They're no Robotics + flying objects in your work; is it still Afrofuturistic?

This may sound radical to some, but I do not believe in order for the African Diaspora to make it into the future that we must look like Androids or Aliens or have the ability to fly–these are cool though. Afrofuturism utilizes science fiction elements like super powers: are we not telepathic, forward thinking, ambiguous, layered beings who are genetically coded with futurist/supernatural capabilities? We have always created awesome culture out of the bare minimum. I have yet to see the average person of the African Diaspora with any robot parts and they’re still pretty damn spectacular. We’re walking, talking, breathing magicians–don’t forget that you are the future–you can even keep your delicious brown skin too, no need to trade in those thighs for a chrome set. I’m re-imagining us, Black women in our own bodies–because I actually love the skin that I’m in. 

-Tanekeya Word

A is for Afrofuturism + Afrofuturists:

Afrofuturism: emphasis is on the artistic cultural production of the African Diaspora, and the utopian vision of a people re-imagining an escape from majority constructs, in order to re-create a context that situates them into majority–on their own playing field. 

Alondra Nelson’s definition:

Afrofuturists: are a group of people of the African Diaspora whose philosophy is postmodern; yet, their viewpoint is of Afrofuturism which is described as: “a way of looking at the world; it is a sort of canopy for looking at Black diasporic artistic production. It is even an epistemology that is really about thinking about the future, thinking about the subject position of Black people and how that is both alienating and about alienation and because the alien becomes to figure quite centrally in Afrofuturism—the outsider figure. It is also about aspirations in majornity and having a place in majornity and it is about speculation and utopia. Part of why it is Afrofuturism in particular is that part of resilience in Black culture and Black life is about imagining the impossible, imagining a better place, a different world” (Alondra Nelson, 2010).

What's More Sci-Fi than...

“What more sci-fi than Santo Domingo? What more fantasy than the Antilles?”

- Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao


After reading this quote, I closed the book and pondered–it was an Aha moment for me. I instantly knew that the rhetorical question had the fluidity to extend past Santo Domingo and into the lives of pluralistic people, especially those who had suffered historic oppression. Black is Afrofuturistic. 


When I think of science fiction and the escapism culture, I think of the African Diaspora and Afrofuturism, I think of the ways in which subcultures emerge out of resiliency and the need to shift the perspectives of a people. I of course, went straight to what I knew–Afrofuturism–as a Black woman. The escapist notion, can be applied to many ethnicities–that have been oppressed–although cultural nuances do apply, hence the Afro leading into futurism here.  

I recently saw someone reference their work as Afrofuturism; they were not of the African Diaspora. It bothered me on impact. I have a problem with cultural appropriation, even when someone is naive to the fact. So, I simply urged them to seek how their ethnicity and the oppression of their people were rooted in escapism culture. From there, to move into what that means for their culture–it wouldn’t be the same as Afrofuturism though. Was it my place to say so? Hell yeah.