The BBC on Afrofuturism

The BBC has published a long and welcome feature on Afrofuturism, the term coined by former Boing Boing guestblogger Mark Dery to describe (in the words of Steve Barnes) "science fiction, fantasy and horror created by or featuring the children of the African diaspora (people of African origin living outside of the continent)."

The article leads with the release of Black Panther, an undeniable watershed in Afrofuturism, and keeps the focus on film, with very little attention paid to prose (Steve Barnes gets a look in, but there's no mention of Octavia Butler, to say nothing of NK Jemisin, Nalo Hopkinson, Tobias Buckell, or Nnedi Okorafor); or music (Sun Ra gets his due, but George Clinton is missing in action).

Despite some omissions, it's exciting to see the topic getting more mainstream attention; this feels like an important validation of the thesis that Black Panther's success would create a halo effect that would go beyond a single film, covering the whole underappreciated genre.

Afrofuturism is perhaps best summed up by the queen of contemporary afrofuturism herself — Janelle Monae.

Her futuristic music videos and radical aesthetic (she even calls her fans "fAndroids") are seen by some as a key force for pushing afrofuturism into the mainstream.

"Afrofuturism is me, us... is black people seeing ourselves in the future," she explains in a 30-second video clip for Spotify.

It is no surprise then that Janelle cites the movement as the inspiration for her new narrative film, Dirty Computer: Emotion Picture, a visual accompaniment to her latest album (which is currently trending on YouTube).

"I was writing this music that was really inspired by science fiction and afrofuturism," she told BBC Radio 1 in March.

"Telling these stories through the lens of a young black woman and speaking of a future where we're included, we're not the minority, but we're the heroines, we're the leaders, we're the heroes... I felt like I had a responsibility to [do] that."

Afrofuturism: Why black science fiction 'can't be ignored' [Gena-mour Barrett/BBC]

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