Black Panther bringing Afrofuturism into the mainstream marks the start of a revolution
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Black Panther has garnered immense anticipation, fantastic early reviews and most importantly, great excitement as to what its release means for the future of black representation in Hollywood. Part of why it’s drawn such attention is due to its being celebrated as a seminal Afrofuturistic work, and the most visible one thus far. Put rather simply, Afrofuturism is speculative fiction, written from an Afrocentric perspective. It allows the ramifications of colonialism, racism, and the African diaspora to be explored through a fusion of alternative history, mysticism and magical realism, Egyptian and non-Western mythologies, and science-fiction. The movement’s proud resurgence in the past few years, embodied in a new generation of recording artists that include Janelle Monáe and Solange, in both their music and fashion, but also in literary fiction, visual art, and other mediums, was retrospectively inevitable. Ytasha L. Womack points out that “with the diversity of the nation and world increasingly standing in stark contrast to the diversity in futuristic works, it’s no surprise that Afrofuturism emerged”. It places Blackness in the future, something from which it has long been excluded. Afrofuturism rejects the idea of black pain as a core theme, or the belief held by the entertainment industry that black empowerment projects must focus on their struggle and torment, from slavery to urban poverty, or whatever else is believed to equate representation. Instead it was born out of the need to empower black people not by what was, but rather by what could be. It shows individuals capable of freedom, happiness, success and excellence, an exposition of what can be, giving inspiration as to what the future can potentially look like.
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