Lou Constant-Desportes_Afropunk_Resignation
Getty Images

AfroPunk EIC Announces Resignation, Raises Accusations Of Gaslighting And Underpaid Staff

Lou Constant-Desportes called out the company's leadership practices and employee mistreatment on Wednesday (Sept. 5). 

Criticism of AfroPunk has reached an all-time high this week when a member of the festival's publication vertical resigned with a long list of accusations against the company. Editor-in-Chief Lou Constant-Desportes of Afropunk.com announced his resignation on Facebook Wednesday (Sept. 4) while raising claims of "gaslighting, disrespect, victim-blaming and exploitation." He also went on to claim employee mishandlings, from underpayment to company heads watering down AfroPunk's radical values. 

Kicking off as a free festival in the aughts, AfroPunk's festival and cultural extensions are worldwide with artists, actors and more celebrities lending their voice to the importance of black culture.

"When the editorial content was too 'radical' or unapologetic for their taste, we were asked to tone it down, our independence was compromised," he said. "I resisted the best I could and repeatedly fought against, called out unethical behaviors and decisions internally when I saw them, to the point where I was being considered inconvenient and negative by management. Meanwhile, they were using radical imagery, slogans and intersectional mottos to market their events. Performative activism offered to sponsors as ways to promote their products. Elitism under the guise of 'Black excellence.' One of the owners doesn't even seem to have a real grasp of what intersectionality actually is, but sure knows how to put it on huge banners and market it to the masses."

Constant-Desportes added how he refused a paid settlement at the time of his resignation. With AfroPunk in areas like Atlanta, London and Johannesburg, Constant-Desportes hints that leadership has dwindled across the board.

"I tried to convince myself that I could continue and do it for the community, maintain my integrity in this unhealthy environment, keep giving 'second chances' to people who don't even seem to understand how problematic their actions are, or be selfish and try to at least reap some of the benefits generated by my hard work," he said. "But staying silent is not doing anyone justice, not to mention that it keeps me and others in harm's way. We deserve better."

The festival has faced a slew of criticism from the public as of late. Mic reports two former allies of AfroPunk were removed from its Brooklyn installation last month after educator Ebony Donnley wore a shirt that said, "Afropunk sold out for white consumption.”

The couple claimed they were removed by co-founder Matthew Morgan, who questioned her presence at the festival due to her t-shirt. A statement was released by the festival who apologized "if the couple felt mistreated."

"AFROPUNK is not perfect and the people who work and run AFROPUNK are not perfect, but we work hard and do our best with the resources we have at hand to give back to our community," the festival said in August.

Morgan and Jocelyn Cooper created the free event in 2005 following the 2003 documentary of the same name, that explored black creatives in white punk realms. Since it was switched from donation to a general admission and the inclusion of larger acts, criticism about the festival's culture increased.

Speaking with Mass Appeal last year, the two shared the festival's impact on festival culture and beyond.

"I’d like to think we’ve had an enormous impact, along with a lot of other things that come together to create change. I think it continues to change the notions of identity and what one can and cannot do based on the color of their skin," Morgan said. "There’s certainly an alternative to perceptions that were there a decade or two ago. It wasn’t even acceptable in certain places for black kids to skateboard in their (own) neighborhood 10 year ago. So things have changed."

"Connecting people and promoting young artists, that is the heartbeat of AFROPUNK and our main business," Cooper added. "The festivals themselves are just a celebration of that community."

Read Constant-Desportes' statement below.

READ MORE: Issa Rae Partners With AFROPUNK To Announce The #InsecureMusicContest

From the Web

More on Vibe

Getty Images

Megan Thee Stallion Earns First No. 1 With “Savage” Remix Ft. Beyonce

Megan Thee Stallion is the second female rapper to come in at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the last month. The Houston rapper’s “Savage” remix  jumped from fifth place to the top spot this week marking Meg’s first run atop the single’s chart and Beyonce’s seventh No. 1 single overall.

To celebrate, Bey sent Megan a bouquet of flowers.

Beyoncé sent Megan flowers to congratulate her on their #1 with Savage Remix 🥺💕 pic.twitter.com/Q1bWwFm9LC

— Megan Daily (@HottieSource) May 26, 2020

The “Savage” remix gave Meg her first No. 1 on the Hot R&B/Hip Hop songs chart, and returned to the top spot on the Hot Rap Songs tally. The track also climbed four slots to top the Digital Song Sales chart. The single marks a special achievement for Beyonce who joins Mariah Carey as the only two artists to earn No. 1’s in the 2000s, the 2010, and 2020s.

In addition to making chart history, the “Savage” remix was a collective effort between Megan and Beyonce to help their hometown of Houston during the COVID-19 pandemic. The song has reportedly raised more than $500,000 for charity.

 

Continue Reading

Issa Rae And Kumail Nanjiani Talk Their Black And Brown Dynamic In 'The Lovebirds'

As our latest op-ed points out, black romance films are having a moment, and The Lovebirds is adding a comedic twist to the matter. Ahead of the MRC/Paramount Pictures' premiere on streaming platform Netflix, VIBE correspondent Jazzie Belle sat down with the film's lead actors Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani to discuss the refreshing black and brown dynamic between their characters.

"I think it was just more exciting to me [to take part in a different romantic dynamic]. It was just that, and I didn't realize until later," said Rae. "Obviously with working with Kumail, it just like 'Oh, I haven't seen an on-screen pairing like this' and [I] was excited to play with him cosmetically. But yes, it's exciting to see a new and fresh dynamic in movies like this."

"When you see a portrayal of Pakistanis in American pop culture, generally, you're seeing certain lanes. You don't see us being light or funny or fun that often," said Nanjiani. "My family is very, very funny. My friends are very funny, so it wasn't even an attempt to try and show that [brown characters can be portrayed differently]. I just wanted to show how the people I know are. My mom and my dad are some of the funniest people I've ever met."

Watch the full interview above. The Lovebirds is streaming on Netflix now.

Interview's music bed provided by Gus.

Continue Reading
Sean Rayford/Getty Image

Man Who Recorded Murder Of Ahmaud Arbery Arrested

A third man has been arrested in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. William “Roddie” Bryan Jr., who recorded Arbery’s murder, was taken into custody on Thursday (May 21), the Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced.

“The family is extremely relieved,” attorney S. Lee Merritt, who represents Arbery’s mother, said in response to Bryan’s arrest. “We didn’t know if this was going to happen, but we all knew that it should happen.”

Arbery was killed on Feb. 23, while out for a jog. It wasn't until two months later that his story went viral prompting an investigation by the GBI after the local D.A., who was previously over the case, declined to make any arrests.

According to jail records, 50-year-old Bryan was booked into the Glynn County Jail on charges of felony murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. Bryan made his first court appearance on Friday (May 22) where his lawyer filed a motion for a speedy trial.

Bryan accompanied father and son, Gregory McMichael, 64 and Travis McMichael, 34, as they followed and cornered 25-year-old Arbery before the younger McMichael shot him to death. The McMichaels claim the shooting was self-defense.

Father and son were arrested for aggravated assault and felony murder earlier in the month. All three men are being held at the same jail.

The mugshots of Gregory and Travis McMichael, who have been charged with the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. pic.twitter.com/O0M6vPMs1Q

— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) May 8, 2020

Merrit noted that Arbery's family hopes the men will be convicted. “Well obviously we want to see the arrests lead to a formal indictment then a vigorous prosecution and conviction. But there are other people we believe were involved. We spoke with the DOJ earlier today about their investigation into the corruption that delayed these arrests in the first place.”

An attorney for the elder McMichael claimed that the pair are victims of a  “narrative driven by an incomplete set of facts.”

“While the death of Ahmaud Arbery is a tragedy, causing deep grief to his family -- a tragedy that at first appears to many to fit into a terrible pattern in American life -- this case does not fit that pattern,” attorney Frank Hogue said. “The full story, to be revealed in time, will tell the truth about this case.”

The murder remains under investigation by GBI in partnership with the District Attorney Joyette Holmes of the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office.

See more on Bryan's arrest in the video below.

Continue Reading

Top Stories