Interview with Jennie Wright of The Sankofa Experience

jennie wright head shot

The Sankofa Experience kicks off at People’s Liberty in Over-the-Rhine next month. The first half of the programming – Feb. 2-24 – explores the Harlem Renaissance while the second half – March 7-24 – explores the dawn of the age of hip hop. We recently talked to Jennie Wright, Chief Imagination Officer of The Sankofa Experience, about how she and her crew tie speculative fiction, African-American history and the Afrofantastic together for this imaginative programming. Read More

Midwest BSFA Members to Participate in Steamfunk Panel

61Ogvtheq6L.jpg

Midwest BSFA members will participate in a panel on steamfunk at the International Steampunk Symposium on Saturday, March 30, and Sunday, March 31! The panel will focus on how black American cosplayers/steampunks see themselves in and operate inside of the steampunk genre, and discuss how re-imagining the country’s antebellum past can be represented and reworked in a steampunk future. Read More

Blessed Be the Nerdy Grandmothers: A Requiem

My long bout of vegging out in the week between Christmas and New Year’s included a rewatch of the Star Trek reboot. When the movie first came out back in 2009, a friend and I saw it in the theater five or six times, and I even dragged my mother and brother to see it once when I was home for a visit. It really wasn’t that great, not for me to devote as much time and money as I did to it that spring, but something about it seems to compel me to keep going back. I now think it was my grandmother.

When Chris Pine swaggered across the screen in the scene where he cheats at the Kobayashi Maru test during my most recent rewatch, I had a weird That’s So Raven-esque vision: my grandmother’s long, thin frame stretched out on the couch in her cramped living room, me in the chair right next to her, watching an episode of the original Star Trek. Grams loved William Shatner’s Captain Kirk, and in that moment, I wondered if she would have liked the reboot and its sequels. I was momentarily struck by a sweeping sense of grief. I wanted to watch these films with her. I wanted to know what she thought of Pine’s rendition of Kirk. I wanted to know if the Uhura/Spock storyline intrigued her as much as it did me at the time (Zachary Quinto’s Spock was bae that summer).

My grandmother died 19 years ago this week but as the person who gave me my first foray into geekdom through our Star Trek viewing, she lives on through me. She—along with my mother and my aunt—nurtured my imagination, and gave me the space to be smart and shy and introspective in my formative years. I lost sight of some of that creativity during my teen years and early adulthood, and it took me a while to fully recover from the bandwaggoning that can occur during those time periods, but ever since starting Midwest BSFA and getting into steampunk, I’ve been able to rediscover my love of geeky things. I think knowing that this rediscovery has happened would make my grandmother happy.

Rest on, Grams.

“What Does the Future Look Like?” Short Film Program

wdtfll 2

Each year during Black History Month, we collectively discuss past experiences and contributions of African-Americans, but Midwest Black Speculative Fiction Alliance’s “What Does the Future Look Like?” programming focuses on our futures through a distinctly speculative fiction lens. We are encouraging black filmmakers in the Midwest to show us their interpretations of what the future looks like for black people.

Read More