Black people exist in the future.
Afrofuturism is NOT a monolith. Black is NOT a monolith. Feminism comes in many forms.
During the Black Notes/Femme Futures talk at Apollo's Live Wire on 2.22.22, I had the pleasure of speaking about afrofuturism as it pertains to real life superheroes and real life social justice movements.
We approached the talk by drawing inspiration from N.K. Jemisin’s The Ones Who Stay and Fight, which is a direct response to Ursula La Guin’s The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. Both stories are fantabulous, but Jemisin's story spoke directly to me, the same way that W.E.B. Dubois' Soul of Black Folk did when I was a teenager.
Ultimately (one of the themes that I took from the story was), should Black people “stay and fight” or “walk away” from America?
(Also, to avoid the stigma of trauma porn, I have to notate that there are so many more prevalent themes in this story: such celebrating agriculture, the cyclical nature of water, female representation in respected and "non-traditional roles", community building and joy driving in black culture.) I share that to say, this particular theme stuck out to me because of the conversations being had around current social justice movements (for all people) and how it relates to black feminine leadership.
What does speculative science fiction have to do with social justice?
These stories act as movement builders and build hope.
The ideology often combats widely accepted dominant narratives
There is space to empower non-Western beliefs
What themes from the story, and afrofuturism, are parallel to the concept of Black Notes/Femme Futures
Divine Feminine Energy is Quing
Community > Capitalism
Less Focus on the West
Who are some Black Women that have or are shifting the lens of today and creating room for a "speculative" reality? #BlackNotesFemmeFutures
Essentially, we stand on the dreams of our ancestors to create "afrofuturism".
Through all of the struggle, black people still see, write, direct, create, visualize, paint and celebrate themselves in the future! Therefore, Afrofuturism is not merely art, music, film, fashion or design. It is actually a form of artistic protest. It is the same protest that prompted Malcolm X to speak at the Audubon Theater in spite of the death threats that he received moments before, it is the boldness that Harriet carried with her as she followed the North Star despite the bounty on her head, it is the vision that allowed Dr King to look past the balcony at the Lorraine Motel and see the mountain top, it is the vision that allowed Michelle Obama to help normalize the consumption fresh fruits, vegetables and water to a generation plagued by instant gratification and microwaved solutions.
So understand, that your mere existence is Afrofuturism. Everyday, if you are committed to creating a better world for yourself, your children and those to come after you- you not only honor the ancestors; but you then become an active participant in afro futures. “Decolonization of imagination [is the path to] limitless liberation” - Octavia’s Brood
Afrofuturism is not a "spectator sport".
Joy is a form of protest
Healing is a form of protest
Generational wealth is a revolutionary act.
Shout out to all the Black Women who continue to pave the way with little or no celebration for their efforts.
If you missed Black Notes/Femme Futures, be sure to sign up for Apollo Theater's mailing list for future talks.