elaine x elaine: sharing space and thoughts
By Awa Gueye
August 21, 2019
Elaine Brown and Elaine Welteroth have both been the first.
Brown was the first and only chairwoman of the Black Panther Party in 1966 after being appointed by Huey Newton, who fled to Cuba due to murder charges. Brown had to suddenly navigate being a woman in charge while receiving endless discouraging messages, because strong women were a threat to masculinity. Sound familiar? While Brown’s brothers reminded her not to overpower them, she simultaneously received opposing messages from “feminists” of the time. Because Brown’s lyrics in her music included loving and uplifting men, she was labelled a “lackey for men” by other women. The restrictions on her created by her identity as Black and as a woman without the acknowledgment of her particular position as a Black woman by men or non-Black people created an undeniably frustrating isolation that every Black woman has felt at some point or another. This attempt to control Black women can make it a lonely world. It can also empower us in a way no other group can be.
“A woman in the Black Power movement was considered, at best, irrelevant. A woman asserting herself was a pariah. A woman attempting the role of leadership was, to my proud Black Brothers, making an alliance with the ‘counter-revolutionary, man-hating, lesbian, feminist white bitches.’ It was a violation of some Black Power principle that was left undefined. If a Black woman assumed a role of leadership, she was said to be eroding Black manhood, to be hindering the progress of the Black race. She was an enemy of Black people.” — Elaine Brown Chapter 17, 356 A Taste of Power: A Black Woman’s Story
Fifty-one years after Brown became first chairwoman of The Black Panther Party, Elaine Welteroth became the first Black woman named Editor-in-Chief of Teen Vogue and the second African-American person in Condé Nast’s 107-year history to hold such a position. Welteroth is now a New York Times Best Selling author with More Than Enough and inspiring young women to own their power. Sound familiar?
It is no big secret that unapologetic, brave, smart Elaine who came before created the space for modern heroes like Welteroth. Welteroth honors change makers like Brown by continuing on the legacy of resistance and creating opportunity. Welteroth disrupted the digital media world by being unapologetically progressive in the images and stories she offered the world through her platform at Teen Vogue. Ignoring the controlling messages we continue to get from those threatened by a future where Black women know their strength, she created change loud and proud.
The magic of the AFROPUNK festival is the commitment to this shared goal: celebrating Blackness with no restrictions. It is a space inclusive of all different roads one may take to achieve liberation. There is a mutual understanding that embracing diversity in the Black experience is the key to radical joy and real freedom. The ever-evolving approaches to this elevated space are what makes our people special. The AFROPUNK festival has the ability to attract our greatest thinkers and the listeners who need them. Sometimes that means we are joined by not one, but two Elaines.
Elaine Brown and Elaine Welteroth are two very special guests who will hold discussions this upcoming festival weekend. AFROPUNK Solution Sessions Live is a conversation series that serves as an intergenerational meeting of the minds. People from every corner of the diaspora of all ages and backgrounds share space to connect. Every year this platform is made greater by those who visit it and this year is no different. Solution Sessions Live is a place for Black women to celebrate their power and be liberated in the process.
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