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Humanities to the Rescue: Afro-Rithms from the Future

March 25 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm


The UB Humanities Institute invites you to join us for an evening of play as part of our Humanities to the Rescue: Utopia programming. This event is free and open to the public. Registration required to attend and participation encouraged, but not a requirement!


Come play with us as we envision and create a new universe based in social justice.

This special event will be hosted by Ahmed Best and Lonny J Avi Brooks (co-creators of the Afrofuturist Podcast), with UB Faculty Host, Associate Professor of History, Dalia Muller.

What is Afro-Rithms from the Future?

Afro-rithms from the Future is a collaboration-based game that challenges players to employ storytelling as a tool for change-making initiatives that lead to equitable futures. Players are dealt three different card types that form the framework of the universe they will create.

Together, they will Democratize the Future through play.

“Mixing strategies from many disciplines, Afro-Rithms challenges players to imagine worlds of greater and lesser equality, justice, and communality — among many other possible values and conditions — and to populate these worlds with new objects and ideas that may arise accordingly.”

Featured Guest Players

  • Naila Ansari, Assistant Professor, SUNY Buffalo State Department of Theatre and Africana Studies, award-winning choreographer, director, and performing artist, and UB MFA Dance
  • Taylor Coleman, PhD Candidate, UB Department of Africana and American Studies
  • Elana Cunningham, BA and Creative Writing Certificate Candidate, UB Department of English
  • Nicole Morris Johnson, Assistant Professor, UB Department of English
  • Ndubueze Mbah, Associate Professor, UB Department of History
  • Ekua Mends-Aidoo, Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer: Evergreen Health, Co-Host of the “Black Gems Dive In” Podcast
  • James Ponzo, Clinical Assistant Professor, UB Department of Africana and American Studies
  • Samina Raja, Professor, UB Urban Planning and co-director UB’s Community for Global Health Equity
  • Stacey Robinson, Assistant Professor of Graphic Design, School of Art + Design, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Black Kirby a collaborative art entity with artist/professor John Jennings (UC Riverside), and 2015 UB MFA Alumni
  • Dana Venerable, PhD Candidate, UB Department of English and 2020-21 UB Gender Institute Dissertation Fellow

About Afro-Rithms from the Future

Developed by Lonny J. Avi Brooks, Ahmed Best, and game designer Eli Kosminsky, Afro-Rithms from the Future has been featured in events at Stanford University’s, the Institute for the Future, NeueHouse Hollywood, and UNESCO. Fathomers and the Equitable Games Group are supporting Brooks, Best, and Kosminsky in the ongoing public play-testing and refinement of the game for eventual public release and distribution as a school curriculum tool.

Ahmed Best is a senior fellow at the Annenberg Innovation Lab at USC; host of the Afrofuturist Podcast; CEO of BISN Media; and a writer, director, producer, actor, musician, and futurist. A founding member of the acid jazz group the Jazzhole, in New York, he starred in the Broadway musical Stomp and as the first CGI lead character in a motion picture, as Jar Jar Binks in the Star Wars prequel trilogy: The Phantom MenaceAttack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith.

Best is an MFA graduate of the American Film Institute and has received honors including an Ovation Award, an LACC Award, a Stage Raw Award, and an ANNIE award. He is executive producer of Dinner at LOLA (Stop That Bangin Productions/BISN Media) andThe DL Chronicles (GLAAD Award winner for Best Miniseries), as well as creator, writer, and director of science-fiction comedy The Nebula.

Lonny J. Avi Brooks is an associate professor of strategic communication and media studies at California State University, East Bay, where he has piloted the integration of futures thinking into the communication curriculum for the last 15 years. He contributes prolifically to journals, conferences, and anthologies on subjects related to Afrofuturism and forecasting. Most recently, he published “Diverse Alternative Learning Visions 2026-2066: Transforming and Reframing the University as a Lifelong Social Design Lab,” co-written with colleague Ian Pollock, in Futures Thinking and Organizational PolicyCase Studies for Managing Rapid Change in Technology, Globalization, and Workforce Diversity. He is also lead co-editor of a Journal of Futures Studies special issue, titled “When Is Wakanda: Afrofuturism and Dark Speculative Futurism,” forthcoming in November 2019.

Brooks is co-executive producer and co-creator, with Ahmed Best, of the Afrofuturist Podcast; lead organizer and advisory board member for the Black Speculative Arts Movement (BSAM), in Oakland; and principal leader for BSAM Futures, which aims to publish comprehensive, inclusive and collaborative analyses of contemporary Afrocentric works. He also volunteers as a core member for outreach at, a pioneering non-profit dedicated to creating a more collaborative and dynamic computational medium for the long term.

Afro-Rithms From The Future support team and partner Fathomers,

CHINELO UFONDU, Development and Communication Associate

LACEY WOZNY, Co-Founder, Director of Programs and Experience


March 25
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Event Category:


Humanities Institute