Rasheedah Phillips, 33, Afrofuturist and Public Interest Attorney
Blackness to me in the future looks quantum, infinite, and afrofuturistic. In my vision of the future, we have actively begun to address the ways in which future(s) are made inaccessible to marginalized communities in general and Black people in particular.
In my visionary future, we have developed positive futurity concepts and sustainable technologies of joy that specifically benefit low-income, vulnerable, and marginalized Black communities, and which have replaced negative tech such as surveillance and “big data.”
Time has been used as a weapon, in many ways, against us. Whether it’s low-income people not having the same wealth of time because of their work schedules and other conflicting demands on their time or literally “doing time” when we think about mass incarceration.
From my experience as an attorney, what I have observed is that governments are often planning for communities in advance without significant input from those communities. They’re already thinking about and planning for the future of Philly 2045. Many of the residents of Philadelphia are the ones who feel the implications of those changes but don’t have the wealth of time to be at the decision-making table, nor are they invited to be there.
In the future, we will re-appropriate time as a weapon and tool to fight back against temporal oppression.
Through my legal work, I continue to uncover the ways in which time plays a role in the justice system for marginalized Black communities and the role of time as an economic commodity in Western society, and continue to make this a more explicit part of my advocacy as an attorney and through civic engagement activities as a community member and advocate. Through my afrofuturistic artistic and cultural work, I develop alternative temporalities as practical tools for allowing access to pasts or futures in a way that linear temporality and obedience to mechanical and digital clock time cannot. Alternative temporalities can inform legal perspective, legal rights, and the impact of future law-making on poor and historically marginalized communities.
Rasheedah's Revolutionary Picks:
Black speculative thinkers and futurists such as Octavia Butler, Marcus Garvey, Zora Neale Hurston, Derrick Bell, and Malcolm X inspire my visions of the future(s). I think we can learn from and integrate key moments like the historical debate between Philosopher Henri Bergson and Albert Einstein on the nature of time, and the Black Arts Movement of the 60s.