Another Round, Episode 43: A Gumbo Of Afrofuturism

Blacker History Month wraps up with more little known heroes, we talk all things Kanye with Jezebel's Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, and interview Vann R. Newkirk II (aka @fivefifths) about Afrofuturism and #DuragHistoryWeek.

Drake knows what time it is. Do you know what time it is?


February 23rd is W.E.B. DuBois' birthday.

" A system cannot fail those it was never meant to protect " W.E.B. DuBois.

That quote was actually coined by our guest this week, Vann R. Newkirk II, aka @fivefifths, a writer at The Atlantic and one of the founders of Seven Scribes.

Courtesy of Vann R. Newkirk II

It was probably misattributed to W.E.B. DuBois, because Vann's Twitter name at the time he tweeted it was "W.E.B.B.I.E. DuBois."

If you're new to Vann's work, here are two excellent pieces of writing to get you started.

Why #DuragHistoryWeek Is More Than A Joke

Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze / Graphic by Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

"Or: How the iconic hair accessory of my youth became an unexpectedly meaningful way to celebrate blackness in the face of isolation."

The Wonderful Afrofuturism of ‘The Wiz’

"I realized that The Wiz helped give me the keys to create, in the way that I imagine The Wizard of Oz sparked the imaginations of children for the greater part of a century. While I didn’t have the language then, what is clear now is that The Wiz is a revolutionary statement using Afrofuturism as its font-face."

Vann recommends Alaya Dawn Johnson's The Summer Prince if you want to get your Afrofuturistic "low-key young adult on."

Arthur A. Levine Books

Also, get some Octavia Butler and Kiese Laymon on your bookshelf.

I'm not alone in noting the irony that a genre like sf, historically obsessed with alterity, should have so much trouble with actual people of color and women and LGBT peoples. But when one understands the degree to which nearly all our genres are haunted by, and have drawn a lot of their meanings, materials, and structures from the traumatic Big Bang of colonialism and its attendant matrixes of power (coloniality)— irony strikes one as the least of our problems.Alien invasions, natives, slavery, colonies, genocide, racial system, savages, technological superiority, forerunner races and the ruins they leave behind, travel between worlds, breeding programs, superpowered whites, mechanized regimes that work humans to death, human/alien hybrids, lost worlds—all have their roots in the traumas of colonialism.

On this episode, we also talk all things Kanye West, including his new album The Life of Pablo.

Dimitrios Kambouris / Via Getty Images for Yeezy Season 3

Jezebel's Julianne Escobedo Shepherd joins us for the discussion. We talk about his place in the fashion world, his relationship with Taylor Swift, and his mention of Lexapro on the album. Read Julianne's latest on Kanye and mental health: "No One Wins When You Try to Diagnose Kanye West".

Plus, we welcome Matt Bellassai back to tell us about some more White History Heroes.


Tracy buys a round for Noela Rukundo, a woman who, well, this incredible headline says it all:

Heben buys a round for The Proud Family.

View this video on YouTube


Here are 5 random things you will hear in this week's episode:

1. “Writing: the whole point of it is learning yourself. Don’t take that journey for granted."

2. "I wore my wife's [satin] bonnet before I went to my last job interview...I got the job."

And they said black men can't wear bonnets

We see you, #BonnetBoyz.

3. "I read a theory on the internet that the Gross Sisters were blue because they're ashy."

4. "Ashy is not even on the beauty spectrum, it's on the morality spectrum." - the great Doreen St. Felix

5. "Thank you, assassin with a heart of gold?"