I would like to personally say how I liked the fact that there were teachers from other states coming together to exchange ideas on the topics of Race and the Sci-Fi Islamic Afrofuturism. I found this topic very interesting because I have never heard of it before. It opened my mind to new things and ideas that were being discussed throughout the zoom call. It made me realize how religion and race are spreading into many different fields and how the minority community is rising. I found it also most important that they were leaning there focus on Islamic and African American authors because we don’t hear a lot about the backgrounds of authors especially authors that are minorities.
Afrofuturism evaluates the past and the present to create a better future for African Americans through technology, art, books, music and etc. This allows people from African descent to connect with their origin as well as each other. Some books that illustrate Afrofuturism is Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson with themes of magical realism and folklore. This book has received a lot of recognition and awards because of its message and way it has impacted and made a difference in the African American community. Another interesting book that caught my eyes was Binti by Nnedi Okorator . This novel gave essence to African culture and embraced its beauty through its fictional settings within the novel. This Author as well as many other African American authors were being discussed throughout the conference call because its becoming more popular day by day and the amount of African American writers who write about Afrofuturism has increased throughout the years.
While analyzing the conference call and as well as doing my own research towards Afrofuturism I noticed how I could correlate what we have learned in class about dystopias and utopias. Generally speaking Afrofuturism is not necessarily a utopia but it is described to be a dystopia. It is described as a dystopia because it uses it’s platform to uplift their culture through fantasies and using art, music and literature to explore dilemmas faced by African American people. It is almost created to seem like a dream to the reader because it doesn’t reflect onto the real reality of the lives of the African American community. After hearing the conference call I am interested in getting to know more about Afrofuturism and reading books about it because I have never been introduced to these sort of novels. I find it important that minorities seek interest in this sort of genre of books because it can correlate with their own lives and uplift them and make them feel as one with their culture and or religion.
In the science Fiction symposium there were many things that caught my attention like the talk on the cold war and how it was perceived by president kennedy. With white supremacy being and issue in the United states some might think that the cold war and racism would just make it harder for african americans and other minorities , however the tension of a nuclear war took priority over supremacy in the United States. The supremacy that the United States of America wanted was supremacy over the world specially when it comes to the Soviet Union. Another great point that came to my mind was when the German government try to revolt african americans against the United states government, it makes us think about the going through the soldiers minds, do we fight for a country that undermines, violates and harrasses us or do we go to jail for not fighting, either way many of us black soldiers will end up wrongly in jail because of racism. Another is Cad Well Turnbull showing us that each person is great on their own and and it should be looked at just like we look at our own greatness, I believed that each mind is a Universe of their own and things can be looked at very differently and that is just makes things better. Which brings me to our universe and what was said about it. Our universe is unmeasurable and in my opinion this universe is too big for us human to be the only form of intelligence, but is it true or false that there is other life outside of the planet. And to be honest I am afraid that we are not alone and I wonder when will the come or if they been here before, where will they ? will they in peace? are they afraid of us? In the end the theme of the Utopia and Dystopia has made connection to shows and movies such as a show called black mirror that demonstrates the dystopian societies of the future and the movie and book THE GIVER which represented how society was form into groups of whether you are smart or not. Most of these movies and shows may affect how our future can turn into, which as of now has been accurate with the things that have happened in this country with a racist president that affects people of color and other minorities with comments and actions. Not only this country but the world is showing that things are turning into the dystopia that this great films talk about.
First of all, it was a very friendly and knowledgeable panel. I really liked how each person shared their opinions about the books it was an interesting live stream. What I liked was that they were people from different cultures and that everything goes from generation to generation. I also liked what one of the panelists said about the power that each person has to create and that everything depends on the way people create. Science fiction is so amazing because each person can be creative and can impress the world with their imagination. Now I will have a lot in mind this phrase that she said “You build in the shadow of loss” I liked it because you can be so creative with a mind full of knowledge and questions that make you create something that can be simple but very extraordinary and you can see beyond everything.
Cad Well Turnbull said “Many people build something that is very distinct” and I think it means that each person is a different world. And it is good to explore the work of each person because new people come and change cultures make a connection with alien that is to say that many people like science fiction by creating speculative stories about the impact of science and technology on the life of the human being. In these moments we need to support the marvels of science because every day that passes everything changes through technology and people’s vision. Other words that I liked was from Matthew Godwin who was talking about aliens and outer space, when I hear the word extraterrestrial I feel scared because I wonder would aliens exist? Has anyone ever seen an alien? Are we not alone in this world? these kinds of questions come to mind and in movies we can see aliens of different sizes and colors. Aaron Zwintscher of City Tech talked about a multi-universe and different beings that are scary but in the real world but in the world of science fiction something more than extraordinary. Building connections and sharing ideas is always going to change the world.
Responses to Science Fiction Symposium
The Fifth Annual City Tech Science Fiction Symposium focused on the role of race in science fiction. All of the speakers that presented spoke about authors I was unfamiliar with but spoke on some topics that could be related to issues present today within society. Professor Matthew Goodwin from Princeton University spoke on an the writing of Gloria Anzaldua. She is a science fiction writer from the Latin X community. Professor Goodwin reflected on Anzaldua’s writings “The Bridge called my back” and poem the Alien. Within those writings Anzaldua writes about space aliens and how they and Alien consciousness could represent ambiguity , intersexuality or mixed races. Professor Goodwin interpreted Anzalduas’ writing to suggest” infinite possibilities “ and the space alien as a representative for radical inclusivity.
Professor Gooptu from University of MA Amherst discussed a portion of a dissertation that explored post colonial themes is science fiction. She focused on Nalo Hopkins “Midnight Robbers “ and Vandana Sing’s Ambiguity Machines. Professor Gooptu spoke to how women’s bodies are under “social control “. In the books both authors relate the events that the female characters experience as situations where they have no control over their bodies and they do not belong to them. Their bodies are subject to the control of society at large and at times affect by decisions made without their consent. In Midnight Robbers the characters have nanomites present in them from birth and these nanomites control their bodies. Professor Gooptu refers to the term “ontological dispossession” as in both text the subjects question the state of being. The characters are not residing in their physical bodies as their conscious is outside of their bodies. The characters have difficulty recognizing and connecting with a sense of self despite the ability to give birth to other beings. Professor Gooptu connects the themes to post colonial attitudes, labor and reproduction under “ontological dispossession “ The other two speakers discussed themes that have arose in our readings this semester like slavery, power conflicts and racism but I found the aforementioned themes to be unique.
When logging in for the keynote speaker to find that the keynote speaker would be discussing the HBO’s show the Watchmen and Lovecraft country. I was a little excited. Although I haven’t watched either series with regularity, I have seen episodes of both and I am familiar with its characters and story lines. Professor Jonathan Gray of John Jay College highlights how race and politics are woven into both programs and how these themes have played out in our society. Professor Gray pointed out that the Tulsa race Massacre where in 1921 a thriving black town was destroyed is used in both series. Professor Gray speaks to how this event fueled by white supremacy and politics at connected to the shows. Professor Gray describes a Watchmen episode where a historical document issued by the German government during World War II that told black soldiers to revolt against the military and the us government. That leaflet is seen in the hands of the son of a black soldier who wears his father’s uniform. The screen refers to Tulsa and depicts a lynching and then shows the same young man as an old man with the same leaflet at the lynching of a police officer and discovered by his daughter who is also a police officer.
Gray indicates that in the Watchman the HBO’s show basis is that the threat of Global Nuclear war. This fear of nuclear war is what suppressed domestic white supremacy. Professor Gray suggests that President Kennedy and President Johnson saw domestic white supremacy was a hindrance to American Imperialism. The Cold War between the the United States and the Soviet Union played a role in political decisions to make the United States to look superior to Soviet Union. During the Cold War the United States wanted to perceived as a free society. President Regan who was heard in a voice recording referring to blacks as monkeys sign a law granting amnesty to millions of undocumented immigrants who were people of color. Gray suggest that these measures evident in how Presidents Kennedy and Johnson embraced the civil rights movement because it would make the United States to be superior to the Soviet Union. The storyline of Atticus a soldier of the Korean War in Lovecraft County reflects the struggles of African American soldiers faced within the Service and at home. Lovecraft depicts pivotal events in American history the Massacre in Tulsa and The Murder of Emmett Till. Lovecraft explored racial and political issues like racist police , redlining and cross burning. Professor Gray points out how the themes are depicted in the storylines. And reflect the current racial and political issues that are present today.
After joining the Imposium the presentation that interested me the most was the Sci-Fi Islamicate Afrofuturism. This was very interesting to me because I didn’t even know that it existed. It opened up a whole new world and made me wonder what else is out there. At first they explained why they used the word Islamicate. As many people know Islam is a religion/culture and a religion. This presentation is referring to the social and cultural aspect that is historically associated with Islam and Muslims, it has a similar meaning to the Christendom in pre-modern era of the West. Afrofuturism is a speculative fiction. This includes fantasy and futuristic literature that is written by Africans and African American. These are often focused on race, gender, and sexuality. Some of the early writings on Afrofuturism are The Comet by W.E.B DuBois’ (1920) and Black No More by George s. Schuyler (19310. The Islamicate Science Fiction has multiple Sub-components. These included Arab, African, Anglo-American, Central Asian, Persian, South Asian, and South East Asian. One of the significant African Sci-fi in the Colonial Era(1933) was Muhummadu Bello Kagara’s Gandoki. This novel was set in an alternative West Africa. This was about the natives struggling against British colonialism along with having to deal with Jinns and other mystical creatures. This was one of the first Anti-Colonial sci-fi/fantasy. As a Muslim myself this would be a dystopia in real life. I feel like it would have already been a struggle to deal with the British trying to take over along with mystical creatures haunting us as well. An example of Afrofuturism is The Trial of Christopher Okigbo by Dr. Ali A. Mazrui. This story handles three heritages which are Islam, Christianity, and The Indigenous African/animist systems. This was a dystopian novel the was set in the African “Afterworld”. The main characters of the book is a Muslim Journalist, a Biafran poet and writer, a Muslim woman, and famed African scholar, who were all modelled by Nigerians. This novel sounds very interesting to me and I will actually look into it. Another example of Islamicate Africa is Steven Barnes’ Alt history. The book Lion’s Blood is set in an alternate world where Islamic Africa is rising in power while Europeans are tribal and backward. The setting is in the North American Country names Bilalstan tenuously ruled by African Muslims, Zulus, Arabs, Aztecs, Vikings, and Indians. This is something that I would read because it is about a journey where Europeans are enslaved by Africans. This is a very distinct topic because it is the exact opposite of what happened in the past. I would like to know how the Europeans were enslaved and what tactics the Africans would use to control the slaves. This last example is on Urban Futurism. Beyonder is a Dystopian apocalyptical novel struggling with climate change and its effects written by Jalal Mansur Nuriddin. This was one of the earliest works to deal with techno-solutionism. Techno- Solutionism is the belief to use hi-tech in order to solve mankind’s’ problems. This imposium was very new to me. I have never been to one but I’m happy I joined anyways. I learned a lot of new information I knew before and have also grown some interest on these topics.
I found the livestream of the Sci Fi Symposium really fun and interesting to a surprising degree. One of the main takeaways that I did take away from the overall even was the concept of taking real fife events or settings and using that as the main inspiration for writing things off from. For example, we see the play on current events and technology in shows such as Black Mirror where they take everyday concepts like a social network and fusing it into a fundamental rule of our future society to show the existing issues that these things bring (In this instance, using social media and likes as a judgement on a person entirely) and how it may bring us into a dystopian future.
Another key detail that I was pleasantly surprised with was the attention to the depiction of various races and ethnicities appropriately throughout media alongside their culture. We see this in topics such as Afrofuturism where African American culture and history is put into the forefront and envisioned into a sci-fi aesthetic. It went much far back that I could have ever imagined and the artwork demonstrated were vivid, beautiful, and clearly from passion. The term Afrofuturism even goes past literature contemporary art, bringing in music, dance, and so much more and it’s something that I really want to explore more of it soon. It’s really beautiful seeing a movement that brings voices to a commonly forgotten part of Sci-Fi history.
Connecting this all to my personal interests, I am an enormous fan of sci-fi and taking contemporary societies into the future. I can also see how sci-fi can EASILY be used as a method of telling dystopian media as well (George Orwell’s 1984 and Brave New World comes to mind), teaching us how extreme forms or anything make a harmful future for all of us. Even in other mediums can science fiction warn us about contemporary practices such as blind consumerism in Ratchet and Clank and monopolies, corporate greed, and the profiting off of society’s stability in Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee and Final Fantasy 7. All of these videogames take in flashy futuristic settings from an industrial mechanical Midgar that is the last of Earth to literal alien worlds across the galaxy, yet we can easily connect to them and even EXPERIENCE them because the underlying themes and messages can be applied in our very present. Hell an entire sub-genre of science fiction comes out from advocacy and contemporary power struggles in our society: cyberpunk.
Punk ALONE was all about fighting back against the societal norms and sticking it to the man (something I highly resonate with.) It’s a big “screw you” to tyrannical powers that takes advantage of people with the loudmouth and carefree “in your face” philosophy that I LOVE SO MUCH. Taking these philosophies into the future (especially with technological corporations like facebook, apple, google, etc. ruling us now) is all the more exciting for me and it can serve as a major wakeup call. I love the idea of fighting advanced technology with your illegal hacking, scraps of metal, and the little that you have with a whole community of others to overthrow authority. It gets my blood rushing at the very thought of it.
Octavia E. Bulter’s “Parable of the Sower” graphical novel adaptation by Damien Duffy and John Jennings is an amazing dystopian text. This dystopian literature have major controversies issues such as survival and enviromental destruction. The narrator, author of EARTHSEED:THE BOOKS OF THE LIVING and daughter of the preacher, professor and dean Lauren Oya Olimina is face with developing her own religion EARTHSEED to survive this. Even though Lauren is only 15 years old she is knowlegble teacher and her own home and suffers from hyperempathy syndrome which allows her to share pain keeps her well inform. Lauren being a precher’s daughter was expected to follow the same path as her father who also share the same birthday as her. It seems that in the beginning of the novel Lauren introduces EARTHSEED after significant deaths occurs in her life. At these points in her life she is developing her religion to cope better and prepare herself for life.
In “Parable of the Sower” survival is a great focus in Robelo. The narrator Lauren resides in a neighbor where walls was put up to protect the residents. The people within this community are so frighten they stay within the walls even scarficing their moral beliefs. “Not all of the people living within our neighborhood walls are Baptists, but those who need to go to church are glad to come to us. That way they don’t have to go outside”(page4) The residents safety is a major issue to survive. The resisdents who attend school at Lauren’s home is given training at a young age to use and handle gun. When they become adolscent and have their certificate they are taking to target practice. Everyone in this community is equip to handle any danger that might enter the walls.
“Parable of the Sower” posses an envirnomental destruction in the Robelo community. “In Robledo, the poor is consider desperate or crazy or both” (page8) “They often have things wrong with them. They have no money for water to wash, so even the unwounded have sores. They’re all malnourished or even poisoned by bad food”They(page9). With lack of money the citizens here are not receiving proper care. One day Lauren rode into town with her family and friends. They witness a bike rider with no limbs. Lauren was very weak her hyperempathy syndrone was affect. She can fill every bad moment she witness outside. It seems like Lauren reassurance herself and give herself valve when she writes either in her journal or EARTHSEED. Thourghout the novel Lauren is able to live even though her certainstances kept changing. Her environment kept changing when here family was parrish due to destruction. Her brother parish from going outside the walls. Her father vanish and never came back home when he was outside the walls at work. Her stepmom and young siblings died when the community was compromise and their house was seet on fire. Lauren was able to survive all of this with her book and beliefs. She led strangers to a safe place and started her EARTHSEEDS fellowers. Her strengths and determination kept her alive and started her long life dream of EARTHSEEDS.
I am focusing my essay on Lauren and her belief of EARTHSEED. Normally a charater rebel negatively against society. Lauren rebel against the normally religion and develop her own was positve. She end up surviving at the age of 17. She was all alone in the community trying to survive from the destructive environment she face. She was brave and fulfill her long term goal EARTHSEED.
Title: Being Born again
The novel parable of the sower written by Octavia E. Butler was based on the main character who’s name was Lauren Oya Olammina. Lauren grew up with her family just like most of the people in her community, but Lauren was very different from everyone. Besides the fact she was a preacher daughter she also had the ability to feel the pain and pleasure of others around her. In the book it was called hyperempathy others did not know about her ability,because they would think different of her. Throughout the book we see a drastic Change in the character Lauren, she went from being a little 15 year old girl who was limited to her belief and shelled in by her father and those around her to becoming a leader who leads a group of people into a new way of thinking.
From the very beginning of the book Lauren make it clear that she believes in God, but she does not believe in the God of her father. Lauren was raised on christian principals specifically baptism. In year 2024 page 13 Lauren gets baptized and she ” I wish I could believe this was important, failing that I wish I didn’t care but I do” Lauren shows the reader that this “God” that her father is forcing her to believe in does not sit right with her, because of this Lauren begins to form her own beliefs of who and what God is Earthseed. In the novel we see and read a lot of Earthseed scriptures which gives us the perspective of hoe Lauren sees life. Although Lauren believes Earrthseed is the true way to follow she has to keep it to herself for the safety of other in her community. Lauren knew that one day her community will end up being destroyed and they wouldn’t be able to keep the wall us forever, but people counted her as crazy and insane. Joanne who was Lauren Bestfriend expressed her concern towards Lauren when she reports Lauren to her own father after Lauren express her half of her beliefs to her. This particular incident showed me how passionate Lauren was about her beliefs, she vowed never to trust her friend again because she could have cause harm to her. Despite everything that was going on in the book what really stood out to me was Laurens hypermpathy, it was already enough that Lauren was dealing with her own problems yet alone having to share and experience the pain of others too. In page 77-78 Laurens father beats up her brother Keith for being rude, and Lauren felt every single pain and physically got the scares, this really emphasizes on how we should be mindful on how we treat others. Imagine being in the shoes of Lauren and having to feel all of this, you would want the world to be a better place so you can also be at peace.
Eventually Laurens community goes under attack pyro addicts. This attacked cause Lauren to be separated from her family. She later find out that are whole family was wiped out. This was the beginning of the new Lauren, she had to survive in this new world which was north with Zahra and harry who becomes her new family . The people in the north lived a whole different lifestyle from Laurens gated community, they were more savage like, abuse drugs, and more of a dark world. She ends us discovering more of Earthseed and begins to spreads Earthseed with those around her.
Reflection:During this semester this class has caused me to challenge my thoughts. For my first time writing a essay for this class I think I did okay. Having to summarize on a book that I’ve read seemed kind of easy, but actually writing about it forces you to see the main message the book is trying get across. You want to know what are the main points to write about and what are the least important points to write about. This also helped me to break the store down even more.
Writing my first two draft paragraphs of my essay has exposed to me my writing and ways that I can better improve it. This was a helpful exercise and will give me a chance to make my final essay better. I can also fix my mistakes and try to resemble the rubric properly.