Afrofuturism

Kandice Ollis
2 min readNov 16, 2020

In Mark Bould’s article, The Ships Landed Long Ago: Afrofuturism and Black SF, he talks about the lack of representation and inclusion of black people in mainstream science fiction films and how blac people responded to this realization. Afrofuturism was first coined by Mark Dery who pointed out the lack of black writers and actors/actresses in science fiction films. Dery describes it as “speculative fiction that treats African- American themes and addresses African-American concerns in the context of 20th_century technoculture-and, more generally, African-American signification that appropriates images of technology and a prosthetically enhanced future” (Bould, 182) Afrofuturism isn’t just movies, it was music, poems, etc., that all addressed the issues now and later.

In his article Bould says this:

But sf is “a point of cultural departure” for all of these writers and musicians, because “it allows for a series of worst-case futures-of hells-on-Earth and being in them-which are woven into every kind of everyday present reality” (“Loving the Alien”). The “central fact” of the black sf they produce “is an acknowledgement that Apocalypse already happened,” that, in Public Enemy’s words, “Armageddon been in effect.” (p. 180)

This quote basically means that black sf was a way for the black culture to say that some of the things that sf saw as hells-on-Earth already happened to black people; bringing social injustice and science fiction together. Afrofuturism didn’t dismiss any issues or avoid them. Like many of Janelle Monae songs she attacks social injustice in the jugular making it very hard to miss. Afrofuturism is a response… it strives to imagine the place that people of color will hold in the decades and centuries to come.” (The Defiant Sci-Fi of Janelle Monae, 0:25) Afrofuturism and black sf takes these social injustice issues and uses it to picture a future where these issues are solved.

Afrofuturism is why I love the movie Black Panther so much. This movie portrayed the world where black people hold a higher place in society than we do now. T’Challa himself represented how black people didn’t have to fight for their power but instead already had it. Killmonger represented the issues within the black community itself. Although this isn’t a Blank Panther movie critic blog post which would be so much longer, I believe you could use this movie and other media to understand the purpose and messages Afrofuturism wishes for you to see. Being able to have black people portray the issues of the black community is an important aspect.

References:

Bould, M. (2007). The Ships Landed Long Ago: Afrofuturism and Black SF. Science Fiction Studies, 34(2), 177–186.

Coogler, R. (2018). Black Panther [Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi]. Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Pictures

The Defiant Sci-Fi of Janelle Monae. (2017). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdylle_hPgQ&fbclid=IwAR3q8fiRTFxuuiCG8nxKRObnG7-8MBK8DgQtOwCYkRN6_nZv3_GV8TzqU_0

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