Imagining Black Futures: a mini-round-up on #Afrofuturism

Science fiction has long been a means for reimagining the present via our ideas about the future– a future that might be bright or dark, aspirational or apocalyptic. Stories about worlds with wildly different tech, social structures, and outcomes give us a lens to help reexamine the world as it is. It’s unfortunate, then, that sci-fi and fantasy are so often thought of as the stronghold of white male nerds– especially at this moment in history, where we so desperately need to find our way towards a more inclusive, equitable world.

As Black History Month comes to a close, here’s a look toward Black futures– in the form of a mini round-up of some cool media on Afrofuturism, which I hope you will enjoy as much as I did. As Florence Okoye eloquently puts it in the essay below, “Afrofuturism dares to suggest that not only will black people exist in the future, but that we will be makers and shapers of it, too.”

First off, here’s some reading music: “Phone Home” by my lovely friend Meklit Hadero as part of her group Copperwire, which uses space as a metaphor for the African diaspora:

While you’re listening to that, give this essay a read: “There Are Black People In The Future” by Florence Okoye (How We Get To Next)

(Here’s the full list of interesting further reading from that same series!)

Last year around this time, I had the pleasure of attending a screening curated by filmmaker Floyd Webb with Black World Cinema, part of “Black Futures Month”– the triple header featured “Hubble’s Diverse Universe“, “Cosmic Africa“, and “Afronauts“, all terrific films, well worth watching. In January of this year I had the opportunity to meet Webb in person at Chicago’s ORD Camp unconference, where he showed us this awesome timeline of Afrofuturism from 1859 onwards. If you’re reading this on a mobile device, do yourself a favor and check it out on a larger screen at home!

And finally, here’s a short video from KQED on multi-media artist Selam Beleke about her work in afrofuturism:

Got a favorite example of afrofuturist media, or your own vision of an inclusive future? Feel free to share in the comments!

Edit: by coincidence, Meklit just posted this article about Sun Ra’s rad 1950’s business cards on FB!


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