Ladies and gentlemen, this is my 100th post here at the Nerds of Color.
To say I’ve been ecstatic about hitting this milestone would be a vast understatement, as my colleagues will tell you.
So for this special edition post, I wanted to do something special. I’m going to answer some FAQs, share some memories and some behind the scenes shenanigans.
But before I do anything else, I want to take this opportunity to thank the person who all of this possible, Fearless Leader. Though he’s known to some of you as Keith Chow. None of us would be here if it wasn’t for him. He works tirelessly to make the NoC the special place it is. More than that he’s been an amazing leader, friend, mentor and brother and I will forever be grateful for him taking a chance on me and giving me this opportunity.
Also mad love to the rest of the NOC team that welcomed me and made me feel like I joined a family.
October is Black Speculative Fiction Month and like legions of others, I am celebrating it something fierce.
Why does Black Speculative Fiction Month matter?
Black Speculative Fiction Month matters because now more than ever our stories must be told and our voices must be heard. Black Speculative Fiction Month matters because too often at cons and writing events, I’m the only nonwhite guest in attendance.
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:
Pugilist, champion, leader, prophet, husband, father, excellence. Muhammad Ali earned many titles. But only two words adequately defined him: The Greatest!!
If the first two Captain America films are any indication, I’ve learned not to watch them with any expectations good or bad.
Like most of the Marvel Phase One films, I found First Avenger to be a yawn and filler for the payoff that was the first Avengers movie.
Winter Soldier blindsided me and years later I’m still trying to process how amazing that film is.
As much as I love Winter Soldier (it along with Avengers and Age of Ultron rank as my favorite Marvel flicks), and even though I knew I would finally get the Black Panther in this film, I still watched with no expectation.
The verdict: By no mean is it the worst Marvel film by any stretch. It was brilliant in some parts and a mess in others. Better than First Avenger but a major letdown from Winter Soldier. I kept checking my watch so many times, one would’ve thought my name was William Tockman.
Being stuck in Nashville, proud home of country music, the Confederacy and the Klan, I don’t go out often. To be more accurate I really don’t go out ever.
For me to emerge from my Batcave of Solitude, there had better be a good reason. A very good reason.
This past Friday there most certainly was a reason for me to venture out into the wasteland known as the Music City.
Comic book artist, rock musician, Jane-of-all-trades, Renaissance Woman, fellow Atlanta native, and the epitome of Black Girl Magic, Afua Richardson, announced on social media that her band, Waking Astronomer would be in town performing at the Exit In.
She already had me at Afua Richardson would be in town.
“I’m always fascinated when white geeks go on and on about how accepting and wonderful geek culture is. I don’t question their experience, I just can’t personally relate. For me, I have to be cautious of what venues of fandom I venture in, because it’s not unlike walking through gen pop, where you constantly have to look over your shoulder to make sure an inmate or warden doesn’t attempt to shank you. Or a better analogy would be making sure that while you’re always outnumbered, that you’re never outgunned like my patronus Midnighter.”
-Dennis R. Upkins
The following happened a few years ago but this tale definitely warrants a post just the same.
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:
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.
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.