Louise Mambi

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afropunk paris: art and activism

July 15, 2019

Black artists and creatives have a legacy of mixing art and activism — and AFROPUNK is no different. 

Everyone knows AFROPUNK is about turning up and having a Black-ass good time. But from the performers on stage, to the folks dancing in the crowds, we use art and music and show up for us in ways that matter. 

During her groundbreaking return to the AFROPUNK stage on Saturday night in Paris, Janelle Monae used her platform to advocate for a more inclusive and just world. She shouted out the LGBTQ and immigrant communities, and ended with a plea to impeach Donald Trump.

Audre Lorde once wrote, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” Perhaps no AFROPUNK artist embodies self care for Black women as a radical political act  better than Solange. Her headlining Sunday evening set highlighted the importance of self preservation for Black people, coming into the audience to sing her self-determination anthem, “F.U.B.U.”

Outside the walls of La Seine Musicale’s festival ground, Black French people who are breaking down barriers and making their voices heard, displayed their work at Activism Row. 

In a small town just north of Paris, Adama Traoré was killed in police custody in July 2016. Mirroring the many killings in the United States, of people like Mike Brown and Eric Garner, the local police essentially blamed Adama for his own death. Investigators tried to blame his death on pre-existing medical conditions, even though evidence showed he bore the weight of three officers who used “prone” or “face-down restraint,” which is allowed in France but is banned in several other EU countries. 

At AFROPUNK, the Justice for Adama campaign, led by Adama’s sister Assa Traoré, spread awareness about the case, and took in donations to the family’s legal fund. As part of Solution Sessions, they sat down with #BlackLivesMatter co-founder Patrisse Cullors to discuss how we can all get involved in this fight for justice. 

As Black people, it’s in our bones to blend arts and activism. At AFROPUNK, expression and resistance collide.