Recently I received a copy of Octavia Butler’s Kindred graphic novel, which was adapted by Damien Duffy and John Jennings. Reading the story in graphic novel form gave me a chance to see aspects of the book that I didn’t pay as much attention to as before. One was the mechanism by which Dana traveled back in time. On her second trip back to the past, Rufus mentions to Dana that he had seen her in the water right before she came traveled back to the past to rescue him. Rufus tells Dana that he saw her with his eyes closed and that he had stepped into a “hole” in the river where he saw her in a room full of books. He also heard both Dana and Kevin before the second time Dana came back. Rufus, although problematic, has inklings of visionary insight, but does he because of his connection to his future legacy in Dana (Rufus only has black descendants as he only had children with Alice) or because he was at the edge of imagining a different society but the slaveholding, racist, sexist, generally oppressive society around him impeded that?
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*On May 10th in Philadelphia, the Future Weird film series is partnering with The Afrofuturist Affair for a movie night featuring their two film screenings, “Visions of Excess” and “In Search of Black Atlantis.”
*“Why Sci-Fi Keeps Imagining the Subjugation of White People” on The Atlantic: “As much as the genre imagines the future, it also remixes the past—often by envisioning Western-style imperialism visited on the Western world.”
*”Towards an Afrofuturist Narrative: Tech, Mythology and the Africas” on Model View Culture:” “Behind-the-scenes with stealth startup Curatoric, and conversations with creators, historians and curators of African and Diasporic African art.” Curatoric will open this spring.
*Star Trek actress Nichelle Nichols talks with Janelle Monae about her role as Uhura:
Anyone on social media has probably already come across the shitstorm of white people dressing in blackface/brownface costumes. The recent events have included dancer and actress Julianne Hough‘s Orange is the New Black costume, the 21-year-old Australian woman’s “African”-themed birthday party, the Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman costumers, Italian fashion designer Allesandro Dell’Acqua‘s “Disco Africa” themed Halloween party and the San Diego high school football coaches who wore blackface for their Cool Runnings Halloween costumes.
When we look at these photographs, we see ignorance, insensitivity, prejudice, and disrespect, but often we do not examine how these ritualistic masquerades are part of a production of and investment in pleasure and community at the expense of people of color. The main reason why they continue is that their is an enjoyment and communal, identity-structuring power, albeit sickening, in doing so. It is no coincidence that often these blackface costumes are done during times of celebration and joy, like Halloween, birthday parties, and Christmas, as in the tradition of Zwarte Piet in The Netherlands. As holiday season comes, we see the greater occurrences of these costumes. Egbert Alejandro Martina wrote a post, “The Delicious Pleasures of Racism” about the sadistic kind of pleasure white Netherlands enjoy from dressing up as Zwarte Piet: