Over the weekend I attended Further Confusion 2018 with over 3,400 other furries in San Jose, CA and let me tell you, it was a pretty great time. I got to catch up with a lot of friends from all over the country and meet a few new ones, including folks I’ve had an internet crush on for a good little while now. Nice seeing all of you, and I hope you folks come back next year!
The highlight of the convention for me was getting to run my very first “Afrofuturism and Furry” panel on Sunday. I had a good little group come in to listen to me jaw on about the Afrofuturist movement, its history and purpose, and why it actually makes a good fit for furry fiction. Whenever I talk about race in furry circles, I worry about the pushback — it can be a surprisingly touchy subject for those of us who pretend to be talking animals, especially in this political climate. Everyone was awesome, though, and I appreciate the openness and respect from the audience as they asked questions and related some of their hesitations about tackling things. When the panel was over, I promised the folks in attendance that I’d write up a follow-up here so they could grab additional resources if they wanted.
First, here are a few good places to go if you want to learn more about just what Afrofuturism is:
- “What is Afrofuturism?”, Ebony Magazine Online
- Afrofuturism: A Four-Part Series, The Root / Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
- Afrofuturism, as defined by good ol’ Wikipedia
Now that you’ve got a primer, here are a couple of places you can go to sample Afrofuturist music:
- Afrofuturism: A Spotify Playlist
- “We Are In The Future”, This American Life
- “Space Is The Place” – Sun Ra (this is the soundtrack of a 1970s film STARRING SUN RA)
If you’re interested in a few essential Afrofuturist stories, don’t worry man — I’ve got you covered:
- Afrofuturist 419 by Nnedi Okorafor (Clarkesworld Magazine)
- Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction From the African Diaspora
- FIYAH: Literary Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction
- A List of Afrofuturist Literature (Afrofuturism.net)
And finally, a few furry-specific Afrofuturist stories:
- Elephantmen! (Image Comics) – I included this here because of the many parallels between the titular genetically-engineered chimera and the historical experience of black Americans; brought to a strange country for a specific purpose that has now ended, with a history forged by the theft and ruination of black bodies and a present that alienates and disrespects them.
- The Pack (Midas Monkee) – This is a comic about a pack of Egyptian werewolves, which is LIT AS FUCK
- Yohance (Midas Monkee) – Space opera with a purely African aesthetic and absolutely amazing art.
Afrofuturism deals with the alienation of belonging to a group that has been historically segregated; the reclamation of an identity that was lost long ago; the water that both erased our cultural connection and serves as a fertile environment to uncover new life; and how being who you are disgusts or angers people who have nothing to do with you. It is longing and sorrow, hope and determination, anger and defiance, provocation and self-reflection. It asks us to know who we are, know how we work within a culture that is hostile but promising, what values we want to take with us into the future. It challenges us to question so many of the assumptions we’ve made about science-fiction and storytelling in general. There’s so much that can contribute to furry writing and deepen the themes we deal with in our fiction. I highly recommend checking out a few of the links above; there’s bound to be something for just about anyone!