Celebrating Afrofuturism & Afrofantasy with the Library
by Brandon Priddy, Public Services Librarian
According to the Tate Museum, afrofuturism “is a cultural aesthetic that combines science-fiction, history and fantasy to explore the African-American experience and aims to connect those from the black diaspora with their forgotten African ancestry.” In their article “The Books Briefing: Imagining Black Futures”, The Atlantic states that afrofuturism is, “a tradition represented in a long line of books written by Black writers such as Octavia Butler and Samuel Delany. These writers dared to build worlds infused with elements of magical realism, fantasy, and technological innovation to realize dreams of resistance and freedom. Afrofuturism draws from the history of the African diaspora to imagine liberatory possibilities for the future.” You can read their entire article here. If you’re looking for some books that best capture the spirit of Afrofuturism, check out the great book list by our Associate Director for Public Services, Sharon Bruni, here.
Afrofuturism has been in the news recently due to the untimely death of actor Chadwick Boseman, who portrayed the superhero Black Panther in four Marvel films between 2016-2019. He received an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture as well as a Screen Actors Guild Award for the role. In addition to playing an iconic superhero, Boseman excelled at portraying African American historical figures, such as Jackie Robinson (in the 2013 film 42), James Brown (Get on Up, 2014) and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall (Marshall, 2017). Boseman’s portrayal of Black Panther is a landmark contribution to the issue of representation in film.
In tribute to the late actor, ComiXology has made over 200 issues of Black Panther comic books free to keep. You just need an Amazon or ComiXology account to checkout these free issues and permanently attach them to your account. You can then read issues in your web browser or via the ComiXology app. If you do not have an Amazon or ComiXology account, you can use free Library service Hoopla to access dozens of Black Panther comics, eBooks, and audiobooks. You can also listen to the excellent Black Panther Album featuring music from and inspired by the film.
Back in 2017, This American Life released a short podcast series focused on Afrofuturism titled “We are in the Future” meant to, “loo[k] at black culture that’s fantastic, creative, and oddly hopeful—which feels especially urgent during a time without a lot of optimism.” You can listen to the series here. Wakanda Forever!