Black peo­ple should call them­selves “Afrikin”

Mi­ami-born singer Amara La Ne­gra with clas­sic afro

South Florida Times - - FRONT PAGE - BY MICHELLE HOLLINGER

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 info@afrikin.org or call 305.900.5523.

PHO­TOS COUR­TESY OF IS­LAND BOI PHO­TOG­RA­PHY AND OTH­ERS ROCK­ERS MOVE­MENT

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