More than spaceships and futuristic tech, Afrofuturism has real implications for Detroit students.
When she was coming up on the eastside of Detroit, Numi might have considered the future but never thought about an Afrofuture. That came later, when she witnessed a real life Afrofuturist – curator Ingrid LaFleur – make a run for mayor in 2017. The ideas, the intellectual discussions, the visual celebration of where black bodies fit into the narrative of a world where one has to remind the populace that black lives do indeed matter, sparked something primal in Numi's thought – she called it Afrofuture Youth.
If Afrofuturism is difficult to define – for some, it's about the foundational literature of Samuel Delany and Octavia Butler; for others, it's the music of Sun Ra, the movie Black Panther – Afrofuture Youth is a simpler, street-level way to take an idea from science fiction to science fact. It's described as "a Detroit based, youth led, initiative that gives middle and high schoolers space and resources to build a new, more equitable world, through an Afrofuturist, healing centered, framework, to support all aspects of black lives." Numi – a graduate of Eastern Michigan University with a bachelor's in social work and electronic media film – knew from the start that she neded to do something impactful for Detroit's youth. "Where youth are being harmed, black folk don't have a chance to thrive," Numi says. "I want to be able to incorporate proactive healing and creating spaces for youth: black lives having access to healing, trans and queer lives being protected."
As founder of Afrofuture Youth and with help from her co-director, Breeana Blackmon, the goal is to raise $35,000 for a planned curriculum "focused on healing, political education, and mobilization." The hope is to expand and offer opportunities for Detroit students by pairing them with local artists and organizers from around the city, she adds, "as a tool to literally create a blueprint – whether it be film, photography, or fashion." The 10-week curriculum – starting this fall – will not only teach healing modalities and ancestral connection (including yoga, meditation, as well as other activities), it will hone in on trauma and how to move through it, which many black youth experience in some form, whether physical or psychological. "You can't build a new world if you don't know how to move through trauma," Numi says. "Understanding what unapologetic blackness is. Understanding what does transphobia and homophobia look like. Understanding what is capitalism and anti-blackness, and the last part of it is mobilization – how do we build outside of these things? I want to do this work where we create what we want to see."
With support from and Afrotopia and Allied Media Projects, Afrofuture Youth will be housed inside the Norwest Gallery of Art. In describing Afrofuturism for BLAC's August cover story, Numi called the subculture something that went "beyond space and aesthetic" and should impact the lives of people of color in a positive way. Afrofuture youth might be an answer to this. "Detroit is the blackest city in the nation," Numi says. "We are already Afrofuturists."
Afrofuture Youth Kickoff/Fundraiser Party
Aug. 11, 6-8 p.m.
Afrofuture Body Liberation Party
Aug. 11, 8 p.m.-2 a.m.
Both events at Freedom Freedom Community Garden, 866 Manistique St., Detroit