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 : http://blakelyworks.blogspot.com or http://blakelyworkstudio.weebly.com.

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 http://shiftersseries.wordpress.com or her website www.shiftersnovelseries.com.

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: www.mvmediaatl.com/Wagadu and www.wagadu.ning.com.

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: http://authordjadja.wordpress.com/ 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 http://tinyurl.com/LifelinesPoetry is available from Amazon.com 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, http://www.margaretfieland.com.

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: http://valjeanne.wordpress.com and http://qandvaffordableediting.blogspot.com.

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: http://ebonstorm.wordpress.com or http://ebonstorm.weebly.com

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: http://www.aliciamccalla.com.

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: http://carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com or http://writersofcolorblogtour.blogspot.com.

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: http://chroniclesofharriet.wordpress.com.

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, AstroMythoLosophy.com.

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: http://nicolesconiers.com and http://www.nicolesconiers.com/blog.

Jarvis Sheffield, M.Ed. — is owner and operator of TheDigitalBrothers.com, BlackScienceFictionSociety.com and BlackCommunityEntertainment.com. Visit him at: http://www.blacksciencefictionsociety.com/profiles/blog/list?user=2stjwb1h216fd.

6 comments:

Winston said...

This is great. I love the soul movement of it all. The rhythms of creativity at work is just so inspiring. Thanks, Rasheedah.

Alicia said...

Rasheeda, this is awesome! I wanna come! I love the idea of a Costume ball. It'd be great to add something like this onto some of the other events that we've talked about on our tour. Thanks for posting and sharing the pics. Absolutely wonderful!

The Griot said...

You did a fantastic job, sister. I especially applaud you for taking the initiative and making it happen. We need more of that. I remember seeing pictures from your event on Nicole's blog. I can easily envision the day when we can travel the country visiting the various black scifi events.

psikeyhackr said...

It is so curious that so many places the are about "science fiction" say so little about SCIENCE. Try getting sci-fi people to evaluate the SCIENCE in various works.

Alien|Science| said...

Hmm, I'd have to disagree. I think there's a lot of science in sci-fi, generally speaking. I know that I use it in my fiction and I base nearly all of my stories off of particular principles in science that I then use to explore alternate realities. I think it really kind of comes down to the notion of what is considered "science" and who is considering it. Science is always in a state of flux, no matter how hardcore or principled it attempts to present itself as, so even if you stick to hard science in your stories, its always subject to the imaginative possibilities and the flux/change that science has as a feature of its "personality," so to speak. Also, sci-fi tends to be used as an umbrella term and is inclusive of fantasy, so not every person who considers themselves a sci-fi writer will play by the hard rules of science. And besides, the whole notion of fiction is using the imagination or questioning what is real and what isnt. So again I disagree that sci-fi people need to incorporate or say more about science than what they already do. And if that is your preference, there is an overabundance of writers out there who use hard science in their sci-fi - the genre is not lacking this feature.

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