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Cindi Mayweather: Behind The Music

Originally published at Black Sci-Fi.Com in June in honor of Black Music History Month and LGBTQ Pride

“I imagined many moons in the sky lighting the way to freedom.”

She is one of the most the critically acclaimed musicians out today. Between her successful albums, films, award nominations and collaborations with everyone from the late Prince to First Lady Michelle Obama, one thing is certain for Janelle Monae; her rising star is only getting brighter.

But who is Janelle Monae?

While researching the chanteuse, I uncovered a most profound discovery. Everything we thought we knew about Monae is a complete work of fiction. For starters her name isn’t even Janelle Monae. It is an alias and part of her cover. In actual fact, Monae’s true identity is Cindi Mayweather; an android from the future.

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One In A Million: Remembering Aaliyah

It was 15 years ago today that we lost an icon, an extraordinary young gifted artist, Aaliyah Haughton, known to fans simply as Aaliyah.

In the spirit of Prince, David Bowie and Janelle Monae, Aaliyah possessed a larger than life persona that ironically was fueled by her mystique. Dark clothing, trademark hair over one eye, the enigmatic chaunteuse had an almost ethereal presence which also could be found in her music.

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What Fandom Can Learn From Onyxcon

So this past weekend Onyxcon returned to the ATL. Sadly I wasn’t able to make it but I was there in spirit celebrating with my fellow Wakandans.

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of attending with a couple of friends including my fam Kiyra 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 my peeps, 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:

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An Honest Review: Suicide Squad

So let’s talk about Suicide Squad, one of the most highly anticipated films of the year.

Synopsis:

Figuring they’re all expendable, a U.S. intelligence officer decides to assemble a team of dangerous, incarcerated supervillains for a top-secret mission. Now armed with government weapons, Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Captain Boomerang, Killer Croc and other despicable inmates must learn to work together. Dubbed Task Force X, the criminals unite to battle a mysterious and powerful entity, while the diabolical Joker (Jared Leto) launches an evil agenda of his own.

The verdict? There was some pacing issues and the worldbuilding/mythos was a bit rushed, especially considering this is only the third movie in the DCEU universe. Definitely some areas of opportunity in terms of the editing. It made the one scene with Amanda Waller handing out pinkslips gangsta style a bit on the nose.

Thankfully we get bare minimum Jared Leto. Because seriously, fuck that guy.

Suicide Squad is a fun popcorn movie that’s got heart, strong characters and a pretty solid story. It proves to be far superior to 95 percent of the crap Marvel has produced. Anyone have any objections to that? What about you Billy Jean? Oh okay then.

But I now understand why Rotten Tomatoes and early reviews trashed this film.

DC just gave Marvel/Disney and fandom the middle finger in proving that diversity and artistry are not mutually exclusive.

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SUITS -- "Hitting Home" Episode 507 -- Pictured: Gina Torres as Jessica Pearson -- (Photo by: Shane Mahood/USA Network/NBCU Photo Bank)

Gamechanger: Upkins Media Litmus Test

Originally published on Mental Health Matters

They say necessity is the mother of all invention. One thing was certain, I found myself in desperate need a few years back.

As a speculative fiction author and a queer person of color (QPoC), I’m constantly frustrated not only with the lack of diversity, but the nonstop misogyny, racism, and queerphobia that continues to be the status quo in media.

More than that, as someone who suffers from depression, high anxiety and ptsd, I found the subliminal bigotry taking a toll on my mental health. Not only was I having trouble writing and creating, but some days I found myself physically ill and under the weather.

Not one to sit around and do nothing, I decided to take action.

I always appreciated the idea behind the Bechdel test. Designed to call attention to gender equality and combat sexism, the Bechdel test must satisfy three requirements:

  1. The movie has to have at least two women in it
  2. who talk to each other
  3. about something besides a man

As wonderful a tool the Bechdel test is in combatting misogyny, unfortunately, it doesn’t address the racism and homophobia. Similar racial criteria have also come up short for me. This was certainly an opportunity to fill a void for QPoCs such as myself.

The Upkins Media Litmus Test is a set of questions I’ll pose before I even entertain watching a television series, movie, reading a novel, a comic book or any other form of media.

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The Lie Behind Honest Dialogue

One of the things I hear all the time in nerd spaces is “why can’t we have a dialogue?” in terms of equal rights issues such as racial equality, media diversity, LGBTQ issues, etc.

Because as soon as the sun will rise, the moment a fangirl dares states that Batman: The Killing Joke is misogynistic, BBC’s Sherlock is homophobic or that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is racist and lacking in diversity, white fans will move heaven and earth to silent marginalized fans. Whether it’s screaming oppression themselves resorting to bullying and stalking or even violence.

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In short, they’re often a bunch of sociopaths who go rabid the second someone tells them something they don’t want to hear.

This has been especially true for me when it comes to MCU stans. Speak ill of their preshus and watch the calamity ensue.

Case in point. This clown here.

Midnighter Mode in 3……….2…………1……….

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This Year’s Supergirl

Originally published at Bitch Flicks

At 8 years old, I would wake up early every Saturday morning to tune in and watch Superboy. Over the years, I’ve been a faithful viewer of the original George Reeves Superman series, Lois & Clark, the Bruce Timm animated series, the live action films, and of course the comics. I’m a comic book guy through and through. For me, Superman isn’t just a superhero. He is THE superhero. I’m very protective of the Man of Steel’s mythos and legacy. Suffice it to say, I had my concerns when the CBS series Supergirl was announced.

Somehow when I wasn’t paying attention, my reaction evolved from, “The pilot was cute, I guess I’ll tune in,” to “Jesus Christ is it Monday night yet? I need my Maiden of Might!!!!”

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