Behind and Ahead of the Times:

Histories and Futures of Black Futurity


In an allegedly Post-The Black experience(s) in the United States cannot easily be extracted from how we are collectively situated in time: it is shaped simultaneously by the weight of past and present oppressions and the precarity of our futures. White supremacy would have us believe that Black people are "behind the times" economically, socially, and otherwise; time shapes constructions of race and Blackness; our time is literally worth less than others' on the labor market; time is an instrument of carceral punishment; the time for justice is never now.

Still, Black folks—designers and non-designers alike—demonstrate an enduring commitment to constructing thriving, expansive Black futures. By troubling the definition of "design," this talk addresses Black futures of yesterday, today and tomorrow, radical imagination, and emergent strategies in Black design, whether acknowledged by the canon or not. From traditions in Black speculative futuring like afrofuturism, to the ubiquitous acts of future-building that Black Americans undertake on a daily basis, to the role of Black designers in mainstream industry, we'll explore the ways in which Black folks have troubled this liminal time-space we occupy through design and explore the implications of that lineage for the future of Black design.