Playwright Abbey Fenbert writes a sharp, thought-provoking manifesto against the stubborn gender inequality in American theater repertories.
My theme this spring has apparently been “start great books I don’t have time to finish,” and Brown Girl Dreaming is no exception. This was a gift from my mother-in-law at Christmas, and although I started it over a month ago, it’s too beautiful to rush through. This hardcover has come with me for a much needed haircut, […]
(reblogged from OkayAfrica)
For Paul Louise-Julie, the critically-panned box office bomb Gods Of Egypt is a symptom of a much more insidious disease. “I found it disgusting that in this day and age Hollywood can blatantly disrespect an entire people’s culture,” Louise-Julie tells Okayafrica. He called for a boycott of the film, while encouraging audiences to support Black mythologies instead.
They could start with Louise-Julie’s own stories. Last March, the 26-year-old French-Caribbean artist generated some buzz around his African mythology graphic novel series, The Pack. The project is set in a fantasy world based off Louise-Julie’s research of African civilizations. In the first season, we’re introduced to a pack of Egyptian werewolves. Each season thereafter will focus on a different region of the continent.
Louise-Julie describes his relationship with Africa as long and intimate. As a child, he visited the continent frequently while his parents were on business trips. He was surrounded by African art and music at home. His parents were avid collectors, particularly of bronze sculptures.
At the same time, Louise-Julie knew he wanted to be an artist. During his senior year of high school in Burkina Faso, he became friends with a Wolof artist by the name of Moktar. One day Moktar brought Louise-Julie to a small compound on the outskirts of Ouagadougou, where he was introduced to a Wolof griot.
“For the next three hours, with Moktar translating, he recounted detailed legends and histories of majestic empires, knights, kings, wars, etcetera,” Louise-Julie explains. “He told me that one day I will take these histories and legends and share it to their ‘brothers and sisters’ in America.” Although it wasn’t another two years until he began digging deep into research of African history and mythology, the episode kickstarted Louise-Julie’s artistic journey.
A night of drinking during art school brought the idea for The Pack to light. As the story goes, Louise-Julie was playing a game with a college buddy in which they’d take two random ideas and draw something out of them. Louise-Julie picked Egypt and werewolves. The first drawing was a bit silly, he says. But he sobered up in the morning and realized that perhaps there was actually something there. That was when he came up with the concept of an Egyptian werewolf.
(reblogged from Geeking Out About It)
This is Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage month, so out of solidarity with these many groups, I’m going to signal boost and post links to posts and blogs celebrating Asian culture.
If you’re not in this, there have been some complaints that Asian Americans are too silent about what happens to them in this country and that Black people aren’t doing enough to promote their causes. So the #notyourmule hashtag was started as a rebuke to people making such claims. If you’ve never made such claims, then this is not on you. If you have… Stop it!
Black people know what it means to be good allies though, since we made up some of the rules for how to do it correctly, and that’s what I am going to do. I can’t speak for all black people either. This is just how my conscience lets me sleep at night. The way I see it, I’m not Asian or Pacific Islander, and can’t speak for these cultures. I feel the same way about white women trying to speak for woc, or straight people speaking for LGBT people. That’s not cool.
Black people are too busy fighting out own battles about stuff that’s important to us. We can’t take care of our business and other peoples business too, and only Asian Americans can define what they think is important enough for them to call attention to. For example, I’d noticed the stereotypes, but hadn’t noticed Asian erasure issues, until it was pointed out to me, on the Nerds of Color website.
What black people can do, though, is support and back your shit up, when you step out there, though. We can choose to be good allies.
That said, I like this new Twitter activism I’ve seen from some prominent members in the Asian community, though. (Feels good donit, fellas?! Good, but terrifyin’, too! When you speak up and let people know they’re stepping on your toes, anything could happen.) Asian people have shit they want to get off their chests, and since I’m not Asian, there are things I won’t even see, that would be of primary concern to the hundreds of Asian American cultures in existence. I believe in letting people speak for their own needs, while I provide a signal boost and backup. That’s what I can do.
In the spirit of signal boosting, Uncle George has something to say:
(reblogged from Chronicles of Harriet)
The Black Arts Movement was the artistic branch of the Black Power movement. It was started in Harlem by writer and activist Imamu Amiri Baraka. Time magazine describes the Black Arts Movement as the “single most controversial movement in the history of African-American literature – possibly in American literature as a whole.”
Both inherently and overtly political in content, the Black Arts Movement was the only American literary movement to advance social engagement as an essential ingredient of its aesthetic. The movement broke from the immediate past of protest and petition (civil rights) literature and dashed forward toward Black Power.
In a 1968 essay, “The Black Arts Movement,” Larry Neal proclaimed Black Arts the “aesthetic and spiritual sister of the Black Power concept.” As a political phrase, Black Power had earlier been used by Richard Wright to describe the mid-1950s emergence of independent African nations. The 1960s’ use of the term originated in 1966 with Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee civil rights workers Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) and Mukasa Dada (Willie Ricks). Quickly adopted in the North, Black Power was associated with a militant advocacy of armed self-defense, separation from “racist American domination,” and pride in and assertion of the goodness and beauty of Blackness.
Creative Resistance involves a wide variety of artistic forms: music, memes, posters, banners, plays, street theater, poetry, animation, fiction, comic books, fashion, film and much more. Art adds vitality and energy to advocacy and reaches people at deeper emotional levels, conveying what cannot be said with the mere recitation of facts.
In the process of creating art there is a tremendous opportunity to build deep support for the issues the movement is working on.
Art is good for our communities and artistic collaboration is a bonding experience. We make art together, not just because of the changes it can bring to the world around us, but because of the way it changes us internally. The relationships built create community and solidarity that is essential in a successful social movement. The art that is created reaches out to people who see the protest, installation or other event. All of this adds up to empowerment of the individual, community and movement.
In this respect, art is a catalyst, on multiple levels, for change.
To be effective in our activism it is not enough to provide facts, figures and graphs and reach people in their heads. In order to change people, we have to reach them at a deeper, more emotional level.
Throughout history, the most effective political activists and revolutionaries have married the arts with campaigns for social change.
Think of the iconic photos of us being attacked by dogs and having the fire hoses turned on us; of police brutalizing and murdering us throughout our sojourn in America. These iconic images will be carried with us forever because they reached into the depths of us.
Another powerful artistic tool is music. Music draws people in and can open the door to a movement’s message. From hip-hop to jazz to soul, there is musical activism. Music is also a tool for creating solidarity and confidence as activists face difficult situations.
North Carolina Hospital Apologizes After Racist Volunteer Attacks Black Family A North Carolina hospital is apologizing to an African American family after a crazed female volunteer attacked them according to Journal Now reports: The nearly 7-minute video set near the hospital’s family resources center was uploaded Thursday by Isaiah Baskins. It appears to have been…
(reblogged from Troy L. Wiggins)
“I believe it’s imperative that people are able to tell their own stories. They can build their own tables rather than ask for a place at the table.” – Bill Campbell, founder, Rosarium Publishing
The last few years has seen the rise of many public conversations in media and fan spaces surrounding the far-fetched idea that stories about marginalized groups/featuring characters from marginalized groups/developed by creators from marginalized groups deserve as much consideration as stories who are borne of creators not from these groups. There is much ado about diversity, and many publishing houses, comic book companies, game developers, and tv/film studios are clamoring to become more diverse. There are some studios, however, who have been committed to prioritizing these stories and properties since they began. Rosarium Publishing is one of those places. And now, Rosarium needs our help to do more and better work.
From the folks themselves:
In just 3 short years, Rosarium has been able to produce several critically-acclaimed projects such as Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond, Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany, The SEA Is Ours: Tales of Steampunk Southeast Asia, and APB: Artists against Police Brutality; many of their titles are a being read in high school and college classrooms across the country and the company has been mentioned, reviewed, and featured in literary publications such as Publishers Weekly, Chicago Tribune, Library Journal, Locus, Boston Globe, Washington Post, countless websites and blogs as well as The New York Times. Projects such as the indie comic DayBlack and the crime novel Making Wolf have also won literary awards. Rosarium has been able to accomplish all this through hard work, fan support and print-on-demand. Rosarium, whose books are now distributed to stores by IPG, has been so successful that demand has now dictated that a switch to offset printing is now necessary to get more of their work to the masses sooner and that is where their new crowdfunding campaign comes in.
(reblogged from Chronicles of Harriet)
Most conventions have Guests who are, to some extent, the headliners of the convention. A convention may have Author, Artist, Editor, Music, Toastmaster and Special Guests.
We also serve the interests of authors, editors, comic book creators and other publishing professionals, providing opportunities for networking, promotion, and a convenient location for negotiations and other business meetings.
At SOBSF Con (“SOBSFic Con”), all of the professionals began as fans, and most still consider themselves fans, so you will find that they are approachable, friendly and eager to share their knowledge, wisdom and experience.
State of Black Science Fiction Convention Guests are chosen very carefully. Of course we want our guests to attend panels and workshops, but we also invited guests we genuinely think will enjoy SOBSF Con and have fun themselves! Guests are highly encouraged to experience all the activities that the convention has to offer.
Here is a list of some of our confirmed Guests. This list is ever-expanding, so check back often to learn what other Blacktastic Guests will be in attendance at SOBSF Con!
Charles R. Saunders
Living literary legend Charles Saunders is our Distinguished Guest of Honor.
He began his career writing stories and essays for fanzines in the early 1970s, but he is best known as the founder of the subgenre of Fantasy called “Sword & Soul,” which is described by Charles: “Sword-and-soul is the name I’ve given to the type of fiction I’ve been writing for nearly 40 years. The best definition I can think of for the term is ‘African-inspired heroic fantasy’. Its roots are in sword-and-sorcery, but its scope is likely to expand as time passes.”
In 1981 he published the first Sword and Soul novel, Imaro, about a skilled, fearless, wandering warrior who rivals (exceeds?) Conan. He continued expanding the genre of Sword and Soul with the two-volume Dossouye series about a fierce woman warrior from Dahomey and her mighty war-bull, Gbo. Set in an alternate-earth Africa, Imaro was the first sword and sorcery novel that featured a Black hero and was well-rooted in African history, cosmology and folklore rather than the prevalent Celtic, Arthurian, and Scandinavian inspired fantasies.
Charles has inspired several generations of writers with his work.
Our Guest of Honor, Tananarive Due, teaches in the creative writing MFA program at Antioch University in Los Angeles and is a former Cosby Chair in the Humanities at Spelman College, where she taught screenwriting, creative writing and journalism.
Tananarive, an American Book Award winner and NAACP Image Award recipient, is the author of over a dozen novels and a work of non-fiction as well.
Her first novel, The Between, published in 1995, and many of her subsequent books, are part of the supernatural / horror genre. Tananarive has also written The Black Rose, historical fiction about Madam C.J. Walker and Freedom in the Family, a non-fiction work about the civil rights struggle. She also was one of the contributors to the humor novel Naked Came the Manatee. She is also the author of the African Immortals novel series and the Tennyson Hardwick novels.
In 2010, she was inducted into the Medill School of Journalism’s Hall of Achievement at Northwestern University.
Tananarive’s novella, “Ghost Summer,” published in the 2008 anthology The Ancestors , received the 2008 Kindred Award from the Carl Brandon Society, and her short fiction has appeared in best-of-the-year anthologies of science fiction and fantasy.
This leading voice in Black Speculative Fiction lives in Southern California with her husband, author Steven Barnes and their son, Jason.
Brandon Massey was born June 9, 1973, in Waukegan, Illinois and grew up in Zion, a suburb north of Chicago.
He self-published Thunderland, his first novel, in 1999. After managing to sell a few thousand copies on his own, Kensington Publishing Corp. in New York offered him a two-book contract, and published a new, revised edition of Thunderland in December 2002.
Since then, he has published up to three books a year, ranging from thriller novels, to short story collections and anthologies.
He lives, with his family, near Atlanta, GA.
Sheree R. Thomas
Sheree Renée Thomas is an author, book editor and publisher.
She is the editor of the award winning Dark Matter and Dark Matter: Reading the Bones anthologies, both collections of some of the best in Black speculative fiction.
She is also the publisher of Wanganegresse Press, and has contributed to national publications including the Washington Post, Black Issues Book Review, QBR, and Hip Mama. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Ishmael Reed’s Konch, Drumvoices Revue, Obsidian III, African Voices, storySouth and other literary journals, and has received Honorable Mention in the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, 16th and 17th annual collections.
A native of Memphis, she lives in New York City.
(reblogged from Nerds of Color)
I’m always amazed at how many people are so quick to argue that people of color did not exist in Europe during medieval times or that black people, for instance, weren’t around during the Greek and Roman eras. And to include said PoCs during such time periods would be unrealistic and another example of shoving a PC agenda down our throats OH-EM-GEE.
This usually comes up in medieval fantasy stories. Like say for instance, Guinevere in BBC’s Merlin. Actress Angel Coulby caught heat for daring to be a beautiful powerful black queen.
This nonsense makes me laugh A LOT for two main reasons:
1.) It’s a huge double standard in that whites can always be placed in stories revolving around Egypt, China, Africa, or pre “discovered” America and no one blinks an eye.
Yet if a PoC shows up in medieval fantasy tale, it’s unrealistic. Talking animals, elves, dragons, gnomes, all totally plausible. Black people in Europe? Too many people can’t suspend disbelief at that.
2.) People of color existing in the Greek/Roman era, Medieval Europe, and frankly anywhere else is HISTORICALLY ACCURATE and those who think they’re experts, don’t know their history. AT ALL.
(Reblogged from Voices from the Infant, Toddler and Family Field)
Yesterday two of my friends and I had the honor of volunteering in Flint, MI for a small NGO called Crossing Water. This is a volunteer organization started by some members of the National Association of Social Workers-MI chapter. The goal of this group is to create connections among community groups in Flint to help serve impoverished communities who are deeply affected by the current water crisis. What I saw was heart-breaking beyond words. And it was only one day there. I am trying to imagine living this way and I can’t.
We came to a low-income housing complex run by the Flint Housing Commission. I saw a case of water on people’s doorsteps that had been delivered earlier in the day by volunteers. There was no governmental system in the complex to test water, distribute water, or provide lead-testing to the children. This is a complex managed essentially by HUD. Where are the government leaders?
We knocked on one door to deliver filters and water. A young man answered who was happy to see us. “Do you have a filter?” He does, but it did not fit, so we gave him another one which would work in his unit. I asked if he had had his water tested, and he was not sure. He showed me the testing bottle he had from his aunt’s house, which was on the floor of his car, but he could not find the paperwork to go with it (which is used for tracking and data analysis). I explained how he had to get his water tested, making sure he understood to use unfiltered water that had been in the tap for at least 6 hours. He had no idea he had to do this, as he had not heard that filtered water was not safe to drink either. Children under six live with him, and they cannot drink even the filtered water. He had no idea, no one told him, and he does not have access to the internet to get all of the updates online. My brilliant friend had the idea that instead of the Governor hiring PR firms to spin his reputation, perhaps he should hire PR firms to get a coordinated message out on safety and testing to ALL the people of Flint.
The next house four young children answered the door gleefully, as if they knew we were delivering water to them. The little girl joyfully showed us her newly painted nails as we talked to her young auntie who was caring for them while their mom was at work. We explained to the aunt about how to get her water tested, and she had no idea of the process. She at least had a filter and we made sure she knew the kids could only drink the bottled water. Then, the young boy strongly and sternly put out his arms for the case of water. I said, “It’s pretty heavy, kiddo,” but he persisted with “I can do it!” I gave him the case and he proudly held it and brought it into the apartment. All I could think about was that this little boy should not have to be so strong and sturdy that his little arms have to carry a case of water for his family, he should be holding out his arms to catch a ball or grab a swing. But he was eager and ready for water. Water he should be getting out of his tap, not out of a bottle.