Afrogoth: Simple Label or Major Movement?

At some point, between the right now and recent then, a term popped up to designate Black Goths. Now most people are in a deep-love/massive-hate relationship with labels which are both spat out casually and spoken practically in prayer.

As far as labels such as People of Color, Disabled, Trans, Ace and more for a dollar ninety nine go, their usage depends on the bearer and should be taken seriously. Let’s say a label is used to place a person into a specific category and a movement a common philosophy invoking social and political action. As labels, Goth, Punk, Steampunk and friends can only reach but so high on the Straight Face O’meter. As movements, on the other hand, they have some heavy foundation. That’s all cute and cuddly, but Afrogoth, Afropunk and Steamfunk are only sublabels right? Not exactly…

Behind every label is a strong…movement?

The very definition of a movement is people working together to advance their shared political, social, or artistic ideas.  Let’s take Afropunk. Since the 2003 documentary, it no longer really designates Black Punks but an entire culture-crossing-self-defining alternative movement. You could argue it started out as that in the first place.

“(…) the word AFROPUNK itself has become synonymous with open-minded, non-conforming and unconventional, placing the institution at the epicenter of urban culture inspired by alternative music.” – Afropunk

Afropunk provides this through a growing festival, online community and intensive support for both upcoming and established artists. What sets them apart? There are no trademarks. Take a look at the Afropunk festival crowd in comparison to Goth get togethers where you can play count the Ankhs and Winkles. There is a large variety of styles with few recurring patterns. With the objective of promoting the advancement of underrepresented non-average alternatives, Afropunk works less as an individual label than it does a collective one. The same way you would use “Afrofuturism” over “an Afrofuturist”. While this does not prevent anyone from being called Afropunk, it comes off as more of a movement than a label. What separates Afropunk from the rest is its mix of ideologies.

And then there’s Steamfunk. Here, Funk – of which punk contains many similar principles like music as a means to expose societal and political hypocrisy with the mission of rebelling against the state (we’ll save that talk for a later date) – is partnered with the Steampunk aesthetic through various works of fiction. Like Rococoa, it places itself within a particular historical context. Still fairly new, Steamfunk is defined as a movement within a movement.

“Steampunk is generally accepted as a subculture and a subculture – at its root – is  a form of refusal. A subculture is a reaction to – and usually a rejection of – the present. (…) Steamfunk is narrowly defined as a person, style of dress or subgenre of fiction that seeks to bring together elements of blaxploitation films and merge it with that of Steampunk fiction.” – Chronicles of Harriet

If Afropunk and Steamfunk are movements, then what is Afrogoth?

The label hype

Pointing a finger at social media, Afrogoth to me feels more like #afrogoth. The term appears to be a short hand to find similar folk rather than to categorize oneself. In the same way People of Color is often used, it seems to be about community outreach.

“The only criticism I personally have towards the alternative black people movements and anti-racist movements within the alternative scene is that they have a strong North American focus.“ – Shaki

Unlike Nugoth or Cybergoth, I wouldn’t consider Afrogoth a sub-subculture. It designates Goths of a particular color and heritage rather than a lifestyle in and of itself. Although according to the Afritorial, it is its own subculture. Seeing how Afrogoths tend to adopt essentially the same music, dress, crow watching/graveyard going/club creeping activities as their counterparts, I wouldn’t consider it a separate movement. So, for the moment I see Afrogoth as a label, a way of saying “Hey sis, others like you exist. We’re one big mopy family.”. Who knows, it might become sentient and run in a totally different direction. As far as referring to oneself as Afrogoth, that’s up to the individual.

Would you consider Afrogoth a simple label or a major movement? I’m speaking from an American, European and cartoon perspective. Is it different where you live? Do you have any pets and if so can I pet them?

Images courtesy of iridessencedemonalefrightChronicles of Harriet.

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