Friday, February 17, 2012

AfroFuturism: A Perfomative Lecture

GriotWorks, Misty Sol, Sanctuary Wholistic Arts, and The AfroFuturist Affair Present:

AfroFuturism: A Performative Lecture

AfroFuturism: A Performative Lecture
will feature six women moderator and panelists who will demonstrate and discuss how their creative work and advocacy work incorporate AfroFuturistic elements, and how they will continue to use AfroFuturism as a tool and mode of expression in future projects.

The panelists and moderator will explore the ways in which AfroFuturism as a culture has emerged to render a portrait of the collective history, the present events, and the future prospects of people of color, where heretofore our stories have been skewed, misrepresented, and diminished in the mainstream social narrative. The panelists will sample from the visual, sensual, and literary pallets of science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, horror, and magic, to consider what Blackness means throughout space and time, across the world and through the universe, and what our collective roles will be in shaping the eternally-unfolding future of humanity.

Featured Panelists and Topics include:

Rasheedah Phillips - Rasheedah Phillips, an attorney at a non-profit legal organization, is the creator of the AfroFuturist Affair, a community formed to celebrate, strengthen, and promote Afrofuturistic culture and aesthetic and Black sci-fi through creative events and creative writing. She is currently working on completing her first spec-fic novel, Recurrence Plot. Rasheedah has also had a short fiction piece published in an anthology titled “Growing Up Girl” (edited by Michelle Sewell), and inspirational essays published in Sister to Sister: Black Women Speak to Young Black Women (edited by Beth Johnson) and “Professor May I Bring My Baby to Class” (edited by Sherrill Mosee). Rasheedah will be presenting on Afrofuturism, Black Science Fiction, and memory as a time machine.

Cheryl Durgans - Visual artist and writer Cheryl Durgans plans to briefly outline her interest in the merging of the creative process and Afrofuturist theory, and have an excerpt of her novel read by poet Nina “Lyrispect” Ball. Durgans interest as a writer is based upon her interest in physical and abstract movement as it pertains to survival, and the ever evolving and changing identity of African culture in the Diaspora. Titled Cosmic Comic Book Visions of a Lost and Found Girl in a Grown-ass Woman: Memoir of the Universe, Durgans’ evolving graphic novel examines the concept of identity in the past, present and future. The book tells the story of Universe, formed by God to create all things. God has informed Universe that humans are messing up everything, that if Universe can’t get a handle on her creations, the humans will be destroyed.

Jos Duncan - Jos Duncan is a storyteller and media maker who focuses on using fantasy, futurism and fable in her oral and digital narratives as a means for progressive thought about people of the African Diaspora. Her work includes the writing and producing a series of Urban Fantasy and Superhero plays for children and the recent production of Village: An AfroFuturistic Fable. Jos will share her methods in creating work as a tool for community building and social change. Please visit Jos at

Misty Sol - Misty Sol is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice blurs the lines between art, scholarship, education and mysticism. Her poems, songs, stories, plays, workshops, pictures and sacred objects combine to create an afrofuturist gumbo that smells a lot like dreaming out loud. Misty's stories have been published in an anthology of young adult literature titled, From Where We Sit. Her latest work for the stage, American Nigga Zoo investigates the relationship between spectacle, captivity and racism. Most recently her work has taken the form of illustration for a children's book, Little Myrtle, available in Spring 2012. You can find more of Misty Sol's work at

Charlyn Magdeline - Charlyn Magdaline is an interdisciplinary artist, healer and a mother of 3. Her work is allegorical and as she responds to the highly nuanced social issues|constructs that impact us she means to practice her greatest art; alchemy. To articulate and challenge cultural values and perceptions when necessary, and to relay messages of social justice through fostering dialogue among her diverse following, she often uses her own body as a canvas and focal point of her art. Charlyn's lecture will focus on the concept of creation "myth"|cosmology and will incorporate the reproduction process (birth of a human) partnered with the development of a human body/mind/spirit based on what they experience.

Panel Moderator:

Li Sumpter - Currently a doctoral student in Mythological Studies and Depth Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute, Sumpter’s research applies archetypal, aesthetic and quantum theories toward understanding humankind’s existential condition in the 21st century. She believes our future trajectory through the multi-verse is fundamentally shaped by collective participation in a mythic paradigm that supports a corresponding reality. In her dissertation, Apocalyptic Soul: Seeing through Image in the Age of End Time, Sumpter examines the impact of apocalyptic art and media on psyche and the phenomenological world.

Afrofuturism: A Performative Lecture will be held on March 24, 2012 from 2pm to 5pm at Sanctuary Wholistic Art Gallery, located at 319 N. 11th St. Philadelphia, PA (entrance on Wood Street). Suggested donation is $5-10. Refreshments will be available.

Please spread the word and post this event to your networks.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The State of Black Science Fiction 2012: I Heart The AfroFuturist Affair! - Post 5

The first sci-fi-themed event I ever threw was a house party with a futuristic theme. It was a few months after my graduation from law school, and I had recently moved into a duplex in Germantown (Philly). After moving in, I quickly became good friends with my neighbors, who were my age and who lived in the apartment below me. In celebration of a new year, we decided to combine our apartments to throw the best house party ever. It was called the 3009 Black and Silver Tie Masquerade Ball: A Futuristic Affair (two guesses as to who came up with the name!), and each floor had a different theme. Floor One (my neighbors’ apartment) held The Rock Star Lounge, Photo Booth and Rock Star Dining and Bar. Floor Two (my apartment) boasted a Masquerade Ball and Arabian Nights Hookah Bar. It was held on the future date of 1/3009. For the party, I decorated my apartment with spaceship stickers, silver balloons, and neon lights to give one the feel of being inside a spaceship. The dress code for our Masquerade Ball was silver, black, and blue, and our guests obliged in the most creative ways. The futuristic night ended up being memorable and magical and all around awesome.

What I know now but didn’t know then is that the 3009 Masquerade Ball, a fun, futuristic spin on a New Year’s Eve party that I threw with some friends in my party girl days, would serve as a precursor, a glimpse into what would later become The AfroFuturist Affair (and I am just now noticing, as I write this blog entry, just how similar the names are!).

Later that year, settled into my career and with free time on my hands, I set my focus back on rekindling my old flame with writing sci-fi. In the evenings and on lunchbreaks, I would take creative writing classes at the local community college, and would visit PhilCon meetings and conventions. I was soon reminded of my childhood loneliness, being the only black girl in the room who liked scifi. Wanting to combat that loneliness, I bounced around ideas in my head for throwing an event that would bring Black scifi nerds out of hiding, including thoughts of another sci-fi house party or a sci-fi open mic for writers. None of the ideas were really feasible at the time, but as is the way of things, the Universe responded rapidly to my intentions and interests, connecting me with people, networks, and resources that would eventually allow me to fulfill my goals.

Several synchronicities and fruitful connections later, I was poking around on the Black Science Fiction Society site and saw an invite for an Afrofuturism Exhibit at the Harriet Tubman Museum in Macon, Georgia. I remember how I was so fascinated by the idea of the exhibit, so inspired by the artists who were a part of the showcase, and so vexed that it was all the way in Georgia and I was all the way in Philly. It took a couple of more longing looks at the invite before my train of thought finally dropped me off at the right destination: "Damn, there's no way I can make it down to Georgia for this...hey... wait ... why dont I just organize an afrofuturistic event here!"

And so evolved The AfroFuturist Affair: A Costume and Charity Ball. The event allowed me the opportunity to get together in one room all of the energies of artists, authors, musicians, and performers of color who purposely create with science fiction and afrofuturistic themes and mediums. The event featured the afrofuturistic works of sci-fi and spec-fic Authors Nicole Sconiers (author of Escape from Beckyville: Tales of Race, Hair, and Rage) and Dja Dja Medjay (author of Renpet), two bands, several spoken word artists, two visual artists, a costume photoshoot by The L. Park Project and photographer DiLo DeMille, a DJ, an engineer, and a fashion designer (for additional artist bios, please visit The AfroFuturist Affair tumblr archive). Held in the Windows Factory arts warehouse in the Philadelphia Printworks studio, the Ball was a masterpiece of flashing lights, live art, afrofuturistic visual and audio stimulants, near-future visions, and swirling tunes of jazz, funk, hiphop, Afropop, and psychedelic. The Ball attendees wore costumes, which allowed them to explore their own futurist identities and abilities to invoke the afrofuture. All proceeds of the event were donated to Need In Deed (NID), a non-profit organization dedicated to helping children apply academics in service learning project that address problems in their communities and schools.

The artists at the AfroFuturist Affair were diverse in their theories, topics, and modes of expression, but all of their work held a common afrofuturistic elements - paying homage to our histories, commenting on our present state, and envisioning our futures as people of color. It was such a beautiful experience to be around so many people of colors who shared a mutual affinity for sci-fi and futurism. It was refreshing to build with futurists who actively work to ensure that we remain present in these genres.

I am very humbled and honored to have been able to create such an event and to have others participate and share their energy, vision, and creativity. I plan to continue holding creative events under The AfroFuturist Affair, and I hope to have many Black spec-fic and sci-fi creators (authors, illustrators, readers, and enthusiasts) join me in celebrating the manifestation of our futures and the remembrance of our pasts. And I know that I hold these events in good company with my sci-fi and spec fic kin all around the country who are creating, hosting, and holding panels, exhibits, galleries, conferences, and conventions in the name of AfroFuturism and Multi-cultural Spec/Sci-Fi. These events are becoming ever more frequent and visible, which means that The State of Black Science Fiction in 2012 is positively evolving into a force to be reckoned with! One such event in the Atlanta area is The State of Black Science Fiction 2012 panel at GA Tech, featuring several authors from the blog hop! Check it out if you are in the Atlanta area.

I look forward to your comments and experiences! Talk to me about your favorite sci-fi or spec-fic event, especially for a chance to win a $15 Amazon gift card, autographed copy of a book I was featured in, and a surprise gift to be announced. Then hop around to the blogs of the other participating authors to hear about some of their favorite Black sci-fi/spec-fic events.

Winston Blakely, Artist/Writer — is a Fine Arts/Comic Book artist, having a career spanning 20 years, whose achievements have included working for Valiant Comics and Rich Buckler’s Visage Studios. He is also the creator of Little Miss Strange, the world’s first black alien sorceress and the all-genre anthology entitled Immortal Fantasy. Both graphic albums are available at Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and other online book store outlets. Visit him at : or

L. M. Davis, Author — began her love affair with fantasy in the second grade. Her first novel, Interlopers: A Shifters Novel, was released in 2010, and the follow-up Posers: A Shifters Novel will be released this spring. For more information visit her blog or her website

Milton Davis, Author — Milton Davis is owner/publisher of MVmedia, LLC . As an author he specializes in science fiction and fantasy and is the author of Meji Book One, Meji Book Two and Changa’s Safari. Visit him at: and

Ja Ja (DjaDja) N Medjay, Author - DjaDja Medjay is the author of The Renpet Sci-Fi Series. Shiatsu Practitioner. Holistic AfroFuturistic Rising in Excellence. Transmissions from The Future Earth can be found at: Renpet Scifi or on Facebook or on Twitter @Khonsugo.

Margaret Fieland, Author — lives and writes in the suburbs west of Boston, MA with her partner and five dogs. She is one of the Poetic Muselings. Their poetry anthology, Lifelines is available from Her book, Relocated, will be available from MuseItUp Publishing in July, 2012. The Angry Little Boy will be published by 4RV publishing in early 2013. You may visit her website,

Valjeanne Jeffers, Author — is an editor and the author of the SF/fantasy novels: Immortal, Immortal II: The Time of Legend and Immortal III: Stealer of Souls. Her fourth and fifth novels: Immortal IV: Collision of Worlds and The Switch: Clockwork will be released this spring. Visit her at: and

Thaddeus Howze, Author is a veteran of the IT and Communications industry with over 26 years of experience retooling computers to best serve human needs. Unknown to humanity, our computers have another agenda. Thaddeus recently released his first collection of short stories, Hayward Reach. In a coded format, he has secretly informed Humanity of the impending computerized apocalypse. You can read parts of the code here: or

Alicia McCalla, Author — writes for both young adults and adults with her brand of multicultural science fiction, urban fantasy and futurism. Her debut novel, Breaking Free will be available February 1, 2012. The Breaking Free theme song created by Asante McCalla is available for immediate download on iTunes and Amazon. Visit her at:

Carole McDonnell, Author — writes Christian, speculative fiction, and multicultural stories. Her first novel is Wind Follower. Her short fiction has appeared in many anthologies and have been collected in an ebook, Spirit Fruit: Collected Speculative Fiction. Visit Carole: or

Balogun Ojetade, Author— of the bestselling Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within (non-fiction), Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman (Steampunk) and the feature film, A Single Link. Visit him at:

Rasheedah Phillips, Author is the creator of The AfroFuturist Affair in Philly. She plans to debut her first spec/sci-fic novel Recurrence Plot in Spring 2012. You may catch her ruminating from time to time on her blog,

Nicole Sconiers, Author — is an author and screenwriter living in the sunny jungle of L.A. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, and she recently published Escape from Beckyville: Tales of Race, Hair and Rage. Visit her at: and

Jarvis Sheffield, M.Ed. — is owner and operator of, and Visit him at: