Kadallah Burrowes explores the term "Afrofuturism" with the help of Suzi Analogue, Neema Githere, Mia Imani Harrison and Jackie Queens.
This past Juneteenth, Burrowes held a digital event called A Moment In Between (after which this podcast is named) at COMMON, a digital club that forms part of Currents.FM. It was, in their words, "a digital pan-African celebration of Black liberation." The interviewees in this week's Exchange all helped make A Moment In Between possible: artists Jackie Queens and Suzi Analogue, plus cultural critics Neema Githere and Mia Imani Harrison.
In this documentary-style podcast, which forms part of our celebration of Black Futures Month in the US, Burrowes et al. discuss the term "Afrofuturism. They discuss its imperfect, controversial nature (it was coined by a white academic), how it intersects with electronic music and its relationship to the legacy of the writer Octavia Butler.
Last week's Exchange saw Burrowes in conversation with Analogue, the producer, singer, songwriter and founder of Never Normal Records. This week, Analogue delves deeper into her connection to the concept of Afrofuturism. "Afrofuturism to me is just being Black," she said. "It's a bunch of things. Self-determination, self-preservation and self-expression."
Born in Nairobi and now based in Brooklyn, Neema Githere is a guerrilla theorist who works within the digital diaspora. In 2017, Githere coined the term "Afropresentism," which presents the idea that the Afrofuturism being theorised in the '90s and early '00s exists here and now. "Afrofuturism is concerned with space," Githere said. "Afropresentism is concerned with earth."
Mia Imani Harrison is an interdisciplinary artist and conceptual creator working within dream technology. Her part in A Moment In Between saw COMMON, which had primarily been a space for music, become a place for Black people to come and talk about their dreams. Harrison's understanding of Afrofuturism began with "intergalactic Black folks" in music—Sun Ra, Grace Jones, Parliament-Funkadelic—and has grown into an interest in artists that build worlds and galaxies in their work. "I've always been interested in expanding our concept of the realities we exist within," she said. "Especially as Black people, because we're already told what we can and cannot do, and the perimeters of the spaces that we exist in."
The final speaker is Jackie Queens, singer, songwriter, label and agency founder, and community member of Currents.FM and electronic music network female:pressure. Queens' thoughts about Afrofuturism tie in with Githere's Afropresentism. "People say Africa is the future," Queens said. "But I don't like to look at it that way. I always feel like we're the present."