On Wednesday (September 5), Lou Constant-Desportes—the former Editor-in-Chief of AFROPUNK—announced his resignation.
“I have decided that enough is enough,” he wrote in a lengthy statement on Facebook. “As you can imagine I wouldn’t leave something that I’ve poured so much time, energy, creativity into if I didn’t strongly feel that it was the best solution.”
His resignation comes not even two weeks after AFROPUNK co-founder Matthew Morgan reportedly removed Ericka Hart and her partner from the VIP section during this year’s AFROPUNK summer festival in Brooklyn. In a recent Medium post, Ebony Donnley, Ericka’s partner, detailed how Donnley’s shirt—which read “Afropunk sold out for white consumption” on the front and “Boycott Red Apple Nails” on the back—sparked the incident. According to Donnley, Hart—who had just finished recording a video for AFROPUNK’s social team and has become one of the festival’s staple attendees—was approached by Morgan after questioning Donnley about the t-shirt.
“After Morgan questions my shirt with no interest of dialogue, he then addresses Ericka who is quite confused as to why this is happening and says: ‘We have met before, sweetheart. You know who I am’ to which she responded, ‘ok…so what’s the problem? Why is there a problem with my partner being here after I just did an interview for Afropunk for FREE and we were invited as guests to be in VIP?'” Donnley recounted. “He then responds: ‘This is my house. This is MY house. They have to leave.'”
In Constant-Desportes’ statement, he goes on to detail the “lies, gaslighting, disrespect,” he experienced and witnessed during his tenure at AFROPUNK. “Not to mention overworked, undervalued and underpaid staff being kept in precarious situations, that my only consolation was producing editorial work that could somewhat be independent and serve the community,” he continued.
Constant-Desportes says that he was in denial prior to walking away from his position, citing how demands to “tone down” the site’s “radical” content often motivated him to resist and stay on board. But ultimately unethical behaviors and “performative activism made it difficult to remain silent. “This has been on my mind for a very long time,” he wrote.
“There are many people in New York and elsewhere with their own AFROPUNK horror stories, some have tried to speak out, some (like me until now) stayed silent for what they believed was the ‘greater good’, some had signed non-disclosure agreements like the one the company tried to make me sign when I said I was leaving,” he continued. “For a while 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. But staying silent is not doing anyone justice, not to mention that it keeps me and others in harm’s way. We deserve better.”
Read his statement in full here.