What Fandom Can Learn From Onyxcon


In honor of celebrating being a black geek for Black History Month, this weekend I had the honor of attending Onyxcon: Sankofa where I fellowshipped with other black geeks.

Bonus I got to hang with my sibling from another maternal figure, Amaya Radjani and my date J.

Suffice it to say I scored with plenty of swag and spent quite a bit of cash. It’s all good as I’m all too happy to support black businesses.

As I chatted with Amaya and J, something struck me as odd. I’ve been to plenty of cons over the years, as both a guest and an attendee. I’ve had some wonderful experiences, and I’ve had some less than pleasant ones. This was the first time I attended a Black convention.

It’s always interesting to note the difference of energy between marginalized spaces and mainstream straight white spaces. This isn’t to say that minorities are infallible because we aren’t. However at the same time, it’s always refreshing to lower my guard and enjoy myself in a non-hostile environment.

Onyxcon is doing a lot of things right that quite frankly mainstream cons/fandoms should be taking notes from. Here are a few examples:

1) Black Female Cosplayers WERE NOT attacked for being Black Female Cosplayers. There was this one tall beautiful dark skinned sister who rocked a badass Michonne. People gathered and took pics and complimented her on the ensemble.

2) Female fans were not questioned on their geek credentials or accused of being Fake Geek Girls. In fact I think there may have been more women in attendance than there were men which is pretty awesome.

3) Children are a priority. One thing I really appreciated about Onyxcon is that it’s family friendly and there were events and activities with children in mind. Events and activities that both entertained and educated children on a level they could appreciate.

4) I was able to be out and relaxed. I took a date to the event and I felt completely comfortable and safe. As an LGBTQ, that’s hasn’t always been the case at conventions, particularly white mainstream ones where I’ve had to check a few homophobes more than once. And yet we were welcomed and treated like family. But do tell me again how black people are more innately homophobic because something something something Dan Savage something something.

5) This con was inclusive. My date J was the only  white person in attendance and he was warmly greeted and treated with respect and like a human being. Something that hasn’t always been the case for myself and other POCs when we’ve attended predominantly white cons, to say the least.

6) It was a positive and uplifting experience. We were able to celebrate our culture, our history, our legacy in a safe environment, which again for POCs, that’s extremely rare when it comes to fandom.

Fandom, take note. Here’s one con that’s doing it right. Not surprising, because that’s how black folks get down.  😉


Speculative Fiction Novelist. Author of Hollowstone, West of Sunset and other cool stories. Wordsmith, activist and nerd seraph. Saving the world and/or taking it over. http://www.dennisupkins.wordpress.com

7 thoughts on “What Fandom Can Learn From Onyxcon

  1. Co-sign on all of the above. Onyxcon was great. I was completely comfortable and enjoyed watching the dancers and the children and other black geeks do what we do. Excellent con.

  2. It sounds like you had a fantastic time and I’m really glad for you!

    And yes, those are all great, salient points that other cons should learn from, especially the parts where you felt welcomed and women of colour weren’t harrassed.

    I think of this one cosplay by two black women, two sisters in fact, who dressed up as Thor and Loki and they were fucking fantastic, especially since it was their first time making costumes, and some shitty assed, racist white girl said “Silly black girls! You can’t be Thor and Loki!”

    Total BS.

    And you got to hang out with Amaya?! JEALOUS!!! Damn, you hang with high company, good sir.

  3. There’s a few good inclusive ones. Norwescon is one that certainly comes to mind and one I recommend as well.

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