Monday, April 03, 2023


The Black Tomorrow

"...the map of the new world is in the imagination..."
-Robin D.G. Kelley, Freedom Dreams

In the year 2169, when you pick up the device of the day and peruse the news, you are met with headlines forecasting a world population of over ten billion and record-breaking sales of electric vehicles. Articles like “The slow death of the carbon energy era” and “Society and the hybrid generation” catch your eye, but it is the news of the first successful human colony on Saturn’s moon Titan that truly captures your attention. As you click through the accompanying images, you discover that the first person on Titan is a young black woman, hailing from Xaymaca, formerly known as Jamaica. This revelation strikes you deeply, as you look out the window and realize you are not even in Jamaica, but rather in Afrotopia, a newly-formed state in Africa that lives up to its name as an African Utopia, phonetically similar to Ethiopia. Yes, it is real. The future is Black.

In Afrotopia, the future is black and African, where the continent informs and expands those identities. Afrofuturism imagines a world where identities are reconnected with our ancient deities and archetypes, where borders and boundaries between our physical , spiritual and metaphysical worlds are blurred, and where there is room for a plethora of forms of existence. Afrofuturism offers a way of understanding the world that does not rely on western philosophical frameworks, but rather on an organic and evolving understanding of identity. 

Yet, some how, such a noble idea and ideal.... the notion of imagining and re-imaging the African continent is often met with difficulty and derision, mocks and jeers, thanks to Western indoctrination and brainwashing that has instilled stubborn clichés and pseudo-certainties in our collective consciousness. Racism has ravaged history and warped our understanding of our Motherland, perpetuating myths and lies about its state of being. Even during the dawn of independence in the 1960s, Afro-pessimistic ideas painted Africa as a continent that was “badly off” and “adrift.” In the midst of the AIDS pandemic, some even advocated for the extinction of life on the continent.

But we must emancipate ourselves from the mental slavery that racism and the West’s psyche have imposed on us. It is through imagination that we will liberate ourselves from these mental shackles. That is the mission of what today is dubbed the Afrofuturist, and Afrofuturism dear reader, is about imagining a future where black people survive, but it is also a way of reclaiming the past and the present, and re-imagining them in a way that centers blackness. It is a way of questioning and subverting dominant narratives and power structures that have historically excluded black people. Afrofuturism provides a space to explore the complexities of identity, culture, and history through a lens that is not limited by Western ideas of progress and civilization.

Afrofuturism carries with it a flashy aesthetic flair that is now significantly impacting pop culture; it is a space that envisions the future of Black lives beyond the constraints of conventional science fiction, and things like Marvel's Black Panther and Wakanda Forever are barely scratching the tip of the iceberg that is Afrofuturism. Science fiction provides a platform to explore the future in all of its potential utopian and dystopian outcomes, but the genre often relegates Black people to secondary characters who quickly perish, without delving into how race might exist in the future.

This is an ironic approach, given that the same genre depicts superheroes, aliens, robots, and even post-racial white people in situations that Black people have lived for centuries. Forced labor, false imprisonment, involuntary biological testing, and compulsory sterilization may sound like dystopian fiction, but they are all very real and traumatic experiences among members of the African diaspora. Simply being Black and alive is already an Afrofiction. For those of us from communities with historic collective trauma, we must understand that each of us is already science fiction walking around on two legs. Our ancestors dreamed us up and then bent reality to create us. So when you revisit and re-read my opening paragraph, know that it is both a reality, but yet to be.

There is a stark disconnect between science fiction and Black people, but fortunately, the global Black imagination is expansive, and Afrofuturism has emerged as an all-encompassing term that encompasses an art form, a practice, and a methodology that allows Black people to see themselves in the future, despite their distressing past and present. Members of this movement, think up a wide range of visions for what a Black future could look like and be. Afrofuturist art and politics provide a gateway to another galaxy where Blackness survives and a means of expressing the urgency of real Black freedom. Blackness in the future is alive, with access to technology, knowledge, and power. It is Blackness that can make real what is currently only a vision of a life-sustaining world for Black peoples.

What might this Afrofuturistic freedom look like? Perhaps it can be found in the Egyptian-inspired headpieces and clothing worn by Sun during his musical performances or his cult film, Space Is the Place; or, closer to home, we might find it in a bulletproof black male character like Luke Cage whose superpower is being immune to public will to end black lives. Perhaps it is Bogle and Tommy Lee Sparta like "Dancehall Gothica," maybe it is akin to Makonnen Blake-Hannahs Space Age Rasta or the ambient reggae of Easy Star All-Stars. Or, perhaps it is insisting on a tomorrow for a people whose past has been written out.

Blackness in the future is alive, with access to technology, knowledge, and power. That blackness then can make real what today is only a vision of a life-sustaining world for black peoples. Imagine a black planet, Planet Melanin. Afrofuturism offers a “highly intersectional” way of looking at possible futures or alternate realities through a black cultural lens. It is non-linear and fluid; it uses the black imagination to consider mysticism, metaphysics, identity and liberation; and, despite offering black folks a way to see ourselves in a better future, Afrofuturism blends the future, the past and the present. Yannick Pessoa The world of Afrofuturism is a world of endless possibilities, where technology, art, and culture are intertwined and constantly evolving. It is a world where black people are not just surviving but thriving, where our creativity and resilience are celebrated, and where we are free to imagine and create a future that is truly ours.

In the end, Afrofuturism is a call to action, a reminder that the future is not predetermined, and that we have the power to shape it. It is a way of imagining a world that is just, equitable, and inclusive, and working towards making that world a reality. So let us embrace the power of Afrofuturism, and together, let us imagine a future that is truly black and free.


 #tech #culture #politics #environment #health #education #finance #art #entertainment #sports #science #business #travel #lifestyle #food #fashion #beauty #relationships #spirituality

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