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."

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Image collage by Evanka Williamson.

How the Creator of ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ Finally Got His Due In ‘Black Is King’

Thanks to Beyoncé, Solomon Linda's famous song finally made its Disney debut—81 years after it was written.

By now, we've all seen and heard think piece after think piece about Beyoncé's latest visual album release Black Is King. The film depicts and celebrates a great deal of African culture and history, paying homage to many underrated and misunderstood artists and practices.

One moment, however, put an end to an 81-year struggle with the Disney giants.

Perhaps one of Disney's most popular songs, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," is a reproduced version of the late South African performer Solomon Ntsele (Linda)'s song "Mbube."

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