Most people don’t know there is a Black Sci-fi movement going on. It is a battle over the minds and dreams of black people. The struggle for more diversity in the world of Sci-fi and comic books is much more than some Hollywood affirmative action demand, it is essentially a struggle for the imagination of young black people and the future of African Americans. The cries and outrage around the race of the character Rue in the movie Hunger Games in 2012 was much different from the frustration around black characters in horror films dying first in 80s horror films. The Rue controversy is directly connected to a series of events in the Sci-fi literature world like a challenge made to readers entitled Stop Reading White, Straight, Male Authors for One Year. This call for change has led to an entire website WeNeedDiverseBooks.com
Science fiction is the most expensive genre of film because of special effects and most of today’s Sci-fi comes from books or comic books. In the prose of books it costs the same to destroy a city as it does to tell a love scene so it is easier to produce a story which has been proven in a book before they invest all the money it takes to make it into a film. This is why the effort to diversify books is so important. This summer there was a small step forward in the book diversification battle front. The World Science Fiction Society’s Hugo award was at the center of a redefining battle. Being the top Science Fiction award the Hugo became the focal point of the cries for change, however within the WSFS the movement was met with an organized resistance called The Sad Puppies. The Sad Puppies organized a rebuttal to a list of diverse author nominees for 2015 Hugo award but their efforts to resist the change did nothing more than call the question. Each author they lobbied for either lost or refused to accept their nomination and withdrew from the competition. Their efforts allowed for open minded authors like George RR Martin to speak up and show how many of their members support the change and that the feelings of readers and fans were heard by Sci-fi creators.
Science Fiction is the new frontier for black people. It’s not that we didn’t think about it but science fiction is the new thing. We are living in the future. We have hand computers that do more than the Star Trek tricorders. Science fiction is the most important genre of literature. It test and drives the undiscovered. It fuels technological development. It cautions our leaders. Science fiction guides society and if black people want a piece of the future then they need to use science fiction. Growing up I knew a few kids who didn’t think they would live in the future. They didn’t even think about the future or dream about the possibilities. It was like their imagination was imprisoned. It was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr speech I Have a Dream that fueled America to move closer to racial equality. Dreams matter. Dreams connect us to the future, it help us build a bigger tomorrow. Without dreams there is no change. Without dreams there is no hope.
I think there is hope for our dreams. Not only because people are demanding change but because people are also responding to the demand. There are Black Science fiction groups like the Black Science Fiction Society which has over 7,000 members from all over the country. Groups like Black Nerd Girls and ECBACC (Eastcoast Black Age of Comics Convention) are filled with writers, illustrators and filmmakers who are answering the call. They are producing quality products, products which embody the dreams and ideas of black people. They answer questions about how robots will be infused into our society, what would the post apocalypse be like and what space holds for our future. Every culture has a unique view of the future and the inventions that will make it. The voice and vision that black people have needs to be a part of collective dreams and ideas which build the future. Black dreams matter not just for black people but for us all. That’s why I urge you to join the black science fiction movement.
I am science fiction writer Jeff Carroll and I am a member of the Black Sci-fi Movement.
Me and Larry Correia of the Sad Puppies
Black Writers from The State of Black Science Fiction Facebook group
The City anthology a shared universe created by black writers.
The weekly radio show of The Black Science Fiction Society.