By Chelcee Johns. Headline Image by Deun Ivory.
“The child in each of us knows paradise. Paradise is home. Home as it was. Or home as it should have been.”
- Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower
What is your paradise? What world are you manifesting that honors the now while also moving beyond it? The beauty of afrofuturism lies in its boundlessness. A declaration of independence beyond western ideas. In its ability to put our narratives at the forefront; not defined by the past, present, or future rather informed by it. So, what could afrofuturism have to do with our wellness journeys? Everything, if you let it.
Afrofuturism was born out of necessity. Self-care before self-care became a thing. It was a way to create safe space for boundless narratives of the African diaspora in literature, film, music, style, fantasy and more that said, ‘we belong here too.’ We’ve been here.
In what ways could your everyday life embody afrofuturism? What thoughts of paradise are you holding out for the future that could very well exist in the now?
We see the cultural movement taking hold of society in a new way from "Black Panther" and Janelle Monae's "Dirty Computer" to paintings by Lina Iris Viktor and Tomi Adeyemi's New York Times bestseller Children of Blood and Bone. But, afrofuturism has been around long before we had language for it. Be it Sun Ra of the 1950s or Outkast’s "Prototype" video from the 90s, we’ve been creating a world beyond the one in front of us for some time. Mixing our ancestral roots, African mythology, magic and more to bend reality to our liking.
Afrofuturism makes space to investigate who we are, where we come from, where we’re going and how we'll get there.
It allows our imagination to play again, and sometimes it’s been too long since we’ve done such. It quickens us to cultivate a paradise that is of our own making. And that’s why it’s our theme for July, this month we’ll lean into the ways afrofuturism can inform our wellness, free us from the gaze of many -isms, and how we can form a new world.
Fancy me for a moment… What would you look like in space? What image comes to mind? What of yourself are you portraying that you aren’t portraying now? Fancy me some more, What superpower would you have? What superpower do you have now? One last thing, if you change one proponent of life in America - What would you change? What’s your afrofuturistic vision?
Maybe today it's swept up in the burning of sage, palo santo, and incense from abroad. Your own special blend of aromatherapy that moves your mind to a clearer, calmer, more creative plane. The work of manifestations, setting intentions, voice alchemy, reiki, the speaking in tongues and conversing with the ancestors all move us fluidly within and beyond the here and now. It's your warrior pose, head high, back arched. Not just a taking back of the narrative, but an ushering forward.
It's Therese Patricia Okoumou sitting atop the Statue of Liberty speaking into a future she's willing to create change for. “Michelle Obama - Our beloved first lady that I care so much about - said, ‘When they go low, we go high,’ and I went as high as I could,” said Okoumou.
It’s going as high as we can... being limitless.
It's Lina Iris Viktor (images below by Viktor) painting us in gold and black, when the art world tells her dark paintings do not sell and she laughs and keeps envisioning a reflected royalty. Black Panther’s Princess Shuri's knowledge and quick lip. Erykah Badu, Solange, and Grace Jones embodying the ethereal. It’s you, seeing, believing and creating beyond this moment in time. Awakening a tangible dream, a lucid dynamic paradise, bloom accentuated, accent unabridged, Africa honored, fantasy real, magic materialized.
Afrofuturism does away with the boundaries.
It is Octavia Butler manifesting her future on the pages of her journal when she wrote, "I shall be a bestselling writer." Or, Butler’s character Lauren Olamina believing space held a future worth working towards. “The destiny of earthseed is to take root among the stars,” said Olamina. It’s in our astrology practices, birth charts, moon-gazing, moon-phasing. It is an actualized heaven, defined however we wish.
Maybe today, it’s resistance and joy and finding a heaven on earth.
Our ancestors were afrofuturist, they saw the present and decided it would not be what comes before the generation that had next. Be it integration, the abolishing of slavery, the black Wall Street, the art, the literature. What will you envision and create for the legacy coming after you?
Maybe it's the femme movement, maybe it's honoring the fluidity in all things. Maybe it’s the power of moving our voices out of the monolithic. When we talk about the realities of mental health, a burgeoning sexuality, and unlimited spirituality as regularly as we do the news cycle. When we humanize the stories of black and brown people because we create them. From Octavia Butler's Olamina to Janelle Monae, we see into the future, define it, and shape it until is well with our soul and the soul that's coming after.
We are boundless beings. We are flesh and spirit and divine and nuanced, creating a world for us, by us, and beyond us.
How will you re-purpose the past, re-imagine the present and redefine the future?
“Paradise is one's own place. One's own people. One's own world. Knowing and known. Perhaps even, loving and loved.”
- Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower
Join us this month and send your pitches and/or articles to editor@BlackGirlInOm and tell us how Afrofuturism has informed your wellness journey in mind, body, space and soul.
Chelcee Johns is a digital nomad, publishing professional, Detroit native, editor/content strategist and word & world-loving soul. She is based in Harlem and recently called Bali home for a year. Her passion for the power of the written word & highlighting often policed narratives has led her to work in publishing for the past 7 years with organizations such as Moguldom Media Group, Serendipity Literary Agency, the New York Times and writing for the likes of Ebony. In a rupturing political climate and blooming social change, BGIO is the place Chelc is able to create a community of safe space in our collective stories as Publication Editor. She is empowered by the (inner)work! With that said, her self-care go to is journaling, prayer and meditation.