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Afrofuturism mixes sci-fi and social justice. Here’s how it works.

Afrofuturism mixes sci-fi and social justice. Here’s how it works.


When people envision a future in art
most often it’s seen through a white lens. Only 8% of the 100 top grossing sci-fi and fantasy films featured a protagonist of color. Half the time the protagonist was Will Smith. The future looks different, if you look at it through the lens of black experiences. But we’re not all white or Will Smith. The future looks different, if you look at it through the lens of black experiences. That’s why we have this thing called Afrofuturism. The term was coined by culture critic Mark Dery in 1994 to point out the lack of black writers and black stories in science fiction. But this kind of art existed long before the term Afrofuturism did. Just look at music. Jazz musician Sun-Ra is probably one of the most recognizable Afrofuturists. He lays out an afrofuturistic design is his 1973 album Space is the Place, which you’re listening to now, and also became a film. The key is that his future was afrocentric – linking his futuristic self, to ancient forbears in Egypt. These ideas were more politically direct, and a lot more funky, in George Clinton’s Parliament during 1975. In “Mothership Connection” he connects the struggle of civil rights and “We Shall Overcome” to a positive future with evidence the struggle will work: “You have overcome. For I am here” He not only references an old song from the underground railroad to escape slavery: “Swing down, sweet chariot.
Stop and let me ride.” But he flipped a desperate history into positive futuristic ride on his spaceship as evidence the struggle is over and we’ve won “Swing down, sweet chariot. Stop and let me ride” — so of course everybody wants to get on. [Dr. Dre’s “Let Me Ride” playing] And people did get on, [Dr. Dre’s “Let Me Ride” continues] or at least some 90s hip hop heavyweights did. But Afrofuturism also critiques the way the future looks today like André 3000 did on his ATLiens verse. “Because the future of the world depends on” “If or if not the child we raise gon’ have that n***a syndrome.” “Or will it know to beat the odds regardless of the skin tone.” He wants his unborn kid to get the future they want, not the one society created for them because of race. And that’s why he takes pride in the difference. They alienate us cause we different keep your hands to the sky. Like Sounds of Blackness when I practice what I preach ain’t no lie. And empowers black people to fight to get what’s ours. “I’ll be the baker and the maker of the piece of my pie.” ‘Cause that’s the thing about afrofuturism — it’s rooted in black people a better future for ourselves on our terms, like Janelle Monáe does in “Q.U.E.E.N.” “Even if it makes others uncomfortable” “I will love who I am.” This is the common thread of Afrofuturism. To overcome the current ways society remains unequal There needs to be futures where those problems are solved. Afrofuturism shows us what that looks like. It looks like hope. [Crowd shouting “We goin’ be alright.” “Will you be electric sheep? Electric ladies, will you sleep? Or will you preach?”

Comments (100)

  1. ayo we wuz kangz!

  2. "society remains unequal"
    You think most black people know they make up 13% of the American population ?

  3. How is AF fundamentally different from any other forward-looking production? Except for the color of the skin of whomever is talking… This video is soul-less and exploitative!

  4. Love love love these videos.

  5. why are all these white people in the comments concerned with black peoples future?
    haha thats gotta tell you somethin

  6. Shabazz Palaces

  7. What about Drexcia, Underground Resistence etc….???

  8. what is the music that starts at 00:37 please

  9. Where's Detroit techno? That's a very important strand of afro-american futurism, straight from a dystopian cyberpunk metropolis

  10. can you upload a playlist for this please?

  11. I don't think in the future people will be so obsessed with their skin colour as the "social justice" crowd is today.
    Damn, there aren't even any "blacks" in the USA; the people are on a spectrum of brown. Still everyone seems adamant to make the strict black – white distinction.
    I hope the scourge of this identitarian nonsense will soon pass away from universities.

  12. complaining of such a narrow genre like scifi? puh-lease. just stick to hollywood in general. there's also a bigger data set

  13. Only real problem here is no mention of Deltron 3030

  14. s/o to will smith

  15. 0:10 half of those movies are will smith movies lol

  16. I don't know if it is actually alright to take pride of the color of the skin. look at the kkk. that pride is frightening.

  17. i bet peeps who disliked voted for trump

  18. will smith in half those movies lmao

  19. This topic had real potential but fell short.

  20. Great stuff I like the fact sun ra is appreciated too great media document.

  21. The comments on these videos are both funny and sad… I mean it's most full of African American liberal types saying that white people are racist, white people pointing out the reverse-racism and stereotyping, and then those same African American liberals calling the white people racism for pointing out the reverse racism…

  22. Once in a while in the midst of all your awesome videos you put out garbage like this. Social justice my ass.

  23. Donald Trump proves that racism is alive and well. 😧

  24. Sooo happy they did a piece on Afrofuturism. Never really knew too much about it until now. It's pretty dope.

  25. Ytasha Womack isn't mentioned in this video and she is The Leading Expert on there topic of Afrofuturism, an alumni of my illustrious institution and deserves to be at the very least mentioned in a video claiming to "explain Afrofuturism"

  26. I kind of want a T-Shirt that says "We're Not All White… Or Will Smith"

  27. swing down sweet chariot part BLEW MY MIND

  28. All these black tears, it's rejuvenating

  29. You wuz never kangs, and never will be kangs if you don't learn to talk and sing like people.

  30. I just came here to watch the comments.

  31. Anyone want to have the rest of my bleach

  32. Anyone else got bleach I ran out before it…

  33. HAAAAA it got a little too real for white people here wow

  34. anyone else think this video was going to be about afros

  35. outstanding articulation !

  36. And nothing about techno

  37. Pushing for diversity in alien invasion sci-fi, or any sci-fi that has humanity faced with a technologically superior foe, is rather backwards as The War of the Worlds was a commentary on British imperialism so to add diversity for the sake of diversity is completely missing the point.

  38. not gonna lie, this is kinda stupid

  39. lol, 4chan is raging at this

  40. 13 percent of america is black and thats the percentage of black actors… if thats racist i dont know what isnt

  41. It's kinda sad that pretty much all black media on the internet is from the African American perspective. The African diaspora has spread so far that now black communities can be found all over the world yet the meta-narrative for a whole race stays the same. How can we no longer be homogenised and be seen as a monolith; if we are constantly demoted to a characterised fabrication of what 'black' looks like. I for one do not believe that race can be performed but if it could, would this be the picture that we would choose…doubtful xx

  42. It's kinda sad that pretty much all black media on the internet is from the African American perspective. The African diaspora has spread so far that now black communities can be found all over the world yet the meta-narrative for a whole race stays the same. How can we no longer be homogenised and be seen as a monolith; if we are constantly demoted to a characterised fabrication of what 'black' looks like. I for one do not believe that race can be performed but if it could, would this be the picture that we would choose…doubtful xx

  43. this title is misleading

  44. That is actually an interpolation of Golden Gate Quartet
    Swing Down, Chariot

  45. marvel's black panther

  46. Ancient and modern Egyptians are caucasoid. Why won't Afrocentrics accept this?

  47. I think Black Panther by Marvel will give people a glance of it

  48. I'm a black Science fiction writer. And Delany was one of my key inspirations for becoming a writer.

  49. so, you were talking about afrofuturism and you didn't even mention afrika bambaataa?

  50. could you extend Afrofuturism to what Jidenna is doing now?

  51. Why did this get so many dislikes, was it inaccurate or something?

  52. Why are black people so stupid?

  53. It's sad that 1,299 people saw the title, clicked dislike, and ignored the underlying analysis and explanation of a unique and interesting perspective.

  54. Carl Marsalis of "Th1rte3n"?

  55. Scientifically, I believe the future will be part Afro-futuristic by race.
    Will we repress cultures so all people, part Indigenous, Mexican/Central American, Black, East Asian, etc. end up to prefer a culture that is heir to the history of "white is better"? Possibly people will continue to document history and culture well and we can do what our families before us have done. Another possibility is illness or wars will take out today's "West" and the future will it be Afrocentric. The future may even be more Asian than both Black and White mixed considering populations today, including Hindu and Islam practicing Asian races.
    There may well be a time when culture is all that there is, and they will be mainly records of culture due to more and more human progression. If people only stick to one race for having children, the likeliness of genetic abnormalities might raise in that population, and as the majority of the population continues to mingle, people who choose to carry children only of one race might be looked at with a stigma. What will we think of those people?

  56. I have white skin, but I understand this and think it is a very interesting concept and I therefore respect this.
    Attention, other white people: It's not that hard.

  57. im not sure what this was, but the ending was worth a laugh

  58. In the demonic united states of america, black people will never be equal or rise. And those are facts.

  59. I just want to listen to P-Funk and chill

  60. White opinion can only be expressed on open forums and comment sections all through the media. That's why they always invite themselves in everything involving black people brainstorming our own solutions concerning our posterity as a race. The japanese, koreans and vietnamese criticized whites amongst themselves, in private. They brainstormed amongst themselves. Whites had no way of intervening with their progress and motivation.

  61. NOW COMPARE THAT VERY SAME FIRST LIST WITH HISPANICS……. smfh exactly

  62. I thought this was going to be about how to wear our Afros in 2020.

  63. Produce good work and people will buy it. Produce good art and people will respect it. Produce good children and people will hire them. Produce good communities and people will join them. Produce good arguments and people will believe them. Produce good actors and people will hire them.

    This premise has been proven without a shadow of a doubt in the sports world, where people of color were once excluded and now dominate. Why is it that many (not all) people of color cannot see this truth for what it is? Why all the yearning, theorizing and grasping for something that is already attainable? In 1960s America, this movement would have been apropos and relevant. In 21st century America, it is nothing more than a tired excuse. The stage has already been set. Will you step onto it or not?

  64. Black first!
    Cure yourself of low group esteem!..Start loving your people!

  65. Why don’t black people ask Disney to donate part of the huge profits made from the Greatest movie ever made to help fund your efforts towards Backxit to Africa were you can all turn it into the Utopia you all dream of?!

  66. black people had pyramid space ships and sheit and white man stole technology

  67. Great video! One suggestion though, turn the music down a bit, it was competing with your voice, made it hard to understand you.

  68. Black Panther is afro-futurism, why not? I'm glad Marvel and Hollywood are here to define black identity, black experience, and the ((prospect)) of black heroism. What ever would we do without their guidance. Guess Baldwin and Baraka and Gramsci and Spengler and Adorno were wrong all along, eh?

  69. hold on… Egypt was a multicultural society, but they were not African. they were heavily influenced by Nubian culture, but they were more Phoenician and greek than they were African. afro-futurism is awesome, but it should pull from African culture, such as Khoisan, Maasai, and Bantu. that's when afro-futurism is at it's best.

  70. linking afros with Egypt, thats cute

  71. 1k racists disliked

  72. Basically it's like The Man in the High Castle for black people.

  73. Hopefully we will become so equal that afrofuturism will die

  74. Afrofuturism is not a movement for black liberation it is a vile racist movement based off of the black panther movement which was, you guessed it, violent.
    It is disguised as equality for black peoples which we already have, but is actually anti white racism and an excuse to commit violence against white people.

  75. I'm thinking this video has so many dislikes because the word "social justice" has become offensive to certain people (hint: it's the same people that love to rant about how "SJWs" and feminists are easily offended…funny, isn't it?)

  76. Aw I would love an afrofuturist playlist. Any playlists premade out there?

  77. Don’t worry America will fall soon 😂

    That’s to all Americans regardless of race. =

  78. Actually Afro futurism is more black sci-fi, than political correct sci-fi, considering its all about blacks as a base, and not about all of those oppressed, for example, it’s says nothing about the poor, or the lgbt, or women. I’m not saying all blacks, lgbt people and women are oppressed, I’m saying there are still social issues, that would be nice to fix, and that one of the two components of be politically correct right now. The other one is component that’s always been in the idea, even when the right wing invented it to keep there top, that being the Heart of the idea, the idea that people should censor themselves to protect the feelings of those dogmatically attached with there beliefs, unless you agree with that side, than you should preform activism for it,I agree with the part that was changed sense the beginning, the idea of changing ones views of a unfamiliar people to them, that second part how ever, The one from the right I can’t stand behind, because it’s trying to censor one to keep those with a dogmatic way of thinking’s feelings from getting hurt, and the best way to stop violence, terrorism, and bigotry is to replace dogma with critical thoughts. I respect political correctness, But Im not politically correct

  79. Would love to hear more about sci-fi literature and movies and afrofuturism outside of the US. Too much focus on music, even though I love Sun Ra and Parliament/Funkadelic.

  80. I like social justice when it's something that unites people instead of dividing them. We must all move into the future united under a rejection of the past, a rejection of the lines that have divided our ancestors, and move with the speed and dynamism of a rocket progressing towards an artificially beautiful UTOPIA.

  81. Hey there, are there some people who can give me tipps about which music, books, artists, photographers etc. to check out about this movement? That would be great. I am very excited about this topic.

  82. This video was illogical and poorly organized. Made little, if any, connection between sci-fi and Afrocentrism.

  83. I’ll see if I can find a good in this. Alxndr London is so far the only I like.

  84. Did I just miss the part where she actually explained Afro-Futurism? All she was doing was giving us the praising of the same tiring BSJW – double standard – BS.

  85. need some Drexciya in this video! Afrofuturistic electronic music ftw

  86. One of my favorite art movements. 😊

  87. 1.4k dislikes? Why?… This is literally an informative video, making no assertions. I bet each of those 1.4k people would say they're not racist.

  88. Africabambahta rapped kids in the comunity and is know child predator good look you idoits with movement that was invented by child molesters

  89. This is absolutely ridiculous.

  90. "4th" by Greydon Square

  91. You mean racist futurism right?

  92. Using this for my college English critical thinking class. Students will love it. Great job

  93. So much wisdom expressed hear in muh chilrens.

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