BKS 188- Afrofuturism-Week 1 Reflection

Moonlight was a phenomena, Get Out was a tragedy, and Black Panther was mystical. In the case of all these films, I always was left with a feeling that black culture was inherently being put into opposition. In context to Black Panther, the whole film embraces the beauty that is the African diaspora and ties it to concepts of afrofuturism. When I looked at both James Snead’s work and Hagel’s eurocentric perspective on black people, establishes that blackness is in contrast to Western and western based communities.

Snead’s piece establishes that black culture as whole is in opposition to western culture but unique in its formation. At first when reading Snead’s piece, I was confused because it would be assumed that culture as a whole would build off of each other. However, Snead’s confusing statement, “Transformation is culture’s response to its own apprehension of repetition” implies that culture transforms to resolve its own fears of repeating itself (Snead, 59). Instead of building off of previously built norms and societies, the act of transformation is an aversion to repeating the past.  In simpler terms, instead of culture building off each other like lego pieces, it crumbles away only to be repeated; the latter is similar to playing Jenga. Blackness, furthermore afrofuturism, as represented in Black Panther thus falls in an obscure section in context to culture. Western society is continuously “immanent and historical” and thus always in an effort to keep whatever their culture values but never entirely throw it away (60). That is atypical in Black Panther where Wakanda, the imagined and untouched by the “colonizer’s” hand, fluidly combines with each other.

Black Panther, and overarchingly, the African diaspora, celebrates that shared cultural identity of being black. Black Panther is widely recognized as a hallmark in terms of representing black culture and more so the diversity of the continent of Africa. As such, the film is not something that builds off of the past only but from the contributing narratives around. Whereas western society is completely antagonistic to outside influence, especially those that hold different values socioeconomically like countries in Asia or Africa. As such, Snead places countries in Africa, and furthermore the imagined as Wakanda, as not only opposing to western society but their very foundational impression as being one of contributing to some resemblance of cultural harmony as seen in Wakanda.

One Reply to “BKS 188- Afrofuturism-Week 1 Reflection”

  1. (Love that opening!) You’re wrestling in useful ways here with Afrofuturist attempts to acknowledge problematic symbiotic or combative relationships between Africa and the European-influenced West and to create something pan-African or Afrocentric in ways that allow Europe to be side-stepped, or at the very least not dominant. (America, here, is often European, at least in its inheritance of views of Africa and humanity.)

    Indeed, in admitting that Western culture can be both “immanent and historical,” Snead is recognizing there’s not a simple reversal between Black Africa and White Europe; some of the implication is that control of narrative matters as much as philosophical stance.

    Further attention to what counts as “culture,” then, might be useful: is it something that is wielded by or despite those in control?

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