Modern Griots Recap: Highlights from Black Comic Book Festival

Attending the Black Comic Book Festival for the first time this year introduced me to a wide scope of the comic book world from the lens of the black community and so I wanted to share some of the creators and their works that I came across while there. It was difficult walking around the presentation tables and stopping myself from buying all the comics there, but I did get a couple:

*The first table I went to was the artist John Jennings and I purchased the African American Graphic Classics. As someone who does write poetry, this was a great find for me. It’s a similar idea to a book I had when I was younger, illustrator and author Ashley Bryan’s book of illustrated African-American poetry. Various comic and graphic artists, such as Jennings, Lance Tooks, and Afua Richardson, illustrate several short stories and poems from various authors, including Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Dunbar Nelson, W.E.B. Du Bois and Langston Hughes.

*Walking around I saw many male creators in the comic and science fiction industry, like the Craft family, N Steven Harris, Mshindo Kuumba, I enjoyed particularly seeing black women who were part of it as well, like Evolve‘s Kia Barbee. I met illustrator and animator Tiana Mone’e Scott, who has done work with Cartoon Network and PBS. At the right below was one of my favorite pieces that she had on her table. See more of her work here.

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Moving on the Wires: This Week’s News and Posts

Sorry I did not post for most of the week; I have a slight sprained wrist, so I had to slow down a bit on writing. But anyway, here is some news articles and written pieces from the week:

*Martin Luther King in Science Fiction on i09

*”Playing a Minority Forecaster in search of Afrofuturism: where am I in this future, Stewart Brand?:” (This post is part of a larger chapter that will be in Afrofuturism 2.0, an anthology I will be part of, too)”The mapping of the future still confronts the weighted language of colonial expansion, exclusion, conquest and erasure for imagining the dilemmas of racial identity and intersecting identities as we race to the future. Intersecting identities takes into account the fluid, complexity and contradictory nature of the social identities we inhabit and perform. The social identity categories of gender, race, class, age, ability sexuality, and their full expression and currency in

Jaszmine Asha Hawkins

anticipatory visions require greater not less diligence. ‘But let justice roll down like waters’ as we interrogate how science fiction capital operates and how we can expand its horizons for defining who partakes meaningfully in the future”

*Visual Artist Jaszmine Asha Hawkins And The Art Culture of Steampunk

*2006 “Interviewing the Oracle: Octavia Butler” from Indypendent

*Afrotechtopia Exhibition at the Samek Art Museum of Bucknell Museum in Pennsylvania: “Afrotechtopia starts with Afrofuturism and probes into the adjoining dimensions of Afrosurrealism and the Ethno-gothic. Afrotechtopia includes artists who use the languages of technology and mythology to rewind the past and set the future spinning.”

*Calls for Proposals for Liberation Technologies at Aliied Media Conference:

“The post-apocalypse is here and real, where ancient and varied cultures and technologies have been erased in the name of Empire and Progress. What do we do when access to memory/the past has been standardized, and the potential to manifest and (dis)embody the joyous unknown has been shamed and left behind?

This track seeks sci-fi and speculative themed session proposals that disrupt, deconstruct, and reframe oppressive mainstream media networks, narratives, and representation by using sci-fi possibilities to reorient existence.”

*Yeezianity is a religion now? Hmmm?

*The Black Aquatic and Afrofuturism Panel Discussion at the Studio Museum on February 6. “Organized by Jared Richardson, PhD candidate in Art History at Northwestern University, this discussion features Alexander G. Weheliye, Professor of English and African American Studies at Northwestern University.”

*30 Minutes with George Clinton Interview: My heart hurts a bit reading what he said about Miley Cyrus.

*Below is part one of “We Must Free Our Imaginations” – a six-part series in which Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina speaks on the fear of imagination, religious institutional control, challenging conventional thoughts and actions and outsider structures and perceptions influencing and controlling African societies, hatred towards homosexuals, how to confront “demons,” and the ecstasy of madness. Recently, he came out as a gay man.

See the rest here.

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MLK: Who His Dreams Were For

This is jazz singer, Jose James’, Martin Luther King, Jr.-inspired song, “The Dreamer:”

“I saw the dreamer raise his hand
Into a world of possibilities”

While today many will try to appropriate and sanitize his image and legacy for their own agendas (looking at you PETA), let us remember that King fought for the freedom of oppressed people all over the world, especially the black communities from which he originated. Hamden Rice on Daily Kos wrote about his legacy, helping black people to confront their fears of daily life living in the South and in general. Not that those fears or dangers have gone completely away, but that we can stand up to them.

Also, let’s be clear, that is what made him dangerous, too, and eventually why he was assassinated. Some can pretend that they love and respect him now, but probably would have been the same people back then who would have jailed him. Do you think they would have agreed so easily with speeches like, “Where Do We Go From Here?,” or “A Time to Break the Silence,” or any of his other later speeches. But some in America want the King stuck in time in 1963 like his perpetual Groundhog’s Day because it is easier to take and appeals to their own desires. But King envisioned a different world than what they had in mind.

Moving on the Wires: Articles and Posts from This Week

Afua Richardson’s “Komaid Queen”

Below are some news stories and opinion pieces that I collected over the week. Since Facebook is changing up its system of how posts are viewed and is fishy with what it considers as “violating community guidelines,” I will post the articles I come across during the week on Sunday along with posting them there throughout the week.

* Storify post of mine and other attendees’ tweets from the Black Comic Books Festival panels.

* Rich Johnston’s “An Oncoming Storm” (about the possibility of the X-Men character Storm’s monthly comic book and wishing artist Afua Richardson would draw it) on Bleeding Cool.

* Afropunk Interview with fantasy artist, Fabiola Jean-Louis: “Interview: Photographer Fabiola Jean-Louis – Magic & The Machine:” “It’s believed that there lies a fine line between

Fabiola Jean-Louis Photo Art

genius and insanity. But what is the case when reality and fantasy stumble upon one another, uniting the ultimate contrasts? Perhaps, creativity? In all my adventures and stumbles upon wonderful artists, I’ve never came across any like photographer, Fabiola jean-Louis. Somehow she’s found a connection between the Victorian era and whimsical urban legends like unicorns and Black fairies. Oddly enough, the two unique cultures mesh well together; not to mention the beautiful people she uses as her subjects to create what I like to call, Afro Magic, her being the Alchemist. In our interview below, Fabiola gives me a deeper understanding of her creative process and provision. Get ready to dive into a an exotic and beautiful mind!”

* Daniel Jose Older’s “12 Fundamentals of Writing ‘The Other’ (And The Self)”  (I especially thought the part about American Horror Story: Coven was interesting. Why is it religions outside of the Abrahamic religions don’t receive as much respect and are thought of as fantasy. I don’t see the mainstream religions treated the same way; for example, the talking snake is probably not real.)

*Net Neutrality Ruling Will Affect Communities of Color: Truth Out Article 1 and The Root Article 2.

* Saul Williams Tribute to Amiri Baraka: ” Amiri Baraka: Poet Laureate:” “The real power of influence occurs when you influence people who don’t even realize that they’ve been influenced by you. They may not even know who you are. This mainly happens when your art is so deeply embedded with love and your desire to see change in the world that the message becomes detached from the author and travels on its own. From heart to heart. We felt Amiri Baraka. I wasn’t even born yet and I felt him. I felt my mamma feeling him. He was part of the reason my mom turned to my dad, after having already birthed two mid-complexioned daughters, and said, “I just want a dark, dark boy with curly, curly hair.” Presto. Black Magic.”

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Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth: Curwen Best

I was searching for Caribbean science fiction, which is frustrating because most of the first results are for Pirates of the Caribbean (ugh!), but anyway, I stumbled across Bajan scholar Curwen Best  and his analyses of the intersections between technology, the internet, social and other media, and Caribbean culture and identity. He has written a number of books and articles, including The Politics of Caribbean Cyberculture,  “Technology Constructing Culture: Tracking Soca’s First ‘Post-.'” and “Caribbean Cyberculture: Towards and Understanding of Gender, Sexuality and Identity within the Digital Culture Matrix.”

Below is a portion of O. O. Worrell’s review from a lecture Best did, “Strategic Space: 10 Things Our Youth Know (that we don’t) about Cyberspace, the Nation and the Future”

“Reading culture as containing multiple tracks of data”
“Digital culture and reading strategies”

“Multi-Format Caribbean Cyberculture”.
The rationale, presented by Prof Best, for proposing such a theory is both enlightening as well as incandescent. That is, the evorevolutionary spaces, which give rise to commercialized space-aged technologies, namely, the World Wide Web, makes it virtually impossible for emerging 21st century (metropolitan cultures) not to emit and mimic the efflorescence of digital cyberspace transmissions. A trivial example of one such matrix giving rise to another can be viewed in the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. Televised (wireless sound-images from the moon) of Neil Armstrong, US astronaut, becoming the first man to set foot on the moon (July 20, 1969) may have given rise to the popularized Michael Jackson [1]moonwalk dance, mimicking the characteristic weightless motion of walking on the moon. In short, we have no choice but to go with the flow; tick with the tock; track with the trek! Wherever the technologists lead us, we must follow (even reluctantly so). It is a real-world phenomenon that the emerging, burgeoning digital culture is baptizing the ultra-orthodox, proselytized, barbarian, educated, differently educated, bond and free into the same murky river of multi-format cybercultures.

Modern Griots Recap: Divination 101

Divination (n): the art or practice that seeks to foresee or foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge usually by the interpretation of omens or by the aid of supernatural powers.

Divination, Science and Technology, Transhumanism and Futurism:

Definition, including implied ones, are important because they affect our perceptions. That is true for some modern perceptions of divination. The way many think of divination is as some ancient practice associated with magick and witchcraft where people read signs on chicken bones, sheep intestines, tea leaves or any other natural substance and that it has no practical application to our lives now. But is that the truth, or is that modern dismissals of practices done in spiritual systems outside of Abrahamic religions, and Western scientific misunderstandings of practices created by ancient people and of people of color who mostly do these. Last night, I went to CCCADI’s Roots and Stars event about divination and below are some notes I took from it:

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