Name: Kris R.
School: Lane Community College
Hometown: Portland, Oregon
What are you studying right now? I’m getting my prereqs done at Lane Community College so that I can study nursing to become a midwife.
What about being a midwife is attractive to you? Well I love babies. I’ve been a nanny for six or seven years. I sat in on a couple of family members births, and it was really inspiring. I think it’s the only medical field I can do without getting too sad. I mean kids can be sad sometimes, but most of the time, they’re pretty uplifting.
How would you describe your style aesthetic? I’m really into Afro-futuristic and Afropunk. I’m really into punk music in general. So anything that’s kind of punky, kinda earthy.
What are some of your favorite bands? I love Bikini Kill. I also really enjoy Sister Nancy. She’s not really punk, but she’s just a woman who overtook the reggae scene by storm and made her mark. Also – Erykah Badu, Wildflower, Punch.
How is music a part of your life? Well, I was in a punk band at one point. I screamed my head off and stuff like that. It gave me a voice. I think that’s why I love punk a lot. It goes against the grain. I kind of feel like my existence has gone against the grain sometimes.
Kris style her curls into a variation of the double bun trend. She says, “I think embracing my hair was a huge deal for me. I used to straighten it and chemically straighten it. But it’s just too much work. So now I just do this and throw it up in pigtails that kind of look not like pigtails. It’s really fun though.”
What do you mean by that? Just being a black femme in the world and kind of struggling. I’m kind of like finding my flow and getting comfortable with myself and who I am. I think that’s what my style exudes – comfort to put on whatever I feel.
How would you describe Afropunk? So, Afropunk is for black folks who are more into alternative lifestyles like punk, goth and industrial music: Something that is more dominated by white folks in general. We’re kind of like the odd people out when we’re into stuff like that.
Does that make its way into your visual aesthetic? Oh yeah, definitely! I follow the Afropunk blog online. So I just look at how people are dressing themselves, and it gives me ideas on how I can mimic the same thing or hone my own style and do it my way. It’s a lot of spikes and black lipstick and things that contrast with dark skin. I think it’s pretty awesome.
Why did you get your tattoo? I got it last February after my grandmother passed away. It’s representative of mourning because she was such a huge influence in my life. I got it as giant as I could stand. It has daisies on it because they were the flowers in her yard that I would play with.
Are you on your way to Take Back the Night? Are you participating? Yeah, I’m a performer. I’m performing at the speak out. It’s where everyone can tone it down from the rally and just speak their piece and their truth, either about being a survivor or survivors who they know… It’s just about giving people a voice.
Take Back the Night was a rally on the University of Oregon campus on April 28th in order to raise awareness for victims of sexual assault.
It sounds like giving people a voice is a big part of your life. Where did that come from? I’d like to say my mom and my aunts. They are all really loud, outspoken, “take no shit” type of people. It influenced me to take my life the same way.
Words and photos by Elinor Manoogian-O’Dell, @