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Portraits of NYC’s Punx of Color: DESTINY MATA ‘THE WAY WE WERE’

Destiny Mata

From UK punk’s roots in Jamaican dancehall culture and ska to the Latino and Black punks who were instrumental in the early American punk movement, Punx of Color have always been a part of the scene. The mainstream has whitewashed punk history like every other history (remember that 40th anniversary the fucking queen participated in?), but without the contributions of Punx of Color, there wouldn’t be the punk we still idolize all these decades later. Sean was a young Black punk going to shows in the early 80s (y’all already know the stories) and in 2021 he’s been a part of the underground music scene for the past four decades and counting. With CVLT Nation, we’ve made it our mission to do our part to ensure that the scene our daughters grow into is inclusive and open to everyone.

So it makes us super happy and excited to see the younger generations of Punks of Color rising up and doing their thing! Photographer DESTINY MATA captures the NYC punk underground of the 21st century, and you can smell the adrenaline and taste the sweat coming off her live photos! She just published a collection of breathtaking images of the Punks of Color she’s been photographing since 2014. The book is called THE WAY WE WERE and is available now via The Culture Crush — you can get it here and get signed copies here. It’s so rad to see friends we love and artists we admire captured on these pages. Right now, check out a collection of her photos, and make sure to grab yourself one of the limited run of books before they’re gone.

The first Punx Of Color show I went to was in a basement in Brooklyn. I was just in shock at how the people had all come together—all punks of color, all from New York City—I had never been to a show that was made up of a bunch of Black and Brown musicians, the avant garde of the disenfranchised, all local activists—and like me, all outcasts. For once I didn’t feel like I was being judged, I felt like I could just be myself. I felt like I was home.

– Destiny Mata
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Destiny Mata, (aka “The People’s Photographer”) began documenting the alternative punks of color scene throughout all 5 boroughs of New York City in 2014 up until the devastating 2020 pandemic shutdown. This definitive work weaves together the complicated overlapping collectives and communities that formed around the music of the marginalized. Including the voices of the organizers, artists, and illustrators, she beautifully captures the DIY spaces, faces, and places, the loss and the love, in The Way We Were

Images ©Destiny Mata

Written By

Meghan MacRae grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but spent many years living in the remote woods. Living in the shadow of grizzly bears, cougars and the other predators of the wilderness taught her about the dark side of nature, and taught her to accept her place in nature's order as their prey. She is co-founder of CVLT Nation.

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