First Digital Afropunk Brings in Manufacturers for Weekend of Leisure and Activism
Since the Afropunk Festival debuted in Brooklyn in 2005, it has grown into an international touchstone for the Black community to gather for weekends of live music, art, fashion and film by Black artists and creators. 2020 was poised to be the festival’s biggest year yet, with stops in Paris; Bahia, Brazil; Johannesburg, South Africa; Atlanta and Brooklyn.
As with most major events this year, though, the pandemic forced Afropunk organizers to cancel all of its planned events and rethink how to offer a global festival to attendees at home, while also integrating brand partners. After some five months of planning, organizers announced the alternative: Planet Afropunk: Past, Present and Future Is Black.
Streaming Oct. 23-25 on PlanetAfropunk.com (with exclusive content on Facebook Live), Afropunk’s first free, digital festival will offer live performances and conversations focused on societal issues impacting the Black community through digital hubs powered by partners like Target and Ben & Jerry’s.
The festival announced its lineup today, which includes musicians like Nigerian singer-songwriter Tiwa Savage, South African DJ Muzi and Houston rapper Tobe Nwigwe. Speakers include comedian Amanda Seales, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah correspondent Dulcé Sloan and activist Tamika Mallory.
“Being Black on planet earth is like science fiction. It’s crazy. With the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and so many others, we have seen the pain and trauma of the past resurrected, all while suffering through a global pandemic,” Nichelle Sanders, Afropunk’s strategic advisor, said about the impetus for the digital event. “But, as Black people, our unity and creativity are our greatest weapon against oppression and adversity. To convene a global family reunion at this moment in time is therefore essential.”
Partners with purpose
The festival theme explores everything from racial injustice and activism to Black self-care to pop culture hot takes. Sanders said it was imperative the festival chose to partner with brands that authentically align with the festival’s values.
“Bravery is important, especially in partnering with an entity like Afropunk. We do and say the things that some brands might be concerned about because of ‘brand safety,’” Sanders said. “Diving deep really matters, especially in these times where people are being very vocal about who they are and the respect they expect to be paid. All the partners that have come on to support this festival really support that idea.”
Returning partner Target is presenting Ideaville, a hub that juxtaposes conversations around Black joy and racial injustice. Ideaville will offer keynotes, solution sessions, interviews with luminaries, a Black queer town hall and a community soapbox.
“Target has a longstanding commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and we’ll use our size, scale and resources to create lasting changes as we stand proudly with Black families,” Target’s vp of marketing Carlos Saavedra said. “Now more than ever, we’re using our platform to support Black voices and spark important conversations that allow the Black community to celebrate their heritage and reclaim their joy.”
Ben & Jerry’s, which has historically supported social justice causes, is presenting Activism Row to facilitate discussions on prison reform and systemic racism that impacts the public school system.
The ice cream brand invites attendees to contribute to social actions to eliminate injustices the Black community faces, and highlight partners like AARP, which will encourage voter registration.
“We’re proud to collaborate with Afropunk to highlight the work of our partners, organizations successfully pushing for the overhaul of our broken and racially biased criminal legal system,” Ben & Jerry’s U.S. activism manager Jabari Paul said. “They’ll be sharing winning strategies with attendees during our sessions and hopefully inspiring participants to create change in their own communities.”