I’m so excited! This year signifies the first celebration of Black Speculative Fiction month. For the entire 31 days, people around the country and around the world will highlight the contributions of black speculative fiction writers to our respective genre. The events will be limited in scope (this is the first year, after all) but each one will carry the spirit and energy of an event that is long overdue.
Now wait a minute, you say. Who authorized this? Why do we need a Black Speculative Fiction Month? And most of all, why am I just hearing about this now? Well, let me answer your questions one at a time.
Number one, who authorized this? This is the easiest one to answer; we did. We as in the State of Black Science Fiction and the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History. As we worked to plan the fourth Alien Encounters program (http://www.alienencountersatl.com/) we discussed similar events occurring in other parts of the country during the same month. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an entire month focusing on black speculative fiction? we thought. And now we do. It’s the power of action instead of reaction. We didn’t seek approval or permission; we just did it. And now it exists.
Question number two; why do we need a Black Speculative Fiction Month? Well, I have two answers for this one, both based on my personal experience over the past five years of self publishing. I am well aware and very happy for black writers that have made inroads into mainstream speculative fiction. Tananarive Due, L.A. Banks, Nnedi Okorafor, N.K. Jemisin and David Anthony Durham to name a few have done us proud. I am equally proud of my independent published friends that have taken speculative in new and exciting directions. But the reality is that beyond our special circle black speculative fictions writers are still relatively unknown. At every con I attend I proudly rattle off the names of all the speculative fiction writers of color I know and receive blank stares from the people I’m talking to. For most people I meet at cons or otherwise I’m the first black person they’ve ever met that writes speculative fiction. If they’re really astute they know of Octavia Butler. And that’s it. So it is our earnest hope that Black Speculative Fiction Month will act as a beacon to these writers and creators that deserved to be read and recognized for what they do.
The other reason is that I feel there is huge potential audience of black speculative fiction readers among black readers. I’ve met quite a few of them over the years, folks who have never given speculative fiction a second thought because they have never come across a book that either represents them or represents them respectfully. Now before some of you begin to go on about how you took the initiative to find those books and writers and that everyone should do the same I respectfully submit that you are the exception. Most people partake in what’s place before them. That’s why we have advertising. So we see Black Speculative Fiction Month as a way to bring what we do to those who aren’t aware.
Well, now you know. We decided to do this a few months ago and haven’t had time to advertise it like we wanted. So right now we’re asking everyone to pick up the torch, run as fast and as far at they can yelling ‘Happy Black Speculative Fiction Month!” And when someone asks you what are you’re yelling about, tell them then send them to this site: http://www.blackspeculativefictionmonth.com/. They’ll be glad you did. It’s time we blew our own horn. Let’s get this party started!