Monday night program will examine Afrofuturism in rap music

"An Introduction to Afrofuturism in Rap" is part of the Rap, Race, Gender and Philosophy course. The program is also part of the Center for Race, Ethnicity and Diversity's Black History Month events around "Imagining a Black Future."

The campus is invited to participate in a philosophy class devoted to examining Afrofuturism in rap music, and how it allows listeners to envision what the world could be.

“An Introduction to Afrofuturism in Rap” will be from 7 to 8:40 p.m. Monday, Feb. 22. The program is part of the Rap, Race, Gender and Philosophy course, which is taught by Professor of Philosophy Stephen Bloch-Shulman and will be hosted in his Zoom room.  Monday night’s program will introduce Afrofuturism’s relationship to rap through particular artists’ works and as a lens for viewing rap music more broadly.

The program is also part of the Center for Race, Ethnicity and Diversity Education’s Black History Month events surrounding the theme “Imagining a Black Future.”  Participants will be able to interact with each other, Bloch-Shulman and Teaching and Learning Apprentice Emily Lange ’21.

Afrofuturism explores specific expressions of Blackness, Black struggles, and Black ideas through technology, culture, and speculative fiction. The term was coined in 1993 by Mark Dery in “Black to the Future: Interviews with Samuel R. Delany, Greg Tate, and Tricia Rose.” That article is available here and will be discussed, but isn’t required reading for participants.

“Afrofuturism is critically important because it shifts the way we think about history and social progress, and it gives us an opportunity to imagine what social progress could look like in the future,” Lange said. “I hope people leave with an awareness of key terms and players and an opportunity to explore Afrofuturism further.”

Lange’s Lumen Scholar and Honors research is focused on race, gender and age in speculative fiction. She will explore themes of technology, non-linear engagement with time, and the celebration of the Black identity in the future.

Stephen Bloch-Shulman regularly teaches PHL 363: Rap, Race, Gender and Philosophy. Now part of the Philosophy, Politics and Economics minor, this year’s course has focused more explicitly on the ideas of ownership and property.

“A challenge we all have is envisioning radically different ways of thinking about ownership,” Bloch-Shulman said. “We’re so enthralled in the American and John Locke’s way of thinking about ownership that it’s hard for us to take seriously alternative visions of what it might look like, but that’s exactly what Afrofuturism does. Afrofuturism allows us to expand the vision of what’s possible by freeing us from the weight of what is given to us.”