Tayyib Smith, Co- founder Little Giant Creative and the Institute for Hip Hop Entrepreneurship
Black people have always had to project themselves into the future because of the reality of their present. Even today, it takes a certain level of cognitive dissonance not to be enraged by the constant bombardment of microaggressions, the generational warfare of being indoctrinated with a Eurocentric anti-Black historical education system.
Think about Henry Box Brown. He theoretically and physically time-traveled. He shipped himself into the future. He hacked the system and he projected himself into freedom. From Virginia to Philadelphia prior to emancipation.
That’s time travel.
He was a gifted master carpenter, orator and magician.
You don’t see or hear of that type of genius from our people in American history because almost everything we’ve been told, taught or seen is mostly myth via constructs of the white supremacist revisionist lens.
If you think about people like Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth, they manipulated existing systems or even placated the arrogance of white supremacy that did not believe that Black people would even have the capacity to organize something they couldn’t see. It was as invisible as the true meaning and narrative of negro spirituals.
That goes into the whole history of call and response choruses, hymns, gospel, spiritual music from the church to the juke joint that told a message and gave you a pathway toward freedom and you had to be in the narrative to know. That freedom could also be momentary, but it elevated you out of the pain or your reality of the present.
It’s like the quote from Octavia Butler that said, “ I am my ancestor’s wildest dream.”
We live a reality every day that is beyond imagination. We are that time’s fiction. Our ancestors in even recent history could never imagine the agency and ability many of us have today; far from enough of us, but nonetheless enough to do more collectively.
I was joking with someone last week and asked, “What would Sojourner Truth do with an iPhone?”
Ask yourself that question in regard to closing the wealth, health and security gap in our community, locally, regionally and internationally. What are we doing to further progression?
Constantly viewing yourself through a white lens of history is something you have to consistently shake yourself out of. The images that are marketed to us are very rarely Black-owned and it’s a form of intellectual warfare. Optimistically, I would hope that sometime in the future, we would be able to talk about Blackness outside a sense of struggle. As generations passed my own, I hope that we will be able to create from a space of offense as opposed to defense.
My Black future is creating from a space of freedom, using optics and images from a pre-colonial past, postmodernism and futurism to project a more utopian future vs our dystopian present.
The Institute of Hip-Hop Entrepreneurship is a manifestation of myself and my partner Meegan Denenberg. We’re trying to enlighten people by providing resources, a network and a learning tree. The A Dream Deferred project is using technology to tell the history, contemporary times and also re-imagine the future. Most people will probably say that I should spend a lot more time focusing on things that would put me in a different tax bracket, more security and more material. I believe in social impact and collective good. As a company and team, the people we work with, hire or subcontract speak the reality that we imagine, into the now.
The future for the Black diaspora is all about safe spaces where Langston Hughes' deferred dreams do not burst or explode; they ripen on strong mahogany vines that bare rich fruits no longer considered strange.
Tayyib's Revolutionary Picks:
If you think about people like Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth, they manipulated existing systems or even placated the arrogance of white supremacy that did not believe that Black people would even have the capacity to organize something they couldn’t see, has invisible as the true meaning and narrative of negro spirituals.
(Editor's note: Tayyib also mentioned Henry Box Brown.)