ZALIKA IBAORIMI, 26.
Member of Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Sex-Positive, African-centered Christian Womanist, Black Studies scholar.
My work will always be invested in the futures of Black women, which actually means the futures of Africana people.
I am a Black Studies scholar who focuses on Afrofuturism, which I immerse within Black sexual politics. I am a survivor of sexual assault, who had to constantly reinvent myself to become comfortable with this idea of becoming “something else to be” (that’s a Toni Morrison Sula reference). I had this great concern for Black women like myself, who in so many ways are stripped down to be recognized as inhuman. That means Black women who are marked as hoes, Black women who enjoy pleasure, Black women who are sex workers, Black queer women and Black trans women; we all know something about dehumanization.
So with my research, I want to know how these kinds of Black women are imagining futures for themselves that are sexually and culturally affirming.
When I consider Black futures, yes, I do think of the fantastical elements of technology. But I also consider how we as Black folk conceptualize humanity. This means that Blackness, as it relates to sexual and gender identities, are forms of technology.**
In this future, various expressions of Blackness will be affirmed.
In this future, Black folk will create and architect spaces that will affirm the humanities of those who have decided not to follow the path of respectability. We can leave behind those politics that tell Black folk that in order to be human:
“Black women must act like ladies,”
“Black trans women are not women.”
“Black men MUST be masculine.”
This may seem trivial, but the truth is I am conceptualizing a future where Black folks build sanctuaries against harm.
Racism has always existed. Sexism has always existed. Misogynoir has always existed. Classism has always existed. Homophobia, femmephobia, and transphobia has always existed.
These problems were not created or invented by white dominant groups. But their participation did create a trajectory for Black folk that would alter the way that Black people, human beings would be recognized.
In order to create this future that I speak of, it is necessary to begin by not borrowing or adopting the practices of our oppressors, only to become the new oppressors of other Black people.
It is time to understand one another. It is time to understand that our definitions of what is “Black” and what is “normative” are based off of principles that were designed to originally subjugate and dehumanize us anyway.
We have to be our own liberators.
**(editor’s note: technology- meaning gender construction not in a biological sense but as a tool.)
Zalika's Revolutionary Picks:
Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey are two historical figures, Blues women, who were not willing to hide themselves. They loved women, and to deny themselves that, was to deny their own humanity.
Rebecca Cox Jackson, a woman-loving preacher of the 19th century, who had a powerful love for God and took care of women.The writings of our very own Afrofuturist mother, Octavia Butler. This woman seriously had a vision for the future through science fiction.Assata Shakur, who reminded us through her autobiography to always consider our humanities.