Sun Ra| Afrofuturism

Hello, Hello! We are back at it again!

This post is apart of a series I am doing on Afrofuturism. I will be posting something new every week!

While doing my research, I was so excited to learn that Afrofuturism began back in the ’50s with an artist named Sun Ra. I first heard of him in Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture by Ytasha L. Womack and I went on a crazy google spree right after.

Sun Ra was born named Herman Poole Blount (I know, such a mundane name for such an amazing creator). He was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1914 and grew to be a Bandleader, composer, arranger, artist, and poet who played jazz, Bepop and Space Music. If you’re wondering what the hell Space Music is, don’t worry. So was I. We’ll be touching on that soon.

Herman Poole Blount let go of his past identity and created a persona named Sun Ra or Le Sony’r Ra. With this persona, he told everyone that he was an alien on a mission to preach peace.

During his four decades of popularity, most of Sun Ra’s past was a mystery. He encouraged this by spreading contradictory news about his life, claiming he was born between years 1910-1918 in order to confuse people and maintain his outer worldly persona.


It wasn’t until close to his death that writer John Szwed wrote Space is the Place: The Lives and Times of Sun Ra, published in 1998. (A must read. The information below comes from sites written about the book.)


When he was young, Sun Ra taught himself how to read music and play the piano. All through his adolescence, he showed passion for music, he would memorize sheet music for his band practice in and he began composing music around 11 or 12. In school, he was an honor roll student who kept to himself.

In 1934, Sun Ra’s was offered a full-time musical position by his biology teacher, Ethel Harper who was a singer in the Ginger Snaps. He toured with Harper’s group across the U.S. Harper left the group mid-tour and Sun Ra took over until the tour. The tour accumulated a lot of fans but it ended when the tour stopped making a profit.

After the tour, Sun Ra worked as a musician in Birmington and studied at Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University until he dropped out and began his journey preaching peace.

When Sun Ra dropped out, he knew that he was on a mission. He knew that the universe was calling him to do something better. In the book written by John Szwed, Sun Ra said:

My whole body changed into something else. I could see through myself. And I went up… I wasn’t in human form… I landed on a planet that I identified as Saturn… they teleported me and I was down on [a] stage with them. They wanted to talk with me. They had one little antenna on each ear. A little antenna over each eye. They talked to me. They told me to stop [attending college] because there was going to be great trouble in schools… the world was going into complete chaos… I would speak [through music], and the world would listen. That’s what they told me.[12]

Sun Ra seriously went out there to follow his dreams and so should you because LOOK AT THIS DUDE!!!

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HE CAME THROUGH KILLING THE GAME!!!!

He let all of his creative juices flow. He truly expressed himself in a world that did not openly express black men being THIS outrageous. His outfits were totally out there during the ’50s. First of all, I want to wear that outfit in that last pic. He looks amazing! I’m wearing it at AfroPunk.


My parents were around during Sun Ra’s prime time. They went to his shows and they both claim that he was pretty out there. My dad said that people would leave his performance holding their ears, heads, whatever in fear because his sound was too much.

I am listening to Astro Black as I write and I describe his music as offbeat but in the best possible way. His sound doesn’t conform to my expectations of what jazz or Bepop but it definitely sounds like it’s from out of space. It’s cosmic and epic. There are these wild sounding notes that must be played on a guitar or base but it is played in an out of this world kind of way.

My father describes his sound as “a dissonance and cacophony of sound”. He says that Sun Ra would play your typical jazz and then take you away with his space music and then bring you back to earth. His sound is an experience.

For my next post,  I will be discussing Sun Ra’s Arkestra. I am really looking forward to delving in.

If you have any more information about Sun Ra or any other Afrofuturism creators, please let me know!

Until next time!

Links
https://believermag.com/logger/angels-and-demons-at-play/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_Ra#cite_note-12

http://www.sunraarkestra.com/1-main.html

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Intro to Afrofuturism|Afrofuturism.

Hello and welcome!

I wanted to start a blog series discussing Afrofuturism because I’ve been writing my senior project as a literature major at SUNY Purchase. My initial plan was to write my project on the representation of people of color in Science Fiction literature. When I first started writing, I realized that writing about all people of color was too broad so I chose to write about black people, my people.

While doing research, I kept reading about the term Afrofuturism so I decided to pick up the book Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture by Ytasha L. Womack. I fell madly in love. I spoke to my teachers and advisors about this book and this genre and they were just as excited as I was. This is a genre that we didn’t know a lot about which was exciting because that meant I got to read more about black people and black culture.

My intention for this series is to educate myself and other people about this amazing genre and to connect with Afrofuturist creators and other people interested in the genre. I plan on going to events and reading books about this topic.

If anyone has any recommendations or information on this topic, please share it!

Okay, without further delay, let’s introduce ourselves to Afrofuturism!

“Afrofuturism is an intersection of imagination, technology, the future, and liberation,” says Ytasha L. Womack author of Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture. “I generally define Afrofuturism as a way of imagining possible futures through a black cultural lens,” says Ingrid LaFleur, an art curator, and Afrofuturist.” (9)

The term was coined in 1993 by Mark Derry in his essay Black to the Future. An essay that I recommend you read because I will be reading it as well.

I first discovered  Afrofuturism while reading. I was surprised to find that the genre also appears in other forms of media such as art and music. One popular creator is Janelle Monae. Have you seen Dirty Computer? She created a short film based off of her album. The film was based in a dystopian future where people get penalized for their expression. Such a clear piece of Afrofuturism. In an interview with New York Times, she says, “The songs can be grouped into three loose categories: Reckoning, Celebration, and Reclamation. “The first songs deal with realizing that this is how society sees me,” she said. “This is how I’m viewed. I’m a ‘dirty computer,’ it’s clear. I’m going to be pushed to the margins, outside margins, of the world.” The beautiful Janelle Monae continues to put black people and black experiences into her art and I love it!


My favorite thing about the term Afrofuturist is that it’s science fiction but BLACK! It’s seeing us in the future as heroes instead of side characters. I’m a huge lover of Star Wars but how can we travel through time and space seeing aliens and androids but not see people of color? As if seeing us in the future would be more surprising than seeing someone move objects with the force!


Speaking of music and space, while doing my research, I was surprised to hear about an artist named Sun Ra born Herman Poole Blount. He was a jazz musician who forgo his past and created a persona named Sun Ra or Le Sony’r Ra. Sun Ra “…drew from Egyptology, black Freemasonry, Biblical exegesis, science and science fiction and most anything else that lay outside the traditional domains of scholarship.” says National Public Radio writer Patrick Jarenwattananon.

Sun Ra’s influences are the main focal points of an afrofuturist piece. Sun Ra was known for creating his beats with the sound of hard bops, claiming to be an alien from Saturn on a mission to preach peace. Throughout his career as a musician, he publicly denied ties to his prior identity. Most people would view his persona as a form of insanity but Sun Ra was before his time. He has a vision that would make his work and his style and icon of today.

Please do yourself a favor and listen to his music here. I plan on discussing the GREAT Sun Ra in a future post so please, prepare yourself!


 In Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture, Ytasha L. Womack writes:

Whether through literature, visual arts, music, or grassroots organizing, Afrofuturists redefine culture and notions of blackness for today and the future. Both an artistic aesthetic and a framework for cultural theory, Afrofuturism combines elements of science fiction, historical fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, Afrocentricity,  and magical realism with non-western beliefs. In some cases, it’s a total re-envisioning of the past and speculation about the future rife with cultural critiques.

For example, Octavia Butler one of the first black science fiction writers, who wrote  Kindred, a story about a young girl who travels back in time and gets a first-hand experience in slavery. Butler granting her main character the ability to travel through time makes it such a timeless piece of Afrofuturism. Although the main character has no crazy technical time traveling device, her going back in time and seeing how her ancestors lived makes it science fiction.


On my journey discovery what Afrofuturism is, I’ve discovered so many interesting things and I am so excited to share them all with you. I’ve gained a connection within myself and my culture. When discovery Sun Ra, I had nights sitting on the couch with my parents as they relived their own experiences with such an outrageous artist. I’ve visited the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture and was able to see all that black people endured and how we are still thriving. I’m so excited to begin this series and I hope you enjoy it too.


Here are a few links to articles and information mentioned in this post:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Dery

Featured image is from Into the Spider-verse. It’s my boy Miles Morales

Short writing: Otto

I’m working on a short story/series of stories for my blog. I’ve been working on it on and off for a few months and I decided to post my introductory piece.

 

“Okay,” Diane huffs as she throws herself into the seat next to Calle. “I’m ready to get this class over with. I’ve tripped three times just getting through the house. I need to empty those damn boxes.”

“Yea, no shit, you moved in a month ago and for some reason, you still haven’t made things homey. I love coming over, you should let me clean up.” Calle responds handing Diane her morning tea latte.

“Thank you, dear.” Diane grabs the cup and sips.

“I’m just scared about what I’ll find in my grandma’s boxes. She and her wife are into some wild stuff and I don’t want to find some weird kinky things in those boxes… On second thought, maybe I’ll just let you look through it.”

“Alright, will do. Grandma and Gran have far too many things. I got you, girlie. Where is Shay? She’s always late.”

Just then, Shay runs into the room with paint smears all over her green overalls and some smears can be seen all over her arms and chin.

“I literally ran across campus. From the studio here. Not for class but for my-” Calle shoved a warm danish in her face.

“Yes,” Shay moaned as she sat in the seat next to Diane.

The two of them immediately slouch closer to each other. One enjoying her danish and the other sipping her tea and gazing at the video on the board. Today they are learning about the intricate processes of evolution.

As usual, Calle was the only one of the three who was writing out her notes aggressively., trying not to miss anything on the board. The other two jotting information down here and there. Knowing that Calle would help them study later.

————————————————————————————————————————————–

The three girls walk back to Diane’s crowded home, their ritual after class. Once the door opens, Calle walks down the hall and heads for the kitchen to cook dinner and make them some tea. Shay runs upstairs to lay in Diane’s bed for her post-class nap.

Diane grabs her laptop and sits at the kitchen table while Calle chops onions on the counter.

The two girls work in silence for over an hour until Diane asks, “So, in evolution, there are some parts within the body that are useless now, like our tailbone, remains, even though we don’t have any tails so with that idea, my characters; if their ancestors had wings, they’d have wings bones? So, with wing bones, I can use the science within my world to bring those wings back. Right?” Diane asks Calle’s back.

Calle turns around for waving her knife, “Either way, it’s your own book with its own history, their history has a different kind of science. Just make shit up. If people don’t get it then, they won’t.” She turns back around and continues chopping.

“But according to Williams, the people within our generation will need to understand and connect with my plot. They need to understand the book and connect with the day to day in order for my book to gain popularity.”

“So say you write a book that conforms to society’s standards and everyone hates the book. Then what?”

“Shut up. You’re right but shut up. Am I just supposed to write this book for me and only me? What if no one gets it. Everything falls to the majority, to widespread media. So…. just…. How?”

“Just write. Let’s figure it out later. Go get Shay. Dinner is ready.”

Diane popped up from her chair and jogged up to her room. Diane walked past three unused rooms until she kicked open her own at the end of the hall.

She threw her body next to Shay on the bed. Shay turned over half asleep and just gazed at Diane. Diane gazed back. The two of them laid there staring at each other, unmoving for a bit. Finally, Diane whispered, “Dinner is ready.”

“Okay,” Shay replied, both unmoving. They heard Calle’s feet running up the stairs and the two of them slowly turned away and got out of bed. By the time Calle reached the room, Shay was heading towards the door.

Calle leaned against the door frame and slyly said, “I thought you guys were fucking. I didn’t know if I wanted to interrupt or join in.”

“Ha. You would just tell us to stop and go eat your dinner.” Shay grumbles.

The three of them walked downstairs and sat around the table, Calle already cleaned off the table and placed the food elegantly on the table. There were pots filled with pork belly, chopped scallions, green cabbage, jalapenos, limes, rice, and cilantro. A plate piled high with tortillas and a pitcher of sake margaritas. Tonight’s dinner was pork belly tacos, Calle’s specialty.

Calle loves cooking and combining both her heritage in every meal, Mexican and Japanese. She finds it a challenge. Both of her parents were born in America and don’t really cook so she learns recipes from her grandparents on both sides and cooks.

Shay drops herself into a chair and fixes her plate. She huffs and says, “I can’t believe that those idiots I call parents won’t stop drinking. They argue constantly. I know they hate Leo and I AND each other. They made a bad choice when they were young and now they are just miserable drunks who refuse to fucking grow. I don’t want to be there with them anymore. I’ve spent 25 years taking care of those idiots and hurting myself. I don’t want Leo to have to go through that. I wish we had somewhere better to go. We’re just squatting in my dorm room and hoping we don’t get caught.”

“How much do you have in savings? Can you get an apartment?” Calle asks.

“Not enough to afford anything near this campus. I can’t afford to pay for gas. I’m just a broke college kid.”

“It’s a good thing we have so much free booze from my Grandmother. Now we can afford to get drunk.” Diane says, raising her glass to the other two.

“HERE, HERE! Grandma has booze from everywhere around the world stored in her basement! I love her!” Calle yells, slurring her words a little.

“Your grandmother is a gay goddess and her booze and her home are saving us. Diane, you live in a fucking man… mas… mansion. How many rooms do you have? like eleven? twelve? Is there a pool?” Shay giggles.

“I do not have a pool and this house has I think ten rooms? I just stick to my own room. I’ve been too busy. There is an art room and a music room and a greenhouse. This place is wild.”

“THERE’S A GREENHOUSE?!?!” Calle looks up from her plate alert.

“Yes! It’s down the hall and to the right. I have no idea what those plants are but I water them every day. When I got here, they were dying.”

“What if they’re all mary jays!? Your gran is the coolest so I wouldn’t be surprised.” Calle implores.

“I doubt there is weed but I did see a bunch of herbs. Gran is a witch. Just like you, Calle.”

Shay jumps up, “Sorry, it’s Leo, one sec.”

Diane and Calle began cleaning up the table.

Shay runs back in, “I need to go, they caught us, campus police found out about Leo and they’re kicking us out.” She chokes on the last words.

“What? We’re coming!”

The three girls grab their jackets and head out.

 

They spent the night comforting the 17-year-old, frightened Leo. They all had to pack up Leo and Shay’s belongings, deciding they’d move in with Diane for the time being. Someone down the hall mentioned an underaged kid wandering the halls which made the campus police check in.

The police told her that she needed to leave housing immediately, even after explaining their situation, they kicked them both out. Shay was allowed to remain studying on campus but due to her financial aid and the housing policies, she needed to vacate her room.

The four of them traveled back to Diane’s home an unloaded their things in their new rooms. The girls sat in the living room complaining about their new problems and fell sleep on the couch together.

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler (non-spoiler review)

HEY! 

I’ve been reading this book since 2016. I wanted to finally read something by the well known Octavia E. Butler. I decided to do a family book club and only one of my sisters actually finished the book. lol

I was starting my college career at Purchase College and decided not to read this book. I am not used to reading adult sci-fi. I feel like adult sci-fi takes a much longer time to get to the main focus of the novel. It’s filled with detail but YA sci-fi gets right into the action which makes it far more exciting in my opinion.

I had to finish this book in order to write my senior project. Once again, it’s taken me months to read it.

When I finally did, I obviously loved it. It could possibly be because of my senior project work but I started reading it and connecting the story to things that happen in real life. I know I can really use this book to help my project which is exciting.

Anyways, let’s begin the review. 

Didn’t like:
I feel like we spent a big chunk of time learning about the MC, Lauren’s, day to day life. I found that to be pretty boring.

Non-spoiler but the MC has this ability that seemed pretty useless in the first book, I hope the next book gives use to this power.

I didn’t like who the MC’s ended up with.

Liked:

I did really like the dystopian world. I feel like Butler created a truly realistic world and a very awesome and intelligent MC.

I love that the main character was black and hella smart. She was smarter than everyone around her and was so creative.

I feel like it was really well written, I got super emotional at some points but I was so wrapped up into it, I couldn’t put it down.

I’m interested in seeing if anyone will die in the next book. The world they live in means death at any turn and I’m so curious to see who will be next. (morbid, I know)

I give the book 4/5 stars. An additional star because the writer and MC were black.

Anyway, thanks so much for reading!

Have you read this book? What did you enjoy?

let’s take a chance


let’s take a chance
what’s living in our truth
let’s be authentic with ourselves
always and completely

let’s acknowledge when we must
forgive ourselves, others, circumstances

Let’s  be clear about what we need,
always and allow ourselves to

be responsible about that

we are made of love and deserve

love. I am now aware of that

I apologize to myself

for taking so long to realize that

but I forgive myself

 

I’m going to own up to my mistakes

to stay in my integrity;

continue to persevere

and to gain a deeper understanding

love myself


to all the boys who never loved me

I obviously had a year of some mild heartbreak……

To All The Boys Who Never Loved Me
I’d like to say you’re stupid

how could you choose
the skip over
my expensive
hopeless romantic love

how dumb could you be
the skip over all this treasure
the fall for knock-off love

To All The Boys Who Never Loved Me
I gave you so much of me
I gave you a taste of my
love, my appreciation and you
used it as a doormat

To All The Boys Who Never Loved Me
I want to thank you

I want to thank you
for your stupid choices

although I got hurt
I am also happy
I am happy that I’ve
Learned

I’ve learned that in “loving”
You, I forgot to love myself
I forgot how important
I am while “loving” you

I want to thank you
for not loving me back
because I love I would
Have given you would
have ruined me

I would have broken
myself in half to make
you happy

so all the boys who never loved me
I thank you for

helping me realize

I needed to love myself

thank you for not loving me back
now I can love someone better,
Me

to all the boys who never loved me
thank you for being dumb as hell
thank you for not loving me
while you were still broken
because two broken people
don’t make a whole one

thank you for coming into my life
to help me grow
and become a better me
I just wish the same
because you were just as dumb as me.

Featured imagine found on Twitter.

 

Home

I wrote a poem about the home that I’ve been dreaming about for the past few months. The place I plan on staying by myself and feeling the most comfort.

Home

where tea is overflowing
and coziness is one step away

we’re soft music will fill the silence
we’re the only troubling voices
are your own or your pets

where you choose to be social
when calling to chat is in your power

where the characters in your books
become well-known friends

where you can hear and acknowledge
what your heart asks of you

where creativity is around every corner

where my heart can finally sit still
warm and loved
it is home.

The featured image was found on tumblr.

Intertwined

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! I have a feelings it’s going to be a GREAT year!!! I’M STARTING OFF THE NEW YEAR WITH POEMS!!! I WROTE A BUNCH BEFORE THE YEAR ENDED!

Intertwined
connected like trees
who’ve grown together

connected
like s
ouls
who have

unknowingly morphed
together

sometimes, I don’t know
what’s yours
and what’s mine

sometimes I feel your energy
as if it’s my own

sometimes, I think of
when I connected with you

emotionally in bed talking
about our hurt
hours on the phone
just brightening each other’s day.

feeling your touch on me.

intertwined.
not knowing where your
body started and mine began

feeling your breathing.
knowing you’re there for me
in a way no one has been.

and no one will be.

just as you are/

we are branches that have
grown so close together

I don’t know which pieces
are made of you or which
is made of me

we’ve been ripped apart by a storm
and who knows
if you will be
brought back together

knowing that we are apart,
are we meant to remain
broken and Droopy?

or will we connect
once again?

what we grow to
stand on our own?

will we become two different
trees, blooming
next to each other
but never touching?

NEW MOOD ALERT!

Hey, cuties!!

The way these past few months went, I’ve finally decided that I want to change so much!! I’ve been wanting so much for myself but I haven’t been moving in alignment with my desires and that’s what I really need to be doing.

I want to be healthy and lose weight. I’ve been gaining weight like crazy for the past few months and it wouldn’t be that much of a big deal if I didn’t notice how unhealthy and disgusting I’ve been feeling. I want to actually exercise instead of saying that I will and not doing it. I can work out every day but I don’t. I promise myself that I will now.

I’ve been wanting to fall in love but trying to rush the process with the wrong people. Shit, I’ve even been humoring and dating the wrong people just because I’ve been craving that experience.

I’ve been letting my impulsive behavior get the best of me. I’ve been drinking and eating like there is no tomorrow. I’ve been shoving all this gross shit down my thoughts and making myself feel like trash. I’m over it! I deserve better! I deserve to treat myself better. I want to get focused and begin to HUSTLE!

Doing what I want for my future and start planning for my desires. I WANT TO START WORKING! But I do have an impulsive nature and I’ll need to meditate to keep myself centered. I forget how much I love rushing things. My new aim is to work for what I want and to also be mindful and patient with what comes my way. I am the queen of multitasking and sometimes I don’t finish things off right.

I want to be similar to Alfie Deyes, who used to barely post or be on his game and now look at him, killing the game. Getting shit done. I’ve always loved watching his videos because they inspire me. I feel weird about a white man inspiring me but… I do admire his hustle, even though it won’t come as easily to me as it does to him.

ANYWAYS! Let’s end this off with a recommendation

Stop eating dairy! I’m sitting in this Starbucks with nasty smelling farts because I decided to eat ice cream and cake (with dairy in it) for the past few days. My stomach feels like garbage and my stomach is so bloated, I look pregnant.

Let it Snow by John Green| The Jubilee Express by Maureen Johnson (spoilers)

Hello, beauties!

I’m buddy reading Let it Snow with a friend, Marshall (Lostinderry). I plan on being done before Christmas. Every time I finish one of the three stories, I will be writing a review.

Now, let us begin!

I did not like this story! I love love love Christmas romance stories. I am honestly a slut for a good one. This was not it.

When discussing with my fellow buddy reader, Marshall, I realized how much I wanted to write about it. Marshall isn’t very big on teen romance so he felt like the choppy paced story was normal but it totally isn’t!

I’ve read better pieces of romance, fantasy, holiday stories etc. from a teen girl’s narrative and it’s been so much better than this.

I just don’t feel like her actions made sense. She got off the train after the train broke down for no reason and then we get introduced to some boy on the train for no reason then they chose to walk in the snow when there were no urgent situations. Why leave the safety of Waffle House to go to a strange boy’s house? Why is she doing all this?

I’ve read about teen girls in love and granted, teens in love are always stupid because they’re young and don’t have everything together but I feel like there should be more reasoning to her actions. She chose to travel a mile or half a mile during a blizzard and over an icy river because this cute boy had a picture of a “girlfriend” in his wallet which deemed him trustworthy.

A short story like this has to make some logical sense. I feel like the story was forced. I’ve read some truly amazing short stories that are able to fill in the gaps in the story so that the reader isn’t questioning anything. Some are so good that it makes the reader want more.

I just wanted it to end.

There needed to be useful pieces of information that lead her to make all these moves. I don’t even feel like I could understand her personality either.

I feel like even in this story, we were given meaningless information, like when the train was halted and she talked about some bird or something. That was super unnecessary.

The book DRAGGED! The only character I actually liked was the mother. Anyways, fuck that story. I’m on to the next one!!