OPINION PIECE: Afrofuturism

 (c) Marvel Studios

(c) Marvel Studios

Two things you need to know about me during this blog post: 1. I have a vicious cold. 2. I am hyped up on Black Panther.

Last week, I missed putting up a blog post. To my entire four readers, I apologize. (Who am I kidding? My only readers are Mike and myself.) Today I will be posting two blog posts, though both will be slightly shorter than usual. For today, my plan had been to examine Afrocentrism, Pan-Africanism, and the Diminution of the African continent. After watching Black Panther, I decided my readers would be better off watching Black Panther, as it tackles those issues in a much more entertaining way. And, also, while I did extensive research on those topics prior to seeing the movie, I couldn’t manage to string two coherent sentences together about the topics.

Between the cold medicine and the mucus filling my sinus cavities, I will not be managing to create neither a knowledge-sharing or thought-provoking blog post today. (If I ever manage to do so). So let’s talk about Afrofuturism. Or rather, please read my almost-nonsensical rant on Afro-futurism.

I have four primary passions that drive my life: history, costuming, writing, and my cat. Let’s talk about a subject encompassing the first three. I’ll save the topic of my cat for another day. Afrofuturism is a term relating to science fiction - it’s the genre seen in Marvel’s Black Panther. A science fiction aesthetic rooted in the black experience – both in Africa and around the world. It also combines elements of fantasy and history as well. Usually afrofuturism has the goal of reframing a political narrative.

 (c) Marvel Studios

(c) Marvel Studios

Afrofuturism is a necessary term to identify specifically because most science fiction is rooted in European or Asian culture (the latter has become more prominent in recent years with shows like Firefly, movies like Pacific Rim, or many anime live-action remakes.) It tackles topics faced by African and black communities all over the world like colonialism and oppression. It is, in its nature, a politically charged genre.

 (c) Marvel Studios

(c) Marvel Studios

Beyond the political topics it tackles, it is also an outlet for an expression of black excellence. It is a place in which black contributions to the world can be highlighted. When the world wants to use a black narrative, it focuses on their oppression - we clamor to read books about the experiences of a black slave, we run to the theaters to see movies showing blacks fighting for their rights. But does it always have to be about struggle? Why is it that the only story of blacks in the Western narrative is about romanticizing how they overcame obstacles placed upon them?

 (c) Marvel Studios

(c) Marvel Studios

Our stories set the bar far too low. Blacks excel by achieving equality to whites. But whites excel by becoming superhuman. Afrofuturism tells us that blacks can be amazing. Period. No need to compare them to whites. Black narratives don’t always have to dwell on racism. Afrofuturism shows us the value of non-white culture and its potential for advancing all societies. It brings African cultures to center stage.

In the future, I want to see more than Afrofuturism. I want science fiction rooted in the hundreds of other cultures that fill our world. I want to see sci-fi steeped in ancient Mesoamerica, based in Japan (but with actual Japanese characters), based in Mongolia, based in Cambodia, based in India… I could go on. Our science fiction needs diversity that reflects the world we live in.