A Special Tribute To Toni Morrison

So last week Literary Phenom, Nobel Prize Winner, and Black Excellence Personified Toni Morrison celebrated her 85th birthday.

This woman has been a guiding light for me both as a speculative fiction author and as a human being.

Morrison is one of the catalysts in both Hollowstone and West of Sunset becoming a reality.

Case in point:

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Why Dwayne McDuffie Was Better Than You


One cannot discuss black excellence (specifically in speculative fiction) without discussing one of the most gifted and progressive storytellers, ever to walk this earth, the late Dwayne McDuffie.

As expected, many discussed the amazing work he and his team did with making Milestone Comics a success, others mentioned his phenomenal work with fellow phenom Bruce Timm with creating over a decade of superb animated series and films.

Of course people pointed out that McDuffie paved the way for black storytellers in a way too vanillacentric medium that is the comic book industry.

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Unconventional In The Best Way

There are very few people on this planet who I consider a gift. But Esarhaddon Asshur is definitely one of them. In the years I’ve known him, he’s been a friend in every definition of the word. Brother would be more accurate. He has challenged me, supported me and talked me off a ledge more times than I can count.

So one can imagine how moved I was when he made this post.

I’m always humbled and flattered when people I hold in the highest esteem express love and support. I’m also inspired to step up and strive for better.

To my resident Timelord, my walking Wikipedia, and my Ride or Die, thanks for making my life a rich one.

By Dennis R. Upkins Tagged

Top Music of 2015: Orpheus Rising

With the Grammys continuing to be hellbent on erasing PoC excellence from the industry we created, I decided to celebrate some of music’s best and brightest with an alternative celebration known as the Orpheus Awards.

The following are my favorite picks of 2015. And if you’re looking for quality music, you should definitely check out these titles if you haven’t already:

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By Dennis R. Upkins

Who Are The Dora Milaje?

The second trailer of Avengers: Age of Ultron featured more than a few surprises. Most notably, a scene that featured a mysterious woman in the cave which had the internet abuzz.

Unfortunately the shot-callers at Disney decided to snatch defeat out of he jaws of victory. After pulling rank on director Joss Whedon with the cave scene,  Disney ultimately pulled a bait & switch in advertising the woman in the second trailer and then removing her from the film.

Based on what is known regarding the plans for Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the character was most likely either Shuri, princess of Wakanda and co-Black Panther, or the Dora Milaje: the elite personal bodyguards of the Black Panthers.


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Character Study: Shuri

The Black Panther himself isn’t the only reason I’m eagerly awaiting the the live action film when it hits theaters in 2018.

Although T’Challa in action is more than reason enough.

The opportunity to see the mythical land of Wakanda, and the fiercely “Adored Ones,” the Dora Milaje, on the big screen is also well worth the price of admission alone.

But as the Captain America, Iron Man and Thor films have illustrated, the supporting players, (Falcon, Bucky Barnes, War Machine, and Lady Sif) will also get an opportunity to take center stage.

This is why I’m hoping T’Challa’s younger sister and fellow Black Panther, Shuri has a featured role in the film.

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PSA: X-Men Is Still Our Story

In honor of Black History Month, I feel the need to make this important public service announcement:

Dear Comic Book Fandom,

On behalf of Wakandans everywhere, X-MEN IS STILL OUR STORY!!!!

It is our legacy, our triumph, our love letter to one another.

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By Dennis R. Upkins

Going Medieval

I’m always amazed at how many people are so quick to argue that people of color did not exist in Europe during medieval times or that black people for instance weren’t around during the Greek and Roman eras. And to include said PoCs during such time periods would be unrealistic and another example of shoving a PC agenda down our throats OH-EM-GEE.

This usually comes up in medieval fantasy stories. Like say for instance, Guinevere in BBC’s Merlin. Actress Angel Coulby caught heat for daring to be a beautiful powerful black queen.


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By Dennis R. Upkins

Lead By Example


I just got some amazing news from my resident Felicity Smoak, Ariel Marie.

My piece, 10 Conversations On Racism I’m Sick Of Having With White People, has officially become required course reading now for the Texas A&M University system.

Eternal gratitude to Ariel for making this happen. I feel truly blessed, honored and humbled. Here’s hoping my work continues to have a positive impact.






By Dennis R. Upkins Tagged