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Why Black Speculative Fiction Month Matters

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.

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Don’t Buy Black Panther Graphic Novels During Black History Month

“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.

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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

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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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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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Black Lives Matter Vigil

Recently I had the opportunity to attend a local #BlackLivesMatter vigil for Rekia Boyd and all of the other sisters we have loss to systemic racism and police violence. The turnout was actually pretty decent all things considered. We participated in a libation ceremony and I had the opportunity to share some thoughts as well.

I spoke about Duanna Johnson and Mya Hall and to also remember trans women, and LGBTQs in general in our movement.

Shockingly (for me anyway) my comments went over well. Several people thanked me for speaking.

I’m glad I attended. It’s nice to see a flicker of candlelight in the middle of a violent storm.

Your Ferguson Resource Packet

So like countless other PoCs, I’ve been watching the ongoing horrors in #Ferguson very closely. Like countless other PoCs, I’ve had to endure my share of whites who either don’t know the dynamics that are playing out in terms of institutional racism or are proudly and maliciously spewing as much toxic bile as they can.

If you find yourself in this position, you probably wouldn’t mind some handy resources to educate and eviscerate before utilizing the blessed block function.

The following are resources I’ve found to be useful not only for the #Ferguson tragedy but the discussions on racism and bigotry in general. Hopefully you won’t need them but if you do, here they are. Feel free to repost and share.

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Xena Was Black

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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.
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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!

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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.

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

Further Reading:

http://blackhistorypages.net/pages/amina.php

http://www.answers.com/topic/amina-of-zaria

Nubian Heroines: A Tribute

tumblr_lfjscxHS7l1qabus4o1_1280 Now I KNOW you all didn’t think I was done celebrating all things black geekery just because February is over. In this special post, I want to show some love and celebrate a very special group that is close to my heart: black women. It’s no secret that characters of color, well people of color in general (artists, authors, actors, etc.) are regularly on the receiving end of the worst kind of racist and misogynistic denigration. Anyone who has participated in fandom knows the type of disgusting hatred that the characters and the actresses who portray Tara from True Blood, Guinevere from Merlin and Dr. Martha Jones from Doctor Who regularly receives. And there’s a reason for that. Beautiful, sexy, intelligent, extraordinary, these goddesses are feared and despised because of the power they wield. Society constantly attacks black women because of the phenomenal light that they shine. So this post is not only a celebration of the nubian heroines who made me proud to call them my sisters but black women, period. This post is a tribute featuring a few of my favorite black female characters and actresses who brought the awesome back to fandom. This is also my way of saying thank you to all of the phenomenal nubian goddesses who have blessed and enriched my life over the years. To all of my black women, this one’s for you: