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Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Impact of White Supremacy on The African-American Imagination

When I attended the 2009 Harlem Book fair I ran into several Black people who questioned me about my first book Isis. When they read the back of the book they told me that the main character Isis couldn’t be the daughter of Osiris.

However, these same Black people can suspend their disbelief and believe that Mattel’s Monster high characters such as Draculaura is the Daughter of Dracula, Clawdeen Wolf is the daughter of the Werewolf, and Cleo De Nile is the daughter of a mummy and so on.

It’s a biological possibility for Osiris to have a daughter with a Nubian woman. But it’s biologically impossible for the undead, werewolves and mummies to bear children due to their physiologies. But because a White corporate business like Mattel Toys endorses these characters those same Black people will suspend their disbelief and take the fantasy in a story like Monster High as truth and buy those toys for their children.

*In spite of his criticism, Shawn is a big fan of Monster High and does not miss an episode on YouTube*

Other Black Christians have told me I’m promoting false gods and pagan worship with my Isis series stories. They get all upset when I present them with a Black goddess and a pantheon of Egyptian gods that look like Black people.

But these same people will go out and watch movies like Thor or Thor: The Dark World that features an interpretation of a White Norse god. Not understanding Jack Kirby and Stan Lee’s The Mighty Thor comic book and its characters are based on Norse Mythology. Pagan religion in their eyes.

For some Black Christians, paying money to watch the Thor movies made by White people about the Pagan White Norse god is fine. But reading the story about a Pagan Black goddess written and published by a Black man is blasphemy in their eyes.

Or they’ll let their kids play Mortal Kombat which features Rayden a made up Thunder god, and Sheeva, a four-armed character with a name inspired by an Indian goddess.

A few of these same Black Christians have told me I’m promoting demon worship and Satanism by featuring Lucifer and Black demons in The Temptation of John Haynes.

But these same Black folks will let their kids read Harry Potter books and go to Harry Potter movies which features occult themes, Black magick and alleged satanic undertones.

A few in an effort to minimize my work will say my stories are like comic books. But These same Black people will go out and buy other fantasy novels from bestselling White authors like Anne Rice or Stephen King and will have no problem with those stories and their plot structures.

I find it interesting that some Black people will believe science fiction and fantasy concepts when there’s a White protagonist at the forefront or a White publisher or company endorsing the product. But when there’s a Black protagonist produced by a Black publisher, they either refuse to suspend their disbelief or they accuse the creator of Blasphemy, idolatry, Satanism, pagan worship or atheism.

What I’m finding after 12 years publishing Black science fiction and fantasy stories is that there’s a double standard among some Black people regarding African-American fantasy and science fiction. Selective imagination as I like to call it. An outward expression of the mental conditioning of institutional racism.

In these cases, when a white person presents them with an image of a White person in a fantasy setting like Captain Kirk on Star Trek they’ll believe it without question. If they present them with an image of a Black person or other person of color in white established fantasy or sci-fi institution like Lieutenant Uhura or Benjamin Sisko from Deep Space Nine they’ll believe it.

But if a Black person like myself presents them with a fantasy image of another Black person like I do with Isis, John Haynes, or E’steem they refuse to suspend their disbelief. They try to interject some sort of real world ideas to keep themselves from immersing themselves into a fantasy world created by a Black person for other Black people.

I have to wonder if most Black people can imagine themselves in a world outside of the ghetto? Or does it hurt too much thinking of what is to think of what could be? Or are Black people just afraid to see themselves outside of the limitations imposed on them by White Supremacy?

I sometimes wonder how deep this mental enslavement is, and if it reaches deep into the subconscious of Black people that White Supremacy controls their very imaginations.

Ever since I was a kid I found it odd that every image of a fantasy/Science fiction kind presenting the past or the future in America featured a White Male as the leading character. And how even the aliens from outer space and gods in the heavens deferred to the White male main character as some sort of supreme being. In recent years, this image has been a White woman like Buffy Summers or Xena, but the supporting characters, especially the nonwhite, demon, alien or god characters all deferred to the White person in the room.

As I got older I saw this as an outward projection of White Supremacy.  Yeah, I still enjoyed my Star Trek, Hercules, Xena, and other fantasy/Sci-fi shows but it bugged me. Where were the Black people in these stories? Why don’t more Black people see themselves in the future? Why don’t they see a place for themselves in the imaginary worlds? Why aren’t Black people shown as equals in science fiction/fantasy Why don’t they see themselves as the leaders in science fiction/fantasy stories?

Moreover, why is my fantasy featuring a Black person in that leadership role considered odd? Why is it Black people get so upset when they see a Black character in a fantasy/science fiction role? Why do they question the world that gets built around a Black character and created by a Black writer?

Science fiction and fantasy are supposed to be a commentary on today while making a statement about tomorrow. And in those stories the statement often is that many don’t see a place for Black people in the future. Even worse, Black people don’t see a place for themselves in the future.

It’s disturbing to me that a White person or a foreign person will believe in a fantasy world created by a Black man featuring Black characters but some Black people won’t. With my stories Nonblack American people often suspend their disbelief, imagine what’s going on in the story and have fun, but Black people will try to impose their ghetto reality and their hood logic onto the characters and their actions. And when they can’t make their reality fit into the fantasy transpiring between the pages they get upset and lose it.

I find it sad that some Black people can’t sit back, relax and enjoy fantasy fiction like I and the rest of the world do. Science fiction and fantasy stories allow people to open up their imaginations and see what the world could be, not what it is. The way I see it Black people need to start reading more Science fiction and fantasy stories with Black characters and published by Black publishers. Because when Black people can see characters like themselves in a mythical or futuristic setting, brothers and sisters can imagine themselves in a different world than the ghetto in their future.

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