Tennessee, Tennessee

Next weekend I’ll be at the Futures of Afrofuturism Symposium at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville! This is going to be off the chain, off the surface of the planet, off the gravitational pull of the Earth/Moon system…

The event is bringing together some really essential voices. First of all, Michelle Commander and Amy Elias, am I right? I’m looking forward to meeting Amy and Jonathan Eburne in part because I have something coming out in a special issue of ASAP/Journal. I had the good fortune of meeting Michelle at MLA in Philly (everybody was here) but I’ve never met Alessandra Raengo, either. So this is basically everything.

Let me say a word about Nnedi Okorafor–wait, no, a picture says a thousand words. From the UTK Humanities Center website:

Nnedi Okorafor is an associate professor of creative writing and literature at the University at Buffalo. An acclaimed novelist of African-based science fiction, fantasy and magical realism for children and adults, she is the author of several award-winning books, including Akaka Witch (an Amazon.com Best Book of the Year), Zahrah the Windseeker (winner of the Wole Soyinka Prize for African Literature), Chicken in the Kitchen (winner of Children’s Africana Book Award for Best Book for Young Readers), and the space opera novella Binti (winner of the Nebula and Hugo Awards for Best Novella). Binti: Home was published in January 2017, and Okorafor’s young adult novel Akata Witch 2: Akata Warrior will be released this fall.

I will be talking about where Queer Studies meets Afrofuturism, a relationship I’ve been revisiting lately, ever since I managed to think about anything other than Speculative Blackness. Some things within the book lead into this discussion, so stay tuned!

Creating Black Futures! video

As part of Mx’d Messages, the 2017 Live Ideas festival at New York Live Arts, I took part in a panel discussion on Creating Black Futures. It was engrossing, as you’ll see for yourself! Our moderator was the brilliant and talented Reina Gossett (recently Activist-in-Residence at the Barnard Center for Research on Women, Happy Birthday Marsha. Here’s the video (via Facebook Live!)
Onstage (left to right): Reina, Kimberley Drew (the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Black Contemporary Art), me, Niv Acosta (dancer, sculptor, performance artist), E_Jane (Mhysa).
One think you’ll probably notice is that Bill T. Jones (legend) started the Q&A in a pretty ebullient fashion, and our crosstalk was the focus of conversation until the end. Across the board, though, the panel really showcased how some Black and queer futurists are getting free in these dystopian times. I’m grateful to be in the company of people who are thinking and embodying the future I want the most. I may come back to this post to annotate.
I joined to hang out at the Whitney Biennial opening for like 30 minutes, but I had to get back to Philly to bring the dog home and teach on Thursday #priorities. Kind of a perfect New York experience in the space of 6 hours, right? Check out the trailer for Live Ideas 2017 to see what else the brilliant Mx. Justin Vivian Bond planned around the theme of moving across binaries: Mx’d Messages.