Header Image: "The Landing" by Autumn Keiko Polk
There’s a certain group in the world that is more excited about the NFT space than most other groups. No, it’s not who you think it is. Unless you're thinking of Black creatives. If so, then you're absolutely right. But why is this group of people so excited? Amongst the many reasons, one of them is because many Black creatives see this as an opportunity to finally be remunerated for the works they’ve been doing.
Along with the growing numbers of African and African diaspora NFT creatives, another term has been popping up alongside them: Afrofuturism. It seems a given that Afrofuturism, a concept that merges technology and African culture, is gaining traction in the African NFT creative community. But is that all there is to it?
In 1993, author Mark Dery first coined the word Afrofuturism. Since then, the term has been embraced by many Africans and African diasporas. But even though the term was invented in 1993, the core concept of Afrofuturism has existed for centuries. While some people see Afrofuturism as a mere aesthetic that combines shiny chromes with rustic textiles, others see it as something deeper. To these people, the essence of Afrofuturism is hope. And it’s this hope that continues to exist in the Black community.
When Africans were forcibly taken and sold to slavery centuries ago, those who survived the brutal process dared to hope for a better future. When African-Americans were segregated and treated as less than a person, they also continued to hope for a better future. Even in more recent times, when police brutality and institutionalized racism continue to make the lives of Africans and the African diaspora difficult, they continue to hope for a better future.
It’s easy to categorize Afrofuturism as a science fiction genre. In fact, Dery himself coined the term while talking about why there weren’t more sci-fi works by African American authors. But ask any African creatives and they will tell you that aesthetics is at the bottom of the list of why Afrofuturism is important to them. Afrofuturism is not about cool aesthetics and strong aesthetics. Afrofuturism is about imagining a better future where they or their descendants can live as fully realized beings that no longer have to suffer from the worries of the current world. The aesthetics are just a side effect.
And this brings us back to NFTs.
The decentralization of the blockchain and NFTs bring a lot of freedom to Africans that may not have had access to that freedom before. It is easier than ever before to make a living out of making art. They no longer had to deal with government restrictions, unavailable resources, or the difficulty of traveling to sell their creations. Making art is now more lucrative than ever.
That’s why Afrofuturism is heavily linked to the NFT movement. To these Black creatives, NFTs offer a glimpse of a different and better reality. This glimpse gives them hope, and this hope drives them to create. It’s a self-fulfilling cycle that will continue for several generations. In a world that feels like everything is against them, NFTs, the blockchain, and the digital future is the silver lining they’ve always longed for. This hope, wrapped up in a blanket called Afrofuturism, will be one of, if not the biggest driving force of Black creatives finally receiving their due in the NFT markets.