One of my favorite mottos is to find the magic in the mundane because in doing so you realize how interdependent we all are to each other and to the universe. When we look at the sun and moon, we are so normalized to them that we can easily forget how we are dependent on them for our existence and how much they shape our existence. It has been our ability to use our imagination to see the world beyond the mundane and search for knowledge and meaning as well as our creation of technologies to observe the universe that has allowed us to see that. As I was reading Wendy Hui Kyong Chun’s “Race is/as Technology, or How to Do Things to Race,“she writes that “According to Martin Heidegger in his 1955 ‘The Question Concerning Technology,’ the essence of technology is not technological. Indeed, by examining tools, we miss what is essential about technology, which is its mode of revealing or “enframing.” So how does the creation of technologies to look and observe also reveal ourselves? Who is watching who and who is creating who at the same time?
This year has been packed with a lot of ups and downs, but it has also open a few unexpected doors for me that I cannot wait to see come into form next year. So here is a list of my favorite posts I did this year, so you can look back too before we head into the New Year. Thanks for joining me on this ride.
“Alternative Futurisms,” which will launch in September 2015, will bring together African American, Latino, Native American, and Asian American scholars, artists and writers to examine the colonial roots and legacies of science fiction and the power of speculative fiction as a tool for social change.”
*Listen to Africa Writes 2014 – Imagining Future Africa: Sci Fi, Innovation & Technology panel discussion featuring ” Ivor W. Hartmann, writer, editor, publisher and visual artist; Tade Thompson, writer, psychiatrist and clinical director for Adult Mental Health at St James Hospital, Portsmouth; and Geoff Ryman, writer and senior lecturer at the Centre for New Writing, University of Manchester. Moderated by Emma Dabiri, PhD researcher at Goldsmiths University and teaching fellow at SOAS.”
*Afropunk’s “FEATURE: ‘Juniper Leaves‘ fantasy book features Black kinky-haired queer nerd:“”AFROPUNK contributor Jaz Joyner is self-publishing a fantasy book featuring a Black kinky-haired queer nerd as the main character. She tells us: “After a year of reaching out to agents and publishing firms with the continuous response that the book ‘sounds good but may not be marketable,’ I decided to take matters into my own hands and self publish.” Click here if you’d like to support the project (Kickstarter campaign).”
*Huffpost’s “Sci-Fi Artist Saya Woolfalk Creates A Hallucinatory Human Mandala From Dancers:” “The artist, whose father is African American and white and whose mother is Japanese, conjures mythical utopias to explore ideas of race, sexuality, difference, hybridization, cooperation and creativity. Her multimedia works summon viewers on a multicolored trip through mythical research, bunk biology and bizarre costumes, exposing cultural rituals as the fantastical occurrences they have been all along.
Her 2012 exhibition “The Empathics” introduced viewers to a bizarre breed of women who, after encountering genetically unusual buried remains, begin experiencing psychedelic visions that transform them into part plant, part animal hybrids.
This uncanny species, dubbed the Empathics, are an extremely porous culture, literally absorbing their cultural influences and physically mutating as a result. When searching for an iconography suitable for her mythical breed, Woolfalk incorporated the mandala, a nest of squares and circles that, to many, represent the cosmos.
“For Buddhist practitioners however,” the Asian Art Museum explains, “mandalas are not just images to view, but worlds to enter — after recreating the image in their mind’s eye, meditators imaginatively enter its realm.”
*Black Girls Code received $190,000 from Google for their Initiative, “which will teach 75 black and Latina teens how to build a mobile app in one day.” Awesome!
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Experiment: Write a letter to your future self or past self. Try to meditate and astral project yourself into the body of one of those selves before or while you are writing to do so. Can you remember past and future memories?
(Not from the book but in the style of it)
If you study metaphysics and archetypal psychology, you might have heard the term synchronicity. Popularized by Carl Jung, synchronicity is defined as “the coincidental occurrence of events and especially psychic events…that seem related but are not explained by conventional mechanisms of causality” or as he describes it, “synchronicity is the coming together of inner and outer events in a way that cannot be explained by cause and effect and that is meaningful to the observer. I’ll be honest I do believe in synchronicity because I have had numerous strange coincidences maybe because I was intuitively looking for something and happen to come across it, or I set things into motion by looking for something in one place and stumble across something relevant in another. For example, I applied for a poetry fellowship and I was compelled to go through the list of the previous fellows; one of them was Reginald Dwayne Betts. I read some of his poems and happened to like them. About a week or two later, I went to the library and randomly decided to look through the poetry section and found a collection of Robert Hayden poems. I remembered enjoying his poetry as well, so I flipped to the forward and started reading; the writers description sounded familiar and I didn’t realize why until I looked at the cover again and realized that it was written by Betts. How did I stumble across a collection introduced by Betts soon after I just found out about him? Hmmm? Does it mean something? I don’t know, but it was spooky.
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*Dreamworks (I just saw their film, Rio 2, by the way and I did enjoy it. I also saw the preview short for this upcoming movie) is producing a movie, Home, that will feature a black female character, Tip, in the lead and she will be voiced by Rihanna. So, I will definitely be seeing this and I guess it is safe to say the character is Afro-Caribbean! Yay! Here is the synopsis:
“When Earth is taken over by the overly-confident Boov, an alien race in search of a new place to call home, all humans are promptly relocated, while the Boov get busy efficiently reorganizing the planet. But when one resourceful girl, Tip, (Rihanna) manages to avoid capture, she finds herself the accidental accomplice of a banished Boov by the name of Oh (Jim Parsons). Equally stubborn and set in their ways, these two fugitives realize there’s a lot more at stake than intergalactic relations as they embark on the road trip of a lifetime. Good thing they have a flying car.”
*Tonight Black Girl Nerds featured The Afrofuturist Affair‘s Rasheedah Phillips on their podcast.
*Kiplyn Primus and The Local Take on WCLK deidcated their program to The Octavia Butler Celebration of Fantastic Arts Symposium on Art and Activism event on April 16th. Tananarive Due, Adrienne Maree Brown and Dream Hampton join the “discussion about Afro Futurism, science fiction and fantasy, and the role of African Americans in fiction and in art.” Here is the broadcast. Also, you can watch some videos from the event here.
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*Feature about Dr. Sheena C. Howard on Black Girl Nerds: “Dr. Howard is author of the book Black Queer Identity Matrix (2014) and first author of the book, Black Comics: Politics of Representation. She has featured as a guest speaker at various workshops, universities and high schools including, but not limited to: Penn State University, West Chester University and West Catholic High School, due to her work around intercultural communication, diversity, service to the community and leadership. Black Comics: Politics of Race and Representation by Sheena C. Howard and Ronald L. Jackson originated from Howard’s graduate school dissertation on Aaron McGruder’s The Boondocks comic strip. Howard’s dissertation examined gender dynamics, African American Vernacular English and Black hegemonic masculinity within the language and aesthetic of the comic strip. While writing her dissertation Dr. Howard was alarmed at the lack of books which featured or even mentioned the names of Black cartoonists. From there, Howard decided to create a baseline of literature around the historical and present-day contributions of Black cartoonists.
* “Yes, Comics Can Empower Black Girls” on Zetta Elliot’s Blog: “The twenty titles discussed below are just a start, especially now that the comic book publishers are paying more attention to girls and young adult women as marketing demographics. And while not all the comics I cite are created by black women, events like the recent panel on “Black Women in Comics” at the Schomburg Center’s 2nd Annual Black Comic Book Day make clear that black women have long been a part of the industry as avid consumers and creators. The dynamic work of Afua Richardson and C. Spike Trotman, along with this list of over 50 black women comics artists and writers from the Jackie Ormes Society models the kind of creative freedom that can empower any girl who picks up a comic.”
*Ytasha L. Womack’s “RAYLA 2212, the complete galactic love saga of Rayla Illmatic debuts at the Chicago Comic Con, April 25-27.