ActivismBrooklynWe See You

afropunk soldier of the day: janelle wharton

September 23, 2019

AFROPUNK ARMY is the central hub for volunteering, social justice, awareness and action. AP ARMY acts as a catalyst for social movements and organizations tackling critical issues dismantling our communities globally.

Name: Janelle Wharton
Age: 23
What gender pronoun do you prefer? She/her/hers
City: Beverly
Follow @: @_woahnelliee, @woahnelli3
3 hashtags that describe you: #creative #openminded #adventurous
Name one of your hidden talents or secret skills that no one would ever guess you had? I can play the flute! I was actually in school band for 8 years of my life.
What does AFROPUNK mean to you? For me, AFROPUNK is place where Black people from all over the world can come together and bask in each other’s creativity and beauty. I feel that there are so many things put in place to make the diaspora feel so disconnected, but spaces like AFROPUNK affirm that yes, we are are all different, but we are all connected and alike in more ways than one.
What does #WESEEYOU mean to you? #WESEEYOU gives me a sense of comfort and reassurance knowing that the things I go through and experience are not in vein. #WESEEYOU to me means that I am heard and that I am still visible in a world that seeks to make me feel the opposite.
What was your last revolutionary act? I released all guilt or attachment and reclaimed my time and self-respect by severing relationships with people who sought to make me feel small, or unworthy of genuine platonic or romantic love.
What or who do you fight for? Why? I fight for the little Black girls who grow up in spaces where people seek to define who they are for them. I want to continue to show that who they choose to be is entirely up to them and not up to their peers, family, guardians, etc. You can be whoever you want to be and to never play it small and take up space.
When Mercury is in reggaeton, how do you protect your peace? I protect my peace by doing guided mediations in my Insight timer app. Cry, as much and as long as I need to, uninterrupted. I also try to journal to keep my thoughts clear as well as eat as much healthy comfort food as possible.
What does being unapologetically Black mean to you? Being unapologetically Black is the understanding that “Blackness” is not a monolith. It’s the shedding of caring what people who don’t look like us think when expressing our Blackness and not feeling the need to dim ourselves so outsiders can better understand our essence. Also unapologetic Blackness is the knowledge that our experiences are not linear and having access to one particular experience does not make one “better” or “Blacker” than the other.
Describe your journey with AFROPUNK. How have you used AP as a microphone for your passions, interests and/or service? My journey as a volunteer for AFROPUNK has definitely influenced my life way beyond the festival. Through AFROPUNK, I have been able to connect to a support system of people who we still to this day champion one another’s hustles and achievements. Also, AP has allowed me to come out of my shell and connect more with creatives close to where I live. Seeing the behind the scenes of how festivals and parties are put together inspired me to want to do similar things in my own backyard. Currently I, along with a creative friend of mine, throw monthly art parties in Philadelphia called “And at Nite” that are dedicated to having a night of fun, as well as connecting artists in the city. AFROPUNK has made me realize the power of hosting a space where Black creatives can show up as themselves and have a good time.
When do you feel the most visible? When I’m surrounded by those who look like me and have shared and can relate to my experiences.
Who is your favorite woman in herstory, past or present? Toni Morrison.
What does having access/a seat at the table mean to you? Having a seat at the table means I am able to have the power to take what I have learned and help the next person build.
How has art helped you heal? Art, especially mediums such as music, has helped me heal because it always gives me space to feel through my emotions without fear of judgment or feeling alone.
What does a safer space look like to you? Super Black. Super LGBTQ and Female centered.