By Brittany Johnson. Photography By Deun Ivory.
Part of the draw of Afrofuturism is its innate capability to do completely away with the status quo of past, present, and beyond. It gives us the ability to imagine ourselves in a world minus self-doubt and self-deprecation. It challenges us to be fully present - in order to then move beyond our current spaces and explore the depths of our true imaginations.
Afrofuturism symbolizes freedom, uninhibited love, and taking self-care to a brand new level...in whatever direction we please.
Feeling free is an ever-present journey, not a final destination. My freedom looks like embracing the power of my “no” just as much as the resounding enthusiasm of my “yes”. My freedom is cyclical - it is forever growing, changing, and adapting in the ways I most need it to at any particular moment. My freedom involves reminding itself that it is allowed to be bold, and strong, and unapologetic.
The journey towards freedom can feel daunting...especially as a black or brown woman who constantly hears society’s message that our mental and emotional wellbeing is detrimental. We consistently hear about the desirable qualities that we lack and the traits we possess that leave more to be yearned for. Afrofuturism is both forward thinking and past-honoring, whether it’s the confidence of Black Panther’s female heroines, or the silent power emitted by Joshua Mays’ murals. Afrofuturism is respecting the past enough to understand its influence and hoping for the future enough to have faith in its infinite possibilities. It leads us to wholeheartedly believe that yes, we deserve to feel inspired. We deserve to see images and content that reflect not only what we look like, but who we have the potential to be.
My freedom looks like contradicting every negative narrative that’s placed upon me, simply by being my most authentic and magical self.
In lifting my own voice up, I inspire others to do more of the same. In supporting my own black girl magic, I give my future self the room to evolve into whoever she chooses. We are often forced to operate in spaces that do not serve us or believe in our ability to be great. Manifesting - and then taking actionable steps to create - a future that embraces us and our idiosyncrasies is made tangible by the space Afrofuturism provides. Imagine a world where your black is not only beautiful, but truly coveted? Think about a world that exists only in your wildest dreams, where melanin is given its rightful respect and every part of the diaspora isn’t quite so...diasporic. Imagine a future where the disconnect between the identities of Africans and Black Americans and Black Latinxs isn’t as pertinent, a future in which we lift each other up as a collective and further our identities as a whole.
Freedom feels like a breath of fresh air after a long period of being stuck inside...it feels like a warm embrace during moments when one most needs judgement-free comfort and support. An afro-futuristic world is one that inspires us to do away with limiting behaviors that affect any part of us...no gender binaries, no hate crimes, no identity conflicts. It inspires a world where each and every person can practice their religion, spirituality, and self-care in whatever way truly suits them. Giving ourselves the power to believe in these far-off realities makes them tangible and, in turn, gives these same futuristic ideologies the permission to aid in our healing.
What does freedom look like in your journey to self-deliverance? What steps can we take, as a collective, to aid in our growth and healing?
DON’T STOP AT THE VISION – TAKE ACTIONABLE STEPS TOWARDS YOUR IDYLLIC FUTURE.
Absorbing Afrofuturistic art in all forms is inspiring and can give us the opportunity to imagine a time and space in which we feel wholly loved. The key in allowing your path to freedom to be truly ongoing is to never stop at the broader vision. What steps can you take, today, to make that vision a reality? What tangible qualities does the future of your dreams possess that you can recreate in your day to day routine? Whether the changes be big or small, make it a necessary point to involve the beautiful future of your dreams into your daily life…and watch your world change right before your eyes.
FIND WAYS TO SPREAD LOVE AND LIGHT FOR THE COLLECTIVE.
Having our own epiphanies and growth is amazing – but lifting up our voices in sisterhood is even better. Your Afrofuturistic vision may involve your community as a whole or have a special place of refuge for a particular group, such as children or single mothers. What would it look like if you were able to inspire your counterparts in the same way your soul has been uplifted? Use your special talents to lift up anyone who comes into contact with you on your freedom quest. Creating spaces for us to flourish as a collective means that when one of us vibrates higher, we all share in the win.
PRACTICE SELF-CARE IN ALL THE WAYS YOUR HEART DESIRES.
Black and brown women deserve a special place on the self-care spectrum...the intersection of our race and gender means that the innate trauma we endure just by existing in a world that is set up to work against us means that we deserve to be loved and supported - by ourselves and others. Because of this fact, we must surround ourselves with healthy imagery and energies, and find ways to further our positive narratives. Afrofuturism shows that, no matter the current state of affairs, there are bigger and better circumstances to be imagined and created for us. During present times and beyond, our self-deliverance is dependent upon holding steadfast to the belief that our overall well-being is self-attained and self-supported. We cannot count on the mass majority to make sure we’re okay - that’s better supported by the sense of sisterhood and love that only a deep connection bred by shared experiences can provide. Be it the poetry created by Komi Olaf or the way Octavia Butler’s characters leap off the page...Afrofuturism imagines a boundless future that is for us, by us.
And its freedom is all-inclusive.
Brittany Johnson is the creator of codeREDD&co. and works in marketing and content creation in the Bay Area. Passionate about authenticity in wellness and self care, her writing is heavily inspired by the peaks and pitfalls that come as the result of being a black woman working to manifest her purpose.