A shout out to the future: Afrofuturism

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The future always seems more interesting than the present. That's where our most optimistic hopes and dreams lie. The beauty of surrealism & magical fantasy is that it allows us to suspend disbelief & go beyond the constraints of logic in painting our future. So it's soul crushing when you look into the future & see alien images of what is not relatable to you. I don't mean alien in the sense of 'extraterrestrial' but rather foreign.

This is where Afrofuturism comes in.

"Afrofuturism is a literary and cultural aesthetic that combines elements of science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, Afrocentricity, and magic realism with non-Western cosmologies in order to critique not only the present-day dilemmas of people of color, but also to revise, interrogate, and re-examine the historical events of the past." - Wikipedia.

The intersection between black culture, technology, liberation and the imagination, with some mysticism thrown in, too. It can be expressed through film; it can be expressed through art, literature, music and politics. It's a way of bridging the future and past while reimagining the experience of people of colour. Janelle Monae and Outkast are primary examples of what this afrofuturistic art and music could look like.  It can also be deeply personal & used as a means of self expression unbound by time, logic or expectations.

You can imagine my disappointment then when I started reading up on Afrofuturism and found that the coining of the term is credited to Mark Dery. You guessed it, post 50 year old white male. Now, I have nothing against Mark, I feel he does great & important work. I'm just so sick of Africans never having something that is wholeheartedly and completely their own. Not only are we excluded from mainstream ideas of culture and art, but our own movements do not even belong to us. At worst these are appropriated by those who pervert them & suck all the meaning out of the beauty..... at best, we're left with derivatives of what once was.

Nevertheless, despite him "coining" the term, these feelings, ideas and concepts have existed for a long time among Africans, without the language to express them.

I see Afrofuturism to be about imagination, creation & ownership. 'Afrofuturism as a lens to better understand our lives and the possibilities beyond our present circumstances.' - Steven Thrasher. Afrofuturism obliterates the single story & opens up possibilities.

 

Picture: Afro Cyber Punk

Picture: Afro Cyber Punk