Afrofuturism: the dream and the reality of possible futures

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Implementing social policy is just as important as radicalizing our struggles — access to the labor market is therefore the key to ensuring expression and representation

by Marcio Black cover Mae Jemison translated by Pronoia Tradutória

The suffering caused by the African diaspora has been two-fold: slavery in the not so distant past, and our continuing persecution, which has kept us invisible and marginalized. Even today, this suffering manifests itself individually (from an anatomopolitical perspective), collectively (from a biopolitical perspective), and through correlated individuality and collectiveness (from a perspective of control). When not being exterminated by the police, the Black and poor population is imprisoned and excluded from the production of knowledge, political decision-making, and the labor market. The effect is highly damaging to a collective consciousness that will never have the strength to form a total discourse. It is dangerous to use the word “total,” because the idea is based on the exclusion or overwriting of other stories. “Total,” is thus used here as a way of reminiscing on hundreds of thousands of stories that have already been discarded and erased, without leaving any trace of their humanity.

White civilization and European culture have forced an existential deviation on the Negro.” — Frantz Fanon

Invisibility has cast a shadow over us ever since. It is not by chance that the main issue facing Afro-descendants today is representation. In this sense, afrofuturism offers a means of thinking about a possible future with more justice for the Black population. It is a way of imagining and building possible futures from a culturally Black perspective; a connection between the imagination, technology, the future, and liberation.

From silencing to creating spaces

The existence of the Black community and the possibility of cultural, economic, and political advancement are denied at all times. For a long time, we have been silenced and ignored, and so we increasingly have to look for new integration strategies in a society that even today continues to create barriers.

For this reason, the white and progressive middle classes, however empathetic they may be to our cause, must also understand how privileged they are, and how, because of their inherent privilege, they "naturally" or "by affinity" align themselves with other whites politically, economically, and culturally.

The opposite occurs when anti-racism become the first and non-negotiable rule in their lives and initiatives, since they still have almost exclusive access to all resources and means.

We now have a place in all spaces because of our militancy and activism; because we have disputed spaces of political power and decision-making and taken positions of leadership in work environments and academia. But it is still not enough, and what we need at the moment is people who are willing to strengthen Black initiatives by actively participating in the radical transformation that Brazilian society needs to undergo; one of the most urgent reasons for which is to promote the inclusion of the Black population in political decision-making and the labor market.

MOOC: collective focused on fashion, art, music, audiovisual, and behavior, with the objective of connecting creative Afro-Brazilians in culture and art.
“The Mundane Afrofuturist Manifesto” — click on the image to watch
Afropunk: “We are the largest integrated media platform giving voice to the unwritten, unwelcome and unseen. we are redefining the modern multicultural experience globally.” In the image, clothing designed by Mowalola Ogunlesi.
Dúdús: a collaborative digital platform for creative young Black people. In the image, clothing from the “Canal” editorial.

Through afrofuturism, the strength and unity of Black history has the ability to overcome all of the suffering inflicted so far. But how does this future function in its most varied dimensions? There are many complex aspects to consider: the multiple potential paths can overwrite the existing fragmented realities, if they have not already been erased; at the same time, relationships with the collective should not be erased.

How can we manage these multiplicities? How can we enable all the potential encounters between these different paths?

These are questions to which we have no answers, but they have to be asked, because when people are exposed to a diverse range of experiences and more contrasting worldviews, their everyday relationships become less closed. Thus, it is possible to imagine all that we can be and all the places we can reach.

Still from the movie “Afronauts”

Afrofuturism is a dream, but it is also a reality. This is how a new culture is created, one that is more open to discussing the structural changes needed. It also demonstrates how implementing social policy is as important as radicalizing our struggles.

A future of total inclusion has already been described, and access to the labor market is still the key to social mobility that will ensure the expression and representation of our community. Perhaps afrofuturism is not ultimately about a possible future, but a future that is already ours.

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The future is Black — the past and the present too

Fábio Kabral's vision on afrofuturism: "[...] it would be foolish to view afrofuturism as "exotic", a fad, another "attraction" in the Great Party of Representation. There is no party here. There are Black people — women and men — taking a stand for the simple right to live their lives as they wish."

Afrofuturism Dossier

A brief contextualization and a valuable collection of aesthetic references of afrofuturism, especially in fashion and beauty.

Mostra Afrofuturismo: Cinema & Music

The show took place in 2015, but the website has a list of feature-length and short films, and is an interesting resource for those wishing to immerse themselves in the Afrofuturist intergalactic diaspora.

Afrofuturism Top 10

Authors, artists, and works selected by Kenia Freitas, curator of the Mostra Afrofuturismo exhibition.

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