PINNED! What I do


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I do two things: write and work for the improvement of my community. On the writing front, here are reviews of my latest two projects:

A starred review in Publishers Weekly for my short story collection, The Voices of Martyrs

-A write up in the New York Times of my novella, Buffalo Soldier

I do a lot of community development work. My passions have always included social justice, economic equity, and racial reconciliation, which is why I work part-time at The Oaks Academy as a middle grade Logic teacher, do work for the Kheprw Institute, and work alongside The Learning Tree. Most of my work centers around the 46208 zip code (one of the “worst” zip codes in the country). We specialize in Asset Based Community Development, finding the gifts and talents within the community and networking them to improve the quality of the community.

I launched a Patreon because some friends wanted a way to help support the work that I do in the community. If you would like to support it (and receive updates on the work that’s being done) please feel free to join. Thank you so much!
Become a Patron!

 

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

AFROFUTURISM READING LIST AND RESOURCES – STARTING PLACES

[see also African Americans in Speculative Fiction – A Primer]

Mark Dery essay “Black to the Future” (1994) – coined the term “Afrofuturism”

BOOKS

Fiction

Tomi Adeyemi – Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha #1) (2018)

Steven Barnes – Lion’s Blood (2002), Zulu Heart (2003)

Jennifer Marie Brissett – Elysium (2014)

Tobias Buckell – Crystal Rain (2006)

Octavia Butler – Parable of the Sower (1993)

Bill Campbell – Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond (2013)

Samuel Delany – Aye and Gomorrah (1967), Dhalgren (1975)

Nicky Drayden – Prey of Gods (2017)

Tananarive Due – My Soul to Keep (1988)

Nalo Hopkinson – The Brown Girl in the Ring (1998), Midnight Robber (2000)

N.K. Jemisin – The Fifth Season (2015)

Walter Mosley – Futureland: Nine stories of an imminent future (2001)

Nnedi Okorafor – Who Fears Death (2010), Binti (2015), Binti: Home (2017), Binti: The Night Masquerade (2018)

Deji Bryce Olukotun – Nigerians in Space (2014)

Rasheedah Phillips – Recurrence Plot (2014)

Sun Ra – This Planet is Doomed (2011)

Nisi Shawl – Everfair (2016)

Rivers Solomon – An Unkindness of Ghosts (2017)

Sheree Renee Thomas – Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora (2000)

Colson Whitehead – The Underground Railroad (2016)

 

 

 

MUSIC

Sun Ra – “Space is the Place” (1973)

Parliament – “Mothership Connection” (1975)

Outkast – “Aquemeni” (1998)

Janelle Monae – “The ArchAndroid” (2010), “The Electric Lady” (2013), “Dirty Computer” (2018)

Drexciya – The Quest (1997)

Erykah Badu – Baduizm (1997)

Flying Lotus – 1983 (2006)

 

FILMS

The Brother from Another Planet (1984) – John Sayles

District 9 (2009) – Neill Blomkamp

PUMZI – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWMtgD9O6PU

INTERVIEW with Wanuri Kahiu – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlR7l_B86Fc

Wanuri Kahiu Ted Talk on Afrofuturism – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvxOLVaV2YY

Janelle Monae Dirty Computer Emotion Picture – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdH2Sy-BlNE

 

VISUAL ART

Jean-Michel Basquiat – Molasses

Antonio Lopez – fashion illustrations

Tim Fielder – graphic artist, “Black Metropolis” exhibit

Niama Safia Sandy – curated “Black Magic: Afro Pasts/Afrofutures” exhibit

King Britt – curated “Moondance: A Night in the Afrofuture” exhibit (2014)

Joshua Mays – Tells Stories in Murals

Lina Iris Viktor – A Rising Star

Rachel Stewart – jewelry maker

Ingrid Lafleur

 

Comic Books

Black (Kwanza Osajyefo)

Black Panther (Christopher Priest, Reginald Hudlin, Ta-Nehisi Coates)

Destroyer (Victor LaValle)

Milestone Comics (Icon, Static, Hardware, Blood Syndicate)

 

Non-Fiction

Afrofuturism: the World of Black Sci Fi and Fantasy Culture (2013) – Ytasha L. Womack

Afrofuturism 2.0: The Rise of Astro Blackness (2015) – Alondra Nelson and Reynaldo Anderson

Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements (2015) – Adrienne Maree Brown and Walidah Imarisha

More Brilliant Than the Sun – Kodwo Eshun

The Sound of Culture: Diaspora and Black Technopoetics – Louis Chude-Sokei

Emergent Strategy – adrienne maree brown

Speculative Blackness: The Future of Race in Science Fiction – André M. Carrington

Black Quantum Futurism: Theory and Practice Vol. 1 – ed. Rasheedah Phillips

 

Misc Resources

Afrofuturism: 3 Women you need to Know

Tech and Afrofuturism on Robin Thede’s late night show The Rundown:

Pt. 1: https://youtu.be/BltqLsYnOgw

Pt. 2: https://youtu.be/jk0OV_ZIxvw

Mundane Afrofuturist Manifesto: http://martinesyms.com/the-mundane-afrofuturist-manifesto/

Aker: Futuristically Ancient – https://futuristicallyancient.com/

House of Future Sciences

This American Life – We are the Future

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

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

AFROFUTURE FRIDAYS – SURVIVAL STRATEGIES FOR WHEN THE DYSTOPIA ARRIVES

[Brought to you by donations by the Indiana Humanities and CICF. Catered by the phenomenal We Run This.]

The theme of our Afrofuturism Fridays discussions is to ponder the questions “Where are we now?” “Where do we want to be?” and “How do we get there?” because we have to imagine the future we want to see.

Let’s start with a re-cap of Octavia Butler and her seminal work Parable of the Sower.

Who was Octavia E. Butler?

(AP Photo/ Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Joshua Trujillo)

Born in 1947 in Pasadena, California, her mother was a maid and her father a shoe shine man who died when she was seven. She was raised in a strict Baptist home by her mother and grandmother. Though introverted and socially awkward, and having severe dyslexia, she spent hours reading science fiction and fantasy in her public library.

When she was 10, she saw the B-movie “Devil Girl from Mars” which changed her life. She had two epiphanies: “Someone got paid to write that.” And “I could write better than that.” So she convinced her mom to buy her a typewriter.

A well-intentioned aunt told her that “Negroes can’t be writers.”

She graduated high school in 1965 and began to take night classes at a local community college. She entered and won a fiction writing contest with a draft that would become Kindred, her best-selling novel. While working a series of temp jobs, she was encouraged by science fiction great, Harlan Ellison, to keep writing.

In 1984, her short story “Speech Sounds” (about the unraveling of civilization when a disease renders everyone mute) won the Hugo for Best Short Story. The next year she won the Hugo and Locus Awards for her novella Bloodchild. Parable of the Sower came out in 1993 and Parable of the Talents in 1998, the latter won the Nebula Award for Best Science Fiction novel. In 1995 she became the first science fiction writer to win a MacArthur “Genius” Award.

The Parable series was supposed to be at least a trilogy, but researching it proved too depressing for her so she gave herself a break by writing a science fiction vampire novel called Fledgling. It was her 14th and final book. She died of a stroke in 2006.

She inspired a generation of writers (myself included – I sent out my first story in 1993).

Parable of the Sower

[If you haven’t had a chance to read the book, here’s a Crash Course Literature by John Greene.]

Octavia Butler has said that she came to this of the future by imagining our current problems progressing unchecked to their logical ends. How prescient was Butler? Here’s a taste:

“Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought. To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears. To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool. To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen. To be led by a liar is to ask to be lied to. To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery.”

That quote was about a presidential candidate running on the platform “Make America Great Again” … which she wrote in 1998. And that was in the sequel, Parable of the Talents. Her 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. In our discussion we’ll be looking at themes in the book focusing on community strategies to survive a dystopian landscape as well as a discussion on what transformative justice may look like.

BOOK DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. What were some of your favorite takeaways from the book?
  2. What do you think Octavia Butler was trying to say?
  3. What was unique about her portrayal of the future?
  4. Part of what Afrofuturism does is to make the unimagined tangible, to create something to long for. What do you long for after reading Parable of the Sower?
  5. There’s a theme of personal responsibility and the needs of the community that runs through the book. Why does Jo react so negatively to Lauren’s concerns about being better prepared as a community and as individuals to face crises?
  6. Lauren’s father has pointed out that the community as a whole has trouble thinking far ahead and into such sensitive areas. How are we preparing now for when the dystopian future arrives? What should we be doing?
  7. Religion is an important theme in the book. Earthseed is basically presented as a new religion. Is there anything about it that you think could be described as comforting? Or liberating? Is Earthseed a system of beliefs that appeal to you?

Books cited in the discussion:

  • A Black Theology of Liberation by James H. Cone
  • An Other Kingdom: Departing the Consumer Culture by John McKnight, Peter Block, and Walter Brueggemann
  • Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by adrienne maree brown
  • Beyond Fear: A Toltec Guide to Freedom & Joy by Don Miguel Ruiz

Adrienne Brown (a co-editor of Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements) wrote that “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.

What are you doing to prepare for the future?

Let’s leave with this quote from Parable of the Sower: “All that you touch you Change. All that you Change Changes you. The only lasting truth is Change. God Is Change.”

Go forth and be the change.

 

Mo*Con 2018 – A Recap in Pictures

Thank you to my guests of honor, Mikki KendallLynne Marie Thomas, Michael Thomas, John Urbancik, and Jen Udden. As well as special guest star, Chesya Burke.

A special shout out to all of the community partners who helped make it possible: Kheprw Institute, Spirit & Place, Sip N Share Wine, Empowering Cuisine, and The Switchboard.

Thank you to the extra helping hands who work so diligently behind the scenes, Jerry Gordon and Rodney Carlstrom (and the entire Carlstrom family)

And special thanks to the hostess with the mostess, Sally Broaddus, whose patience and spirit of hospitality make this all possible.

Until next year (and we’re already planning next year)!

The Valkyrie – StarShipSofa No 535

My Afrofuturist heroine, Second Lieutenant Macia Branson, gets the full podcast treatment thanks to StarShipSofa. They are “reprinting” her first appearance in the short story “The Valkyrie” from War Stories Anthology (Apex Books, 2014).

This story takes place before her appearance previously in “Voice of the Martyr” (from which my short story collection is titled) in Beyond the Sun (Fairwood Press, 2013). Most recently she appeared in “Vade Retro Satana” in FIYAH Magazine (2017).

“The Valkyrie” sets the stage for what Earth is like while many black folks left for the stars (see “At the Village Vanguard” or “El is a Spaceship Melody“).

Enjoy the podcast.

StarShipSofa No 535 Maurice Broaddus