Dragon Con answered the call for diversity in 2018. The year will probably be remembered as the year that Black Science fiction became mainstream. While Black Panther broke numerous box office records that year, the push for greater inclusion in comics, games, and books had been given a major uplift as the contributions of those usually shut out from such realms continued to grow. With all of the change being embraced, Dragon Con rose to the challenge. Dragon Con made diversity a convention-wide theme. Known for having some of the best panels rivaling those of San Diego Comic Con, Dragon Con not only had diversity panels on every track
Jarvis Sheffield, founder of the Black Science Fiction Society, stepped up to the helm and piloted the inaugural year of the new Diversity track. Some of the panels included:
-A Wakanda style welcome in the food court mall
-A panel on the Ethnic Mosaic of the Expanse.
-On the Black Panther front, there was a Wakandan Science Institute. In one of the film screening
-On the American Sci-fi and Fantasy Media
-On the Young Adult in Literature track there was a panel on LGBTQA in YA.
-On the Star Trek track, there was a panel focused on all of the women characters in Star Trek.
-There was a panel focused on Ghost Brothers, a Black paranormal investigator show.
-The Independent Film Festival track did a panel entitled From Wakanda to Get Out.
-The Military Science Fiction track did a panel focused on Diversity in Military Sci-fi.
-The Podcasting track featured a panel on Diversity in Podcasting.
-On the main stage, there was a panel entitled Women Who Create Fantasy Worlds.
On the last day of the convention, there was a large panel held titled Young, Gifted and Black: Considering Race in the Marvel Universe which was held at the same time as a larger Black Panther themed panel called Wakanda Forever.
All of these panels did not include the panels of the Diversity track. Of all the twenty plus panels that the Diversity Track produced each of them focused on a different area of the experiences of people of color, gender, and sexual orientation in the world of sci-fi and comic books. They also included panels featuring a host of writers, cosplayers, game developers and filmmakers.
In addition to the panels at Dragon Con, there were also special guests like Black Sci-fi pioneer Steven Barnes and film and comic book writer Rodney Barnes. To round things out the group, Black Heroes Matter had a big meet up where they took a photo of a host of Black cosplayers.
We’re hoping to get more programming like this in 2019 at Dragon Con.
Jeff Carroll lives in South Florida, with his wife and son. He is a writer, a filmmaker, and owner of Hip Hop Comix N Flix. He enjoys writing Sci/fi, Horror and fantasy stories with lots of action and a social edge. He has written and produced 2 films, his second film was Gold Digger Killer won 3 film awards including BEST Picture at the International Hip Hop film festival.
His short stories have appeared in both, The Black Science Fiction Society’s anthology and their magazine as well as The City: A Cyberfunk Anthology, a collaborative anthology by the State of Black Science Fiction. Jeff also produces The Monster Panel a traveling sci-fi panel which features writers of color in a lively discussion of comic books, movies, and Black people. Jeff Carroll is the author of the non-fiction book The Hip Hop Dating Guide. When he is not writing sci-fi stories he enjoys speaking on Healthy Dating to college and high school students everywhere and goes by Yo Jeff. Connect with him at his blog http://hhcnf.blogspot.com/ and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.