I have always been a child of dreams, both fantasy and science fiction, of wondrous and sometimes frightening tales. I can easily recall my younger days, stretched out on the floor and enjoying Creature Features about killer frogs, tales of Sinbad and of course my favorite Godzilla. Never mind that I was a tomboy of the greatest level, I was never content with existing in the real world. I wanted giant fire-breathing creatures, magic powers and magnificent environments. My imagination was feed further by tomes of Greek and Roman mythology, Clash of the Titans and Star Wars. I can even recall my uncle taking me to see “Return of the Jedi,” like it was yesterday.
In middle school, I might have been called a nerd, but to be honest, I wasn’t conscious enough to really care. Why? Because I discovered comic books and Advanced Dungeons and Dragons! Now again there were some looks and some whispers. Family members and school mates alike would often wonder if I was ‘worshiping the devil.’ I mean AD&D is still used as a way to explain deviancy. At the time I couldn’t voice how I was so far beyond concepts of fearing monsters. Devils were the least of the monsters in both the materials that I read and created! Yes, I was drawing my own comics, painting and writing at the time.
Not to give a life story or anything, but suffice to say that even though I am a grown woman, I still keep a tight leash on the novels I write and the artwork that I create. Even my nieces and nephews have the same narrow-mindedness of the adults: You still read comics? You write about werewolves? I don’t watch things about wizards because I’m not a nerd. Yes, I have heard these and more. Perhaps one of the most disturbing comments I ever heard was, Oh, you into that white people’s shit. Yeah, that was pretty ignorant. No one owns dreams, certainly not mine.
The debate as to whether African American (a term that dies a little ever year) Speculative Literature should be offset was one I used to go back and forth on. If I were to take on the idea that stories should transcend color, then I would have to say there is no reason to highlight or partition. But the truth of matter to me is that race relations are still an issue and old beliefs are still relevant even today. Why should I go to a Black Sci-Fi Convention as opposed to a Sci Fi Convention? Why would such even be necessary?
Well, it basically comes down to support.
Why are sports and performing arts so highly lauded in the Black Community? Why don’t more African American children aim to become scientists or even special effects artists? I’m not saying that anything is wrong with wanting to be the next Kobe, Kanye or even Beyonce, but can we not dream harder and fuller. Why can’t we cultivate more scientists, more film directors, novelists and engineers, is what I wonder… ( I like to use the comparison of tri-corders in Star Trek to our modern day smart phones, and refer to the Jetsons for modern inventions that were envisioned by sci fi but that is a whole other conversation). Fields that not only take us out of the box and into the future! I am supposing that somewhere someone has written an African American space opera. I know that African Americans have made great strides in science and in medicine, but an event or a venue which would bring them all together, would be awe-inspiring to not only the youth but also to the elders. By no means should art and science be separate, but a little highlighting in the form of culture is more like…recruitment. Science, fantasy, and technology (which is gaining in popularity btw) wouldn’t have to be closeted or even discretionary topics if we actively promoted that yes, Latinos write horror, yes African Americas write fantasy and that yes, Asians write romantic comedies.
I know that for a lot of my family, friends and associates their focus is on the past and the present, they can’t be bothered with imagining what might be, or how different it could be. Later for space, dragons, and fairytales; the mortgage is due, gotta get the car out of the shop and your cousin just got locked up…is what some will still say. Have you been to church lately is one of my favorites... I’m not saying forget morals, or social constructs, as some have accused me, but don’t ever allow life to be so rigid and rule defined. That and I’m personally sure that God likes sci fi every time I watch the Discovery Channel. Please explain the Nautilus.
Altogether, I believe that the more support and encouragement we show to dreamers the bigger their dreams will become and one day we can all dream together.
For those curious about African American Sci Fi/Horror/Mystery and Speculative Works, check these links out: