A group of residents from Brooklyn’s Community Board 2 has staged yet another gentrifiers’ insurrection, against the incumbent Black culture of brownstone Brooklyn, with a last-minute attack against Afropunk.

Their battle cry during the board’s meeting earlier this week: “Afropunk is too loud.” The attack on the two-day music festival, held at Fort Greene’s Commodore Barry Park in late August, is just the latest white privilege power move in an attempt to reshape Brooklyn to their outsider’s liking, and it’s disgusting.

Lenny at Afropunk 2015

The West Indian Day Parade, J’ouvert, Soul Summit and now Afropunk have all gotten on the radar of folks hellbent on extinguishing the festive, indigenous culture of brownstone Brooklyn. Also the rich history of Brooklyn block parties, house parties, stoop gatherings and cookouts is not spared.

I mean, I get it: the events are loud and rambunctious, and some may bring an element of violence and recklessness – but that’s the Brooklyn you signed up for! As the Stones said: “You can’t always get what you want!” This rings especially true if you’re trying to stop a festival because it may inconvenience you for two days at the end of the summer.

If you want to try on real inconveniences in your Brooklyn neighborhood: how about police profiling, getting arrested or getting a summons for small levels of marijuana possession… the same levels that cops tell gentrifiers to simply “put it out” and let them walk away with on most other occasions.

I won’t just chalk it up to wypipo (white privileged people) either, because the gentrifiers’ color is often green! It is more a function of socioeconomics than skin color. And I’m not reverse-romanticizing gentrification either, as if Black neighborhoods are uniquely attractive to have gentrifiers slide through with their homogenous lifestyle, 40s of rosè and daddy’s money. Because it’s happening in Chinatown; it’s happening in Greenpoint; and it’s been an LES phenomenon for the last 30 years.

Keeping it a buck, I need to qualify this outrage by stating that I’m definitely not caping for Afropunk, which, in my opinion, has lost its roots under the weight of corporate logos and sticker shock when its intended audience sees the ticket prices. I’m no purist in the James Spooner sense, and although I think the fest has its warts, Afropunk still has value for Black music and culture, and gentrifiers have no right to even open their latte-stained lips to try to shut it down.

If you’re THAT outraged by all the loudness and revelry, then skate out of town for the two days. Visit your friends up in Beacon or another cool Hudson Valley town for the weekend. I hear it’s like the next Brooklyn up there, and perhaps – hopefully – you’ll decide to stay there.


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Richards Burroughs

It's variations on my name, but it's the same human. I'm Richard Chandler Burroughs, novelist (A Rendezvous With Destiny) and blogger (Uncontrollable Urges). Richard Burroughs as a marketing strategist,...

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  1. Thank you for this article. you are right that gentrification is green and the fundamentals that make up Brooklyn are being strained out like pulp. As. OG Brooklyn, the best way to have our voices heard is to show up & show out at community board mtg. No longer thinking, ‘it won’t matter if I show up or not’. IT DOES MATTER & WE should have been showing up all along!
    Wake Up!
    Please. . . .

  2. As long as the afro punk festival doesnt cause destruction in the park it should still happen The music cuts off at a certain time I dont see many residential buildings in this area

  3. When AfroPunk was in the location where we now have an ugly prison looking like high-rise, it was awesome, free, full of real art and one of several reasons to stay in NYC for the summer. There were bands in parks all over Brooklyn and Manhattan, everywhere which made NYC the stay-cation city for those of us that enjoy “real” music, “real” art and “real” culture.

    Music was a NYC (five boroughs) heaven! The parks would light it up! Everyone would show. I remember Madonna being set up in the city, performing. If you stayed here, surprises were never ending.

    In Brooklyn alone, there was Wingate Park on Monday, Ft. Greene Park on Tuesdays, Metrotech or someplace on Wednesdays and always Prospect Park on the weekends. I’ve seen all the greats, here in NYC for free. The end of the summer was hard, but Jouvert and the Caribbean Carnival ended the summer on a positive note. When September began, you’re ready for the fall.

    I hate to say the age of Obama brought in Gentrification and the bleaching out of culture, but when my friend drove past one club and there were nothing but whites in line to get in, she declared it was over. I remember going to the 1st inauguration, the second (sparsely attended), even before…the gentrifiers came into Brooklyn(we had to meet them at the train station), they were trying to tell us what to do in a city where we lived and made for generations.

    Thank you Richards Burroughs, Bkreader.com for your generous truth. I agree, leave, go home, back to Charlottesville, VA(many of you feel the same way the white nationalists feel or you would leave our cultural events alone; enjoy and shut the hell up), the Hamptons, the next gentrification spot, anywhere or where ever you came from to disrupt what was some of the best times of my life. It gets a little noisy, so what, people of color, real culturists like loud sounding music, real music, we like to dance, sing and handle our lives by taking it all out on the music.

    Getting pulled over by some cop, a ticket for riding your bike on the sidewalk, locked up because your friend has joint in the car or an open container are reasons to have the AfroPunk, Jouvert and other black infested festivals once a year.

  4. They have got to get the hell out!!!! Stop it. EVEN THE ICECREAM MAN!!!! They are disgusting, petty, and bitchy. BEAT IT!!!

  5. This is happening in New Orleans as well. Folks moving in next to bars and music venues and the working to close them down. We’re losing much of the old culture and the neighborhoods are becoming very homogenized.

  6. Please be mindful about the use of the word “indigenous” in this piece. Brooklyn once was indigenous land–Lenape land. Calling for a return to a time more focused on Brooklyn natives in this way also casts immigrant communities as outsiders. I think you can make your many strong points without this framework.

  7. Thank you, thank you Richard. As a native New Yorker for over 7 decades the only thing that seems to pull me out of a critical state of grieving for the city I once loved and flourished in is someone who will rant so eloquently about what is happening. Not sure how long I’ll be able to continue to live in a place that was once so full of heart, soul, creativity and yeah, love. Even getting high is a downer.

  8. As a white person who moved to NYC 38 years ago, and as an artist who first had to leave the E Village from rising rents, and then Chinatown from the same, and then Williamsburg for the same reason, and moved to Bed-Stuy 8 years ago, I agree with everyone about NY losing its soul, character, etc. So many beloved places (run for years by so many different ethnicities & races) have been closing and closing and closing and we have this glass and steel and big money city now and it’s awful. And NO they cannot shut down AfroPunk! It’s such a fanatastic event…WTF is with them saying it’s too loud? They live in NY! Let them move back to the suburbs if they want quiet and all-white.

  9. The music cuts off well after 12 – how do I know? Because I am live across from the park. There are a number of people who do too.
    The park is shut off to us residents and the bass is so loud that my apartment shakes – this is a complaint for people who live around the corner.
    They also take all the parking and rope it off which means I cant use my car for the weekend.
    A couple of years back – the bass was so loud that it broke my window in the basement. It took forever and a lot of restraint on my part, as a AfroPunk employee treated me like garbage to get the money we agreed on back.
    AfroPunk is a nightmare. The End

  10. I am a Clinton Hill resident, and a member of Community Board # 2. Community Board # 2 has not registered an objection to Afro-Punk. Our last meetings were in June and we won’t meet again until September. Ee are adjourned for the Summer. Whoever said that Community Board # 2 has made any kind of rumour against Afro-Punk is spreading falsehoods.

  11. Great article. Only problem is that the time change for J-Ouvert wasn’t spearheaded by the Latte stained lips of gentrifiers, it was spearheaded by Vertina Brown, mother of 22-year-old Tiarah Poyau, who was shot and killed while celebrating J’Ouvert in Crown Heights. That same year a 17 year old boy was killed, and two years before, Carey Gabay, an aide to Governor Andrew Cuomo, was fatally shot in crossfire during J’Ouvert. “I was all for it. I was one of the ones who helped come up with the idea for the early time,” Brown said. “You know, I know a lot of partygoers don’t necessarily agree with this new news, but it’s really for the best because with the daylight comes security. You can see things better, clearer.” Now on the flip side, the West Indian parade has gotten a bad rap. More people are actually killed during the 4th of July festivities but nobody is shutting that shit down. Anyhoo, kinda funny they wanna shut don AfroPunk when its all the way down by the river bordered by Ingersoll, Whitman and Farragut Housing Projects and some distance away from the prime 3.5 million and up brownstones and 6k high-rise studio rentals of downtown Bk. Thanks for calling the hater out.

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