With issues like gentrification and displacement of marginalized communities as well as the redevelopment of the Jamaica/Southeast Queens area, those of us who are from the area have a lot to think and worry about. What does the future of the neighborhood look like for us? Local design student, Sada Spence, who lived in Southeast Queens, decided to start a project series, called DARK, where local community members could discuss the future of the African diaspora.
Last week Sunday, I met with some members of the Black August Cocoon Collective that Ola Ronke of Free Black Women’s Library started for the month of August as a way to bring together a community of black woman to do a series of activities and rituals that will later result in us creating a zine.
Since the Sunday coincided with a new full moon in Leo, Ola had each of us pick a card from Earthlyn Manuel’s Black Angels Card deck. The card I got was the Joker. At first I thought that was strange because I don’t think I’m much of a funny person or a jokester, but I have been studying trickster archetypes and gods like Eshu/Elegba, I do love word play when it comes to my writing practice and as the book explanation says, I seem to have a liveliness that attracts others to me.
Take a look at the card and read the description for it (click on the pictures for full size):
As a speculative fiction author, Octavia Butler broke new grounds in the genre, going beyond the patriarchal Eurocentric and white supremacist framework of a lot of early speculative fiction. In her novels, she explored underrepresented topics like the continuing impact of American slavery and racism on black bodies and minds and larger society, and the seeds of late capitalism leading to dystopia. She also gave us stories from the perspective of black people, specifically black women (herself being a black woman writer), something that was rare in these genres.
Last Sunday, I attended Brooklyn Book Festival and the panel, “The Legacy of Octavia Butler,” featuring author Ytasha Womack (Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-fi and Fantasy), author Daniel Jose Older (Shadowshaper), artist John Jennings (Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation) and author Ben Winters (Underground Airlines). Each panelist talked about the mega influence of Butler on their work and what was possible to write about and focus on in speculative fiction. Like me, all the panelists wished they found out about her work earlier because her work validated them and the truths of our histories and realities in ways other novels in the same genre did not. As Jennings expressed, Butler’s skill was destabilizing the stereotypes and categories that we place on ourselves and others; she was centered on exploring the liminal spaces and identities. Butler herself didn’t fit the stereotypes of a typical black woman — she was reclusive and reserved, and she was willing to go into and engage with spaces that others did not dare.
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Despite having a cold last week and recovering from it, which is why I have not posted in a week, I managed to go to three exhibitions — Sol’Sax’s Medicine from Heaven: How African American Culture Was Used to Cure the USA, Maksaens Denis’ Mutation X062 and Kara Walker’s A Subtlety. Below are slideshows from each event:
Sol’Sax‘s Medicine from Heaven: How African American Culture Was Used to Cure the USA at Skylight Gallery in Brooklyn
This exhibition reminded me a lot of Margaret Vendryes’ African Diva Project where traditional African masks are placed on the faces of legendary African-American figures symbolizing the sacredness of African-American and African Diasporic cultures.
Sorry everyone; I had a busy weekend and could not post on Sunday. So here is this post on Monday.
*LAST DAY TO DONATE TO MY ATLANTIC IMPACT FUNDRAISER!!!!!!! Here are my posts from the past few weeks with Barbados Cultural Facts of the Day and other Barbados related posts.
Please donate to my fundraiser for Atlantic Impact’s Abroad for a Cause Challenge in which the organization is inviting two bloggers to travel with them to Barbados this summer. Atlantic Impact is an organization that helps at risk youth by giving them opportunities to travel abroad.
*Out Magazine’s “Exploring M. Lamar’s ‘Negro Gothic Sensibility:'” “Multimedia artist M. Lamar may have played pre-prison Sophia in OITNB—but he’s more than Laverne Cox’s real-life twin. Much more….Before starting a conversation with musician and multimedia artist M. Lamar there are a few things you should read up on: doom metal, Robert Mapplethorpe, Frantz Fanon, Plato, Leontyne Price, bell hooks’ concept of white-supremacist-capitalist-patriarchy, James Brown, James Baldwin, counter tenors, Cecil Taylor, the early films of Todd Haynes, Carrie Mae Weems, Kara Walker…”
Last weekend, spoken word poet Aja Monet debuted her works from her upcoming collection, Inner City Chants and Cyborg Ciphers, at Kraine Theater, and it was an intimate exploration of Monet’s own personal stories and those stories extending out beyond herself to the cities of new York and Chicago, Paris, the Caribbean and the rest of the world.
Monet’s stage set up for the intimate atmosphere — a room of her own filled with her belongings — a chest box filled with family pictures, albums and other items, behind it a table alter of sorts, old street signs (a deli and no standing anytime), wall posters and photographs of James Baldwin and Zora Neal Hurston along with an African-styled mask drawing, on the floor various album covers and posters, a step ladder filled with books and a typewriter on top and an old wooden chair. With this and the jazz soundtrack, the audience situated into Monet’s innerverse.
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Barbados Cultural Fact of the Day: Two nicknames for Barbados are “Bim” and “Little England.”
*I forgot to mention this, but I uploaded my BA Thesis, African Vibrations: The Percussive Approach in Hip Hop, to Academic.edu. Click on the link to take a look.
*Cultural Front’s “From Afrofuturism to Rap Genius: a timeline”
*NPR’s “Act Like You Know: Sun Ra”
*The State’s “High Priestess of Future Weird”
*Art Net’s “The Yams, On the Whitney and White Supremacy:” The Yams Collective (HowDoYouSayYaminAfrican) interview where they talk about their collective, their film, Good Stock On The Dimension Floor, The Whitney Museum and confronting white-centered institutions.
*Oliver Hardt and Darius James’ film, The United States of Hoodoo is now on Hulu.
*Call for Submissions for Literary Orphans, a Chicago-based online literary magazine, “Black Thought” issue. “Named after the lead emcee of the Grammy Award-winning group The Roots, the “Black Thought” issue aims to capture the fluidity of African-American literature, as reflected by its creators.
This issue will publish literature from black people who identify as queer or transgender, or are stout atheists, or who deal daily with mental illness, or who love fantasy and science fiction and comic books, who struggle with their identities within the ‘black community.'”
*Jalada, a pan-africanist literary magazine, has a call for submissions for its anthology, Afrofuture. “Jalada seeks writing and visual art that is formally innovative, imaginatively daring, and centred on the genres of Afrofuturism and AfroSF. Writers are encouraged to deploy the tools and subvert the techniques of science fiction and speculative fiction. Writers might imagine (but should not be constrained by) African futures in the contexts of slavery, colonialism, liberation, race and ethnicity, imperialism, postcolonialism, globalisation, Empire, ecocritique, class struggle, and gender struggle.”
*The African American Studies and Research Center at Purdue University is calling for papers for its “Black to the Future: Black Culture Through Time and Space” symposium.
*The Guardian’s “Science fiction’s real-life war of the worlds:” “For many years, a very particular and very narrow set of authors has dominated SF. But battle for a broader fictional universe is under way.”