It is a surreal feeling to know that you could go to war and fight for your country, survive the war and instead of coming back as a celebrated hero, be assaulted and lynched by the people whose freedom you fought for them to have. That was the reality of many black veterans who returned from World War I and World War II, a history that is not taught. For fear of black people becoming to “uppity” and demanding their rights after coming back from war, there were white people who needed to make examples of black veterans and keep them in their place, that they owed nothing to these soldiers who went off to fight a fight for them.
Happy Black Speculative Fiction Month. This month I will post reviews and lists of black speculative works that I’ve read recently. By the way, please support my Go Fund Me as I raise money to get a new laptop and continue building my writing career. Here is my review of The Underground Railroad:
It is 2016 and although times have changed, sometimes it feels like deja vu when I see one after another incidents of state-sanctioned violence and injustice done towards black people. Sometimes I wonder if things are for certain changing or just changing costume and name, that time is just changing its face and the past and present are collapsing in on each other. Our concept of freedom shapeshifts as much as the injustice and violence; with every change in environment; it is another way we have to adapt and strategize on how to fight back.
The other day as I was looking for some Basquiat inspiration, I came across this article about his artistic influences, “John-Michel Basquiat: The Afrofuturistic and His Art: Part I – Cosmic Slop and George Clinton’s Afro-Futurism. One part struck me the most, especially we discuss appropriation and often the lack of social credit given to black influencers:
Art historians gush over his white artistic influences: Leonardo Da Vinci, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Cy Twombly and Franz Kline figure prominently. No argument here. The western art tradition, jealously guarded by a ‘high art’ priesthood, had to justify Basquiat’s membership. Basquiat, no dummy, wanted fame.
Celebrity required cultural legitimacy, an artistic heritage defined by the western art canon. His first dealer, Annina Nosei, helped to fashion his art pedigree (fig. 2). Basquiat was complicit in this action. “Picasso” writes Dick Hebridge, could afford to leave the marketing and manufacturing of the iconic self to future generations.” Not so for Basquiat. His blackness remained an issue. Luca Marensi writes: “The use of some imagery, specifically black or African, leaves no trace that would allow an uninformed viewer to suppose the painter is black.”
As I currently work on my fantasy novel based in Queens and inspired by the Underground Railroad (two of the characters are based on Harriet Tubman and William Still), I look forward to featuring others who are continuing to share the legacy of our ancestors and heroes who fought for freedom and for us to be here in this moment today.
One of those people is Lacresha Berry, a local Queens-based educator, singer-songwriter and playwright. Currently, she is writing a one-woman show about Harriet Tubman and t-shirt line for Air Tubman. Continue reading to find out more about her and her previous and upcoming work within the community.
“I just felt it was important to understand our histories in context to the larger global community and tell stories that haven’t been told. Instead of complaining about not being taught these things, I wanted to create a conversation that there are black Kentuckians. We exist and we helped to shape the state that it is today. We contributed to country music, blues and bluegrass.”
1) Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I took a picture of this poem while I was visiting a cousin of mine and I thought it was fitting for the theme of my blog and afrofuturism that is emphasized with the the images of Saturn and stars in the background, the procession of black people with flames over their heads, and the object behind them that looks like either a rocket ship or a monument. The work is a collaboration between poet Daniel Marks and artist Bobby Moore.
You can see this and other photos I take on my instagram.
Thank you Kelly Baker Josephs for calling my attention to this!
Caribbean Futurisms” and listing a few books that would fall under the term as well as other sources for Afrofuturism, in which I was included:id a post describing “
“Considered within this conditional crux, Caribbean cultural forms have developed a conscious capacity to play with time and space, especially within the last century. For example, a Caribbean novel can leap “forward,” as well as “backward,” as well as speculatively vault “across” times, because its people have been integral to the creation of how human activity is narratively measured. As well, a Caribbean novel can traverse lands from around this world and others because its people, their ancestors, and new generations travel these vast distances.
These are from the past two weeks:
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Barbados cultural fact for the day: Since Kara Walker did the Marvelous Sugar Baby sphinx, did you know that sugar cane is an important industry in Barbados. Its coat of arms has a fist of a Barbadian holding two sugar canes that are crossed to resemble St. Andrews Cross.
*Speaking of Kara Walker, there is a lot of discussion and controversy surrounding the work she did (as usual with her work). The intention of her piece at its core is deep and though-provoking, highlighting the exploitation of black people to produce cash crops, like sugar, the sexual exploitation and degradation of black women, but also the simultaneous fascination with and sacredness of black women in the use of the sphinx pose, the exploitation of lower wage workers like those who used to work in the Domino Factory, and the refinement of certain products like sugar (another is vanilla) that mimics the erasure of black and brown people. Hilton Als discusses more in The New Yorker. Still, although I get it, the danger of art is always that other will not because they do not know the historical context and it will become a spectacle. Already many are mentioning how people are taking pictures, smiling and laughing around the artwork instead of contemplating it. It’s a tightrope issue of intention of art and the audiences’ reception of it.
*I was wondering what happened to the HowDoYouSayYamInAfrican’s (The YAMS collective) film showing at The Whitney; it seemed to have disappeared. This is what happened. Mainstream institutions being racially problematic -check!
*Fact Magazine’s “Space is still the place: King Britt re-interprets Sun Ra classic for 100th birthday celebrations:” As part of Dark Matter Coffee’s launch of Astro Black, King Britt released a music mix in honor of Sun Ra’s 100th birthday coming up soon. King Britt will do a special performance in Chicago for Ra’s birthday and the following day, which is his birthday, there will be a 100 Saxophones for Sun Ra event. Also, DJ Hank Shocklee posted “The Cosmic Vibrations Of Sun Ra: Audio Documentary.”
*CCCADI (The Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute) will be hosting a series of events starting Thursday with a pop-up exhibition at the 1885 historical landmark firehouse on 125th street that they are renovating as their new space. The event, “The Spirit of El Barrio: Past, Present, and Future,” starts at 11am and will feature artists “Adrian Roman, Edgardo Miranda, Manny Vega, Oliver Rios and Yasmin Hernandez, with a special live painting by guest artist Edgardo Larregui. Some of the works of art will incorporate Augmented Reality technology, providing a small preview to one of the future opening exhibitions of CCCADI.”
Update: Due to a large volume of people wanting to attend, there will be two tours of the popup exhibition. The first will have speakers Marta Moreno Vega, the founder of CCCADI, and Senator Bill Perkins, and the second tour will have New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.
I will be there, too!