Black people should call themselves “Afrikin”
Miami-born singer Amara La Negra with classic afro
Fed up with others determining what black people are called, Alfonso D’Niscio Brooks founded “Afrikin” – a programming platform; but also, a term that he hopes African Americans will ultimately embrace instead of the numerous racial designations they’ve historically accepted.
“Afrikin,” the programming platform, curates an annual event that is a cultural smorgasbord fusing art, music, fashion, food and discussion. “Afrikin” 2018 happens from 6 p.m. to midnight on May 19, the “bornday” of El Hajj Malik El Shabazz, the man also known as Malcolm X, at Zenith Art & Fashion in downtown Miami.
“Afrikin” will showcase the works of clothing designers, natural hair and make-up professionals, and jewelry artisans from around the world using the art of fashion to properly reflect the idea that “Black is Beautiful” in a modern way,” Brooks shared.
A panel discussion will be moderated by Andrea Queeley, Ph.D from Florida International University, whose research includes “African” diaspora, race, social inequality and black popular culture. The panel also includes cultural critics Jamilah Lemieux and Frank C. Martin, known to address issues of racial disparity and visual artists Doba Afolabi and Delphine Adama Fawundu, a staunch opponent of gentrification. The keynote speaker is Mutabaruka - Jamaican Rastafari dub poet, musician, educator, and talk-show host.
“Afrikin,” the term, stems from Brooks’ concern that mainstream society has determined how blacks are defined.
“How can someone else define how you should be called,” he shared about an issue that he said only happens in the West. “You don’t hear Africans calling themselves black,” Brooks explained. “They’ll say I’m Nigerian or South African. On the other side of the coin, in Europe, they don’t call themselves white. They say I’m English, I’m Dutch, I’m Swedish.”
As it relates to “African” people in America, he said, “We’ve been so dumbfounded into all these different labels - Negro, nigga, black, colored, person of color and the list goes on and on.”
The void that exists surrounding what blacks are called, he said, was a motivating factor in the creation of “Afrikin,” which he calls a “gift from God. He explains that the “Afri” in “Afrikin” stands for Africa and the “kin” represents “kinship where we share characteristics and traits.”
For blacks reluctant to refer to themselves as African, he said the phrase makes perfect sense.
The phrase, “African American,” that Jesse Jackson coined, Brooks said, is better than the others but still inaccurate. “What’s an African American? You’re African. If you want to say you’re American, then say you’re American. There should be no hyphen in who you are. You’re not a by-product of anything. You’re a living soul and that living soul has an identity and that identity must stand firm.”
He wants blacks to embrace “Afrikin” because, he shared, there is power in naming yourself.
“You might not be able to trace your roots back to Africa,” he explained, “Hence, we say kin, which is family, you’re familiar with it, kinfolk, kinship. You can identify in a positive light with the continent of Africa,” he said.
“Afrikin” 2018 benefits Project OKURASE, an NGO based in Ghana that works to empower people in rural communities in Ghana, West Africa through education, skills training and health care.
Tickets begin at $50 and are available at https://www.afrikin.org/upcomingevent. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 305.900.5523.