Space is the place

Studio 360
Sun Ra

The science fiction-fueled aesthetic known as Afrofuturism is difficult to define. Poet and sociologist Eve Ewing describes it as “the simple premise that black people are going to continue to exist into the future.” 

But, she says, that simplicity is deceptive, “because when you are from a diasporic people who have at every different stage in history — especially throughout American history — faced the essential threat of annihilation, then the premise that you continue to exist is actually kind of radical.”

The Afrofuturist idea has been explored in fiction, movies, comic books … and perhaps most prominently in music. Tricia Rose, professor of Africana Studies at Brown University, traces its influence in American music, from Sun Ra to George Clinton to Lupe Fiasco. She says that the Afrofuturist urge to escape Earth continues to this day.

(Originally aired December 12, 2008)

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