Afrogoths, also known as “Black Goths,” are challenging Eurocentric aesthetics and history within the Goth subculture by making their presence in it visible.
Despite being embraced by elements of the goth community, Brat refers to her styling as “alternative”, even outside the goth scene.”
It’s almost as if Black people don’t exist in white communities because they are underestimated. When Black people come into contact with that kind of prejudice, they just assume they’re invisible.”
Although some agree it did not spring from purely historical circumstances, it is generally attributed to genres like ethereal synth and dark wave from the 1980s like Bauhaus, Joy Division, Siouxsie the Banshees, Depeche Mode, and The Cure.
The goth movement was more introspective and eclectic in nature than many other aspects of popular culture has been, drawing on a wide range of historical influences, including Gothic art, Victorian-era dress, poetry, and aesthetics, as well as contemporary music.
Firstly, rock music history does not address the contributions of Black and brown people. In punk, as The Guardian recently stated, this remains an obscure and unresolved issue.”
Several goths, sources claim, see their community as welcoming to those society deems “others”—making it an even more welcoming place for LGBTQ people. But, as with any white space in a racist world, its got its issues.
Among Black goths I interviewed, several refuse to credit “I Put a Spell on You” as an influence; says “No Black goths I interviewed credited it as an influence.
All of them explained to me that they were called “white” by Black people in their lives when they would listen to rock music and adopt a goth persona.
At first, I didn’t realize that rock music had African-American origins until I connected with Black goths in Dallas for a scholarship-funded series of portraits that Desiree painted.
In pursuing this project, Gibbs discovered the community in a way that left her shocked by how much it was influenced by Black culture, citing New Orleans, voodoo, and blues music as key influences among the goths she painted.”
As teenagers disengaged from America’s commodity culture, breakout stars such as Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails, under the shadow of alternative music, and a rise in the popularity of stores such as Hot Topic, wentth culture and fashion went mainstream.
As goth culture took center stage during this period, Hollywood blockbusters like The Crow and The Craft made their way to screens around the country, bringing spooky stories to thousands of theaters.
In spite of that, goth culture has widely appropriated African and indigenous symbols such as snakes and the ankh as well as skulls and bones as writer Shanna Collins pointed out in 2017.
Goth culture is uniquely suited to address the intersection of the deep rooted issues of racism, enslavement, colonialism, and unrelenting violence against Black bodies while simultaneously contemplating the deep rooted problems of our past.
Taylor argues that black people embody the gothic: they are what white America fears most!”
Goth artists like M. Lamar are using goth music and intense, provocative imagery to criticize American history and the oppressive power structures therein.
With a bit of whimsy, Fat Bat Dana combines body positivity with whimsy, a subversive way of redefining gender roles within the goth space.
In interviewing Feratu—a member of Nigerian, Cameroonian, and West Indian heritage—their gothness serves as a prism through which their other identities are examined and emphasized.
Even though Blackness and gothness intersect, racism still exists within the space. While harassment has been troublesome on social media for years, there has been an uptick in Goth-on-Goth abuse during the Trump era.
Nigeria, a large Black nation whose social structures are conservative compared to those of the United States, is changing how we relate to Blackness and individual artistic expression in fresh and fascinating ways.,
As well as Brazil, Nigeria has its own burgeoning alternative scene, including Afrofuturist fiction and the Afropunk music festival. The former has refocused Black Culture into historically white-dominated subcultures. Rihanna, who mastered goth chic and gave it the #ghettogothic spin, appropriated Beyoncé’s styling with her visual album Lemonade.”
Afrogoths aren’t just about representation, they’re also about self-expression, but not in the same way as white goths.
Another layer of emotions emerges from a more historical experience of being othered, that’s what makes Afrogoths different from their white counterparts.
In her speech, Feratu, also an artist and musician, describes her pain as transformative, and she sees every act as a work of art. “We bring our pain, but our pain can also be a source of beauty,” Feratu explains.”