Students will be able to...
- explain the Afropunk music festival and its role as a social catalyst
- identify art and fashion's relationship to identity, culture, and social movements
1. Study the image below. Turn to a partner and brainstorm:
- What do you see in this photo? (Start with observations only. You will make predictions next.)
- What do you think is happening in this photo? What is the story? Use evidence from your observations to support your guess.
- What questions do you have about this photo and the story it is telling?
2. Read the photo's caption:
A music fan dances in a mosh pit at the African debut event of the Afropunk music festival hosted at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg. Image by Melissa Bunni Elian. South Africa, 2017.
How does the caption compare to your guess? Does the caption answer any of your questions? Does it give rise to any new questions?
3. This photo and the news story it is from is about Afropunk, not only as a music festival, but as a social movement. What do you know about Afropunk already? How do you think it might be a social movement?
Text / Photo Analysis and Activities:
In this lesson, we will explore the text and photo story "Afropunk Brings the 'Black Lives Matter' Ethos Abroad" by Melissa Bunni Elian. Individually or in small groups, read the story, study the photos, and read the captions.
In small groups or as a whole class, examine the following quotes and images. Each quote has one or more discussion questions and an activity idea. Answer all discussion questions, and choose one activity to complete.
1. "Black music has a deep legacy of influence on global culture."
–Melissa Bunni Elian
- What examples does Melissa Bunni Elian provide to support this statement? What additional examples can you think of?
- How does Afropunk contribute to this legacy?
Activity: Identify an African American artist (musical, literary, visual, etc.) who you want to learn more about. Do some research on this artist and put together a PowerPoint presentation that gives basic biographical information, explains what they are famous for, and shows their influence in at least three different countries. As part of your presentation, be sure to include multimedia elements; if you have chosen a musician, you may want to play one of their songs. If you've chosen an actor, you may want to show a video clip. Be creative, and celebrate this person's influence around the world!
2. "Afropunk is the ancient future. People are being who they want to be without inhibition. It's a royal existence to truly live who you are."
–Fanta, Afropunk 2017 festival participant
- What does it mean that "Afropunk is the ancient future"?
- Earlier in the story, Melissa Bunni Elian describes Afropunk as "reclaiming" the punk scene. How does this quote from Fanta relate to the idea of reclamation?
- Where do you feel like you are able to "truly live who you are"? What about these places makes that possible for you?
Activity: Imagine a place where everyone's existence is royal and celebrated. What would creating such a space require? Decide on a kind of festival you would like to hold in your community. Is it a music festival, like Afropunk? A literary festival? A food festival? Something else altogether? Then, thoughtfully design the festival in a way that makes it inclusive of everyone in your community. How will you make sure that it is safe and accesible, and that all participants are celebrated? Share your festival plans with the class. While you listen to others' plans, consider: Are there any ideas for inclusivity that you could incorporate into your own plan? Do you have any suggestions for them?
3. Self-expression through fashion
- The Afropunk 2017 festival participants in these portraits mention fashion and style as modes of self-expression. Why do you think fashion is an important part of musical festivals? How does festival fashion translate into social or cultural movement?
- Do you use fashion and style to communicate anything about your identity to the world? If so, how?
Activity: Take a look at these portraits from afropunk.com, in which self-identified South African punks explain the politics of style and why they dress the way they do. Using this portrait series as an inspiration, take a self portrain in an outfit / style that expresses your own identity. Write an explanation of what your fashion choices mean to you.
4. "What role do you think arts & culture plays in social change? Can art change the world?" –Bridget Todd, Afropunk Solution Sessions podcast host
- What answers to this question do Melissa Bunni Elian and the people she interviews provide throughout the story?
- How would you answer this question yourself?
Activity: Identify a local artist or arts activist who you believe is instrumental in social change in your community. Request an interview with this person and write a profile on them. Be sure to include images and/or descriptions of their work!