Afropunk Festival use to be the hottest ticket in town when it first took over Brooklyn in the Summer of 2005. But since then, what was once our little Afro baby is for everybody now.
On Thursday, Lou Constant-Desportes announced that he’d be resigning as Editor-In-Chief of AP Festival and website, accusing the higher-ups at the company of “performative activism dipped in consumerism and ‘woke’ keywords used for marketing purposes.”
“While I’m proud of the work accomplished as the founding and only Editor-in-Chief of the online publication, I have decided that enough is enough. As you can imagine I wouldn’t leave something that I’ve poured so much time, energy, creativity into if I didn’t strongly feel that it was the best solution. I usually remain discreet, but as the company is trying to make me sign a non-disclosure agreement in exchange for ‘hush money’, I’m speaking out publicly instead, for once.”
But are folks really surprised? The festival went from being a free, safe space for Black creatives — with once in a lifetime headliners like Lauryn Hill & Erykah Badu — to kicking out a Black guy for wearing a shirt that said “Afropunk sold out for white consumption.”
The festival has been accused of “sellin’ out” for years now — and we ain’t talking about tickets.
Desportes added: “I have experienced and witnessed so many lies, gaslighting, disrespect, victim-blaming, exploitation, not to mention overworked, undervalued and underpaid staff being kept in precarious situations, that my only consolation was producing editorial work that could somewhat be independent and serve the community. I also was in denial for a while about how violent what I and others had been through was. When the editorial content was too “radical” or unapologetic for their taste, we were asked to tone it down, our independence was compromised. I resisted the best I could and repeatedly fought against, called out unethical behaviors and decisions internally when I saw them, to the point where I was being considered inconvenient and negative by management. Meanwhile, they were using radical imagery, slogans and intersectional mottos to market their events. Performative activism offered to sponsors as ways to promote their products. Elitism under the guise of “Black excellence”.
The New Yorker actually told us about the AP gentrification tragedy back in 2015.
What are your thoughts on Deportes’ statements? Hit the flip to see the full resignation letter.