For Black History Month, I present to you my published essay, “The Spiritual Technologist: An Afrofuturistic Techno-Ethos:”
Using the title of the character Rinehart from Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man,” I explore briefly the concept of the spiritual technologist as a way to develop my own philosophical ethos for the movement of Afrofuturism.
*For the next six months, most of my time will be invested in a big project, so I will be cutting back on posting here to probably once or twice a week, or a few times a month. But if you would like to be a guest blogger or help moderate this blog, you can email me at email@example.com.
*Wonder why there is a perception that black people experience less pain or why Darren Wilson described Mike Brown the way he did? Well, one reason may be the Magical Negro stereotype. According to a recent study, many white people have a “superhumanization bias,” where they think black people have superhuman abilities. While some may think that is positive, it actually works against us as I mentioned before Wilson described Brown like he was The Hulk.
*The Toast’s “Wave My Freak Flag High: Afrofuturism, Imagination, and Impostor Syndrome:” “I’ve only been familiar with the term afrofuturism for the past few years. It didn’t exist for me when I first read Octavia Butler more than a decade ago, or when I read the first Dark Matter anthology while I was still an undergrad in the late ’90s. Somewhere along the way, I saw the short film anthology Cosmic Slop, bought a copy of Sun Ra’s Space Is the Place on DVD, and noted that music videos from the likes of Tupac and Dr. Dre, Missy Elliott and Busta Rhymes included post-apocalyptic, space, and robotic themes and elements. In hindsight, I can apply an axiom about porn to afrofuturism: I know it when I see it.”
*The Link Newspaper’s “Re-Remembering The Future:” “Alisha B. Wormsley Brings a Mythical Perspective to the Narratives of the African Diaspora”
I am just formally announcing that I am taking a couple of weeks off from my blog. Running it by myself can be a bit draining on me physically and mentally, and after my eye started twitching, I knew I needed a break. So I will be back after Thanksgiving with some new stuff, like an interview with filmmaker Janluk Stanislas about his Guadeloupe-based futuristic film, Trafik D’Info.
*I am featured in Atlanta Blackstar’s blerd’s “Black Speculative Tech – Uses of Technology in Black Science Fiction, Part 2:” “Because of institutional racism and our positions as mere subjects of science, Black people have typically been excluded from the mainstream scientific establishment as actors, practitioners, researchers and policymakers. Black scientific and technological innovation and achievement have gone virtually unrecognized, save for the handful of Black scientists and engineers who get their acknowledgments during Black History Month. Contrary to perceptions of Blackness as divorced from tech and science, we have a long and well-documented history, present and anticipated future of technological development behind and ahead of us. In this series, we continue to explore the expansive realm of Black speculative technologies in music, art and literature.”
*Black Girl Dangerous’ “What Good Is Science Fiction to Black People?:” “But to sci fi? Is this a stretch? Like so many others, I once thought of sci fi as a white man’s genre. But like all literature and virtually all art, while the genre came to me under the cloak of white men’s ownership, I’ve found my own heroes, disproving the dominant narrative that devalues the stories of people like me. Black women like Butler, Nalo Hopkinson, Tananarive Due, and Nnedi Okorafo dismantle and rebuild our world to center black women’s voices where they’re so often silenced. They infuse their writing with ancestral spirits of Africa, fabulist folklore from the Caribbean, and the innovative power of our people.
The imaginative spirit of science fiction lets me know that, in spite of what I’ve heard, the genre is mine to have. My imagination has always been mine and used for everything from dreaming up talking animals to expressing the inexpressible about the trauma of sexual violence and domestic abuse. Science fiction pushes against the constraints of reality, and in order to embrace it, I have to suspend disbelief about many things, including the limits imposed on me.”
This is an inconvenient truth, and it is one that many people avoid. But in all the circumvention, the bodies keep piling up, and we are seeing classic examples of misappropriation and erasure all the time. Black people, in a land that is hostile and holistically foreign, have looked back to Africa, like Garvey, to nationalism like the Black Panthers, and into separatism like the citizens of Tulsa and Rosewood, as means of establishing a place where Black pride and Black-centeredness could be viable options for the prosperity of darker peoples. While looking at possibilities on this terrestrial plane…others looked to the stars and the future in a philosophical and aesthetic movement called Afrofuturism. It begins with the works of such visionaries as Octavia Butler, Samuel Delaney, Grace Jones, Basquiat, Sun-Ra, and Parliament Funkadelic and has grown to encapsulate the works of artists like Erykah Badu and Andre 3000. Although heavily dependent on science fiction, fantasy, and mysticism, Afrofuturism is not escapism. It is a realm of re-envisioning and rebuilding.”
*Patheos’ Emerging Voices’ “Black to the Mothership:” Micky ScottBey Jones talks about the intersections between Afrofuturism and theology.
*Afropunk “Feature: Visual Artist AiRich Talks About Her Afrofuturistic and Raw Style:” “My name is AiRich. According to the people who surround me, my photography can work safely in the category of “afrofuturism”. This has mainly to do with the style, the spiritual aspects that others link to my work. I see this as a great compliment, because my style was first developed by an optimistic philosophy that whatever is inside of me can come out. I welcome it, as it is an expression and reflection of my lifestyle, taste, who I am and how I see the world. One of the most recognizable landmarks in my work is that I only make use of Black models, whom in the first instance are not the ideal beauty image requirements in western photography. My approach is conceptual and in the opposite direction, of western photography. Often with a specific story [traditional and non-traditional] or message that I want to say the story is often in the expression, the styling or setting. Most times the story alone is a non-theatrical physical positioning of the model. Whatever comes out, it is always and expression of the culture, myth and reality of the Black people’s truth.”
*CCCADIRoots and Stars: Destiny and Purpose – Pathways to Passion event will be tomorrow at 6:30pm at the Dwyer Cultural Center: “We beckon our most passionate lives in this cross-traditional conversation exploring the concepts of Destiny and Purpose. Marinieves Alba presents a prayer-talk about the Lukumi concept of Ori, a metaphorical bird of destiny and highest purpose that, perched atop each person’s spiritual head, guides us in our flight through life. Joshua Bee Alafia, representing the Buddhist tradition, discusses the power of meditation to achieve greater levels of personal clarity, courage, and a bold allegiance to the sincerity of the heart.” Roots and Stars is CCCADI’s salon series dedicated to exploring Black spiritual genius as expressed in art, practice, and the ritual of everyday life.
*Also tomorrow: Schomburg Center presents conversation, Before 5: Xenobia Bailey and Tammi Lawson, in which the “two will discuss the inspirations to Xenobia’s Reconstruction of Funktional Design: A Design Project for Social, and Economic Urban Redevelopment. The artist will share how the creative wisdom of her family’s history originating crafts skills and a material culture in the aesthetic of funk within small African American and multi cultural communities in Seattle Washington and how the migration to Brooklyn and presently living in Harlem influenced her lifestyle and is the foundation of her education and the principal of her Professional Practice. She will speak of her environment of being raised by self educated parents and extended family members of how they manifested an art form, of humbly living in grace by design, in spite of the set backs of Jim Crow Laws that most hard working African American Families experienced in rural and urban communities.
This will be an afternoon survey of a few examples of the Material Culture of the Visual Aesthetic of Funk: The Dynamic Art of Gracefully Living a Dream in a North American Discriminatory Nightmare. Xenobia will share images of Familiar, but under appreciated references and inspirations from the Designs, Engineering and Inventiveness of the low-income, African American homemakers and domestic workers.”
From Afropunk: “Working with artist-activist Dragonfly, we have been able to bring Helvetika to life as a living, breathing maven of moxie…Not only does she fictionally save the world, she leads with values and effective social justice communications messaging that actually demands action and change. The more support that Helvetika can gain, the more likely that her story can continue sooner rather than later, and the more damage she can do to The Status Quo!”
*Afrofuturism 849 is “a Chicago-based organization dedicated to creating artistic and educational events and programs that support the Afrofuturist global community,” featuring Floyd Webb and Ytasha Womack. “We encourage the visioning of a peaceful today and tomorrow that engages the best of diverse perspectives from the ancient to the future.
We celebrate the intersection between black cultures, indigenous cultures, technology, the imagination, liberation and mysticism as we champion innovation around the world. The number 8.49 is the apparent magnitude of Sirius B, a star celebrated by the Dogon. This star inspires people around the world and we recognize it as one of many symbols of innovation, uncovered pasts and created futures.” They are currently accepting submission for a February Black History Month film program. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I just wanted to officially announce on my blog that I started a t-shirt campaign on Teespring. I am testing out this idea for maybe a future t-shirt or merchandise line. My idea is to include my logo or the associated names of my blog (A Future Ancient, etc.) in different designs and a memorable quotation from well-known voices. There are nine days left to get a shirt, but even if I don’t reach past my goal, I will try again with other looks. Below is the current t-shirt with the logo and the quotation from Amiri Baraka I feature on my blog, and some possible quotations I would use in the future. Let me know if there are others you would like included.