Who — or what — is an Afro Hippy?
“The term is more so to represent the alternative Black culture and the subcultures within that. Things I’m into: nerd culture, photography, things of that nature. On her side, it’s holistic care and the wide variety of things that play into that.
We did the Afro-Hippy event [June 26 at the Springer] as an appreciation for those subcultures that do exist in Columbus. Subcultures that you don’t hear much about or see represented in the way they should.” (Darius)
“For me, I like to try a million different styles. Whatever peaks an interest in me has always been something I’d like to try. Afro-Hippy is about, ‘I like this kind of thing, I like this kind of thing, and I like this kind of thing. Let’s mush it all together and see what we can get out of it.’
When you go out here in Columbus, you head to a place that you hear is for weirdos, or go to a spot that’s in the hipster part of town. But you don’t feel like you fit in there, either. Afro-Hippy Daze was the idea to just make your own space.” (Leah)
What’s it like for a couple to enjoy cosplay together?
“He was into cosplay before me; he was going to Cons before I could. But I was the person at home playing in costumes. My mom just thought I loved to play make-up.
In high school, I was that weirdo in class. I knew about cosplay and wanted to indulge in more of it, but I was out in Smith Station. There is no one out there doing anything that was going through my head. I was the cheerleader with the football team. I didn’t feel like I was brave enough to step out of those bounds. Meeting him was like, ‘Here’s somebody else that’s also into these things, but is brave enough to step out and not care about what somebody thinks about what they’re doing.’
People don’t understand it takes a long time to cosplay. It takes hours to get ready. We’re . Helping each other put in contact; helping duct-tape stuff down. It’s a lot of work. I like to look nothing like myself. Contacts. Face-painting, The more theatrical, the better.” (Leah)
“It’s months of process. It’s not just going to Spirit Halloween and buying a shirt. Coming into cosplay you see the difference between dressing up for a Halloween costume versus actually contributing to cosplay. It’s about getting it right, even for maybe just a weekend.
We have a large cosplay community in town as well. That niche was around for Afro-Hippy Daze. Those scenes are not intertwined directly but it was a way to get that mutual appreciation going.
I’ve done Black Panther for events. Spider-Man is my go-to kid-friendly character. Not Monger. Monger is too scary.” (Darius)
Why do y’all feel called to get involved in social activism? To take part and help lead the rallies, protests, and events tied to causes like Black LIves Matter?
“It’s all centered around the idea of making Columbus your home. The idea of making the change you want to happen, happen within yourself. When you start putting forth the effort to make small changes, it evolves into creating events, creating spaces to talk about things, and bringing people together. I’m inspired by giving voices to people who might not have it otherwise.
My first event was a peace rally right around the time Trump was elected. When he did the Muslim ban. That sparked something in me to do something. That led me to recognize my impact on the community, on making conversation and dialogue.
Since then, I’ve been hitting the ground hard. Most of our events spark from a conversation we’ll have: ‘Hey, we could bring this to Columbus.’ It could be weeks or months, but we always like to take charge.” (Darius)
“I moved in and out of Columbus — I lived in New York, Louisiana, Texas. When I came back in 2014, I had my first son. That summer, I realized Columbus was changing in a way I didn’t like. It’s gotten worse now, but even then, every month there was something. A shooting. A murder. These weren’t 35 year olds. The statistics that year, over 70 percent of homicides were under the age of 25.
I work in the nonprofit sector, primarily with kids, and you see there are no programs in the city for them. How can you recognize there is a problem there but not try to find the solution. Because they don’t see where those problems are going.” (Leah)
Both of y’all are transplants to Columbus, right?
“I’m from Manchester.” (Darius)
“My parents were both in the military and retired here.” (Leah)
What do you think about Columbus?
“Growing up in Manchester, there is nothing there. Very small town. You can drive through it in 3 minutes. It’s kind of diminishing. Coming to Columbus for college, I liked it and just ended up staying here.
A lot of my motivation comes from how Manchester is, and wanting to improve it, but knowing you can’t improve Manchester. It’s too far gone.” (Darius)
My parents are always, ‘Don’t go to Columbus. There’s nothing good there. It’s dangerous.’ Downtown went through a renaissance; it used to be nothing. You’re starting to see the local artist scene coming up.
For me, Columbus has constantly changed — just some things are harder to change than others. It’s the attitude. People want to bring new, innovating things but it’s a challenge. It’s almost like Columbus likes what Atlanta does, but we don’t want a lot of what Atlanta has.” (Leah)
You both have side-hustles: Foto.logik and Moon Child. Is that something you do as a creative outlet? For extra money?
“I work for SalesForce and that allows me to make money for my family. So my photography is a creative outlet. It’s not a starving artist vibe. I don’t have to take work I don’t want. I’ve been doing photography for 12 years now; I started out in the club scene here. That got old pretty quick, so then I got into portraits, modeling, and now pure imaging.” (Darius)
“Moon Child was taking what I’ve learned about spirituality and practicing herbals and using my background in business and marketing. It was a way to share that there is not just one way to reach enlightenment.
It’s an outlet for me, too. I’ve been doing yoga for 15 years. When COVID hit, it was like everybody needed crystals, needed essential oils. People are getting into alternative things now because of the quarantine. When you‘re stuck at home, you have to listen to yourself more. People are at home dealing with emotions never dealt with before because of all the noise from the outside world.” (Leah)
If you could design your dream life together, what would it look like?
“Our life is going really well. There is not much we’re wanting for these days.Our families are where we want them to be. We’re both thriving in our individual careers. We’ve come to the conclusion that we can’t leave Columbus. This is home.
But we’ve also come to the conclusion we can have homes in other places, too. We travel. We try to make 3 big trips a year. We make sure our kids are well-traveled.”
BONUS CONTENT: Listen to full-length interview by Electric City Editor Frank Etheridge with Leah and Darius Prather at Iron Bank Coffee. 7.11.20221
Age: Darius 34, Leah 26
Education: Computer Science degree from Columbus Tech (Darius)
Sociology degree from Troy University-Phenix City (leah)
Work: Systems Engineer for SalesForce (Darius)
Marketing and Event Planning for Zoe Pediatrics (Leah)
First Date: “It was spectacular. He took me to a show, where I met his life-long best friend. We went to E Ramen, then he took me to a beautiful hotel in MidTown.” (Leah)
Best concert ever: Childish Gambino in 2018 (Darius)
“I like a more intimate concert space. That’s how I saw this artist Blood Orange. Six instruments, no shoes on, with this big Afro-centric wig. That’s my kind of vibe. (Leah)
Biggest positive about Columbus, Georgia: “Tons of potential here. A lot of people that potential can resonate with. A lot of space to introduce new ideas.” (Darius)
“For me it’s the location. You have the river. You have the base. You have the mountains. It’s so perfectly centrally located.” (Leah)
Biggest negative about Columbus, Georgia: “People don’t want change. Some things don’t need to be changed. But when it comes to attitudes, there’s a lot that needs changing.” (Leah)
Advice for a Harmonious Relationship: “Listen. Even if you don’t want to hear it, you have to listen. We fight and argue but there is a place we won’t go. I’m a huge boundary person. Boundaries help make it clear: This is where we stand and this is where we can’t go.” (Leah)
“Communication is big. If you’re in a committed relationship, you have to keep communicating. Ask, ‘What’s on your mind?’ and let them express themselves. Talk about it, don’t let it sit there.” (Darius)