"Afrofuturism is an intersection of imagination, technology, the future, and liberation. “I generally define Afrofuturism as a way of imagining possible futures through a black cultural lens,” says Ingrid LaFleur, an art curator and Afrofuturist.”
― Ytasha L. Womack, Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture
I am a Jamaican born women, raised in Toronto and currently living in Atlanta, Georgia for a few months. Today is January 20th 2017 and it is the inauguration day for a president many of us have no interest in being lead by. I started the week energized by my attendance at the Rustin Lorde Breakfast held here annually in ATL on Martin Luther King Day. I write this current blog post in preparation for Black History Month to honour those who have come before me. I share this to contextualize the mental space that I am currently in.
My experience of Black history has often been one that focuses primarily on the war on African people and the slave trade. So I have begun to think about Blackness as a whole and the freedom offered to us within Afro-Futurism. Creating art representative of a world we have never lived in before is ultimate freedom.
Fantasy is totally wide open; all you really have to do is follow the rules you've set. - Octavia Butler
As we prepare ourselves for a new political climate and dream of new ways to attain freedom, I think about what life would be like if we not only looked at Black History but Black Future. In so many of our Black Liberation movements we ask ourselves how have our elders done things in the past? It seems that we try to study the movements of Assata Shakur, Black Panthers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. in hopes of discovering perfect blue prints. I find myself wondering what it would look like if we began to build our own blue prints off a world we have never lived in. What if imagination guided our way to freedom?
"How do you know I'm real? I'm not real. I'm just like you. You don't exist in this society. If you did people wouldn't be seeking equal rights. You're not real. If you were you'd have some status among the nations of the world. So we're both myths. I do not come to you as a reality; I come to you as a myth. Because that's what black people are. Myths. I came from a dream that black man dreamed long ago. I'm actually a present sent to you by your ancestors." --Sun Ra (from: Space Is the Place, 1974
What if our main institutions focused more on the mind capacity of the people of the African Diaspora.
If you ask me the future I am manifesting includes:
1. Health: Access to health care is not a luxury only for those fortunate enough to be born into capitalistic societies, but is equitably distributed. Grocery stores offer quality food to all neighbourhoods for affordable rates because the state understands access to quality fruits and vegetables as a human right. Diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, fibroids and so many others are no longer thrown around as casual afflictions, but are acted upon with the same urgency as cancer and other non racialized diseases. Social Determinants of health are no longer used as line items in grants but actually seen as an investment in holistic health. Indigenous and African teachings are valued as equal medical options to western medicine for those needing insurance access health care.
Black people are able to live free of fear that they will be attacked mentally, emotionally and physically in all institutions such as the "justice" system, health care, education and economics.
In this future we no longer need to yell Black Lives Matter only to be responded to that All Lives Matter... The assumption that all lives matter is not used as a condescending act but one to actively create change in legislation, policy and institutions as a whole.
People as a whole are provided circumstances that allow for healthy minds, bodies and souls.
2. Education: Education is returned back to its true roots as intended by the African people who founded the first university. Post secondary education is used as a space to cultivate true critical thought. Students spend precious hours challenged to develop new ideas instead of regurgitation. Education is affordable and not used as an elite space to further disenfranchise those who are cash poor and racialized. Entry into institutions are based off of interest and display of critical thought. Those who enrol in post-secondary education are not seen as above other forms of education such as the trades but simply part of a well organized system of skilled workers working to develop new ways of being. White supremacy, racism and misogyny have no space in education as teachers will come from all walks of life.
3. Family: Family is no longer constructed by limiting ideals around blood and gender but the limitless capacity of Love. We will be able to self identify as the gender we choose with no questions and enter into family contracts with all parties we see fit, based on love and and not state governing policy. Socially gendered fluidity and sexuality will be accepted as part of the health of body autonomy. Children will be adopted and born into families with parents that love them ranging from same gender couples to differing gender couples and it will not be a point of ridicule. This infinite amount of love will be rejoiced within our communities and celebrated for the diverse experience and freedom it offers our children. The shift in other institutions, such as the end of the prison industrial complex; and rise in equal pay for Black women to be the same of a white man doing equal work will allow for stronger family unities with present parents of sound mind and heart. Children will be loved as abundantly as intended.
“I am black; I am in total fusion with the world, in sympathetic affinity with the earth, losing my id in the heart of the cosmos...I am black, not because of a curse, but because my skin has been able to capture all the cosmic effluvia. I am truly a drop of sun under the earth.” ― Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks
4. Spirituality: All who practice spiritual teachings whether Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Vodun, Santeria or any other practice are free to do so without ridicule or attack. Spirituality is seen as a guiding principle to an individuals lifestyle rather then used as tools to discredit their legitimacy. Afo-sprituality and all religions that are racialized are no longer used in fear mongering tactics, people are able to see the connecting principles of each practice and build respect for their bothers and sisters based off of this. Liberation and Freedom movements are able to learn from the guiding principles of spiritual teachings and expand upon them to build a holistic approach to change.
5. Financial: Finacial literacy and the role of money in a capitalist society are made as accessible as learning to read and write. No longer is this information reserved for the elite but for all those living and operating within capitalism; thus giving fair opportunity to leverage healing with money relationships. Those who are owed reparations for building North America to where it is are given what is owed. Indigenous people who have never been fairly compensated for the natural resources of this land are given capital or resources equal to what would be paid for said resources today. Those who have been generationally cash poor are given the support necessary via education, health care and policy to build generational wealth and legacy for their families. No longer is all the wealth given to the 1% but equally distributed to the 99%. We are actively working to abolish capitalism, our critical thinkers are developing new sustainable currency.
“You cannot carry out fundamental change without a certain amount of madness. In this case, it comes from nonconformity, the courage to turn your back on the old formulas, the courage to invent the future. It took the madmen of yesterday for us to be able to act with extreme clarity today. I want to be one of those madmen. We must dare to invent the future.”--Thomas Sankara, former President of Burkino Faso
”Without an image of tomorrow, one is trapped by blind history, economics, and politics beyond our control. One is tied up in a web, in a net, with no way to struggle free. Only by having clear and vital images of the many alternatives, good and bad, of where one can go, will we have any control over the way we may actually get there in a reality tomorrow will bring all too quickly.”—Samuel R. Delany
You may believe that much of what I have written is impossible, you may wonder how society as a whole will withstand such changes but I want to remind you that anything you are able to experience in the material realm now was birthed out of the mind of a human who dreamed of a different future. Planes that allow flight, phones distributing messages on an air frequency and laptops... all these technological advancements would have seemed impossible at the time these humans saw them in their minds eye. In my owns minds eye I see an equitable society full of love and life has taught me that all around us is the manifestation of collective conciousness. Human beings use their minds to develop the world they live in, if we want different we must start to dream of new systems and ways of doing things. New ways of loving and being that completely turn this world as we know it on its head.... If we want different we must start to truly believe we can have it.
Please dare to see the future with me.