Bould introduces readers to the term “afrofuturism.” In fact, before this week’s reading, I had never heard of the term before, and at first glance, I was a little overwhelmed because it sounded extremely complicated. However, unpacking it throughout the course of the reading with a multitude of examples, I was able to understand that it’s something that I have already been familiar with in popular culture. Bould talks about how afrofuturism differs from regular science fiction in that it places an emphasis on African culture and traditions. It’s evident that as our society progresses, there is a greater presence of afrofuturism, and this can be seen in the latest TV shows and films such as Black Panther. Ultimately, the concept of afrofuturism hopes to advance the world and aims to change the structures of racism.
In Bould’s piece, he talks about the fictional black superhero, Luke Cage. Bould discusses how Luke Cage is perceived differently as compared to his white counterparts such as Iron Man, who is seen as much more intelligent and wealthy. Additionally, the superpowers that Luke Cage possesses personify the idea of “black male rage” in that he is given brute strength. These differences in character development showcase the disparities between the different characters and also how Luke Cage’s character generally fits the description of the black stereotype. In his piece, Bould also says, “And by presenting racism as an insanity that burned itself out, or as the obvious folly of the ignorant and impoverished who would be left behind by the genre’s brave new futures, sf avoids confronting the structures of racism and its own complicity in them” (Bould, p. 180). This shows that science fiction writers generally try to remove race relations and participate in “racism from a distance” in order to present racism as a form of being weak on the part of the marginalized group.
This sense of afrofuturism can also be drawn back to one of my favorite Marvel films: Black Panther. In this film, the secret world of Wakanda possesses valuable Vibranium that allows this society to become extremely advanced. The argument throughout the film is whether or not Wakandans should branch out and share their wealth, knowledge, and resources to other black people around the world so that they could also be in positions of power and lead those around them. This is just one example of afrofuturism in our popular culture, and it’s important for us as a society to recognize these efforts and move forward.
Bould, M. (2007). The Ships Landed Long Ago: Afrofuturism and Black SF. Greencastle, IN: SF-TH. p 177–186