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How to Get More Blacks to Read Speculative Fiction

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  • Chris Hayden
    How to Get More Black Folks to Read Speculative Fiction Check it out! In this little posting the Notorious BIG of SF feeds himself Humble Pie! On this and
    Message 1 of 40 , Aug 1, 2006
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      How to Get More Black Folks to Read Speculative Fiction

      Check it out! In this little posting the Notorious BIG of SF feeds
      himself Humble Pie!

      On this and many another list time after time the above question has
      been put: how can we get more blacks to read SF?

      And time after time I have brushed off the question with contempt.

      "Forget it!" "Never happened" "I have resigned myself"

      Do a search for the particular postings and quotes.

      Well, yesterday I proved myself wrong.

      July 31, 2006.

      I have received an invitation to do a presentation for Yari Yari.
      For those not in the know Yari Yari (which means "The Future" I
      think) is a cultural/ literary camp/group for African American kids
      put on by Sisters Nineties of St. Louis. Debra MorrowLoving,
      president, usually runs these sessions ably assisted by Sis. Wilma
      Potts.

      The kids get education, culture, politics, everything.

      I have been a guest before. When I received my invite I
      thought , "No sweat. I'll pull together a killer program of my
      poetry and dazzle them with my words."

      The more I thought of it, the less I thought of it. I have dazzled
      them thus a couple times in the last six months that I know, and
      several times over the past few years. Visions filled my head of
      them rolling their eyes and snorting because they heard it all
      before.

      Kids are not dumb.

      But I am.

      What do we talk about around here all the time? What were the last
      two articles I submitted to Sisters Nineties about? What can I
      offer an opinion about, however wrong and beknighted.

      Speculative Fiction.

      Furthermore, Blacks in Speculative Fiction.

      So I whipped up an outline, a handout with some terms, author names
      and websites and appeared.

      I spoke to a roomful of young men and women, 6-17. First they
      introduced themselves and then they recited from memory
      Shakespeare's Sonnet #27.

      Then I got into it. I insisted on conducting it as a conversation.
      I spoke. I read from my own works. I answered questions and asked
      them some.

      I learned.

      This is the group, people, that is into SF. The group that has seen
      the Matrix, knows about Harry Potter, reads the comix, watches the
      Star Treks.

      They wanted to know about Blacks writing SF and SF books with blacks
      in them.

      Not just them. Apparently the teachers knew about Octavia Butler,
      Steven Barnes, Tananarive Due. They knew about the Mother of the
      Matrix controversy. They didn't know about the Lion's Blood and Zulu
      Dawn books and got all excited and took down the titles when I told
      them about them being an Alternative History where Africans owning
      white European slaves settled the Americas.

      (Steve! This is a shoutout! You gots to go where the people AT!
      The traditional methods and ways of flogging books are not going to
      work with black folks—particularly since they probably are not
      approaching them).

      Eureka! Here, by accident, is the formula.

      And you know what? Their next assignment for Yari Yari is to write
      a Speculative Fiction story (one young lady came up with a plot on
      the spot that mixed fantasy, sci fi, mythology and was a knock
      out). A young man confessed on the spot for the first time that he
      wants to be a comic book writer. Another young lady took my list
      and went right to the library to start looking up some of the
      authors and sites.

      You want more Black Folks to read SF? Take Black SF to the
      audience. Go to the schools, the community organizations, the
      clubs, the community centers, the jails and juvie halls, where these
      kids are and tell them about it.

      They are hungry to read about themselves.

      Go where the people AT! Stop sitting around in your conventions and
      panel discussion, preaching to the choir where they A'INT!

      Bop! Zap! Boom!

      There it is!

      No charge, man.
    • Chris Hayden
      Message 40 of 40 , Aug 10, 2006
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        <<I think it would be better if you used your enourmous influence and
        staggering brainpower to affect change in your arena--publishing
        articles and books(you could even have some of use help a little with
        research, or use your assistants (they get credit for it, don't
        they), getting the books in your library, getting some courses on the
        curriculum, bringing it up in faculty meetings, using your
        spellbinding oration and big, booming bull-like voice to speak and
        lecture tirelessly from dusk to dawn 24/7)

        But a list would not hurt.

        It would help even more if it was a list of stuff that each
        contributor had successfully accomplished.>>

        --- In SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com, "Dr. Lester K Spence"
        <kspence@...> wrote:
        >
        > Chris, every idea I came up with could work for SOMEONE.
        >
        > But that's not the point.
        >
        > If ten people on this list came up with ten different ideas on how
        to
        > market science fiction to black readers, that would be ONE HUNDRED
        > MORE IDEAS THAN EXIST ANYWHERE ON THE INTERNET.
        >
        > What your "actions" here say is that you are more interested in
        > cutting down the ideas of others, than you are doing work.
        >
        > Work needed to build the community of readers you say you want.
        >
        > Why are you quick to cut, but slow to build?
        > *****
        >
        >
        > I like this list. I see it as having the potential to put black
        > science fiction writers and readers on the map.
        >
        > I think a list of tips for black science fiction writers is a
        > worthwhile project.
        >
        > Would those with other ideas please send them to the list?
        >
        >
        > thanks
        > lks
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > On Aug 9, 2006, at 6:04 PM, Chris Hayden wrote:
        >
        > > <<I came up with one that worked. You came up with ten that you
        > > think might. Lester you ain't come up with one idea that you ever
        put
        > > into practice yourself.
        > >
        > > But what do they say?
        > >
        > > Those who can do. Those who can't teach.
        > >
        > > Ta ta.
        > >
        > > --- In SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com, "Dr. Lester K Spence"
        > > <kspence@> wrote:
        > > >
        > > > "get them where they at" doesn't mean ANYTHING.
        > > >
        > > > if it isn't hard to come up with workable ideas, COME UP WITH
        SOME.
        > > >
        > > > i came up with ten in about fifteen minutes.
        > > >
        > > > you're the sf author. come up with ten more. that's how you can
        > > help.
        > > >
        > > >
        > > > lks
        > > >
        > > >
        > > > On Aug 9, 2006, at 10:17 AM, Chris Hayden wrote:
        > > >
        > > > > <<Ten is a totally arbitrary number. I started all this when I
        > > came
        > > > > up with one that seems to work.
        > > > >
        > > > > If I have tried some of your suggestions, and seen them fall
        on
        > > their
        > > > > butts, and remain mute, am I helping?
        > > >
        > > >
        > > > > Take for instance your suggestions that we approach black
        > > sororities
        > > > > and fraternities.
        > > > >
        > > > > I tried that with my own novel, A Vampyre Blues. Didn't even
        get
        > > any
        > > > > responses.
        > > > >
        > > > > Talked it over with a friend who is in a frat.
        > > > >
        > > > > He asked first of all what frat I am a member of. None. Strike
        > > three
        > > > > and you're out.
        > > > > They are social organizations. They respond first and
        foremost to
        > > > > members of that organization. Or somebody who is offering
        > > something
        > > > > that will further the purposes or operation of the
        organization.
        > > > >
        > > > > Now, a person who belongs to a frat or a sorority will be
        able to
        > > at
        > > > > least get an ear. They will face some problems in that they
        will
        > > > > need some angle that helps the organization.
        > > > >
        > > > > I remember a person posting here who was a member of one of
        these
        > > > > organizations who stated that his SF world he kept totally
        > > separate
        > > > > from the frat world. There was an opportunity lost--but
        that's on
        > > > > them, I cannot force them.
        > > > >
        > > > > In addition to going where the people AT, we need to be able
        to
        > > > > operate where WE at. Somebody came up with the idea of
        enlisting a
        > > > > rapper. If you know a rapper go to it. If you do not, you are
        wee
        > > > > weeing in the wind from what I have seen.
        > > > >
        > > > > I believe it was Booker T. who said, "Cast down your buckets
        where
        > > > > you are."
        > > > >
        > > > > You came up with lots of suggestions. That is fairly easy to
        do,
        > > you
        > > > > know.
        > > > >
        > > > > Look at yourself. You are teaching at a University. You did
        not
        > > > > mention talking to the faculty where you are, forming an
        > > organization
        > > > > on campus, getting some courses started, lecturing, publishing
        > > books
        > > > > or articles on black SF, that sort of thing.
        > > > >
        > > > > I am serious about this enough to have gone and taken an
        > > opportunity
        > > > > that I might have used solely to advance my own writings--I
        am a
        > > > > writer--to advance the cause, if you will, of Black SF.
        Grandiose
        > > > > plans that others will have to put into place have a certain
        > > > > attraction--but I think we should try to get on the practical
        > > side,
        > > > > too.
        > > > >
        > > > > After all, even though we read fantasy and write it that
        doesn't
        > > mean
        > > > > we have to live in a fantasy world.
        > > > >
        > > > > --- In SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com, "Dr. Lester K Spence"
        > > > > <kspence@> wrote:
        > > > > >
        > > > > > Chris, when you asked for solutions, I first tripped...then
        said
        > > > > what
        > > > > > the hell. Started out with ten.
        > > > > >
        > > > > > I KNOW there are problems with the ten I proposed. I just
        wrote
        > > > > down
        > > > > > ideas off the rip.
        > > > > >
        > > > > > Come up with another ten that works.
        > > > > >
        > > > > > Then get anyone that criticizes YOUR ten to come up with
        another
        > > > > ten.
        > > > > >
        > > > > > Then get people who are writers to come up with another ten.
        > > > > >
        > > > > > Then put it all on a website somewhere.
        > > > > >
        > > > > >
        > > > > >
        > > > > > lks
        > > > > >
        > > > >
        > > > >
        > > > >
        > > >
        > > >
        > > >
        > > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        > > >
        > >
        > >
        > >
        >
        >
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
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