Arts + Culture

NextGen: Black Quantum Futurism Is a Women-Led Incubator Rooted In Black Liberation

Get to know the minds behind Black Quantum Futurism—Rasheedah Phillips and Camae Ayewa—and the important work they do.

DIASPORAOver the course of July we'll be publishing short profiles, essays and interviews on the theme of "Afrofutures." Together these stories will be a deep dive into the way African and diaspora thinkers, technologists and artists view a future for Africans in the world and outside of it. 


Take a look at our introduction to Afrofuturism here.

Throughout this month, we'll also highlight and celebrate young, leading talents who already put into practice what a future with black people look like through their work in our daily profile series, 'NextGen.'

In our tenth edition, meet the minds behind the Black Quantum Futurism collective. 

Afrofuturism can be expressed far beyond music, art, fashion or film - it can be a method of activism and community building. That is exactly what Black Quantum Futurism, a women-led organization based in Philly, aspires to do, with the help of art, history and teaching.

Founded by poet Camae Ayewa of musical outfit Moor Mother, and Rasheedah Phillips of The Afrofuturist Affair, Black Quantum Futurism focuses on spreading healing, justice and memory through activism, DIY culture and art, primarily but not exclusively to people that may not have access to the internet.

"Afrofuturism can be used by disenfranchised communities to create safe space for dialogue, visioning, and testing of ideas around community sustainability, resilience, and resistance—and as a technology for the actual implementation of those visions and ideas," Ayewa says in an interview with Thump. "(It also sets) an example for other advocates and policymakers on how to creatively approach these issues using social practice and community-engaged art. That's what Black Quantum Futurism is. It's all practical—that's the main point."

At this summer's Moogfest, a music, art and tech festival in Durham, North Carolina, Black Quantum Futurism and The Afrofuturist Affair curated workshops, performances and talks around empowerment through Afrofuturism. There was "Discovering Your Secret Superpower," which helps people channel their inner superhero personas and “14 hours,” a 14-hour performance by Ayewa. Workshops and performances aside, BQF has published books, created a designated community space called Community Futures Lab in North Philly, has conducted residences and held talks around the world.

Black Quantum Futurism proves that we can write our own futures into existence, by remembering the past and envisioning a brighter present. "It's interesting how communities all over the world are understanding how important it is to move [away] from social constructs. One model that you read in some book, or some person was talking about on Facebook, may not be the model for you. We have to take the agency to define our own thing that keeps us chill, keeps our head above water."

Photo by Meztli Yoalli Rodríguez

Dying Lagoons Reveal Mexico’s Environmental Racism

In the heart of a traditionally Black and Indigenous use area in Southwest Mexico, decades of environmental destruction now threatens the existence of these communities.

On an early morning in September 2017, in a little fishing village in the Pacific coast of Oaxaca, called Zapotalito, thousands of dead fish floated on the surface of the Chacahua-Pastoría lagoons. A 7.1-magnitude earthquake, which rattled Mexico City on September 19, was felt as far down as Zapotalito, and the very next morning, its Black, Indigenous and poor Mestizo residents, who depend on the area's handful of lagoons for food and commerce, woke up to an awful smell and that terrible scene of floating fish.

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