to pop in between seeing SZA and Solange to have their hair twisted or locs retouched. AFROPUNK Contributor Gitoo spoke to some of them about what their hair and the styles it is in means to them:

Activist Michaela Angela Davis also blessed the festival with “Hair Tales”, a live performance “through the lens of hair.” In an interview, she explained how hair is directly rooted in the message of #BlackGirlMagic. “(Hair) locates us. It literally roots us in Africa,” she explained. “Our hair, we got stories in it, and it’s different from other peoples’.”

Take a look at some of the most eye-popping styles from the festival below!

Click here for live updates from the festival!

*Photos by Mark Elzey

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