So, while I was scrolling along my favorite tumblr, Kenobi Wan Obi , I came across this incredible quote that explains a narrative that many blerds would identify with:
In the beginning there was a story, a telling of what it meant to be a Black body in the White Western European imagination. A simple account constructed to explain extant narratives, told to maintain a lucrative status quo. Then there was awareness of counter-narratives challenging the status quo, undermining the easy acceptance of received ideas.
Afrofuturism has emerged as part of an urbanized culture, set against systematic and structural estrangement and disenfranchisement of global Blackness. It is not a movement in the traditional sense. Instead, Afrofuturism is a culture and aesthetic understanding addressing all manifest forms as it seeks ways to tell the Black story of rebellion and engages divergent forms of communication. Music, art, spoken word, dance, literature, and religion are some major forms of expression. Afrofuturism is a post-modern deconstruction of a Western European meta-narrative.
Imagine a Black person in living memory, and long before that, having to look at their life as lived, their past and present. It is an easy realization that it has not been a good past and present (on most parts of the planet), and it is in the future that a viable and desired existence has a possibility. Or perhaps only in a parallel universe, or even better still, on another planet altogether, in a land far, far away, that the possibility of the Good Life exists.
Science and science fiction (in many forms beyond the written text) have emerged as a solution to the impossibilities that reality proposes. As a consequence, writers who deal with Afrocentric questions, such as Octavia Butler, Samuel Delaney, Greg Tate, and Nalo Hopkinson in writing, and Sun Ra and George Clinton, and Parliament Funk in music, have been seen as proponents of Afrofuturism. There is always an awareness of what it means to place the Black Body in the future, in Space. Gil Scott-Heron’s Whitey on the Moon attests to this.
Imagining a future, and being able to act on that impulse, has often been treated as a marker of freedom, especially personal freedom. The human spirit, individual and collective, has been rather resilient in maintaining growth, a conceptualization that allowed for a flourishing self-identity capable of resisting psychical death. New cultural forms have emerged to counteract imposed narratives, Afrocentric future-origin myths capable of counteracting the erasure and denigration of the many histories that Blackness endures around the world.
While easy to argue that loss of identity only happened in the United State through the transatlantic slave trade, the reality is that Africans on the Continent and in the diaspora have had to negotiate their history and identity through a mediated narrative, mediated and reinforced by global colonial relationships, and Afrofuturism has become a viable methodology. Afrofuturism allows everything to be thought through again. Nothing is left untouched. The future allows for ease of interrogation of even the most unspoken taboos of lived life. Afrofuturism therefore allows for a new look at Blackness itself, a re-imagining of the self in relation to the other, the ability to tell one’s own story.