Sunday, January 17, 2016

A Sci Fi Tribute to Martin Luther King Day: Afrofuturism

This week has been one of tragic loss of two people in science fiction and fantasy, and also commemorates a tragic loss that occurred more than 40 years ago. As many of you already know, we lost former rock star David Bowie and Harry Potter actor Alan Rickman. It's easy to see how Rickman relates to the world of sci fi/fantasy but, unless you're a Bowie fan, it's perhaps not as known how Bowie relates to it (unless you happen to be a fan of the '80s movie, Labyrinth, which I'm not although Bowie's acting in it was good). But Bowie produced many sci fi-related songs and albums, his most popular being Ziggy Stardust (which was also a movie he starred in) and another that is perhaps not as popular but said by to be very good is Low

David Bowie playing guitar as Ziggy Stardust
David Bowie on guitar as Ziggy Stardust
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Alan Rickman of the "Harry Potter" films
Alan Rickman of the Harry Potter films
Photo Credit: David Shankbon/Wikimedia Commons

A loss that was tragically experienced by the nation in 1968 was Martin Luther King, Jr. He may not have many close speculative fiction connections, at least not overtly, but he is relevant to this blog in a very big way: He was a visionary like many sci fi and fantasy artists. He had a vision for a future America, even a future world as a whole in certain respects, which at that time could have been considered a science fiction but one that was meant to turn into science fact, social science fact to be exact: an America of racial equality. Unfortunately, the vision hasn’t turned into science fact. It is becoming science fact. Blacks, as with many minorities of colour, have moved up in society a great deal since the ‘60s. For example, we have blacks who star as strong, major characters in movies unlike most movies in the ‘60s and back. The latest example is John Boyega who plays Finn in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The reason I say that King’s vision is becoming science fact is because racism is not dead. The causes of the Black Lives Matter movement are examples of this. So this “science fiction”, this vision, is becoming science fact and much of it has already become it, but much more still has to materialise. The vision of equality is not only limited to racial issues but other social issues such as women’s rights, disability rights and tolerance of marginalized religions like Islam (marginalized in the western world, at least).

Such a vision is a major element of the black science fiction movement now becoming more known--Afrofuturism. If you're clueless to what Afrofuturism is specifically, check out one of my earlier posts at the links to below. The links make up a list of Afrofuturism sources, a list I conjured up as a tribute to Martin Luther King's ongoing dream. It's in no way exhaustive. So if you know of any other sources, please list them in the box below. Let’s all continue contributing to making the vision, the Dream, come true.

Afrofuturism Sources

I discuss Afrofuturism a little in this earlier Far Out Fantastic Finds post.  

A short post from last month about W.E.B. Dubois' science fiction. However, there is a link there to the Examiner article I did on the topic that gives a little more information.

This article talks about black super heroes, particularly Marvel Comics’ Black Panther who they will be making a movie of. It also talks about the fictional nation of Wakanda in the Black Panther comics as a kind of African utopia and futuristic society.

This New York Times calendar of events talks a little about the Black Comic-Book Festival running this weekend at the New York Public Library and black science fiction.

Nichelle Nichols as "Lt. Uhura" from "Star Trek" the Original Series
Nichelle Nichols of the original Star Trek series was one of the first black actresses to play a major role in a science fiction TV show.
Photo Credit: NBC Television/Wikimedia Commons

Until next time . . .

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