Celebrating the Black Fantastic (adrienne maree writes from the road)

This past week has been an explosion of black science fictional brilliance, and I want to share it with y'all, these are models of how to use Octavia's Brood to catalyze and deepen local movement work.

First, in Boston, we had two days of Black to the Future, hosted by Intelligent Mischief.

The first day was an afternoon training on Emergent Strategy. You may be a mercury retrograde denier, but that can't stop a day of mishaps like this one, and still, people showed up hungry to engage the ideas. The circle was small and the training adapted to work for the people in the room. Each emergent strategy training is an opportunity to keeping adding flesh to the skeleton of concepts - in preparing for this training I realized something very simple that I hadn't quite articulated before - emergent strategies are strategies for being. Strategy is usually associated with doing, and I am realizing that what I'm focused on is how humans are. Science fiction is one place to discuss that together without the usual limitations.

The next evening started with a reading from Octavia's Brood where I read with the delightful Morrigan Phillips, whose incredible fantastical analysis of Guantanamo Bay sits at the heart of the anthology.

Following that was a panel of local artists, activists, theorists and cooperative entrepreneurs. I told them this and it's true: my jaw was on the floor most of the time. I do love to be dazzled by black brilliance. A lot of what was shared was context-exploding - do you think you're in a small world where you know the rules? You aren't, you don't, expand.

Kenny Bailey from Design Studio for Innovation questioned the idea that concepts we now accept as a right or given, including justice and race, may be outdated one day, and can we imagine that, and who we will be in that future?

Terry Marshall from Intelligent Mischief reminded us that so many are currently dying, being shot down, because in the white imagination we are dangerous.

Moya Bailey shared that in her vision of justice in the future we would all relate to each other in very different ways - attending and listening to each other, changing together from the root.

I shared that I'm longing for a future where there are no enemies. To black children, to black people, to anyone. Otherwise we are just rearranging blood.

After the panel there was a period of what I can only call black delight in the 'green room' of the SEIU building, using what we'd heard to weave ourselves together.

A couple of days later the Black Futures Fest began in New Orleans, hosted by the Wildseeds, a circle of artists, organizers, and healers working in the lineage of Octavia Butler. There was a similar sense of wonder.

Walidah and I arrived into the costume party evening. I dressed as smitten kitten because I actually travel with head to toe leopard print gear and the only other option was Jersey Shore extra. Walidah dressed as her character Black Angel, and she was 'more terrible' than anyone could have imagined, with an actual burnt wing and all leather everything.

This fest featured incredible local artists, one after another, voices to break and heal the heart. Standouts for me were Monica McIntyre, Charm, and Michaela Harris. There was also a trio of gender queer vocalists who have been touring together and offered an incredibly emotional set.

I got to offer an emergent strategy session and Walidah led a sci fi and direct action training. We also got to take in incredible sessions including writer-thinker Rasheedah Philips teaching us about afrofuturism and time travel!

The great honor of the event was getting to do a talk and reading with Kalamu ya Salaam, an Octavia's Brood local contributor and incredible accomplished writer. He was deeply generous, encouraging us to keep growing this field of work, uplifting the warrior work of women.

This practice of using Octavia's Brood to catalyze celebration of the Black fantastic yields such generative and healing space. We are growing black futures! Feeling very grateful to all of the hosts and humans embodying their dreams in action.