Writing Excuses Cruise 2018

Dear students wanting to know where Mr. Broaddus was all week (not that you’d check Facebook because it’s for old people),

Just know that I was hard at work on a new book and preparing to teach about writing. Because I suffer for my art.

Our first stop was at NASA. Chilling with the Saturn V rocket. 60 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty. You can’t appreciate the scale unless you can picture parking your car into one of the FIVE thrusters in the back.

Then I found myself in Roatan, going over my lesson/workshop plans when suddenly I was struck with writers block that I found a way to push through…#beachmassagesrule

Then came Belize where I was, uh, researching. #writerslife

I did meet up with a few folks: one codenamed B15

and the other group codenamed Bravo Bravo Bravo.

This exchange probably best sums up how I lived on the Writing Excuses Cruise:

Me: Let me get this straight, I can order anything off this menu and you’ll give it to me for NO extra charge.

Waiter: Yes sir. So what would you like for dessert?

Me: The roasted duck.

#wrxcruise2018

I want to than the entire Writing Excuses crew for inviting me out and giving me the opportunity to teach some folks who will be taking the literary world by storm before too long.

AFROFUTURISM FRIDAYS: N.K. JEMISIN & NNEDI OKORAFOR – FROM THE STARS TO HOME RE-CAP

 

I. CALL TO ORDER: DUST: Missy Elliott Descends from Planet Rock

Little Simz, Missy Elliott & The Genius Of Afrofuturism | @littlesimz @missyelliott

Listening/viewing Salon: videos by Missy Elliot

 

            Music Lab – Missy Elliott Playlist

-The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)

-She’s a Bitch

-Beep Me 911

-Sock It 2 Me

 

I’m Better

 

Sock It 2 Me

II. N.K. Jemisin

 

We celebrated N.K. Jemisin’s unprecedented Hugo Award for Best Novel three-peat by watching her acceptance speech for The Stone Sky, the final volume in the Broken Earth series. The series began with The Fifth Season (2015) and is followed by The Obelisk Gate and The Stone Sky. The Fifth Season takes place on a planet with a single supercontinent called the Stillness. Every few centuries, its inhabitants endure what they call a “Fifth Season” of catastrophic climate change.

 

The society of the Stillness is broken up into many “comms”, “use-castes”, races and species. Such as orogenes, people with the ability to control energy, particularly that of the ground (directly) and temperature (indirectly). In a prologue, an extraordinarily powerful orogene discusses the sad state of the world and laments the oppression of his race. He then uses his enormous power to fracture the entire continent along its length, threatening to cause the worst Fifth Season in recorded history. The story then follows three female orogenes across the Stillness from different time periods.

 

In August 2017 it was announced that The Fifth Season is being adapted for television by TNT

 

N.K. Jemisin’s speech – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lFybhRxoVM&feature=youtu.be

 

Shockingly, there was a lot of backlash to her speech which was a whole lot of racist nonsense. However, of note, was N.K. Jemisin’s recent twitter rant answering the question “why do we have to mention her race?”

III. Binti: Home

In probably our most intense and personal discussion, we covered a lot of ground:

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Binti’s journey involves a lot of losing who she thinks she is and the idea of being exposed to things outside of yourself: Okwu, Binti’s otjize, her time at the metropolitan university, her time with the Desert People, her pilgrimage because she thinks she’s unclean. How can we, as she puts it, grow “beyond your cultural cage”?

 

  1. On page 125 Binti says “It’s wrong that I don’t even know of my own … my own people.” To know who you are, under what circumstances do you have to return home? What does it mean to learn of your own people (what does that look like for us)?

 

  1. “When you face your deepest fears, when you are ready,” [her therapist had] said, “Don’t turn away. Stand tall, endure, face them. If you get through it, they will never harm you again.” Binti’s PTSD is an on-going theme of the story. How do we walk through our past and the stories that both formed and hurt us?

 

  1. How do we balance the expectation community has for us (you have a gift) vs. what we want to do (in Binti’s case, dance)?

 

  1. “What we can’t afford to do is let one story keep us from participating in other stories. Maybe this is where reconciliation can begin.” Meduse and Khoush. Himba and Khoush. We have this idea of warring tribes. What does it take to put aside ancient angers, hatreds, and tribal histories of violence?

 

 

Also, we’ve been compiling a list of materials and resources for our Afrofuturism library. Feel free to post any of your suggestions.

AFROFUTURISM FRIDAYS: DELVING INTO COMICS RECAP

I. READING SALON

*Black

*Miles

*Kindred

*Cyborg

*Strange Fruit

*Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur

*Victor LaValle’s Destroyer

II. LISTENING SALON

Music Lab – Flying Lotus

[from Wikipedia] Flying Lotus was born Steven Ellison, the grand-nephew of the late jazz pianist Alice Coltrane, whose husband was saxophonist John Coltrane. His third studio album, Cosmogramma, was released in 2010. It was a hard-hitting afrofuturistic shrine to soul, hip-hop, and jazz, and featured Stephen Bruner, aka Thundercat.

[The album was accompanied by live instrumentation (Thundercat on bass, Miguel Atwood Ferguson on strings, Rebekah Raff on harp) and live vocalists (Thom Yorke, Laura Darlington) – all picked to help communicate the spiritual musical lineage of Ellison’s family (Ravi Coltrane, himself, played tenor sax)]

His fifth studio album, You’re Dead! was released in 2014. It features guest appearances by Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg and Herbie Hancock. Flying Lotus then appeared alongside Thundercat on Kendrick Lamar’s album To Pimp a Butterfly and received a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year for his credits as producer.

 

III. CALL TO ORDER: An intro to the history of black comics

 

All-Negro Comics: published in June 1947. It was the first independent comic and was also the first comic to feature black characters by black creators. Superheroes, detectives, kid characters.

Milestone Media/Milestone Comics (from Wikipedia)

Milestone Media was a company best known for creating Milestone Comics, which were published and distributed by DC Comics, and the Static Shock cartoon series. It was founded in 1993 by a coalition of African-American artists and writers, consisting of Dwayne McDuffie, Denys Cowan, Michael Davis, and Derek T. Dingle. (Christopher J. Priest participated in the early planning stages of Milestone Media, and was originally slated to become the editor-in-chief of the new company, but bowed out for personal reasons before any of Milestone’s titles were published).

 

Although Milestone comics were published through DC Comics, they did not fall under DC Comics’ editorial control; DC retained only the right not to publish any material they objected to. Milestone Media retained the copyright of their properties and had the final say on all merchandising and licensing deals pertaining to them. In essence, DC licensed the characters, editorial services, and creative content of the Milestone books for an annual fee and a share of the profits. Dwayne McDuffie said that DC held up this agreement even though some of Milestone’s storylines made them “very uncomfortable” as they were from perspectives that DC weren’t used to.

 

All Milestone Media titles were set in a continuity dubbed the “Dakotaverse”, referring to the fictional midwestern city of Dakota in which most of the early Milestone stories were set. The first batch of titles included: Hardware, Icon, Blood Syndicate and Static.

 

UNFORTUNATELY: The comics market was experiencing a glut of “new universes” as several other publishers launched superhero lines around the same time (a slump would start in 1993 and a market crash in 1994), a significant number of retailers and readers perceived the Milestone books to be “comics for blacks” and assumed they would not interest non-African-American readers.

 

By 1997, the line folded (only the Static Shock cartoon remained). In 2008, the characters were merged into the regular DC universe. In 2016, DC Comics announced the creation of “Earth-M” within their multiverse. 2018 saw the release of five titles, including Milestone (featuring Icon and Rocket), a new Static series, Duo (based on the character Xombi), and two other new titles: Earth-M and Love Army.

 

[Literally, Milestone began with two brothers in a basement talking comics and possibilities]

 

IV. CHOPPING IT UP WITH LOCAL CREATIVES

Introductions: Nick Perry, Arric Thomas, Jamahl Crouch

 

-What got you into comics books/art?

 

-How would you describe your art?

 

-What is the guiding philosophy behind your art?

 

-What is the relationship between your art and community work?

 

-What would you like to do moving forward?

 

RESOURCES OF INTEREST:

The Unacknowledged History of Black Creators and Black Characters in Comic Books

 

All-Negro Comics

https://www.digitalcomicmuseum.com/?dlid=22625

 

The Real Reasons for Marvel Comics’ Woes

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/05/the-real-reasons-for-marvel-comics-woes/527127/

 

Why Milestone Comics’ Revival Matters

https://medium.com/@nerdypoc/why-milestone-comics-revival-matters-2a9ff59e05dd

 

Intern Bella and GenCon: A Summer Recap

[My GenCon report by way of how I spent my summer vacation aka a long post]

“Mr. Broaddus, do you have any interning opportunities?”

Thus enters Bella, one of my (former) 8th graders who went through my creative writing club at the middle school who wrote me a week after graduation. I said “no,” but wanted to hear her thinking. When I met with her and her mom, her mom told me that though she tried to talk her out of it, her daughter was determined to be a writer. If that was the case, she needed to start networking now. Between her boldness in asking and her clear goals, I said yes.

We’ve had a whirlwind summer involving a reading list (Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and Nick Mamatas’ Starve Better), a dialogue seminar, writing through the lens of social activism (a project I am doing with the Kheprw Institute),

She shadowed me through project development, generating income streams, and learning the business side of a writing career (granted, I had to explain that calling up a publisher and hurling insults at one another is only the special submission guidelines between me and Jason Sizemore). We’re also writing a story together which is an easy way for me to teach the finer points of character development, plotting, deepening themes, conflict, and revision. Which means she’ll end up with a pro credit, too.

One of the things about my writing career is that I certainly didn’t get here by myself as I think of the folks who mentored me along the way and became friends (Kelly Link, Gary A. BraunbeckByron Kane, and so many more) and those who introduced me around at my first con (Wayne Allen Sallee). Since she wanted to network, her intern “graduation” was doing GenCon with me.

Intern Bella (about my red outfit): “Mr. Broaddus, it’s hard to take you seriously when you look like you should top a sundae.”

With one joke, she stole all my friends at GenCon. There’s a great community of folks who go into making the Writers Symposium such a wonderful experience (Kelly SwailsJerry GordonLucien SoulbanMonica ValentinelliMax GladstoneScott LynchTanya DePass, and so many more). But I wanted to highlight a few who made me look like a genius in retrospect by surrounding Bella with role models of powerful women:

Alethea Kontis – who basically took Bella under her wing and displayed the finer aspects of authorial badassery (Bella, like most young people, isn’t on Facebook, so I can say badass).

Melanie Meadors – who fielded all of her questions about being a publisher and editor.

Sarah Wishnevsky Lynch – who gave such a wonderful talk about the importance of resilience that I wanted to bottle it up and spray myself with it every morning.

Elizabeth Vaughan – who besides being a wonderful example of generosity, gave Bella the opportunity to see how a trusted community of peers can speak into each others’ lives with advice (even it if’s uncomfortable truths), support, and accountability.

Jaym Gates – who is not only the editor for the story Bella and I are working on, but spent time answering all of her questions and offering long term career advice.

Toiya K. Finley – whose expertise in gaming basically LEFT A (SOON TO BE) HIGH SCHOOL FRESHMAN SPEECHLESS.

Me: We’re like Batman and (very insecure) Robin.
Bella the Intern: It’s okay, Mr. Broaddus. One day you’ll be Batman. #shesgotjokes

I’m kind of spoiled by my experience with interns. And while Bella has already declared that any future intern of mine works for her, I remind each of them that we’re always in relationship (which is why Rodney Carlstrom is Intern Emeritus). As for her thoughts on me, I overheard her say this to another writer friend of mine: “He never stops teaching.” And that’s what made my summer.

[And I would have posted this yesterday, but Bella wanted approval. Something about one of my lessons about controlling your narrative.]

GenCon Schedule – Where I’ll be!!!

THURSDAY

12:00pm Reading as Writers

2:00pm Beyond Cloaks, Corsets, and High Heels: Clothing in Spec Fic

 

FRIDAY

10:00am Dealing with Imposter Syndrome

11:00am Signing – Writing Symposium Table

12:00pm All About Apex

4:00pm Urban Fantasy: Why So Serious?

 

SATURDAY

11:00am Steampunk: Up in Smoke

2:00pm Signing – Indianapolis Public Library Table

Escape Pod 637: At the Village Vanguard (plus an update on Sip N Share Winery)

My story At the Village Vanguard (Ruminations on Blacktopia) is now up on the Escape Pod site, available as a read or listen. It’s one of my favorite short stories plus it lays the groundwork for much of my Afrofuturist universe.

Click here to head there.

For those who attended Mo*Con, you became familiar with the awesomeness that is Sip N Share Winery. Well, they aren’t exactly staying a secret as they were on the cover of this week’s The Indianapolis Recorder.

Click here to read Black women vintners changing the wine game

AFROFUTURISM FRIDAYS: FOLLOWING JANELLE TO THE STARS (BINTI) – RECAP

 

I. LISTENING/VIEWING SALON: videos by Kamasi Washington

 

  1. CALL TO ORDER: Sci-fi stories that imagine a future Africa – TED talk

 

III. JANELLE MONAE WRAP-UP DISCUSSION

“Monáe has spent a lifetime perfecting the art of being a pop star who isn’t a sexual object. Discretion is a survival strategy, a coping mechanism especially useful for black women living in the public eye. But she has now made an explicit album about sexual expression and identity that is somehow still shrouded in ambiguity.”

Janelle Monae imagines a better future in regards to sexual identity and relationships. As an advocate of women and queer issues – how does this help us imagine a different future?

Especially in light of the patriarchy, misogyny, and homophobia in our music and culture?

Same sex, monogamy/polygamy, gender roles

 

IV. NNEDI OKORAFOR BACKGROUND

Okorafor’s Igbo parents traveled to America to go to school, but they could not return to Nigeria because of the Nigerian Civil War. In high school she was known as a nationally-known tennis and track star, and excelled in math and the sciences. Due to her interest in insects, she desired to be an entomologist. She was diagnosed with scoliosis at the age of 13, a condition that worsened as she grew older. At age 19, she underwent spinal fusion surgery to straighten and fuse her spine; a rare complication led to Okorafor becoming paralyzed from the waist down.

That summer, with intense physical therapy, Okorafor regained her ability to walk, but she was unable to continue her athletic career, using a cane to walk. At the suggestion of a close friend, she took a creative writing class that spring semester, and was writing her first novel by the semester’s end.

Okorafor’s first adult novel, Who Fears Death, won the 2011 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel, was a 2011 Tiptree Honor Book. In 2011 she returned to young adult with Akata Witch, which was a Junior Library Guild Selection. [I dare you to refer to this book as “Nigerian Harry Potter” to her face] It is being produced into a series for HBO with George R.R. Martin serving as the executive producer.

Okorafor’s science fiction novel Lagoon was a finalist for a British Science Fiction Association Award (Best Novel) and a Red Tentacle Award (Best Novel) and a Tiptree Honor Book. The Binti trilogy began with a 2015 novella, Binti. This was followed by Binti: Home, published in 2017, and Binti: The Night Masquerade, published in 2018. Binti won both the 2016 Nebula Award and 2016 Hugo Award for best novella. Plus she’s writing comics for Marvel: Black Panther: Long Live the King and Wakanda Forever

An article in the New York Times says that: “Magic, ritual and secrecy are threads that run through Ms. Okorafor’s wildly imaginative young adult fantasy series, which features a head-spinning menagerie of otherworldly spirits and deities drawn from Nigerian myths and legends.”

Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

 Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach. If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself – but first she has to make it there, alive.

 

V. DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

What were some of your thoughts about the book?

 

Why does she want to go to the stars? Is that something we should strive for?

 

Leaving and becoming more is a major part of Afrofuturism, according to Nnedi. Binti has to give up her heritage several times over. The story says she has a ritual of death to grow: her leaving her people/home and when she lets go of edan/gets stung (both leading to transformation). What are some of the lessons or pathways to her growth and transformation? What are some of the risks?

 

Is the cost of integration worth it?

-transformation and growth means becoming someone new

-risk becoming a stranger to her people

 

Question to consider as we leave: What does it mean for you to own your own agency? What are you willing to risk and do?

 

 

RESOURCES OF INTEREST:

Binti

Read an excerpt from the novella here.

 

Nnedi Okorafor and the Fantasy Genre She Is Helping Redefine

 

 

Of Jellyfish, Otjize, and Afrofuturism: Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Of Jellyfish, Otjize, and Afrofuturism: Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

 

Representing Race: Why images matter?

Representing Race: Why Do Images Matter?

 

 

The Prophetic Struggle of Kendrick Lamar’s Damn

https://www.npr.org/2017/12/12/568748405/the-prophetic-struggle-of-kendrick-lamars-damn

 

Kamasi Washington’s Giant Step

 

A Day in the life of an Intern

Even when my middle school students graduate, I can’t escape them. Meet Bella. She’s interning with me over the summer. And she insists on *still* calling me Mr. Broaddus.

We started last week when I put her through her paces:

-inspirational speech (“your first novel’s gonna suck. Your second one’s probably gonna suck too, but it should suck less.”*)
-goal setting (she’s now aiming for Alphas as well as entering the Scholastic Arts & Writing Awards)
-been given a reading assignment (Binti by Nnedi Okorafor)
-creative disruption: joined others on a nature walk/spiritual practice
-writing time
-developed a projects list (well, went over my projects list to see what she could jump in on)
-activism/community development work: we interviewed Diop of the Kheprw Institute
-eating (unlike with my other intern, I didn’t have her buy)
-reflection (which was more thorough than any of the reflections she wrote when I assigned them in school)
-I suffered through her love of music by the Backstreet Boys as she worked
-LOOKED AT THE ROUGH DRAFT OF THE COVER OF MY UPCOMING MIDDLE GRADE NOVEL!!!**

For those worried about the fate of @RodneyCarlstrom, he’s been “promoted” to “Intern Emeritus.” And he makes for a nearly as adorable picture… #werestilladorable

*Of course, her response was to print it out and leave it for me to give her notes on.
**Interns are obligated to ooh and ahh.

AFROFUTURE FRIDAYS – DANCING OUR WAY TO A BETTER FUTURE (A Re-Cap)

“Afrofuturism is me, us, as Black people, seeing ourselves in the future. Being as magical as we want to be.” –Janelle Monae

Why Afrofuturism? Because we have to imagine the future we want to see. Let’s start with a re-cap of our Octavia Butler discussion.

Octavia Butler’s work combines imagination with social, political, and even religious practice. It creates blueprints to find new ways to understand ourselves and the world around us. And, with its Afrofuture promise, it paints a vivid portrait of what the world could look like.

TABLE DISCUSSION: Adrienne Brown (a co-editor of Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements) wrote this:

Octavia understood that these are the conditions that emerge when we are trapped in the imagination of racists, fundamentalists, and smart people addicted to hierarchy—people who don’t think of the whole; people who don’t love people like me who are black, queer, feminine of center, fat, wear glasses, etc. Octavia understood that we have to claim the space to imagine ourselves beyond this world.

In terms of lessons learned, what can we be doing to help our communities through dystopian times? What are some methods people can use to uproot injustice patterns in communities?

[table report]

-switching our mindset: we’re conditioned to believe we’ll turn against each other, but being free of oppressive systems may unite us

-we need to begin to know our neighbors and building trust with them now

-we need to start saving stories and knowledge that can be passed down

-be self-disciplined, be accountable to community, be flexible to a larger vision, and recognize our agency

“We get to paint a different world, on our own terms. I get to be whatever I want to be through Afrofuturism.” –Janelle Monae

In our Afrofuturism discussions, we’ve been asking the questions “Where are we now?” “Where do we want to be?” and “How do we get there?” We can draw a straight line from Octavia Butler to Janelle Monae.

In Butler’s novel Wild Seed, which Monáe has cited repeatedly as one of her biggest influences, the main character has to survive alongside her oppressor through a combination of sexual sagacity, empathy, and shape-shifting. Donna Haraway’s famous essay “A Cyborg Manifesto” explicitly draws comparisons between the hero of Wild Seed and the function of an android figure in “pitting her powers of transformation against genetic manipulations.”

Monáe borrows from Butler a focus on reclamation and restoration of the past as a path to both claiming individual identity and living with and within an oppressive society. In Monáe’s work, finding a connection to a history that’s been taken from you is a crucial part of resistance and self-empowerment.

Who is Janelle Monae? (a question that she asks and begins to answer with Dirty Computer)

BIO:

Janelle Monae was born December 1, 1985, to a mom who worked as a janitor and a dad who was in the middle of a 21-year battle with crack addiction. Her parents separated when Monáe was less than a year old. She grew up in a massive, devoutly Baptist family in Kansas City, Kansas. She studied extensively in her journey and eventually her music caught the attention of Big Boi (Outkast) who introduced her to Sean Combs. The rest is history.

She is signed to her own imprint, Wondaland Arts Society, and Atlantic Records (Monáe has become one of the few black women who run their own independent record label in conjunction with a major record label). Besides being a singer and songwriter, for which she has received six Grammy Award nominations, she’s a CoverGirl spokeswoman and had roles in two feature films, Hidden Figures and Moonlight.

Janelle Monae publicly debuted with a conceptual EP titled Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase)

– Partly inspired by the 1927 film, Metropolis, it was originally conceived as a concept album in four parts, or “suites”

– involves the fictional tale of Cindi Mayweather, a messianic android sent back in time to free the citizens of Metropolis from The Great Divide, a secret society that uses time travel to suppress freedom and love.

-Janelle Monae says this about her alter ego: “Cindi Mayweather is an android and I love speaking about the android because they are the new “other”. People are afraid of the other and I believe we’re going to live in a world with androids because of technology and the way it advances. The first album she was running because she had fallen in love with a human and she was being disassembled for that…And I feel like all of us, whether in the majority or the minority, felt like the Other at some point.” This is when Prince became a fan/mentor.

In 2010, Monáe released her critically acclaimed first full-length studio album The ArchAndroid

-The second and third suites of Metropolis

Her second studio album, The Electric Lady, was released in September 2013, to critical acclaim.

-Monáe’s first single from The Electric Lady, “Q.U.E.E.N.”, featuring Erykah Badu, premiered on SoundCloud and made available for download purchase at the iTunes Store on April 23, 2013. “Q.U.E.E.N.” garnered 31,000 digital sales according to Nielsen Soundscan with the accompanying music video gaining four million YouTube views within its first week of release.

In her 2013 interview with fuse, Monáe states that “Q.U.E.E.N.” was inspired by conversations she shared with Erykah Badu about the treatment of marginalized people, especially African-American women, and the title is an acronym “for those who are marginalized”; Q standing for the queer community (QUEER was the original name of the project), U standing for the “untouchables”, the first E standing for “emigrants”, the latter standing for “excommunicated” and N standing for “negroid”.

[table report]

-she gets to the core of why people are otherized

-about how society used the marginalized and otherized

-she validates them

 

Janelle Monae’s Activism:

-In 2015, with members of Wondaland, she created “Hell You Talmbout,” which demands we say the names of black Americans who have been victims of racial violence and police brutality. -Before #MeToo and Time’s Up, Monáe created an organization, Fem the Future, which stemmed from her frustrations about opportunities for women in the music industry.

Monáe’s third studio album, Dirty Computer, was released on April 27, 2018

“Dirty Computer” is a homage to women and the spectrum of sexual identities. The songs can be grouped into three loose categories: Reckoning, Celebration and Reclamation.

– “D’Jango Jane” is an ode to black power and pride that is also a dirge about the struggles that come with that heritage.

 

The emotion picture “follows a young woman, played by Monáe, on the run from an authoritarian government that hunts down so-called deviants and “cleans” them by erasing their memories. Those memories serve as the musical interludes (the videos) amid the drama.”

TABLE DISCUSSION: “Monáe has spent a lifetime perfecting the art of being a pop star who isn’t a sexual object. Discretion is a survival strategy, a coping mechanism especially useful for black women living in the public eye. But she has now made an explicit album about sexual expression and identity that is somehow still shrouded in ambiguity.”

As an advocate of women and queer issues – how does this help us imagine a different future? Especially in light of the patriarchy, misogyny, and homophobia in our music and culture?

Ending Quote:

“Through my experiences, I hope people are seen and heard. I may make some mistakes. I may have to learn on the go, but I’m open to this journey. I need to go through this. We need to go through this. Together.”

Let’s find ways to do this. Together.

 

 

ADDITIONAL REFERENCES:

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/features/cover-story-janelle-monae-prince-new-lp-her-sexuality-w519523

http://www.vulture.com/2018/02/janelle-mone-steps-into-her-bisexual-lighting.html

http://thequietus.com/articles/04889-janelle-mon-e-the-archandroid-afrofuturism

https://www.vox.com/2018/5/16/17318242/janelle-monae-science-fiction-influences-afrofuturism

https://www.npr.org/sections/allsongs/2018/02/16/586014275/janelle-mon-e-teases-dystopic-afro-futurist-emotion-picture-dirty-computer

Patreon Report – ONE WEEK

The major thrust of my Patreon is to help support the work that I do in the community. Normally I’d share the things that I’d been up to in the last month. However, I’m just going to share what happened in one week in May:
Sunday
Mo*Con: This is a mini-convention that I host built around food, community, and conversations (typically around the topics of spirituality, art, and social justice). Basically imagine a barcon that’s the focus of an entire weekend. Sunday was essentially a day long dead dog party as our Mo*Con guests departed. This was the culmination of a few days’ worth of work….
THURSDAY: The Kheprw Institute hosted a pre-Mo*Con event, a conversation with Mikki Kendall and Chesya Burke. Basically, I introduced these two powerhouses and then got out of the way.
FRIDAY: We have a reception dinner for our guests (the “Alethea Kontis Welcoming Dinner”), then had a performance from local hip hop great, Diop + Mandog. 
SATURDAY: We had three signature conversations (one on the artistic practice of our worldviews, one on the business of valuing ourselves as artists, and one that was a Q&A on being/having an agent). Having a panel of three black guests not talking about any diversity related issues was a real highlight for me.
Even though there was a competing convention which drew off about a third of our regulars, this still ended up being our most attended Mo*Con. With the theme of “Intersection,” I hoped to weave different areas of my life together (church, family, and community work).
Tuesday
Creative Writing Club: For the previous nine weeks, I’ve been running an after school Creative Writing Club with some of my middle grade students (some of my 8th graders convinced me to do it). We’ve covered plotting, brainstorming, voice, dialogue, beginnings, middles, ending, scenes, and revision, culminating with our celebration event. We did readings of work produced during this time (me included). To my great delight, they were just talking and goofing off over the weeks. Basically, I taught for a little bit and then got out of their way to let them write. Not only had they paid attention, but they took their stories to a whole new level. I was soooooo in my feels during the readings (then they remembered they were middle schoolers and weaponized the whip cream). 
Asante Children’s Theater: The mission of the Deborah Asante Children’s Theater is to foster artistic, personal and professional growth for artists everywhere to succeed. They use acting, singing, dancing, and storytelling to build life skills. Partnering with the Indiana Writers Center, I did a world-building workshop with them. We used an Afrofuturist lens to create new worlds rife with vibrant ideas (basically, I provided the prompts and then got out of the way). Three generations of writers in that room and listening to what they created made my heart full.
Friday
Afrofuturism Friday: I didn’t think that we’d top our Black Panther discussion. However, this proved to be a very intense, very personal conversation that centered on ideas about faith (especially for those folk who had given up on aspects of faith while trying to hold onto others) and expanded out to strategies for people doing community work. I posted the outline for what we talked about on my site. 
Saturday
Open Bite Night: Runways and Reels: Open Bite Night launched by my sister and her husband to encourage local businesses and artisans. Held outside, block party-style at and around the Flanner House and Watkins Park, it showcases the gifts and talents of neighborhood poets, artists, and local entrepreneurs. The proceeds go toward GRoE, my sister’s non-profit which provides after school meals to children in the neighborhood. This was the fifth Open Bite (and I am now the Director of the Open Bite Board).
Thank you so much for your continued support.