Afrofuturism – Amplifying Black Futures and Voices: A Resource for Change Workers

Billboard by artist Alisha B. Wormsley, on display in Detroit, Michigan for the exhibition Manifest Destiny curated by Ingrid LaFleur at the Library Street Collective – Originally published here.

This post is intended to acquaint readers, change workers and fellow social workers to Afrofuturism. While it remains as important as ever to learn about antiracism in the here and now*…a futurist perspective would suggest that futures thinking/practice can give a fresh view, new energy, new perspectives and new possibilities for both problems and solutions in the present day. These resources are gathered and offered with gratitude and respect to the Afrofuturists collected to expand our thinking and our practices. This is an evolving post – so updates may follow.

*LINKED: Dr. Lakeya Cherry – Social Workers – Allies for Justice? (2020), Dr. Ibram X. Kendi – An Anti-Racist Reading List (2019), Rachel Garlinghouse – Stop Asking People Of Color To Explain Racism–Pick Up One Of These Books Instead (2020).

Afrofuturism can connect the problems we experience now with the past, our current reality and futures yet to be determined, but vibrant, living and robust.

“The liberated futures we want don’t exist as untouchable distant points out of our reach. When we focus on collective action, mutual aid, self-determination, centering the leadership of the marginalized, we defy linear time. We pull those futures into the present. Let’s keep pulling the liberated futures into the present over and over again, until that’s all there is.” Walidah Imarisha

What is Afrofuturism?

Afrofuturism is the reimagining of a future filled with arts, science and technology seen through a black lens. The term was conceived a quarter-century ago by white author Mark Dery in his essay “Black to the Future,” which looks at speculative fiction within the African diaspora. (Broadnax, 2018). It is also considered an epistemology and encapsulates a liberatory connection of the history of Black thought, knowledge and artistic production from the past to re-imagined futures (Alondra Nelson).

This framework inspires deep and imaginative possibilities for other ways of thinking, operating and interacting with the world. It challenges “whiteness,” colonialism, heteropatriarchy and other “isms” by intentionally operating beyond them. By creatively expanding assumptions, boundaries and histories – Afrofuturism creates new kinds of possibility spaces and power. These very kinds of spaces are essential in generating post-normal solutions to contemporary challenges – and are guided by Black voices and imaginations.

This is an update and revision of an earlier post created last April, 2019.

Readings in Popular Media

Degrowing the future (2020)

How Black women are reshaping Afrofuturism – Open Democracy (2020)

How Black women are reshaping Afrofuturism – YES Magazine (2020)

Is Afrofuturism the answer to our current crisis (2019)

A beginner’s guide to Afrofuturism (2019)

This is Afrofuturism (2018)

Four thoughts on the future of Afrofuturism (2018)

Six Afrofuturist artists to watch that explore the modern African diaspora (2018)

What the heck is Afrofuturism? (2018)

Afrofuturism: A language of rebellion (2018)

Afrofuturism: Why Black science fiction can’t be denied (2018)

Octavia Butler’s legacy, impact and Afrofuturism celebrated (2016)

Afrofuturism: Reimagining science the future from a Black perspective (2015)

Videos

What does the Afrofuture say? (Interviews with contemporary Afrofuturists) (2020)

***GREAT PLACE TO START!!! Princess Weekes teaches Afrofuturism 101 in a new episode of “It’s Lit.” (2020)

Octavia Butler – Why you should read the Afrofuturist legend Octavia Butler (2019)

Lonny Brooks – Afrofuturism (2019)

Nnedi Okorafor – Sci Fi stories that imagine a different Africa 2017 (Designates as “AfricanFuturism” – not Afrofuturism.)

Ytasha Womack – Afrofuturism, imagination and humanity

Michael Bennett, Ytasha Womack, Wale Oyedije, and Aisha Harris – Afrofuturism: Imagining the future of Black identity 2015

Film and Music

8 Afrofuturist classics everyone needs to hear (2018)

Exploring where Afrofuturism in film: Where sci fi and mythology blur (2018)

What to watch after Black Panther: An Afrofuturism primer (2018)

Podcast/Audio

Coronavirus and crisis and Afrofuturism: A way to envision what’s possible despite injustice and hardship (2020)

Afrofuturist Podcast

This American Life episode exploring Afrofuturism (2017). (Thanks Dr. Felicia Murray!).

Academic Literature

Oxford Afrofuturism Bibliography (2017)

Academic Coursework

Afrofuturism course overviews from Kalamazoo CollegeUniversity of California RiversideDuke University, andUniversity of Chicago

Organizations/Think Tanks

Afrofutures Strategies Institute

Black Quantum Futurism

Afrofuturist Society

An Incomplete List of Afrofuturists to Follow (Alphabetical Order)

Toni Adeyemi

Reynaldo Anderson

Lonny Brooks

Adrienne Maree Brown

Walidah Imarisha

Alondra Nelson

Rasheeda Phillips

Nnedi Okorafor (Designates as “AfricanFuturism” – not Afrofuturism.)

Ytasha Womack