This week we are focusing on Afrofuturism, the term “Afrofuturism” was coined by Mark Dery; when Mark used this term, he was pointing out the fact that there was a lack of black writers and black science fiction within the pages of The Wire (Bould, 2020). Bould discusses this idea of science fiction being more inclusive due to writers being dissatisfied with the racial issues the world is facing in the following quote:
…sf in the US magazine and paperback tradition postulated and presumed a color-blind future, generally depicting humankind “as one race, which has emerged from an unhappy past of racial misunderstandings and conflicts.”
I think that by starting off his piece with this sentence gives a good perspective on science fiction that I had not noticed before. He goes on to talk about the exclusion of individuals of color by the scientific field, he specifically touches on the 1970 song “Whitey on the Moon” by Gil Scott-Heron. This song is focused on the issue that there are people going into space, while there are people of color who can’t pay doctors bills or regular everyday expenses; it shows the difference between how people of color and white scientists are viewed by society. Bould uses the following quote to explain how science fiction has been a way for black individuals to acknowledge the past and possibly move forward:
But sf is “a point of cultural departure” for all of these writers and musicians, because “it allows for a series of worst-case futures-of hells-on-Earth and being in them-which are woven into every kind of everyday present reality” (“Loving the Alien”). The “central fact” of the black sf they produce “is an acknowledgement that Apocalypse already happened,” that, in Public Enemy’s words, “Armageddon been in effect.” (Bould, 2020)
When I first read this quote, the portion that really stuck out to me was the portion that talks about the worst-case futures-of hells-on-Earth and how it is woven into every day present reality for the black community. It wasn’t a perspective I had thought about before in regards to black science fiction, Bould explains that black science fiction is more of recognition that the “Apocalypse” has happened and that we are now the black community in America are fighting for their lives like its Armageddon (the war to end all wars). In the film Black Panther, we saw powerful black men and women fighting for their lives, not unlike the struggle for black individuals in society today; but this movie gives young black children the ability to see themselves as the superheroes. These kinds of movies empower young black individuals to see that they are not what society tries to claim they are, and that they are able to be whatever they want to be. An individual that also creates the same type of empowering energy for the black community is Janelle Monae; she is an artist who has celebrated black culture and has cultivated her work around her pride in being a strong black woman. This is what Afrofuturism is all about. Afrofuturism is embracing black culture from the past and looking into the future with hope.
Barton, G., Massie, V., & Posner, J. (n.d.). Afrofuturism mixes sci-fi and social justice. Here’s how it works. Retrieved November 6, 2020, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlPwTMMhGGI
Coogler, R. (2018). Black Panther [Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi]. Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Pictures.