Before I could read, the only stories I would hear were that from my mother who, luckily for me, was an avid fan of the Harry Potter and Hobbit Series.
When I got too old for bed time stories (although I don’t believe there is such an age), my brother, three years my senior, made up stories that both me and my sister would listen to on the edge of our seats each night. And when he traded books for footballs, I went in search of my next adventure.
For the next decade I spent most of my spare time in the ShadowWorld, Andarlan, on the Alexander-78V, in a future where everyone is chemically enhanced, in a Grey, Red and White London, exploring fantastical lands with a book as my oyster.
And in each adventure, every journey and turn of each page, I looked for myself or at least someone like me. A black character, or character of colour.
With my age, my awareness of the lack of black characters in Science Fiction Fantasy books, grew. I couldn’t help but notice that my, “honey blonde hair” didn’t cascade down my back or that my “fair skin” was actually deep and rich.
I felt excluded, rejected from these stories – it felt like every page was a silent command to stop reading because it wasn’t meant for me.
Gradually I stopped reading. I know and acknowledge that there are books from other genres such as Contemporary Fiction and Romance that are inclusive of POC characters, but I can’t get in to these books, for me they lack that luster, that intrigue- that special something that exists in the sci-fi fantasy genre.
This is when Black Panther came out, and as an avid fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this film was something that I didn’t know I needed. And in my desperate search for something like it, I came across the term “Afrofuturism”.
Afrofuturism is a term that describes a genre of science fiction or fantasy as being “rooted in and unapologetically celebrate the uniqueness and innovation of black culture.” (Jamie Broadnax, 2018, Huffington Post)
I thought to myself, a whole genre just for me? Nonsense.
But, like Alice down the rabbit hole, I was on a roll. This simple term opened a whole new world for me in which I was able to re-ignite my passion for Sci-Fi Fantasy Books.
This genre is not limited to Film and Books, but spreads across multiple platforms such as fashion, art and music. I think it’s crazy and illogical that even in these fantasy worlds exclusion is written in.
Fantasy as the opposite of reality, Fiction as the opposite of fact these genres should include all of the equalities and varieties of people and worlds that don’t exist in real life. It’s in the name.
Janelle Monáe: Emotion Picture