I grew up in an era of fake American accents, low lying baggy pants, microphones in tow and a home studio on every corner. All the big boys wanted to rap and make music, and as ten-year kid I adored them. In the 90s to the early noughties the biggest subculture within the African-Australian community as I knew it, was the American modeled hip-hop culture.
Fast forward to 2012 and the American wannabe has given way for a new African Australian, hipster-esque kind of kid. Cue the skinny legged bottoms, a general obsession with fashion and the new appendage of choice: the digital camera.
I think this shift in the young African-Australian male psyche boils down to our heightened level of accessibility. The world has never offered so much or been so small. Within 2.5 seconds a guy from Australia can be immersed in the street fashion culture of London’s high street, without ever needing a boarding pass.
This new Afro-Aussie male is the result of discovering there is more than one cookie cutter to mould an identity around. When we were younger the image of black was wholly influenced by black America, but the Internet has entirely changed this.
And they are proud. They literally wear their ethnicity on their sleeve, constantly looking for new ways to wear African and be trendy about it.
I often wonder though if we’ve created a society of narcissists obsessed with fashion, selfies, and a constant need to have their finger on the cyber pulse. That’s a debate for another day. For the moment this new Afro-Aussie male is a refreshing reminder that black can be red, white, yellow or green. There are no longer set boundaries of what it means to be black and African in Australia.