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Thread started 05/07/18 7:49am



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Reply #1 posted 05/07/18 10:40am


[BLACK ALT] What Is Afrofuturism?

Space is the place!

As a kid obsessed with fantasy, I often traveled to different dimensions. Whether transported through the pages of a Marvel comic book, the glowing glass teat in the living room that projected images of Star Trek, or the silver screen while staring at Logan’s Run, the future always seemed much more interesting than the drabness of the present.

Yet, as a young Black boy enthralled by various speculative fictions textual or visual, there were very few representations of folks like myself in these imagined landscapes. Logan’s Run featured no Black folks and, with the exception of Star Trek’s commutations expert Nyota Uhura (actress Nichelle Nichols), there were very few folks of color either as characters or as creators.

A few years later, when a funk-obsessed cousin introduced me to the cosmic soul of George Clinton’s crazed bands of musical misfits Parliament and Funkadelic, the concept of brothers and sisters in space traveling to different planets on the Mothership Connection became a realistic fantasy.

In addition to the aural sci-fi P-Funk was putting down, Clinton and company were also imagining a future with an African-American president, way back in 1975 on “Chocolate City.” Years before Barack Obama became a two-term president, the P-Funkers were already contemplating splashing black paint on the White House.

While Clinton’s cosmic adventures and alternate histories didn’t have a name back then, nowadays they’d be considered part of the Afrofuturism canon. Named by writer Mark Dery in his influential 1994 essay “Black to the Future,” the term Afrofuturism has become a cultural catchphrase to describe the world of tomorrow today in music, art, theater, politics and academics. Yet depending on whom you talk too, the definition of Afrofuturism often differs from person to person.

“That’s because people are trying to draw hard lines around what can be somewhat fuzzy stuff,” says esteemed cultural critic Greg Tate. As one of the early definers of Afrofuturism a decade before it was properly named, Tate’s essays on Black science fiction writer Samuel R. Delany (Tate’s essay “Ghetto in the Sky”), George Clinton (“Beyond the Zone of the Zero Funkativity”) and cyberpunk pioneer William Gibson (“Dread or Alive”) were groundbreaking texts that served as a map towards discovering pathways of Black thought towards future-shock ideas.

In Afrofuturism: The World of Black Science Fiction and Fantasy Culture, author Ytasha L. Womack cites Tate and Dery’s pioneering writing while simultaneously building on and extending the journey. Incorporating autobiography, academic study and information about numerous Afrofutursist practitioners (including Sun Ra, Octavia E. Butler, Janelle Monáe and W. E. B. Dubois), the writer brings us in on “the cosmic ground floor” and proceeds to propel the reader into the stratosphere.

“Afrofuturism bridges so many aspects of our culture, from African mythology, art and hip-hop to politics, comic books and science,” Womack says. “The name serves as an anchor from which we can build ideas and expanding our minds.”

Artist John Jennings, who supplied Afrofuturism’s stunning cover, met Womack through a mutual friend and bonded over shared ideas of aesthetic. “Afrofuturism is not just science fiction based, but also about imagining different spaces of creative thought that doesn’t put you identity in a box,” says Jennings.

A tenured arts professor in the visual studies department at SUNY Buffalo, he’s currently adapting Octavia E. Butler’s seminal Kindred into a 230-page graphic novel. “Much of Afrofuturism borrows from the past to define the future. It’s the perfect portal to explore spirituality, technology and building new worlds.”

In addition to his numerous gigs, the prolific Jennings is also the co-creator (with Stacey Robinson) of Black Kirby. Paying tribute to the co-creator of superheroes like the Fantastic Four, Captain America and Thor, the traveling art show re-imagines the dynamic work of comic book artist Jack Kirby through a Black lens. Several images from the series appear as interior illustrations in Afrofuturism.

Beginning in November, the Studio Museum in Harlem will present a major Afrofuturistic art exhibit dubbed The Shadows Took Shape. With a name like a Lee “Scratch” Perry song, the show features the work of Wangechi Mutu, Laylah Ali, Sanford Biggers and Derrick Adams. Curators Naima J. Keith and Zoë Whitley commissioned 29 artists working in a wide variety of media, including photography, video, painting, drawing, sculpture and multimedia installation.

New York City-based artist Derrick Adams, who’s been into science fiction since watching Dr. Who and Star Wars as a kid, is recreating the giant metallic head of Richard Pryor’s title character in The Wiz as his contribution to the upcoming Studio show. For Adams, the 1978 film starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson serves as the perfect Afrofuturist touchstone and inspiration.

“From the way the elements of time-travel to the blues and jazz infused in the soundtrack to the way the characters speak, The Wiz uses escapism and fantasy to discuss bigger issues,” says Adams. “The same is true for the concepts of Afrofuturism.”

The late artist Rammellzee, who died in 2010 at the age of 49, was Afrofuturistic before his time. Beginning his career as a New York graffiti kid in the 1970s, he also rapped on the 1983 hip-hop classic “Beat Bop,” and was close friends with artists Jean-Michel Basquiat, Fab 5 Freddy and Lee Quiñones.

Ramm also created infamous otherworldly costumes, mind-boggling manifestos and wild-styled paintings that are highly sought and collected.

“It was like he stepped into one of his graffiti pieces and emerged with a different kind of knowledge,” says Oakland writer D. Scott Miller, the scribe behind the Afro-Surrealist Manifesto. “For him, graffiti served as a device for interdimensional travel, and those are the ideas reflected in his work.”

A fan of poet Henry Dumas and singer/songwriter Nina Simone (two artists he believes monumental in the Afro-Surrealistic movement), Miller’s ideas are also presented in the pages of Afrofuturism.

While much of Afrofuturism might sound highbrow, writer/musician Greg Tate, who currently teaches an Afrofuturism class at Brown University, is quick to point out that the disciple isn’t just regulated to the ivory towers and art-houses. “There is also a street element to Afrofuturism that should not be forgotten,” Tate states. “From RZA to Kool Keith to Grandmaster Flash shopping at Radio Shack, to drug dealers in the ’80s walking around with beepers, all of that is also a segment of Afrofuturism.”

Although the ideas and theories of Afrofuturism are still growing wild as weeds, steadily morphing with each new creation, Ytasha Womack says, “I totally believe Afrofuturism can be used as a tool of empowerment to embrace our culture as we push past limitations.” Indeed, as the Afrofuturist movement continues to flourish, the future is now.

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Reply #2 posted 05/07/18 11:04am



The future is Africa.

A burst of speculative fiction from the continent is testament to the variety of truths embedded in that sentence. Industry and technology provide fertile soil for startups. Ingenuity fills the air that so many Africans breathe. (How else do you play Shadow of the Colossus on your PS4 uninterrupted when the National Electric Power Authority in Nigeria cannot be relied upon to keep the power running?) And the fiction increasingly speaks to the speculative possibilities on the continent. The imagination is ignited.

Lesley Nneka Arimah’s remarkable and brilliant short story collection, What It Means When A Man Falls From the Sky, tells of a woman who weaves a child out of hair, women hunted through the generations by the ghosts of war, and so many other dazzling characters and situations, infusing into the lives of non-whites the sensawunda that permeates the DNA of so much wonderful speculative fiction. A. Igoni Barrett’s novel Blackass imagines a young man in Lagos, on the morning of a job interview, turned into a white man, except for one particular spot on his body.

The fiction in every issue of Omenana Magazine, edited by writer Chinelo Onwualu, contemplates what the future looks like for Africans, and it seems as though the latest direction of the literary discipline bends back towards the continent. Recalling what it felt like when our animals talked and when our gods walked among us. The future reaching back into the past.

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Reply #3 posted 05/07/18 11:17am


On living and making art in a world without Prince

Eve Ewing: Of course we don’t truly live in a Prince-less world, because the spirit of Prince is all around us.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to leave a legacy as an artist, and what it means to so indelibly leave your mark on the world the way that he did, which is something that most of us can never realistically aspire to.

But one of the things that came out about Prince was that he had also been materially supporting all these people and causes behind the scenes, so I think that’s something else for us to consider — that as an artist, it’s not just about the work that you make and the imprint that that leaves, but also the way you live your life and the people that you try to uplift along the way.

But it is a super bummer. I just thought Prince would live forever.

On Afrofuturism

Ewing: Afrofuturism is an idea that’s been around for a while now, but for some reason now is gaining some pop-culture traction, which I think is exciting.

It’s a term that you can read lots of essays and books about what it means aesthetically and historically. I always give a really simple definition, which is it’s the basic notion that black people will continue to be alive and exist into the future — which sounds like a really simple premise until you think about how much sci-fi you have consumed in your life where there are just no black people.

It’s like, “Where did everybody go? Are we gone? Are we in the salt mines under the Earth of the dystopian future? And why is it that our society predicates a vision of utopian futures based on the presumption that people of color will cease to be?”

So it’s radical in the space of popular culture for that reason. And then it also has a political salience in the sense that America has been trying to control, destroy, or kill black people since the birth of this nation. And a lot of our cultural production is about our relationship to that fact. Everything from the blues to hip-hop to jazz music is entangling ourselves in that relationship.

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Reply #4 posted 05/07/18 12:07pm


How Afrofuturism Progressed From Sci-fi Literature to Fashion

Grace Jones performs on day 4 of Festival No. 6 on Sept. 6, 2015, in Portmeirion, Wales.

Afrofuturism can be credited to literary greats like Octavia Butler and visual artists like Basquiat. These artists used their mediums to explore a revolutionary world where black characters controlled their own destinies. Musicians from the late 20th century like Sun Ra, George Clinton and Afrika Bambaataa melded the themes of space, alter egos and black culture into a musical and fashion style that was pioneering for the time. Even artists not typically associated with Afrofuturism can be seen borrowing from this “other reality” aesthetic through their fashion sense and visual representations.

Grace Jones has embodied the ideals of Afrofuturism in her style. Often donning elaborate headpieces, dramatic eye makeup and exaggerated silhouettes, she offered an alternate representation of black femininity and fashion. In reimagining the possibilities of black identity and governance over our own bodies and minds, Afrofuturism was definitely part of this new narrative. Jones has unapologetically owned her choice of expression when it comes to her body and her sexuality. Just as Afrofuturism is about envisioning a future without mental slavery or physical trauma, it is also about the ability to embrace ourselves and black expression, and to exist in a utopia that will eventually become reality.

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Reply #5 posted 05/07/18 12:59pm


Sometimes I think that some black people are more obsessed with race and skin colour than the White Supremacist types...
Never try to discourage thinking, for you are sure to succeed.
Bertrand Russell
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Reply #6 posted 05/07/18 1:18pm


The right of people to self-determination is a cardinal principle in modern international law (commonly regarded as a jus cogens rule), binding, as such, on the United Nations as authoritative interpretation of the Charter's norms.[1][2] It states that a people, based on respect for the principle of equal rights and fair equality of opportunity, have the right to freely choose their sovereignty and international political status with no interference.[3]

The concept was first expressed in the 1860s, and spread rapidly thereafter.[4][5] During and after World War I, the principle was encouraged by both Vladimir Lenin and United States President Woodrow Wilson.[4][5] Having announced his Fourteen Points on 8 January 1918, on 11 February 1918 Wilson stated: "National aspirations must be respected; people may now be dominated and governed only by their own consent. 'Self determination' is not a mere phrase; it is an imperative principle of action."[6]

During World War II, the principle was included in the Atlantic Charter, signed on 14 August 1941, by Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States, and Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, who pledged The Eight Principal points of the Charter.[7] It was recognized as an international legal right after it was explicitly listed as a right in the UN Charter.[8]

The principle does not state how the decision is to be made, nor what the outcome should be, whether it be independence, federation, protection, some form of autonomy or full assimilation.[9] Neither does it state what the delimitation between peoples should be—nor what constitutes a people. There are conflicting definitions and legal criteria for determining which groups may legitimately claim the right to self-determination.[10]

By extension the term self-determination has come to mean the free choice of one's own acts without external compulsion.[

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Reply #7 posted 05/07/18 10:25pm


NorthC said:

Sometimes I think that some black people are more obsessed with race and skin colour than the White Supremacist types...

perhaps it may seem to many
whites that it's about "race and skin color" when it comes to black people..

However when it comes to white supremacist, for them it's is about preserving the purity of the white race..
whilee for blacks/african americans it's about saving the existence of our race psychologically, spirituality, mentally and physically.
blacks are almost non-existent as far as visualizing them/us into the future as free men and women of this society..
just look at the percentage of blacks that are in incarceration in this space in time..
check out the stats:
Statistics of incarcerated African-American males
: https://en.m.wikipedia.or...ican_males
we can thank the nixon/regan era and their quasi war on drugs. (and remember the influx of heroin brought into large black urban areas by the various mobs (Italian, jewish and Irish crime organizations)
also thanks to the cocaine epidemic in poor black communities in the u s., (see documentary: Kill The Messenger,”)

(^^^^^truth behind movie 'kill the messenger'.

thanks to the large percentage of blacks living below the poverty level, thanks to the fact that young blacks only get endorsed in the music industry when they participate in thuggish gangster music that feeds the image of being a curiosity and not a viable or long range acceptable part of the future in the u s society.
no, for blacks it's a cogent reality.
and it's about the survival of a race that seems like it's being covertly destroyed and erased on many levels by the high powered well educated white supremacist in our/your/this society.
look what they've the politicians and intelligencia had done.

[Edited 5/8/18 1:57am]
dove let them say eye lived in the time of Prince.♊ ⚤🎸♪🎵♫🎶♬
a time of true musical nobility.
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Reply #8 posted 05/08/18 6:01am


^Thanks for posting this. It's amazing that some still don't "get it".

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Reply #9 posted 05/08/18 7:20am


Really interesting and educational topic, thanks morningsong. Love what these artists are doing. So articulate about their own lives and experiences. Grace Jones is one of the foremothers for sure.

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Reply #10 posted 05/08/18 8:42am



Superinteresting thread, thanks a lot for posting all this.

I´m a bit busy right now but will come back to this thread real soon.

" I´d rather be a stank ass hoe because I´m not stupid. Oh my goodness! I got more drugs! I´m always funny dude...I´m hilarious! Are we gonna smoke?"
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Reply #11 posted 05/08/18 9:50am


(The word should be

African=phonetic pronunciation, a-free-ken.
(I've never met an afrocan)
👉becaus the word
a thick hairstyle with very tight curls that sticks out all around the head, like the natural hair of some black people.
I feel better about my being a-free-ken and not an
I know some will say it's just a matter of semantics, but I say "GET IT RIGHT!"
(just saying)
[Edited 5/8/18 9:54am]
dove let them say eye lived in the time of Prince.♊ ⚤🎸♪🎵♫🎶♬
a time of true musical nobility.
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Reply #12 posted 05/08/18 10:57am



The evolution of the “black women” in America is definitely a story that is not often told. There are very few movies, history books, and novels that accurately tell our tale. So what do we do then to make our story known? How do we prove the pain and suffering we had to endure to make it in this country? What’s left to show our sweat and tears that built this country? My answer, is that it’s in the arts.

Lately, I’ve taken a keen interest in things that’s heavily symbolic to what role black women play in Western culture. I’ve noticed that the rise of postmodernism has paved the way for black artists to find ways to accurately portray our history, in a way that’s both nuanced and enthralling.
Postmodernism is an art movement that’s meant to reject the ideas and various aspects of modernism. Some of the most famous postmodern artists include Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, and Banksy.
The rise of postmodernism has helped set the stage for artists to tell the tale of black women in America. The rise in Afrofuturism can attest to that. Coined in the 90s by Mark Dery himself, Afrofuturism is a type of art that portrays African Americans in a sci-fi, futuristic setting; which often entails spaceship-pyramids and block shaped afros.



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Reply #13 posted 05/08/18 11:04am


Mark Dery’s essay “Black to the Future” explores the many facets of Afrofuturism and it’s cultural and social significance for black people. He wondered why there were so few black sci fi writers: at the time this essay was published (1994), he could only shout out Samuel L. Delany, Octavia Butler, Charles Saunders and Steve Barnes. Twenty-three years later, there’s a wider pool of black sci fi authors to pull from, including N.K.Jemisin, Nalo Hopkinson, Geoffrey Thorne, Nnendi Okorafor and Tananarive Due.

Yet, one notion that was pressing to Dery, was what this artistic movement meant for our past and future:

Can a community whose past has been deliberately rubbed out, and whose energies have subsequently been consumed by the search for legible traces in history, imagine possible futures? Furthermore, isn't the unreal estate of the future already owned by the technocrats, futurologists, streamliners and set designers—white to the man—who have engineered our collective fantasies?

Black history often plays out like a horrific, science fiction drama that has yet to fully resolve. Our ancestors were kidnapped from their homeland, taken to a distant country and forced into slavery. They were raped, forced to “breed” for labor and the prosperity of the economy, sold, beaten, separated, denied the right to vote, experimented on, denied equal and civil rights, denied humanity—all the while being brainwashed into believing that our race are aliens—not the abductees. Are robots—not royalty. Black history is more terrifying than any fictional tale ever told.

"Afrofuturism is a method of discussing social injustice, human nature and morality"Afrofuturism reclaims black identity by positioning our stories, desires and potentials at the center of sci-fi and fantasy—genres that aren’t usually marketed towards or inclusive of us—and morphing us into untouchable, ethereal, whimsical beings that transcend the systemic obstacles set in place by white supremacy. Not only are we reinterpreting a genre, we’re reinterpreting ourselves.

Afrofuturism is a method of discussing social injustice, human nature and morality—Octavia Butler—or fantasizing about fashion, beauty, heightened abilities and royalty, like the photoshoots of Grace Jones, Rihanna as Tomorrow in W Magazine and Solange in her last SNL performance. It can be a conversation on our body’s relationship to our environments, like FKA twigs in her magnificent, spellbinding music videos, that juxtapose movement with otherness, sexuality and the depth of human emotion against electronic, unsettling beats.

Sometimes Afrofuturism is overtly positioned in art, music and fashion, so conspicuously that we are encouraged to embrace and confront it. Think of the musings of Sun Ra and George Clinton, the expressive, over the top glasses made by Kenyan artist Cyrus Kabiru, self portraits painted by British-Liberian artist Lina Iris Viktor, the weird wonder of Wangechi Mutu’s multimedia art and the sensual, psychedelic sounds of Flying Lotus.

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Reply #14 posted 05/08/18 11:06am




[Edited 5/8/18 13:46pm]

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Reply #15 posted 05/08/18 2:09pm



And, of course.....

"Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced." - James Baldwin
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Reply #16 posted 05/08/18 4:53pm


Just looking at this picture and imagining a black girl animated movie. Would be so cool to see some animated movies with black girls who look like this

Tim Okamura (Canadian, b. 1968), oil on canvas board, 2014 {figurative art strong female standing African-American black woman grunge painting detail drips #loveart}

Artista faz dos cabelos afros, verdadeiras obras de arte! â Design Culture

Paradise is the term for a place of timeless harmony

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Reply #17 posted 05/09/18 12:47pm


I've neither read nor commented on any of the posts in this trhead yet (suffering at work), but I LOVE that this thread exists!!

This is what you want...This is what you get.
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Reply #18 posted 05/09/18 3:32pm


morningsong said:

Paradise is the term for a place of timeless harmony

i think I'm in love!!!! love love love love love

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Reply #19 posted 05/12/18 1:08pm


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