The fate and evolution of Black (American) exceptionalists is strange, tragic and multifaceted to say the least. Black exceptionalism against the greater Black diaspora follows the legacies of notorious Black revolutionary cultists – as Huey Newton would refer to them as, the Duboisian “talented tenth,” coons and sychophants, American Garveyites attempting to reclaim Black masculinity and regality; all the way to hapless Black post-modernist rappers like Tyler, the Creator, contrarians, oppositionalists, post-racialists and respectable Negroes not catering to stereotypes. However, these extreme conceptions and binaries don’t speak of the fair-weather Black exceptionalists, who rise above collective punishment and responsibility to seek group agency while seeking refuge and resources in community as it best suits them. Is it possible all the same for the individualist to assume this position because of the ultimate benefit to themselves, let alone symbiotic to the great Black diaspora as it continues to fight to rise above white supremacy, necropolitics of Black bodies, and culture vampires? What sort of Afrofutures does this way of survival create?
In order to give this conceived Black exceptionalist the benefit of the doubt, we must assume they act with an understanding of Huey P Newton’s idea of Intercommunalism that is based in both translocalism and plurinationalism. Intercommunalism as conceived by Newton is the unification of global communities of people in order to combat an enemy like the American white supremacist empire and transnational corporations that control political self-determination on a global scale. Translocalism and plurinationalism expands intercommunalism’s sustainability, as explained by GBAN’s Anthony Day, with the former opening up exchanges between localities, or “cultural geographies of place, existential territories…overlapped by three ecologies of the mental, social and natural environment,” to create “spaces for multi-ethnic development work” as localities are “the smallest common unit in the matrices of global empire” (Day 6). Plurinationalism expands these exchanges for the Black exceptionalist, being “the theory that modern nation-states are actually composed of many nations with different aspirations based on their shared but separate cultural, political and socioeconomic context” if we consider the exceptionalist as their own community (Day 7).
Black exceptionalism never implies the political rights and respect of the Black body; the only way to achieve such self-determination and agency is by being part of the greater community, to ensure translocalism is sustainable and intercommunalism extends to the entire black global diaspora. Acting as a single-person community as an act of plurinationalism connects the exceptionalist to no other safe zones as they leave their own home and would assumedly be amongst the enemy. To emphasize, I offer two quotes by both Anthony Day & Frank Wilderson:
“New institutions should be built by the community and for it reflecting the means in which the whole of the diaspora exist in space as full beings in cultural practice and peacefulness.” – Anthony Day
“The ruse of analogy erroneously locates Blacks in the world – a place where they have not been since the dawning of Blackness. This attempt to position the Black in the world by way of analogy is not only a mystification, and often erasure, of Blackness’ grammar of suffering (accumulation and fungibility or the status of being non-human) but simulatenously also a provision for civil society, promising an enabling modality for human ethical dilemmas. It is a mystification and an erasure because, whereas masters may share the same fantasies as slaves, and slaves can speak as though they have the same interests as masters, their grammars of suffering are irreconcilable.” – Frank Wilderson
As discouraged as the Black exceptionalist may be from claiming political sovereignty despite not discarding the community wholesale, they still have the ability to imagine and create an afrofuture for themselves. A Black exceptionalist that is a self-conceived Afrofuturist acquainted with the quantum mechanics of non-locality and entanglement of the quantum beings in space-time could in theory map out future time events local to their future state of being (their surrounding environment), astral project, and then travel forward to that timeline’s events. They would simply need to understand quantum particle superposition, which posits that “a particle exists partly in all its particular theoretically possible states simultaneously,” similar to multiverse theory (Afrofuturist Affair 1). This is the basis for understanding quantum particle entanglement, “the phenomenon in which the quantum states of two or more objects have to be described with reference to each other, even though the individual objects may be spatially separated,” non-locality of entangled particles that “behave as a single physical object, no matter how far apart they are” and time travel according to the Afrofuturist Affair’s Rasheedah Phillips. This individualist can theoretically conceive an Afrofuture based in African traditional time because they can be the focal point of the event mapping.
At the same time, this limited understanding of African time grounded in linear wave function collapse gives rise to the Black exceptionalist’s flawed understanding of event mapping and a more wholesale lack of consideration for retrocausality in effective event mapping and actual time travel to the past. The exceptionalist may have a tenuous grasp of “Sasa” time events – involving the “recent past, the present and the very immediate future” – but no conception of “Zamani” time, the “deeper, more infinite past,” or “No-Time,” involving “events that have not yet occurred and are not imminent” (Black Quantum Futurism 5). What is it though about the exceptionalist that makes their view of time linear rather than fully cyclical? Despite their inherent inclination to reject Black-centered traditions, the fact that they perceive the world means they can anticipate it; simply because they have the capacity to store knowledge about the world as past memories to be used to judge probabilities of one state of events following another to generate a prediction (BQF 4). This feedback loop does mirror the cyclical nature of retrocausality that is inherent to African time event mapping in a way so what’s missing (BQF 4)?
What’s missing now is what was missing from the start; the unabided haplessness of the Black exceptionalist to be able to indulge in everything that holds their momentary interest and then be able to promptly discard anything is the foremost obstacle in them understanding time travel and effective event mapping of Afrofutures. It stands to reason that although the time-traveling exceptionalist dressed their practice in African quantum futurist traditions, they ultimately function under the attitude that they would be able to alter time event happenings that they travel towards with their actions or influences similar to what is considered time travel in the Western canon. They would have to believe that whether or not time travel is opposed to the Eurocentric concepts of unfettered free will to act as they please with or without consequence and/or determinism of space-time, where actions inevitably have no effect on changing the ultimate outcome of events, they are still empowered as actors in time event happenings to act however they choose. This narcissism is only possible within a linear perception of time with a disharmonious, static “time symmetry”, which is understanding that “events happen the same way if time progresses forward or backward” (BQF 1). The Afro-exceptionalist time traveler would by nature act as if the present tense exists at any point or event in time they can enact some influence or make a decision, thus there is no past, no future and no room for retrocausality – just a point moving toward the end of a line. Dr. Nikitah Imani even tells us that in linear, Eurocentric conceptions of time, “time is analogous to a ‘number line’ in which one begins at a point of origin or birth or ‘zero time’ and moves inextricably towards an ‘end time’” (Imani 32). He also says, regarding connecting to a past in linear time, that “movement back is possible only conceptually through memory. And what is past influences what is present largely through the institutionalization of collective memory in a project we call history” (Imani 32).
At this point, it’s clear that the Black exceptionalist has in some small way access to both the past and future. Why is this not considered real retrocausality and why does it lead to flawed event mapping? Retrocausality is the veritable backbone of African time traditions. It is the phenomenon in time where “the effect of an event precedes the cause,” based in the quantum theory of wave particle duality, where “waves can exhibit particle-like properties while particles can exhibit wave-like properties” (Phillips 17). Entanglement of particles allows them to “send a wave backwards in time to the moment the entangled pair was created” (Phillips 17). This allows the events of the past, present and future to all affect each other in some way, creating time symmetry. In the sense, if “our real sense of time passing is based on changes in our environment,” we must have access to the retrocausal cycle of changes around our various presences through time in various environments to effectively map events in the “No-Time” (Phillips 18). It’s as BQF’s Rasheedah Phillips said, the Afrofuturist time travel “becomes the active agent in the synchronicity/focal point, instead of time being the active agent defining the synchronicity (Phillips 28).
The Black exceptionalist, given their most undeserved credence, it seems will never be able to conceive an Afrofuture that is real by their own nature. As Phillips states, “time is not its own entity in the African consciousness; it is a component of events and an experience that can be created, produced, saved or retrieved. Life is made up of events, and events are defined by certain relationships, patterns and rhythms” (Phillips 24-25). This cyclical nature of things has no deference or facsimile; it is simply the very tangible balance we strive to maintain because “in order to, in a sense, document and map out changes in our environment, we rely on time and space as the diagrammatic design of our action upon matter” just as we perceive time through changes in our environment (Phillips 21). The Black exceptionalist was doomed to inadequacy from their own inception as they would always neglect the relationships with the members of the community that make up their environment. This is not the same as the many cults of mythologies the Black exceptionalists will seek to practice at their own convenience. We should hope, being the community they were compelled to shun, as Joy KMT states, that they “would move beyond the cult, they would no longer seek to define the word simply for their own gain” (KMT 53).
Afrofuturist Affair. "Do-It-Yourself Time Travel Mini-Zine." Do-It-Yourself Time Travel Mini-Zine n.d.: 1. Print.
Black Quantum Futurism. "Predictive Coding." Non-Locality Number Two n.d.: 4. Print.
Day, Anthony. "Autonomous Translocal Spaces." Facing Autonomy n.d.: 15. Print.
Day, Anthony. "Translocalism And The Problem of Command." Facing Autonomy n.d.: 5-7. Print.
Imani, Dr. Nikitah Okembe-RA. Black Quantum Futurism: Theory & Practice. Middleton, DE: House Of Future Sciecnes , 2016. Print.
KMT, Joy. Black Quantum Futurism: Theory & Practice. Middleton, DE: House Of Future Sciecnes , 2016. Print.
Phillips, Rasheedah. Black Quantum Futurism: Theory & Practice. Middleton, DE: House Of Future Sciecnes , 2016. Print.