By Ahliyah S. Chambers

Afro Con 2022 is the first post-pandemic platform focused solely on highlighting the diverse talents of emerging Afrofuturists. The event took place at the Jackie Robinson YMCA (151 YMCA Way, San Diego) from September 3-5th attracting afrofuturists to inform, inspire, and innovate a new reality for the Black community. 

Expert mental health panelists share about the current state of Black mental health and reimagining mental health in the future. PHOTO: Ahliyah S. Chambers.

Afro Con, short for Afrofuturism Consciousness Convention, is the brainchild of Dr. LaWana Richmond. Dr. LaWana launched the Afrofuturism Lounge five years ago as a Comic-Con after party. The Afrofuturism Lounge usually takes place in downtown San Diego and has evolved to attract a diverse Afrofuturist community.  

“This year’s Afrofuturism Lounge illuminated the growing interest in what Afro Con offers. Afrofuturists are mobilized by their history and uninhibited in their imagination,” Dr. LaWana said. “Afro Con 2022 advances the alliance of Black comix, scientists, filmmakers, techies, intellectuals, and artists.” Dr. LaWana continued.

This year’s Afrofuturism Consciousness Convention was clearly aimed at developing collaborative industry opportunities for diverse musicians, writers, filmmakers, entertainers, and entrepreneurs. The event also featured vendors such as F.A.N.C.Y., Broken Chalice Studios, What Comics LLC., Kid-Comics, and many more so that they could showcase and sell their products to the community. 

The keynote speaker and entrepreneur, Dr. Cheryl Morrow, opened up about her childhood and spoke about how to raise an heir in an Afrofuturist world. 

“We need to develop a home that is based around who children are going to be in the future. In an adult-center household, it’s so important to invite the children in.” Dr. Morrow said.

Singer-songwriter, Kahlil Nash, performs genres immersed in punk to funk.

On Saturday afternoon, Kahlil Nash, a singer-songwriter who began recording music when he was 13, played sounds varying from punk to funk genres. There were several expert panels held by mental health professionals, community organizers, and business owners. As a part of the mental health discussion titled, “Looking Ahead: The Future of Mental Health in our Village,” experts discussed how mental health is often a taboo topic in the Black community and should be reimagined to be a normalized household topic so that the community can benefit from mental health support services. 

Dr. LaWana’s intentionality was showcased throughout the Afro Con 2022 as the Afrofuturist community gathered to gain inspiration from one another. People dressed up in cosplay and networked to discuss the value in creating a new reality that Black folks actually want to live in. 

“Set in Southeastern San Diego at the recently remodeled Jackie Robinson YMCA, Afro Con 2022 is a reminder that the city has nurtured many Black visionaries including, Makeda Cheatom, the late Willie Morrow, RuPaul, even Whoopie Goldberg,” Dr. LaWana added. As Afro Con 2022 came to a close, those that attended left encouraged and determined to innovate change in the Black community.

Community members supporting diverse vendors such as F.A.N.C.Y, Kid-Comics, Broken Chalice Studios, and What Comics LLC.