I honestly really loved the Dirty Computer video, I even watched it twice. I found myself fist-pumping with her feminist lyrics. I find her views very important, and her activism very powerful, because of her intersectionalism. She is a black, queer woman, and therefore one of the most discriminated against members of American society. The empowerment in her video was clear and powerful. I also thought it was cool how she incorporated some very relevant, current events pieces. One of the girls’ underwear read “I grab back” in reference to the counter-activism to President Trump’s remarks about “grabbing women by the pussy.” These specific pieces of activism in Monae’s video give even more power to the work- there is no question as to what she’s advocating for and against.
Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer is set in the future. It is a time where differentiating qualities are not valued. If you are “dirty” you get stripped off your memories of the past and become “clean”.
Continue reading “Afrofuturism in Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer”
“…we must move against not only those forces which dehumanize us from the outside, but also against those oppressive values which we have been forced to take into ourselves” (Lorde, 2)
For this blog post, I primarily want to deal with this quote from the Lorde piece we read. There is a lot to take in, both in Dirty Computer by Janelle Monae and “Learning from the 60s” by Audre Lorde, so I figured it was best to concentrate on one connection for a brief blog post.
While speaking on Malcom X at Harvard in 1982, Audre Lorde foregrounded the imperative of intersectionality in social movements. Whereas most people maintain several complex, interacting identities, popular discourse often fails to account for more than one at a time. Lorde, however, distinguished herself as a fierce advocate for acknowledging, validating, and incorporating the variation of identity and experience within the black community, particularly as it pertains to gender and sexuality. In defining her politics, Lorde invoked her own identity, making it a corroborating point in the case for intersectionality: “As a Black lesbian mother in an interracial marriage, there was usually some part of me guaranteed to offend everybody’s comfortable prejudices of who I should be,” (4). With this statement, Lorde speaks to the importance of recognizing how various social identities can reach a nexus point in one individual.
In Dirty Computer, Janelle Monáe employs an Afrofuturist narrative arc to epitomize Lorde’s doctrine of intersectionality. Continue reading “Janelle Monáe Learned from the 60s: Lorde’s Legacy in Dirty Computer”
In my youth, I grew up with women. My mother, grandmother, and the majority of my teachers were women. In particular, a number of them were poor, some openly and others not LGBTQ and/or people of color. Yet I, for a long time, took no part in wanting to think about it. For me, I had internalized a sense of want in masculinity because for so long, being blue was pushed upon me. However, I would argue that I have improved from that stage of hypermasculinity and Audre Lorde’s “Learning from the 60s” and Janelle Monae’s album Dirty Monae remind me why us boys have a lot to learn from as Monae puts it the “pussy riot”. Continue reading “Oh Lorde, Us Men Gotta Be More Pynk”
I have long struggled with the concept of Afrofuturism although I have had it defined for me several times. I think that the issue for me is understanding the real world application* of the Afrofuturist philosophy. I warn that I will present no answers here, indeed I possess none, yet I will ask quite a few questions. Additionally, I hope I do not offend any Afrofuturists or anyone for that matter, with my questions–they come from a place of ignorance not malice.
It can be understand that human beings by all means are social creatures. In fact isolation, particularly extreme cases, it has shown to cause debilitating affects. As such, it makes sense we form communities to face precarious situations and the excerpt of Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower and short story “Non-Zero Possibilities” connect back to this concept of: community and belief. Furthermore its connection to community and belief are important aspects to afrofuturism.
For this weeks post, I wanted to expand upon what I began last week about Sun Ra’s Space is the Place, which was about the depiction of white and black men in the film. However, now I would like to discuss how the movie reflects Snead’s ideas about repetition in black and white cultures from Black Literature and Literary Theory (a concept I am particularly interested in). In Space is the Place, science and technology play key roles, but they are represented in various ways. Sun Ra often discusses his own science. For example, his theory of “transmolecularization” as a way to transport black people to his planet. This theory itself stands as an example of the concept in black culture; Snead asserts “[i]n black culture, the thing (the ritual, the dance, the beat) is ‘there for you to pick it up when you come back to get it’. If there is a goal in such a culture, it is always deferred; it continually ‘cuts’ back to the start…” (Snead, 67). While Ra’s science may be an advance, it is still done with the notion of the “cut” in mind; one of Sun Ra’s goals is to ultimately transport black people back to a time before the taint of the white society on black culture, and the new science helps accomplish this.
The Parable of the Sower is a novel set in California in 2024-2027. It is the near future where Butler envisions a gated society in the fictional town of Robledo. This science fiction novel has a young black woman, Lauren, as a protagonist. Continue reading “Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower”
Standard conceptualizations of Afrofuturism tend to focus heavily on the technological aspect of futurity, particularly as seen in Black Panther, with their tech developments, and even in Space is the Place, which foregrounds extraterrestrial exploration. In Parable of the Sower, however Octavia Butler presents an alternative approach to Afrofuturism that seems to prioritize the “Afro” aspect more heavily than a sci-fi based tech world. Although a dystopian science fiction, Parable of the Sower seem to examine more intensely the religious and communal structures within black culture that might contribute to an specifically black vision of the future: Continue reading “Butler: Emphasizing the “Afro” in Afrofuturism”