FeaturedOpEdWomen's History Month 2019

A Time Traveller’s (R)evolution Journey to a Cosmic Explosion of Self-Revelation

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by Clairesa Clay

(Recorded in 1972)

                People want to live (uh huh)
                Not merely exist
                People want to enjoy
                Not suffer and fear no no no. . .

                We need power
                We need peace
                Peace . . .

                –  Lyrics from Labelle’s “What Can I Do For You?”

(Recorded in 2014)

All we wanna do is take the chains off
All we wanna to do is break the chains off
All we wanna to do is be free
All we wanna to do is be free

All we wanna do is take the chains off
All we wanna to do is break the chains off
All we wanna to do is be free
All we wanna to do is be free

– Lyrics from J. Cole’s “Be Free”

Being me, science fiction, came by way of Black Horror.   Horror was the main love of mine through writers of literature and everyday United States’ racialized history.

The recent film, Horror Noire, documents the history of Black people in Horror movies. 

Watching horror films made me think about the one black male actor, too easy prediction—he dies!! Before the next scene, near the end, or before the last white character, then dies. 

Point. 

He dies.  

All those tropes are explored in Horror Noire directed by Xavier Burgin include Tananarive Due, Tony Todd, and Jordan Peele.  

The explosion of Jordan Peele’s Get Out and Us means Black characters don’t die in the beginning. 

Peele, a formidable director, marries our horrors of psychological, emotional, and PTSD, resulting from hideous residuals of slavery and racist acts. 

Side Note:  I am to ecstatic to watch Lupita Nyong’o lead US challenging the narrative of who becomes a leading female actress.  

Also, really like Boot Riley’s Sorry To Bother You.  I tripped from beginning to end of this film.  Metaphorically speaking, it canvases the whole film.  I will have another time for a dissertation on the analysis of Riley’s film.

Riley’s and Pelle’s films incorporate the systemic medical experimentation of African-Americans.

Why are we always used for medical experimentation? 

We save the world by dying from experiments and studies.

A real life horror by a horrific society that has taunted, mutilated, killed the black body for multiple reasons—fear, sport, power, rape—to name a few.


Emmett Till

In 1955, Emmett Till’s bloated body filled with bullet holes laid in a casket as his mother, Mamie Till, decision to leave the casket open for the world to see exposed the horrors of racial brutality. 

Furthermore, Mamie Till’s courageous act spurred Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights movement.    

Consequently, horror for the Black community combines two worlds—reality and art.  

Today, our leading Black Sci-fi writers are Octavia E. Butler, Victor Lavalle, Nalo Hopkinson, Samuel R. Delany, Ishmael Reed, N.K. Jemisin, Nnedi Okorafor, Sheree R. Thomas, and Karen Lord, to name a few.   

 This is America’s Slavery

                        “Now I’ve been free, I know what a dreadful condition slavery is.                                       I have seen hundreds of escaped slaves, but I never saw one who                                         was willing to go back and be a slave.”                         

                                                                                    – Harriet Tubman

America’s slavery of African people is horrific. 

1619—the date of first cargo ship carrying Africans.

Terror.  Tom Feelings’ Middle Passage artistically depicted the atrocities our people endured to survive the crossing to land in bondage.

From 1619 to present, horror by way of racist cops, racist groups and an (s)elected president’s racial hatred. 

Dana Franklin, main character Octavia Butler’s Kindred, introduced to me in a college course featuring Black Women Writers. 

Kindred set me on fire about slavery, womanhood, and courage.

Octavia Butler’s Kindred answers the statement, “If I had been back there, humph, I would have fought,” or something similar to that. 

Dana time travels between present day 1970’s and slavery times for the goal of initiate the rape of her female ancestor by her white male ancestor.

How does one reconcile the act of being an involver to an act of rape to live in the future?  What is Butler saying about conjoined participants in a rape act?  The seers are the ones turning their heads away knowing the impending rape.

The idea my survival in that time period would have been to be a slave.   A hard truth swallowed in knives. 

Real truth is that anyone from the time period, as hard it is to hear, would be a slave.  In the master hands of Butler, I came to this realization. 

Hoping someday that Ava Duvenay, Neema Barnett, Julie Dash, or another female director tackles Kindred as a film. 

We need a film that intertwines layers of the African-American woman experience. 

Two years ago, John Jennings and Damian Duffy’s graphic novel adaptation of Kindred hit #1 on the New York Times bestseller list.  Marvelously imagined art with Butler’s terse writing.  Can’t wait for J2D2’s adaption of Parable of Sower by Butler. 

Keep Octavia’s work alive.

2018: 1 minute of silence for African-American women 

Sandra Bland stirs a lot of hurt. 

The 15 year old teen in a bathing suit slammed by a white male police officer in McKinnely, Texas.  Steaming hurt. 

Prison code names for death that happens under the US penal system thriving under the 13th amendment.   Inhumane horrors.

This stuff sends me to an alternative reality with my head spinning out of control with an impounding headache, while eyes linger on the newest Black community trauma experience broadcast on TV.

Does power come in a suit?  Does power come with a color?  Does power come with an authority to take lives?  #BlackLivesDoMatter.

Clapping and a standing ovation to Naomi Wadler who at 11 years old spotlighted African-American women victims of gun violence in this country during her prophetic speech at the March for Our Lives.  

Horror with real blood stains.

 A fire burns in Wadler’s heart and eyes. 

Head nods to Abbey Dobson work on #SayHerName and Kimberlé Creenshaw’s #HerDreamDeferred

Naomi is speaking for me, about me.

It doesn’t matter, if I have two degrees.  I am presumed a suspect. 

It doesn’t matter, if I own a home.  Still, I am presumed a suspect in my own home.

It doesn’t matter, if I have a full-time job with a salary.  I am presumed a suspect, and a right for someone to call the police for non-collaborated stealing.

I fit the description of walking while Black. 

Naomi Wadler is my heroine!

Black girl sprinkling her magical voice of activism.

Black Future

On my quest to know more, Ytasha Womack’s award-winning Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy is a compilation of musicians, artists, and writers growing in the canon of Afrofuturism provided a wealth of artists in different genres exploring Afrofuturism, Blacks folks taking agency of their existence in the future.

Included in Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories From Social Justice Movements edited by Adrienne Maree Brown and Walidah Imarisha an excerpt from Levar Burton’s novel Aftermath, written in 1997.

Yes! Lt. Geordi La Forge from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

In 2019, a few days ago, a white supremacy bombed a mosque in New Zealand killing of 50 Muslims as they prayed, a heinous act that harkens the Black church bombings in the United States by white supremacy individuals and groups in the name of hate. 

The horror of medical experimentation as an open declaration war on black bodies from slavery to present times continue as a presence in our daily lives.

Burton’s story lives in my soul’s memory seeming too close to a reality of a Black future in medical experimentation stretching from the Tuskegee Syphilis experiment on Black males, birth control pills experiment on Puerto Rican woman, “the operation” my grandmother talked about of Black women in Brooklyn, the experimental MMR Vaccines leading to a disproportionate number of Black children developing autism.

Burton’s story centers on Dr. Rene Reynolds, a black woman doctor, discovering a cure for Parkinson disease afflicting a large percentage of the white population by using her Neuro-Enhancer device, an economical choice for a greater majority of people.

The recovery wait of her patients at 90%, but only one person opposed her method.

Dr. Randall Sinclair, a white male doctor, invented “ ‘skin fusion,’ a process of grafting skin from African-Americans and other dark-skinned ethnic groups onto Caucasians in order to increase skin pigmentation to stop the spread of skin cancer.” 

Dr. Sinclair’s expensive method limited it to the wealthy.

Burton hints at the current state of Obamacare proposed erasure by the wealthy that currently benefits 20 million people by current political administration.

Flash forward.  Dr. Reynolds is on the run for her life, a different scene from her being treated like a scholarly doctor.

Skinners are coming. 

Aka, the people who take black skin off of black bodies to save white people lives suffering from Parkinson disease.

Dr. Reynolds is captured by the skinners and placed in a van. 

Reynolds sees, “. . .layer of human skin, black and bloody, carefully peeled from the body of some poor victim.”

I couldn’t stop the feeling of fear of being hunted, and the van symbolized for me a slavery cargo ship.  It is transporting African-Americans without consent.

My internals shakes from a slight belief, possibility, it could happen in the near future.

A good science fiction story tells the artful horrors of the Black experience past, present, and possibly, our future.

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Clairesa Clay is the Founder of Blerd City Con www.blerdcitycon.com.  She enjoys chess, literature, and independent films.  Catch her at the Movie Theater or sitting on the train reading.

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