Afro Soul is the manifestation of liberated ideals, black empowerment, awareness, and a unity furnished by globalization. It’s as much ancestral empowerment as it is modern style and black excellence. From urban farmers to urban professionals, it is our unyielding protest to the status quo.
While some may deem the Afro Soul movement as just another trend where black men and women don dashikis, do yoga, and refer to each other as kings and queens. To them I say, look deeper.
It’s the boisterous display of black power, feminism, and individuality. You find at music festivals, art exhibits, and on your news feeds. This growing awareness is everywhere, from the proud display of our kinky fros in the workplace and in the streets, to being agents of change in the Black Lives Matter movement. You can experience it in classrooms, where we educate our young girls on #BlackGirlMagic. It’s more than just a trend– Afro Soul is a cultural shift in consciousness that models our ancestors push for self-expression in the 60s.
Woodrow Wilson said, “the seed of revolution is repression.” That was the core of the Black Power Movement of the late 60s, and it’s something black millennials can relate to as well. Like our forefathers and mothers, we’ve been repressed. From our social standing, to our hair, to our jobs, to the stereotypes perpetuated by mass media, we’ve experienced inequality . That’s nothing new though. We’ve been taught to abide and obey since we were tied up, thrown on ships and expected to call somebody “Massa”. Naturally, we became disgruntled. But before there was unrest, empowerment tends to follow closely behind a period of unrest. Afro Soul is a millennial empowerment movement.
This “awakening,” of sorts has undertones of Stokely Carmichael’s black power advocacy. In his time, the Vietnam War may have quieted the movement, but it didn’t halt it. We started to see sprinklings of pro-black messages in our media, historic firsts in politics, sports and entertainment. The natural hair movement empowered black women to rock their crowns.
In our time, there was the inauguration of our first black president. Couple that with our growing wealth, education, globalization, and buying power, we have become a force to be reckoned with. Afro Soul is the celebration and display of our empowerment – bold, black, and unapologetic. While we’ve evolved, our societal systems have barely budged. But there’s no longer room for injustices and inequalities. Black Lives Matter is the manifestation of our unrest. We’ve transitioned from being victimized to being informed, empowered, and united. Where there is an empowered people, there will be unrest. And we are empowered.
We are CEOS, leaders in tech, educators, healers, doctors, scientist, media influencers, a people pioneering change in our daily lives and in our communities. From groundbreaking artists like Janelle Monae to burgeoning wonders like Raury and MaestroRiko, our entertainers of today and tomorrow are social activists. New platforms that celebrate diversity and the evolution of our generation are sprouting up daily. Our voices are being heard loud and clear – hello Black Twitter. And so what if I want to wear a dashiki to match my ancestral fly?
Futurist Nat Irvin II calls this time in history the point in which we “shift away from the consciousness of survival to that of thrival.” He says,
“For blacks, thrival represents a transformation of the soul, a transition from seeing oneself and one’s community as being the victims of history and oppression. Thrivals have moved from living in a survival mode, fighting for basic human rights, to embracing a new worldview–a renaissance where succeeding generations, through imagination, self-determination, leadership, and legacy, see themselves as forces capable of shaping the future rather than being shaped by the forces of the future.”
We are what we’ve been waiting for – not liberation, not reparations, but this very generation where individuality reigns supreme. Our diverse and unique voices attest to new possibilities. Our pride is unapologetically loud. And that my friend, can’t be stolen. So is this the rebirth of the Black Power Movement or truly a new kind of revolution? Whatever the case, it is our duty to stay informed and entrenched in the teachings of our forefathers and mothers, but more importantly, to stay woke. We are loud. We are proud, and we aren’t going anywhere.
It’s indisputable. Our culture is evolving. While our counterparts continue to appropriate the fashions of our yesterdays, we’ve woken up to a tomorrow where the highest form of flattery no longer has bearing on our shoulders.