Art, music, science fiction, and diversity therein. That’s Afrofuturism.

Ever noticed how African themes and ideas have silently crawled their way into today’s media?

Black superheroes, motown, black American sitcoms, hip-hop culture; all of these are the result of Afrofuturism.

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Afrofuturism defines itself as a cultural aesthetic used to address the concerns of the African diaspora (scattered population sharing a single geographical origin) as well as reflect on events of the past.

The term was coined in 1993 by American lecturer and author, Mark Dery. Although, its earliest uses can be traced back to the 1950s to writer Ralph Ellison’s novel, Invisible Man.

The aesthetic is evident in modern day movies and TV series, (Marvel Comics’ Black Panther; Black-ish; Empire; etc), as well as in literature, music and art.

The Afrofuturism phenomenon has also been known to incorporate futuristic themes. This trend began with American musician, Sun Ra in the mid-1950s.

Ra used Afrocentric and space age themes in his music and aesthetics to reflect both his African (Egyptian) descent, and the possible future of mankind.

‘Alien,’ and ‘cyborg’ themes and the like are often explored in this kind of media. Musician Janelle Monae has consciously added these themes to her aesthetic. Examples of her using these are the music videos for the songs ‘Many Moons’ and ‘Primetime.’

Both videos incorporate the use of futuristic technology such as cyborgs and holograms.

Afrofuturism has been repeatedly criticised, as it might be considered as being racially exclusive, due to Afrofuturistic media focusing solely on African people, or people of African origin.

Afrofuturism is used as a means of criticising past events and help people see the struggle from the sufferer’s perspective.

Afrofuturism has been making its way into mainstream society for decades and will likely continue to blow up in modern media.

Mainstream and otherwise.

– Tyler Roodt

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