“These are the contradictions I had to work out. I was raised without a dad —an African American but not grounded in a place with a lot of African American culture. I’m seen and viewed and understood as a black man in America and what does that mean. I’m absorbing all kinds of STEREOTYPES and ideas from society. Like Richard Pryor or Shaft. So I’m trying on all kinds of outfits. Here’s how I act. Here’s what it means to be cool. Here’s what it means to be manly. Then at a certain point, right around my sophomore year, I started figuring out that a lot of the ideas that I had taken on about being a rebel or being a tough guy or being cool were not me. They were just things I was trying on because I was insecure or I was a kid. That was an important moment in my life but also a scary one. I actually have to figure out what I really do believe and what is important and a lot of that revolved around issues of race and being able to say “I DON’T HAVE TO BE ONE WAY” to be an African American.”

—Barack Obama on Maron


“I’m usually the only black person at the show.”

“If you’re a black punk, don’t hide.”

“I just wished I lived in a place where there were black people. Where there was that sense of culture. Where I didn’t have to enjoy, and celebrate, and think about black life and black issues and being black by myself. Where there are other people who are interested. Not interested in some textbook-y way but because this is their life.” —Matt Davis

“Don’t you have a passion? Isn’t there something you would just die for or starve for?”

“I think every black person should go out and experience one punk or hardcore show in their lifetime.” —Ryan Bland

“I’m aware of the direct influence of the African peoples and indigenous peoples influence on the punk prototype image.” — Tamar Kali

“A lot of black people have a tunnel vision of what black should be and black people can’t stray outside of that.” —Ryan Bland

“I have to say that, on the flip side, if it wasn’t for my friendshipS with my closest friends who are white, that I would have a different and maybe even less developed understanding of white America. I think it makes me a more developed human being. Unique people and ideas is what we need to have social progress. It’s been a growing experience in understanding this thing called race.” — Moe Mitchell

“To those who think it’s just a waste of time or just self-destructive and all that, it’s actually the opposite of all those things. That whole period in my life for me was a lot about self-learning. Some of the lyrics on these albums were kids asking a lotta deep questions about themselves and about their place in the world, about their relationships with their parents, and about their future, their unhappiness. And when kids ask questions like that, people should listen.”  — Djinji Brown

“I don’t feel less black because I’m less normal.” — Maya

“I always felt like I didn’t want to be like other niggers.”

“Being president of an Afrocentric organization and being in a hardcore band is a unique experience. I recognize that probably nobody has experienced that. That’s a blessing.”  — Moe Mitchell

“When I’m writing and I address the audience I am not saying “we, us hardcore kids”. I’m saying “we, us oppressed people.” —Moe Mitchell

“I’m not where I belong. Then I discovered punk rock. But the part of it that wasn’t satiated was because I was black and I was in this all white environment.”

“This is my club. Go to another club down the street. I’m suppose to be the only black person here. Step off. Go find your own scene.”

“YO! We want to get alternative tonight. We wanna see some slam dancin!”

“The jiggy negroes (the folks on my block). I want you. It’s never hard to get a white audience.”

“My mind has been so warped about all of this. That’s why it has taken me so long to understand my heritage. I have to figure out how to get it all straightened out in my head.” — Mareko

“As I got older, there was no question as to whether I was part of the black community. I got pulled over by cops while I was walking. I don’t have to question if I’m part of the black community. I walk out on the street and I’m part of the black community.” — Damon Locks


AfroPunk Band Performances

AfroPunk Extra Interviews

AfroPunk Deleted Scenes