THE FUTURE IS BLACK
Data**Received Subject of Interest::Afrofuturism
The success of the blockbuster movie Black Panther may have come as a surprise to studio and hollywood execs, but it did not come as one to those of us who knew better. Namely, melanated folks. We showed up and showed out with friends, loved ones and kids to celebrate and enjoy seeing more of us on the big screen like never before. The carefully written sci-fi futuristic film truly was a game changer that helped thrust the conversation surrounding Afrofuturism into the spotlight, constructing a civilization where navigating whiteness was...optional.
But what is Afrofuturism?
While the term itself was coined by cultural critic Mark Dery in his 1994 essay “Black to the Future,” referring to an aesthetic that infuses science fiction and fantasy with cultures of the African diaspora, elements of it predate the term, going as far back as the 1950s, appearing everywhere from visual art to novels to comic books to music by the likes of George Clinton and the jazz musician Sun Ra. Afrofuturism subverts our preconceived notions of history and race by viewing the black experience through the lens of culture, technology and science fiction.
The resurgence of Afrofuturism goes beyond Black Panther, it is also thanks to black artists like Janelle Monae, Missy Elliot, Moor Mother, Nnedi Okorafor, Samuel R. Delany, and many others that Afrofuturism has really taken new form, finding a home in our collective consciousness.
“Afrofuturism reimagines the past and envisions what can be. If fact follows fiction, the future will belong to Africa and our storytellers.” - Bolanle Austen Peter
Afrofuturism is both a word and a way of life, for many people of the diaspora it can be a powerful tool to envision and shape the futures that we want to see. Starting in our very own communities, in our own backyards. Black Panther was monumental for several reasons, how many movies have we seen with spear toting black femmes who fly aircrafts by meditating, or get to imagine through science fiction what an African nation could have been without the deleterious perils of colonization?
The future is black because we are magic. We have continued to thrive in the most impossible of situations. When a little boy or a little girl can dream of becoming a doctor, an artist, a pilot, or just simply see a future for themselves past any given moment, that in itself is a powerful afrofuturist ideal, and when black communities can organize to create spaces for each other to thrive well, then that inevitably creates a future for us and by us. For the culture.
“We must find a way to look after one another, as if we were one single tribe.” Black Panther