Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Race in the Galactic Age: Sankofa, Afrofuturism, Whiteness and Whitley Strieber
by Johnson, Clifton Zeno, M.A., State University of New York at Albany, 2019, 63; 13806083
Abstract (Summary)

Octavia Butler asked if black skin was so disruptive a force that the mere presence of it alters a story? In a post-colonial era, skin color remains a polarizing topic. While humans are still redefining perceptions about race, people across planet earth are opening up to the possibility of the existence of intelligent extraterrestrial life. This paper explores how the acknowledgment of a galactic presence would transform perceptions of whiteness. The experiences of the best-selling author and proclaimed contactee, Whitley Strieber, are used as case studies to analyze if Amero-European ingrained bias toward melanin would influence the western world’s interactions with dark-skinned extraterrestrials species. The white male is portrayed as the prototypical sci-fi nerd in popular American culture; however, the themes and struggles present in science fiction remain deeply connected with those present in African American culture. Despite the presence of extraterrestrials in African centered tradition, Stieber's experience demonstrates that whiteness still holds influence on the dominant cultural position regarding alien contact. I will practice Sankofa to trace African centered histories and traditions designed for communicating with entities from different dimensions, realities or even planets that continue to perpetuate in African American culture. I argue that African American culture has been addressing aspects of reality unacknowledged by the western world. I demonstrate that elements of the cosmic, supernatural, extraterrestrial or superhuman continue to manifest in African centered culture. These continually dismissed observations get lost in a world where the European Enlightenment has led to a culture in which whiteness establishes itself as “a norm that represents an authoritative, delimited and hierarchical mode of thought” as Joe Kinechole notes, limiting Amero-European culture from fully embracing a world view that includes extraterrestrials. Whiteness changes as it interacts in a range of settings and this paper examines the role of whiteness in a galactic environment by exploring how whiteness navigates through alien spaces.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Berman, Jeffrey, Hill, Mike
School: State University of New York at Albany
Department: English
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: MAI 58/04M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: African Studies, African American Studies
Keywords: Afrofuturism, Extraterrestrial, Galactic age, Sankofa, Strieber, Whitley, Whiteness
Publication Number: 13806083
ISBN: 978-0-438-94614-9
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