Photography: Derrick Kakembo.

Words: Rochelle Thomas.

Afro: as in, born of African spirit and heritage; see also black (not always), see also rhythm an colour, see also other, see also underdog. 

Punk: as in, rebel, opposing the simple route, imbued with a DIY ethic, looking forward with simplicity, rawness and open curiosity; see also other, see also underdog.

Afropunk. The one and only annual arts festival that embraces and celebrates black culture and is undoubtedly made for us, by us (FUBU baby). By it’s own definition, it represents spirit and heritage, blackness and rebellion. This is felt not only by the art that is provided, but also by the people who attend.

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The original Afropunk was a documentary film released in 2003, which explored the African American experience in the punk and alternative music scene. After gaining a cult following that could relate deeply to the topic, the festival was born in New York two years later. Since, the festival has arrived in five locations worldwide including Paris, Atlanta and Johannesburg. This year marks the second celebration of Afropunk in London, having debuted in the city in 2016.

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“No Hatefulness” is the main message of the festival and this is a rule adhered to by all. People have the freedom to express themselves in anyway they feel fit, without fear of judgement, or scrutinity. There is a warm buzz in the air that vibrates with love, happiness and positivity. The typical “stushness” that is sometimes felt in black spaces melts away at Afropunk, replaced with infinite smiles and friends and strangers alike coming together, embracing each other and loving one another.

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Rather than trying to blend in or follow fashions, partygoers celebrate themselves through clothing and styling; people are encouraged to come as they are or come as they want to be. Whilst some are most comfortable in casual clothing, others choose to don outfits that are loud, bold, bright and colourful. All the things that black people are naturally, but are often reprimanded for and discriminated against. At Afropunk they are praised and appreciated.

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Under definition, Afropunk represents the underdog doubly, so it should come as no surprise that black women dominate at Afropunk, using the event as an opportunity to shine brightly, unrestricted from the outside world that constantly pits them at the bottom of the pile due to their race and sex. Reform The funk captured some of the best looks rocked by black women at this year’s Afropunk London.

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Syd Tha Kyd from the headlining band ‘The Internet’.

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Actress Michaela Coel

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