Afrofuturism, Education and Digital Literacy: A Conversation with Cornelius Minor and Reza Rites
by Reza C. Clifton
“The teachers who don’t obsess about the future are missing out; it’s a major part of our identities as educators.”
Cornelius Minor, “veteran teacher” and Staff Developer at Columbia University’s Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, is talking about teaching. But he is also talking about Afrofuturism.
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“Afrofuturism,” shares Ingrid LaFleur in a 2011 Ted talk, is a concept that was coined in 1994 by writer Mark Dery in an essay called “Black to the Future.” She summarizes it as “a wide range of media” that allows for “imagining possible futures through a black cultural lens.” Many people associate the movement with musicians like Sun-Ra, Parliament Funkadelic, and, more contemporarily, Janelle Monae, though writer Octavia Butler is also an important source and reference.
Minor, who I met in Providence at the Learning Community’s Teaching Institute in March, 2015, has years of experience working with middle school students in Brooklyn, New York – in a diverse neighborhood. It requires “being imaginative,” says Minor, who says he gets inspiration from comic books and video games.
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Minor and I spoke by phone earlier this month about topics like digital media, Afrofuturism, and building relationships with students. Learn more by watching/listening to the podcast of my conversation with him, in which you’ll hear more about Afrofuturism and why it’s needed in the classroom, and you’ll hear arguments supporting the necessity of including digital media in schools, expanding definitions of literacy, and why it’s necessary and difficult to introduce and pursue alternative lifestyles in the face of respectability politics and bullying on the streets and in media.
Afrofuturism, Education and Digital Literacy: A Conversation with Cornelius Minor and Reza Rites, mini clip, 3
Follow and learn more about Cornelius Minor:
On Twitter @MisterMinor
Hear Ingrid LaFleur Discuss Afrofuturism