From the European South

a transdisciplinary journal of postcolonial humanities

Whose youth are the future? Black youth rejecting liberal futurities in favor of liberatory visions of the not-yet-here



Investments in the future begin when we invest in children, or so they say. In short, ‘save the children’ is also a call to save the future. The impetus behind this paper does not rest in a shared belief that the ‘children are the future’. What concerns me, rather, are the children already relegated to an anti-future and thus, out of and outside of time. In other words, I am interested in those said to be emblematic of the future yet denied a place in time. This paper is based on over one year of fieldwork at Run-a-Way – a multi-service center for youth in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Drawing on data from in-depth interviews with thirty youth, I make the case that within ‘present orientations’ there is prescience. Black youth rejected the future because they see and know what a racist-carceral, colonial state has in store for them today. Black youth chose not to entertain liberal futurities directed towards ‘rights’ and ‘freedoms’ associated with a ‘post-racial era’ but this did not make them present-oriented. It made them prepared. Forging new empirical and theoretical directions in the study of race and time by examining how time is racialized and how race is temporalized, this research reveals what it means to be emblematic of the future yet denied a place in time.


Race, time, youth, futurity, anti-Blackness



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