By Ahliyah S. Chambers, Contributing Writer
After two long years, people traveled from all over to participate in and admire Comic-Con, the annual international comic book convention and nonprofit multi-genre entertainment event that has been hosted in San Diego since 1970. There was even more excitement
surrounding Comic Con’s comeback with the premiere of Jordan Peele’s new film “NOPE” and the release of the “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” trailer, among other event highlights. On Thursday, July 21st and Friday, July 22nd, the 5th annual Afrofuturism Lounge was hosted, in partnership with Comic-Con, at the Quartyard in the East Village.
Today, we notice a rise in Black speculative imagination that can be attributed to the Black Speculative Arts Movement, a global community of intellectuals that seeks to present, promote and support human centered speculative imagination to catalyze streams of new thought that envision an inclusive future society.
Closely connected to the Black Speculative Arts Movement is Afrofuturism. It was scholar
Mark Dery who suggested that the purpose of the term “afrofuturism” was to designate “speculative fiction that treats African American themes and addresses the concerns in the context of 20th century techno-culture. African-American voices have stories to tell about culture, technology, and things to come.”
A few years ago, Dr. LaWana Richmond founded the Afrofuturism Lounge that sought to provide an educational, entertaining, and informative space for creative and critical thinkers alongside community builders. Last weekend, many traveled a great distance to support Dr. LaWana Richmond’s efforts. Her hopes of individuals gathering was to cultivate a space for Blacks to imagine speculative futures and the multiverse as an exploration of art as well as a world filled with opportunities.
The event was also in collaboration with “The Buses are Coming,” an installation hosted by the San Diego African American Museum of Fine Art, and reported on in this newspaper last month.
“The exhibit was intentionally hosted at the Freedom Riders exhibit because the exhibit is filled with QR codes that include augmented reality. We wanted people to be able to see how connecting the past and present can help us imagine the future of the African diaspora as we would like to see it,” said Dr. Richmond.
Throughout the two-day event, a variety of vendors and panelists came out to share their take on Afrofuturism. Dr. LaWana reminded guests, “Afrofuturism is interdisciplinary and inclusive. With that being said, we found it important to highlight those within business, art, music, dance, community healing, and science that all bring value to Black speculative thought.” Then it is our job to reverse engineer the process to outline what steps we need to take as a community to get there.”
Dr. Sarah Boswell, an attendee of the 5th Afrofuturism Lounge shared “I found the conversations about creatives and business to be powerful. It was helpful to hear strategic ways to navigate your business, as well as, protect your intellectual and creative property. All in all, I was very impressed with the panel selection and vendors!”