Afrofuturism is a multi-media cultural genre that wields elements of science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, and even a little magic to address both the real-world issues facing black people in the present day, and to re-examine and offer up a better way to see ourselves in the future, both in fiction and in reality.
It encompasses the world of sci-fi and fantasy culture from a black perspective, and encourages a breaking down of current, outdated, and widely accepted paradigms to promote a more fully realized and complex black experience. Afrofuturism is intersectional, and, at its heart, about representation and fighting erasure through a kind of cultural activism.
AfroFuturism Network Website
Afrofuturism is a term that emerged in the mid-90s, coined by cultural critic Mark Dery, who affixed the term to the growing artistic movement and critiques that followed narratives of people of African descent in a sci-fi, futuristic treaties.”
– Ytasha L. Womack
There are historical instances of Afrofuturist practice that can be identified as existing before the actual term was conceived. Examples are the Dark Matter anthologies, and older works by W. E. B. Du Bois, Charles W. Chesnutt, and George S. Schuyler.
Afrofuturism in music was first introduced by the late Sun Ra, who used Afrocentric and space-themed titles to reflect his linking of ancient African culture, specifically Egypt, and the cutting edge of the Space Age. Ra’s film Space Is the Place shows him and his band, Arkestra, in Oakland in the mid-1970s in full space costume, and with a lot of science fiction imagery as well as other comedic and musical material.
Afrofuturist ideas were further expanded in 1975 by George Clinton and his bands Parliament and Funkadelic. Other musicians influenced by Afrofuturism include reggae producers Lee “Scratch” Perry and Scientist, hip-hop artists Afrika Bambaataa and Tricky, electronic musicians Larry Heard, A Guy Called Gerald, Juan Atkins, and Lotti Golden & Richard Scher, electro hip hop producer/writers of Warp 9’s “Light Years Away.”
In the early 90s, cultural critics, most notably Mark Dery in his 1994 essay Black to the Future, wrote about the themes they saw as common in black science fiction, music, and art. Dery named this phenomenon Afrofuturism.
— William Jones (@AfroFuturismNet) October 30, 2017
The Ex-Con, Voodoo Priest, Goddess, and the African King
A Social, Cultural, and Political Analysis of Four Black Comic Book Heroes
By William Jones – Founder of AfroFuturism Network Website
Published by BLUE ARTISTS
In this day and age, seeing black comic book characters isn’t at all uncommon. In fact, every year we see more and more black superheroes and heroines on television, on the big screen and in the comic books themselves.
But this wasn’t always the case. It wasn’t so long ago that black superheroes were few and far between, and the ones that were around had some questionable origins and storylines.
In this book, William Jones, founder of Afrofuturism Network, breaks down the origins of four black comic book characters – Luke Cage, Papa Midnite, Storm, and Black Panther – and analyzes their representation throughout comic book history.
Whether you’re a long-time lover of comics, an established or aspiring creator or a new and casual fan you’ll find something new as you read about the untold stories of these heroes and get a feel for the future of diversity and representation in the comic book medium.
Book Introduction – I wrote this book to examine the creation and multifaceted nature of select black superheroes in the American comic book tradition. The focus of this book centers on the extent to which black characters are an amalgamation of fact, fiction, and myth related to black people in America and the world. The analysis of selected black characters – Luke Cage, Papa Midnite, Storm, and the Black Panther – and of the texts and images presented, promotes a deeper understanding of these characters and their culture, social and political impact on race relations in America ~ William Jones
Why is this important?
This topic is significant because the creation of comic books has continuously shaped and influenced popular American culture. Comic Books-like any other social-cultural product-because a means by which perceptions and ideas are transmitted. Hence, given that comic books are so readily digested by the public, it becomes all the more important to analyze and decode their messages.
The comic book medium has evolved into a significant part of American (and global) culture in that many of the characters contained within its pages have become cultural icons. The television programs based on comics continue to be top-rated programs. Movies based on comic heroes have generated billions of dollars worldwide.
Words and terms created in or popularized by comics have become part of the everyday English language. When one factors in merchandising and books themselves, it is obvious that this medium is a cultural and economic force that will only continue to grow in strength.
Both children and adults alike have been influenced by or have attempted to emulate many of the qualities and characterizations found within comic books. Individuals who exhibit strong qualities are often referred to as ‘supermen’ or ‘superwomen’. Both children and adults purchase comic-book-based costumes during Halloween or for costume parties and cosplay at comic book conventions. Comic book characters are often used to describe emotional or character traits-one may turn into the Hulk when angered, or a strong woman may be called a Wonder Woman. Given the omnipresent nature of this medium, it becomes extremely important that it be understood as it relates to black people in the United States. It is important because similar to television, books and other forms of media, comic books are an effective tool which helps to shape how we see the world and how the world sees us. ~ William Jones
The Last Dragon
Martial arts student, Leroy Green (Taimak), is on a quest to obtain the elusive all-powerful force known as “The Glow.” Along the way, he must battle the evil, self-proclaimed Shogun of Harlem – a kung-fu warrior also known as Sho’nuff (Julius J. Carry III) – and rescue a beautiful singer (Prince protegee, Vanity) from an obsessed record promoter.
The Last Dragon Plot
Set in New York City, the movie follows a martial artist named Leroy Green (also known as “Bruce Leroy”), who has dreams of becoming a great martial artist like his idol Bruce Lee. His master (Thomas Ikeda) explains that he has reached the final level of martial arts accomplishment known as “The Last Dragon”. Martial artists who reach this final level are said to be able to concentrate such mystical energy into their hands that they begin to glow. Only a true martial arts master would be able to exhibit “The Glow” over his entire body. Leroy doesn’t fully understand and, in possession of a medal supposedly belonging to Bruce Lee, Leroy embarks upon a journey to find Master Sum Dum Goy, whom his master claims can help Leroy unlock the power of “The Glow”.
The Last Dragon (Original Long Soundtrack Version)
Another martial artist, Sho’nuff (Julius J. Carry III) (also known as “The Shogun of Harlem”) sees Leroy as the only obstacle to being acknowledged as the true master of martial arts. Leroy refuses to fight him and a furious Sho’nuff vows that he will defeat Leroy. Sho’nuff and his gang later break in and assault one of the students at Leroy’s martial arts school, Johnny Yu (Glen Eaton), demanding that Leroy bow before Sho’nuff. Finally, Sho’nuff and his gang attempt to send a message to Leroy by destroying the Green family pizza restaurant.
DeBarge – Rhythm of the Night
Meanwhile, video arcade mogul Eddie Arkadian (Chris Murney) sends his men to kidnap 7th Heaven video host Laura Charles (Vanity) in the hopes of getting his girlfriend Angela Viracco’s (Faith Prince) new music video featured on her show. The kidnap attempt is thwarted by Leroy who easily fends off the thugs. He loses his medal during the struggle, which Laura recovers. Later, Leroy witnesses Laura being kidnapped by Arkadian’s brutish henchman Rock (Mike Starr). A clue left behind reveals that the kidnappers work for Eddie Arkadian Productions.
Laura refuses to promote Angela Viracco’s video on her program, but as Arkadian’s men prepare to coerce her by force, Leroy suddenly bursts into the room and rescues Laura once again. Back at her apartment, Laura gratefully returns Leroy’s medal. Consumed with vengeance, Arkadian hires Sho’nuff to defeat Leroy and takes control of the 7th Heaven studio, capturing Laura and Leroy’s younger brother, Richie, who has snuck in hoping to woo Laura.
Posing as a pizza delivery man, Leroy manages to infiltrate the assumed lair of Master Sum Dum Goy within a fortune cookie factory, but is shocked to discover that the “Master” is only a computer churning out cookie fortunes. Leroy consults his former master for answers, but his master suggests that Leroy has known the answers all along.
Not wanting anyone to get hurt in the process of achieving her stardom, Angela leaves Arkadian and asks Johnny to warn Leroy about his plan. As Leroy returns to 7th Heaven, he is ambushed by an army of violent thugs hired by Arkadian. Leroy’s students, led by Johnny, charge into the studio to even the odds. Using Laura as bait, Eddie lures Leroy to a dilapidated building where he finally faces off against Sho’nuff. Sho’nuff reveals his ability to use “The Glow”, his hands pulsating with a red aura, and beats Leroy viciously before attempting to force him to acknowledge Sho’nuff as “The Master”. As recent events flash before Leroy’s eyes, he realizes that his former Master was correct and that everything he needed to achieve the “Final Level” was within him all along. His entire body bathed in the sublime golden light of “The Glow”, Leroy uses his newfound power to defeat Sho’nuff.
Arkadian appears and fires a single bullet which Leroy catches between his teeth before detaining Arkadian for the police. Laura and Leroy are reunited at the studio where the two kiss.
The Last Dragon Is Back! TMZ TV
The Last Dragon Reunion Discussion Panel