It feels like yesterday. I was six years old and not yet jaded by the world even though my father and mother had been divorced since I was two and we lived in poverty… I never noticed it because the same story was being lived and relived around me… But the day my father gave me the gift of toy sword would resound throughout my life and eventually put me on the path that I currently walk. In those days I yearned for heroes and there were plenty, Flash Gordon, King Arthur, Conan, Bruce Lee, Snake Plissken (Escape from New York) but none of them looked like me. On a subconscious level I began to hate myself and anything associated with being Black or Africa. Like I said same story different characters I am not going to wax poetic on the ills of American society nor talk about how Black People have been exploited and taken advantage of. This is exactly what I hated about the history and stories that were told about us. We were always a source of pity and shame… For once I wanted someone to stand up and take it like the great conquerors that I had seen and read about in books and movies. Instead I get characters that are comic relief, thugs, hustlers, pimps, and prostitutes, subservient slaves that were beaten and raped at the pleasure of slave-masters, gospel singing protesters being beaten and stomped into submission by Klu Klux Klan members while praying an image of Jesus just as white as their tormentors, half starved Ethiopian children and ‘Savage’ Africans with bones in their nose ‘chucking’ spears and speaking ‘gibberish.’ I know that the image I described is harsh to say the least but that was how I interpreted the world around me.
It wasn’t until I was 14 and living in Okinawa Japan that the facade started to crumble. In 8th grade I had a world regions teacher named Ms.Groce. She was the kind of no nonsense teacher that demanded fear as much as respect. I would say at the time she was in her mid to late twenties, black woman from the south (You are probably wondering what all of these Black folk are doing in Japan? My stepfather was in the military and the school I went was for military depends so the school was pretty diverse.) she spoke her mind and very few people crossed her…
I remember one day in class she told us not to bring our textbooks to class for the next two weeks since what we would be covering was not in the textbooks. My classmates were excited about the prospect of not having carry that humungous book around. I one the other hand was intrigued… What was she going to teach us that wasn’t in our school books? The answer to that question laid the foundation paradigm shift occurred a few years later.
The next day in class, Ms. Groce told us about the ancient Egyptians and Nubians, the empires of Ghana, Mali, and Songhay, of Carthage and Hannibal Barca’s daring feats against Rome, about the Moors and how they had conquered and controlled Spain for 700 years!
You must understand that this was unheard of at the time… Our text books dedicated one paragraph to the history of Africa and then another to the slave trade and the rested is focused on our lives as chattel. Ms. Groce kindled a flame that would grow into my passion and life purpose… To be a hero and to go against the grain against all odds!
This is what fuels me to write and to create and to strive for knowledge of self and self mastery. I see myself as that kid looking for heroes that would inspire me to expand my horizons and to defy conventions and stereotypes. To fight against odds for what I believe and to live by a code of honor.
Scifi Fantasy and Speculative Fiction in all of its forms is very important for Black youth… For youth in general! It allows us plot our course and to re imagine our present as well as our past… It truly transforms our world from a universe to a multiverse.
Thank you all for reading. Please excuse any issues in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and syntax I decided to shoot from the hip and just let words flow freely… Besides I promise to use an editor or proofreader for the book!