This video was quite confusing at first, as the viewers of the film are thrown into this sci-fi world. I believe that this video does a fantastic job of fusing past and present through its lyrics and visualizations on the screen. Jane 57821 is almost being held prisoner by this organization that believes that her individuality is a threat to there society. This is very similar some may say to what society is like today, in that many people have unique experiences, feelings and abilities that make them special. However many people want to suppress that individuality in hopes that many people will conform to one common mindset. This is represented in the film, in the secret organization trying to wipe all of her memories with the “nevermind” gas. Jane try’s to fight this system because she doesn’t want to forgot her friend and her love Zen. She attempts to go against the powerful organization however Zen argues for her to just follow along and do what she is told. This futuristic world holds many parallels to the past because throughout our history, society changes with people that decide to go against the normal or expected. This includes the way that African Americans are treated and the way the homosexual people have been treated. I thought the short film does a great job of merging on over arching concept into two different time periods.
I believe that something that would be great to discuss in terms of Afrofuturism would be J Coles album KOD. The reason I say this is because the entire album tells a story, and each song is like a chapter in the story. The main message is the struggles faced by children in the African American communities in our time. His main focus is the fact that young African American children are more prone to be exposed to terrible things such as drugs as well as gang related activities. This is because they are raised and brought up in areas that are not as fortunate as others, therefore they are more easily manipulated. He then writes about in his songs how certain people have the power to help these young children but don’t do anything to help them. One particular idea that we talked about in class that I believe relates to this album and the story it tells is the argument between an aesthetic and an activist. It goes back to the argument that if you have someone with the power and the voice to make a change for these kids, is it wrong for them not to? And on the other hand, some of the activists who are trying to make a difference don’t have the platform as some of the aesthetic’s may have.
I first wanted to talk about the excerpt that i read from Snead. This quote from the reading in particular i found very interesting. Snead wrote ” Nothing is constant in the whole world. Everything is in a state of flux, and comes into being as a transient appearance. . . don’t you see a year passing through a succession of four seasons?” pg. 65. I found this quote to be very intriguing because it implies that as time continues to pass, oppression and other hardships faced by africans may dissipate. I really liked how Snead used the example of a year that passes with four seasons. This helps the reader understand that the world and the situations within it are constantly changing.
So far I am finding this class to be very interesting. It is a topic that is completely foreign to me and I believe that is why I find it so interesting. I saw the movie black panther last year and when I first watched it, it just seemed like a typical superhero movie to me. However as we go through it in class, I’ve realized that there is much more about Black Panther then just “a superhero movie”. I feel like I am learning a completely new subject for the first time in a while and it excites me for the rest of the semester.
One quote that I believed was helpful in understanding Afrofuturism was when Tolson wrote “Before Liberia was, Songhai was: before America set the raw foundling on Africa’s Doorstep, before the Genoese diced west, Burnt warriors and watermen of Songhai Tore into Bizarreries the uniforms of Portugal And sewed an imperial quilt of tribes.”. This quote displays to me how devastating the colonization of Africa was to its people. I had to look up what Genoese meant to discover that these were the wealthy Italians who were also rolling into Africa with imperialistic ideals. This portrays the everlasting effect that westerners have on African American culture, and having the ability to understand that is what helps others learn how to improve relations and heal tensions with them.
One quote that I struggled to understand in the poem was not necessarily one quote but rather an entire page of repetition in the poem. On lines 641 through 710, there is a repetition of words at the beginning of each stanza. It starts off by Tolson writing about all of the wrong doing the United Nations had done, however following that he goes on to talk about “The Bula Matadi” and the “Le Premiere des Noirs” which I had no clue what those two things were. After a lot of research I many different things about “The Bula Matadi” however nothing to determine exactly what it was. Most of what I had read relates to a seaport in the Congo. After researching “Le Premiere des Noirs” almost everything I discovered was related to Toussaint L’ouverture whom I was familiar with from my social studies classes in the past. One of the great leaders of the Haitian revolution.
“Cultures then are virtually all varieties of ‘long term’ coverage, against both external and internal threats- self dissolution, loss of identity or repression, assimilation, attachment (in the sense of legal seizure); or attack from neighboring or foreign cultures – with all the positive and negative connotations of the ‘cover-ups’ thus produced.”
This quote seemed to have the greatest impact on me because what Snead is saying here is that we form cultures and create these societies in order to protect ourselves. It is no different from black panther which we discussed in class. The biggest decision for T’Challa throughout the whole movie is whether or not he opens his gates to the people of the outside world. He knows that they have the capability to help them, however he also knows that if he does do that, Wakkandan culture may be forced upon or changed as history has shown and as Snead discussed. Forming a culture offers an individual protection from both physical and mental threats. However black culture has seen their culture destroyed by foreigners many many times, which is why T’Challa is so hesitant to lead his people into the open world. It is also why many tribes in Africa are seen as not as advanced or behind the rest of society. They do this because they are trying to preserve their culture and their way of life in order to protect themselves. Snead argues that culture is constantly evolving which I also agree with. As new factors come into play such as foreigners and new technology, culture will continue to evolve with it.