African-American comic book, graphic novel, film and science fiction writers, critics and their followers gathered at Loyola Marymount University last week for a two-day colloquium, “Astro-Blackness: Remaking and (Re) Mixing Black Identity Before, Now and Beyond.”
The groundbreaking sessions, which were part of the university’s African-American Heritage month celebration, brought together nationally recognized writers and artists such as award-winning sci-fi novelist Professor Nalo Hopkinson, Enrique Carrion,the creator of the acclaimed comic series Vescell, Tananarive Due an award winning horror novelist, science fiction television writer Steven Barnes and Kevin Grevioux, actor and author of the graphic novel “I, Frankenstein.”
Sessions included panels on “Science Fiction and Race,” “Black Imagination and Science Fiction” and the “Articulation of Racial Ethics and Afrofuturism.”
Organizers of the event said there was an obvious need for this type of gathering because many of the current images of blacks in American novels, comics and films are based on old, clichéd concepts that have outlived their usefulness.
“What you see over and over again are images based on black enslavement, racial struggle, and inner-city thug,” said Adilifu Nama, associate professor of African American Studies at LMU who organized the event. “We want to look at the images of Afrofuturism. What are the images that will emerge in black science fiction and fantasy writing? What will those new images be?”
The colloquium was sponsored by LMU’s African American Studies Department.