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2015 essay this the future Uncategorized

This the Future: Prologue + Roll Camera!

Prologue

What does the future look like? I think it’s green and yellow and blue – warm flowing into and out of cool in the right places, sometimes bold and sometimes laid back. It’s deceptively powerful silvery gray and bluish gray. And vibrant, tingling orange. And black.

Not black how people use it to connote something is dirty, sinister, sad, disastrous, grim, distorted, grotesque, sullen, without, inferior. No. Black like luminous, creative, restorative, warm, beatific, engaging, nourishing, excellent. Black like possibility. Black like laughter. Black like song. Black like dance. Black like wonderful. Black like I know.

No day passes without me considering the future and my place(s) in it. I sometimes forget it’s a work of art. And art must be seen, touched, heard, tasted, smelled, experienced, appreciated – for the artist, even before it’s manifest. As you create it, you can’t just be assembling it. You have to feel it within you, be in its presence and in the midst of it. You have to live in the world of the song in the breath before the first note, in the world of the painting in the arm lifted in front of the canvas, in the world of the ballet as you are in the wings about to make your entrance. If it’s mine I have to fall in love with it in advance, in anticipation of it. 

Sometimes I forget to take the moments to see and be in love with the future. Part of that is I forget creating the future is about more than what I rule out with “No…”, ”NO”, and “HELL NO.” I do need to see those things and speak/act against them. I can’t shy away from them or always try to cover uncomfortable cognition with puppy .gifs (as if that will fix complicated realities like the prison-industrial complex or food insecurity or wage gaps). But falling in love isn’t a process of elimination. It’s what you say “yes” to, what you include. 

I also forget that I am living a future right now. Each moment I am living the future of every past version of me. It is a future filled with awe-inspiring elements and people. So I’m collecting* my “Yes” and HELL YES” things as a catalog of what I fight for, what I adore, what I live and love, what I gladly look at and say** “This the future.” 

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*To see my recently created This The Future Pinterest board, go here.

**With intentional zero copula (meaning no verb) in the fashion of AAVE and other languages/dialects/sociolects. So, no, I did not mean “This is the Future.” I mean This. The. Future.

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This the Future: Roll Camera!

On Saturday mornings in the late 80s and 90s I used to plop down on the floor in front of the television and watch cartoons – including superheroes like Captain Planet and the X-Men. On a Saturday morning in June 2015 I woke and saw video (via social media on my phone and tablet) of a hero telling the system “This flag comes down TODAY!” The emotion I felt was beyond that childhood sense of justice when the “good guys” win by the end of the episode.

This future I live and love is a 30-year old Bree Newsome scaling a flag pole in South Carolina to take down the Confederate battle flag of northern Virginia – a flag whose history (representing generations of violent defense of systemic racism) too many have been afraid to see honestly and pull down in the face of that truth. But Bree carried Us with her and “did it for all the fierce black women on the front lines of the movement and for all the little black girls who are watching us. I did it because I am free.” She said, “I am because we are. I am one of many.”

I saw her as a thread in the great tapestry of Black women who have resisted and still resist. I saw Harriet Tubman and Claudette Colvin and Josephine Baker and Fannie Lou Hamer and Diane Nash and Assata Shakur and Millennial Activists United. I saw a heritage and present and future of righteous inconvenience and disruption.

I was overcome with the now familiar sense that heroes really do exist and they can be young Black women who are built of love, challenge and complicate narratives, and aren’t here to take any crap. I Googled Bree, watched her short film Wake, watched a video of her speaking on a panel about art and activism and Black sci-fi/horror, and read her Twitter. I had to begin to get to know more about her. 

In learning about her I saw more evidence that real heroes can be witty, creative, funny, stand for their rights and liberation, and stand for rights they already have to be extended to others. In five words: They can be like me!

And... I can be like them.

This the future.

To be continued…

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