Xena Was Black


File this under things you learn every day.

Amina was born around 1533 in Zaria, a province of today’s Nigeria. She was the daughter of Bakwa of Turunku. Their family’s wealth was derived from the trade of leather goods, cloth, kola, salt, horses and imported metals.

When Bakwa died in 1566, the crown of Zazzua passed to Amina’s younger brother, Karama. Their sister, Zaria, fled the region and little is known about her.

Although Bakwa’s reign was known for peace and prosperity, Amina chose to hone her military skills from the warriors of the Zazzau military. As a result, she emerged as leader of the Zazzua cavalry. Many accolades, great wealth, and increased power resulted from her numerous military achievements.

When her brother Karama died after a ten-year rule, Amina had matured into a fierce warrior and had earned the respect of the Zazzau military and she assumed the reign of the kingdom.

Amina led her first military charge a few months after assuming power. For the rest of her 34 year reign, she continued to fight and expand her kingdom to the greatest in history. The objective for initiating so many battles was to make neighbouring rulers her vassal and permit her traders safe passage. In this way, she boosted her kingdom’s wealth and power with gold, slaves, and new crops. Because her people were talented metal workers, Amina introduced metal armor, including iron helmets and chain mail, to her army.

To her credit, she fortified each of her military camps with an earthen wall. Later, towns and villages sprung up within these protective barriers. The walls became known as Amina’s Walls and many of them remain in existence to this day.

According to legend, Amina refused to marry and never bore children. Instead, she took a temporary husband from the legions of vanquished foes after every battle. After spending one night together, she would condemn him death in the morning in order to prevent him from ever speaking about his sexual encounter with the queen.

Legend also decrees she died during a military campaign at Atagara near Bida in Nigeria. Her exploits earned her the moniker Amina, daughter of Nikatau, a woman as capable as a man.

Now if Amina’s story sounds incredibly familiar to many of you, there’s a reason for that. Amina was reportedly used as a model for the fictional heroine Xena: Warrior Princess.

Given the fact that Amina’s origins and exploits reads almost verbatim to Xena’s, I’m inclined to believe it.

You know what this means right? Xena was based on a historical black woman. You know, I used to joke for years that Xena had a bit of a sister in her. Everything from her swagger, to her weakness for the brothers. NOW it makes sense, and I wasn’t projecting that.

The real Xena was black ya’ll. I knew it!


Now anyone who’s known me for five seconds knows how much I love me some Xena: Warrior Princess. In addition to being a great show, it broke a lot of ground and paved the way for female and queer protagonists. I would even argue that Xena will probably go down as television’s greatest action hero of all time. And whether she’s on Xena, Battlestar Galactica, or Spartacus, folks also know I’m down for all things Lucy (F)Lawless. But damn, we should’ve had a Black Xena.

Imagine if instead of getting cast for the role of Nebula and Cleopatra on Hercules and Xena, the goddess herself, Gina Torres was handed the role of the warrior princess. She would’ve have redefined the term awesome, more than she does now. If that’s even possible or imaginable.



DAYUM! Now I want a Black Xena, RIGHT NOW! Somebody make that happen! Fuck. I guess I gotta write that story myself.

Further Reading:




Why Dwayne McDuffie Was Better Than You

This repost is brought to you in celebration of Black Speculative Fiction Month.

Dennis R. Upkins


In continuing my celebration of being a black geek, today I’m discussing one of my all-time favorite writers, the late and brilliant Dwayne McDuffie.

While some writers and editors today are busy engaging in rape culture, or attacking female fans, or just being a homophobic bastard, McDuffie was penning epic and inclusive tales.

Most people think that because McDuffie was black he only campaigned for blackness in comics. Not true. McDuffie stood tall for all POCs, women’s rights as illustrated with Rocket’s story, gay heroes as proven by Static’s partner Gear, and trans protagonists such as Marissa Rahm in the miniseries Deathwish.

In short McDuffie was fighting for social justice long before it was the fad with spoiled white kids on Tumblr.

And because he’s not white, he won’t get the credit he’s due.

McDuffie made the following video discussing the harsh realities of being a black…

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By Dennis R. Upkins

Celebrating Black Speculative Fiction Month


My very good friend Boston Pobble (who recently celebrated a birthday, happy birthday again by the by) were discussing a myriad of topics. We both discussed how neither of us believe in “mere coincidence,” and there’s usually a purpose or plan to things.

Case in point. I love October. Weather begins to change, I adore Autumn. The new television lineup premieres (though these days, not many shows I care for). Halloween is one of my two favorite holidays. Christmas being the other and yes Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas is my favorite holiday movie. Halloween has always been a more spiritual holiday for me than I imagine it is for many folks for a number of personal reasons.

But that’s not all.

This weekend I will be appearing at Akai Con and I will be back at GMX on Nov. 1.

This October marks the first year of Black Speculative Fiction Month, and I for one am I immensely excited about this. Because if you thought I geeked out in February when I celebrated being a black nerd for Black History Month, consider that the practice run.

But I’m also excited for this month because coming very soon is my sophomore title, West of Sunset. Where I’ll be introducing the world to one Brecken Everett. A young black gay wizard detective who has a tendency to do his best work when the deck is stacked against him.

West of Sunset is a pretty fast-paced and thankfully not as intense as Hollowstone. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of my first book but tackling some of the subject matter nearly drove me to drink. West of Sunset is fun and adventure. We’re talking black gay wizard detectives, witchy heroines and vampire biker gangs all during a vacation in Los Angeles.

Some would call all of this coincidence, I would call it providence.  😉

Needless to say, this October is going to rock.

The Way of The Survivor



This is also the face of one of my favorite personal superheroes is this adorable little white kid. And after you read this eloquent heartbreaking piece by his father, he’ll be your superhero too.

As my regular readers know, I proudly rep for #teamarmand because his story is an inspiration. I’m president-for-life of his fan club by the by. Tru fax!

I’m also honored and humbled that I have the privilege of calling his parents my friends. Being a parent on a good day is no easy feat. But what this family has overcome, is nothing short of miraculous.

If you’re a parent, ever dealt with cancer in any shape or fashion, or just want to be inspired by some extraordinary people, check out this article.


Attack of the Lustful Cockmonsters 2: Revenge of the Breeders


So recently through an unusual chain of events, I had an opportunity to watch the Denver Broncos exact some revenge against rival and Superbowl Champions, the Baltimore Ravens.

And for those of you who have known me for a good minute, yes, you read that correctly, Denny actually watched a football game, and yes it’s official, Hell has frozen over.

It wasn’t lost on me that Brendan Ayanbadejo was missing in action, just as it wasn’t lost on me that like Chris Kluwe is also a free agent. It’s especially a shame considering last night, Ayanbadejo’s presence probably would’ve changed the outcome of the game and could’ve spared the Ravens the smackdown that Peyton Manning and the boys put on them.

It’s also not lost on me that both Kluwe and Ayanbadejo were dropped from their teams after being immensely outspoken advocates for LGBTQ Equality.

In short, you’re looking at two men who in all likelihood lost their jobs for standing up to do the right thing.

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