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Afrofuturism Reflections March 2018 and Haitian Singer Dawn Richards

Delores Fisher Urban Style

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many thanks to Ajani Brown, graphic artist, short story writer, and novelist. Before I met him, it was a world of feeling alienated from so many. My brother and I lived futurism during those years when it was just what a lot of young people were doing. It hadn’t been officially named. It was just being “hip.”

When Brown introduced me to the term Afrofuturism, many loosely floating  aspects of my generation molded into an “oh yea, aha moment. Research, conversations with older friends and artists, led to my Afrofuturism reflection blog posts on Sonictapestry: https://sonictapestry.wordpress.com/afrofuturism/  I keep re-visiting the concept with an old school spin that is possibly becoming new school, especially when it comes to music, resistance, and free expression.

Ajani Brown Backstage at a Hope For Haiti Benefit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I like the music of Haitian Singer Dawn Richards. She is so Afrofuturistic.

Haitian Singer Dawn Richards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before I met Ajani Brown, I had encountered the term Afrofuturism a while ago and sort of dismissed it. After all, my brother and I lived it during those years when it wasn’t hip.  Several conversations with him (then professor Brown), sessions of scholarly article readings, Comifest panel discussions later   https://storify.com/aboynamedart/live-from-san-diego-comics-fest-afrofuturism     and re-readings of Yatasha Womack’s  Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci Fi and Fantasy Culture, I am re-visiting the concept/term with an old school spin that is now somewhat new school.1

For me, Afrofuturism represents more than an aesthetic. Like Elizabeth C. Hamilton, whose definition of the concept has changed over the years, I continue to think of Afrofuturism “as a mechanism for understanding the real world situations of oppression in the contemporary world in the context of the ever-present past, while charting the future situation through the arts.” 2  It is transformative liberation not just for survival, but for thriving in a global cloud oriented replicating algorithmic world.

This spring semester 2018, I am teaching the course that Ajani Brown originated and pioneered at San Diego State University for the Africana Studies Department. The arts are very much an Afrofuturism functional focus for new possibilities, healing, and sowing the seeds for a hopefully better today into tomorrow.

Similar to Ingrid LeFleur, young mayoral  candidate Detroit. https://thump.vice.com/en_us/article/59zg3x/detroit-mayor-afrofuturism-techno    One of my yesterday-today-tomorrow Sankofa Afras 466 course foundations is based on the term ARTIVISM-a phrase taught to me by Fernando and Marco in a mind expanding conversation in my office last semester.  It’s a term that intersections with many of Womack’s Afrofuturistic artistic examples.

Fernando, Delores, Marco

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Womack’s accessible book is replete with names of innovative writers, painters, dancers, philosophers, sculptures, graphic artists, and musicians, including Dawn Richards.

Dawn Richards is possibly THE NEXT heir apparent to the incomparable Grace Jones. She credits Jones as an important artistic muse and influence in a Twitter homage to THE iconic Grace Jones photo that took the world in scandalous fascination several decades https://twitter.com/DawnRichard/status/977234639088570368?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Etweet

Jones’ music is dance music with an edge and often a message. Her attire shape-shifts her in shades of mythic African symbol laden blackness to alien cyborg corporate cannibalistic cyber ghost haunting reality with visions of apocolypse. Dawn Richards’ music is also a shape-shifting collage of vampiresque colorfully disruptive personas to 21st century avatars. I am enjoying my research into Dawn Richard’s work as an Afrofuturistic Diva in the making. Here’s one of my favorite Dawn Richards dance songs.

My contemporary Women’s History Month musician’s choice.

Delores Fisher

      1. Yatisha Womack,  Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture (Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2013)
       2. Elizabeth C. Hamilton.  “Afrofuturism and the Technologies of Survival,” African Arts   50, no. 4 (Winter 2017) https://muse.jhu.edu/article/677241 in African American Reader for Writing, compiler Delores Fisher (Montezuma Publishing, 2018) 82.
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Black Student Science Organization (at SDSU) Hope For Haiti Benefit 2018

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It’s Black History Month 2018 and media conversations range from continuing the month long celebration as a way to encourage yearlong dialogue and cultural exchange, or dropping it altogether.

For the Black Science Student Organization at San Diego State University, it’s a time to honor their long term commitment to help  Haiti continue its recovery. It is still recovering  from the devastating impact of the 2010 earthquake Haiti Britannica  that left hundreds dead, thousands displaced by toppled buildings, homes, and completely disrupted infrastructure services like heat, clean water, and lighting systems. In 2017, Haiti was also damaged by the winds of hurricane Irma  Hurricane Irma and Haiti

It was a pleasure to participate again this year. My first BSSO Hope For Haiti Benefit was several years ago. Love and caring filled San Diego State University’s School of Music and Dance stage. This year is their 9th consecutive benefit effort.

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Many of the original performers and faculty support gathered together this February 16th, 2018 at the Conrad Presby Aztec Student Union Theater.

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Paolo, Dr. Estralita Martin, April, and BSSO president Jasmine Carey

Two performers who have volunteered their time since they were youth at the very first benefits, Paolo, a noted young public orator, and April, an accomplished vocalist,  were honored for their consistent support with their talents. New groups and artists included singers, dance troupes, and spoken word poets. We acknowledged Haiti’s struggle, and celebrated the Haiti that is emerging even after recent hurricane damage that ripped apart newly built facilities and the people’s hope. Yet, the people are rebuilding with global and local assistance.

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Ron Pickett

Philanthropist and ongoing aid worker Rick Pickett returned this year. He reminisced  about his and  BSSO’s initial decision to send not only financial assistance, but also supplies. This year he also talked about the resilience of the Haitians to keep healing, restoring, building. He shared stories of global cooperation and hope. This year BSSO raised almost 900$ and pledged some of the money in aid to hurricane Irma ravaged  Puerto Rico.

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Ron Pickett

I performed one of my spoken word pieces, “Oh Lord How Long?” originally written to celebrate the Africana Studies Department’s 2012 Martin Luther King Luncheon held at SDSU. “Oh Lord, How Long?” Poem By Delores Fisher

At the end of the program, one of the vocalists invited us up to the stage . She led performers and audience in  “We are the World.”  As we sang, a warmth seemed to fill the auditorium, causing us to smile and sing the song’s verses with the audience. We also turned  towards each other hand in hand, as we sang the chorus.  Together, we can decide to show love with faith and hope, create a brighter today and tomorrow.

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Poet/Blogger Delores Fisher

Happy, nurturing, positive, and productive Black History month!

 

 

Delores Fisher: 2017 Christmas Song Jam List

 

Delores Fisher Christmas 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Much love and Happy Holidays!

Wishing you and your family, friends a time of giving thanks, reflection, creating loving memories, appreciating those who care about you with unselfish love.

I thought I’d  offer a different holiday message, one through song. Enjoy a few of my favorites:

OLD SCHOOL

 

 

1970s-1990s

 

 

 

 

 

2000s-Present

 

Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

Musewoman

Nichelle Nichols: Beyond Uhura Comic-Con 2017 Anti-Bullying Panel Member

Nichelle Nichols

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She is a s beautiful as ever. Nichelle Nichols  is the original Star Trek TV series and film character Lieutenant Commander Uhura. Her portrayal filled the screen with beauty, poise and sophistication.

Nicholes’ breakout role generated much discussion when she first appeared. Her character had a rich back story.

Gene(Rodenberry) and I agreed that  she would be a citizen of the United States of Africa. And her Name, Uhura, is derived from Uhuru, which is Swahili for “freedom.” According to the biography that Gene and I developed for my character, Uhura was far more than an intergalactic telephone operator. As head of communications, she commanded a corps of largely unseen communications technicians, linguists, and other specialists who worked in the bowels of the Enterprise, in the “comm-center.” A linguistics scholar and a top graduate of Starfleet Academy, she was a protegee of Mr. Spock, whom she admired for his daring, his intelligence, his stoicism, and especially his logic.1

 

Nichelle Nichols on the TV series Star Trek

 

Her presence inspired young women and girls of all races. In her autobiography Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories, Nichols reveals her realization that there was a lack of minority presence in the United States early space program.

No offense to those fine brave men, but if we tell our children that they can be all they dream, why weren’t there women and minority astronauts? Thousands of fans wrote thanking me for Uhura’s inspiration. Little Black girls and boys, Latino and Asian children had a legitimate right to share in the dream. Things had to change.2

In the next 15 years, as she transitioned from Star Trek the TV series to Star Trek movies, Nichelle Nichols created Women in Motion, Inc. and worked on several government contracts including several  for Nasa with a unique focus on the astronaut-recruitment project.3

She influenced African American astronaut Dr.Mae Jemison https://www.themarysue.com/mae-jemison-space/   and other minorities to consider science and space as a career option.

So, what is Nichelle Nichols doing now? According to this various news stories during San Diego Comic-Con 2017, she is part of a super hero coalition that creating a lot of internet media buzz with their Anti-Bullying campaign.  https://nerdgeist.com/2017/07/21/stars-join-civil-rights-icon-and-actress-nichelle-nichols-at-san-diego-comic-con-to-end-bullying-racism-misogyny/

And the message that a positive, healing, self-affirming nurturing spiritual revolution  may be what is needed to save so many from negative affects from bullying’s toxicity is also generating major new station coverage.     http://www.thecwsandiego.com/story/35947373/anti-bullying-panel-hosted-by-pop-culture-hero

An inspiration to 1960s Afro-futurist youth and a diversity of others  as Lt. Commander Uhura, Nichelle Nichols continues to engage, inspire, and unite beyond Star Trek.

Nichelle Nichols:
inspiration to generations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thinking back to the early years of Star Trek, my dad did not watch much television other than the news, nature shows, and sports. He enjoyed tinkering around the garage or tending his vegetable garden in a plot of land on the side of the house. Older siblings were too busy with their social life for television. They didn’t sit down with me and watch the show.

My mom however, would sit beside me almost every week when Star Trek came on. We talked back and forth about characters, settings, and plots. We talked especially about Lt. Uhura  from hairstyles and costuming, to her competency at the console.  Lt. Commander Uhura was new, fresh Black woman in outer space. That concept thrilled my mom.  Nichelle Nichols beyond small and big screen stardom is a woman to admire.

Musewoman, Delores Fisher

Delores Fisher Blogger/Lecturer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

END NOTES

1. Nichelle Nichols Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1994),  144-145.

2. Ibid., pg. 211

3. Ibid., pg 213

 

Delores Fisher Comic-Con 2017: A view from Disability Post 2

Delores Fisher and Jedi cosplayer

San Diego Comic-Con is an ever evolving annual phenomenon that comes to San Diego and brings people of all ages, ethnicities, political affiliations, religious beliefs, body types, and disabilities.

Disabilities? Yes, people with challenging situations that are temporary and people for whom life is filled with experiences which require life-long adaptation in addition to everybody else’s on the daily “stuff.” For us, it is what it is; this is who we are. I will probably NOT be politically correct in this post. We who have disabilities enjoy Comic-Con too, and appreciate the event’s servicing all the Comic-Con community and especially for also reaching out to us.

 

Comic-Con Deaf and Disabled Help Desk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The help desk provided cheerful information and interaction. The event requires a lot of walking. For those with disability  impacted by difficulty walking for long periods of time,  wheelchairs were available.

Wheelchairs ready to assist

Several cosplayers with disabilities and I talked about this newness, this new day of awareness and acceptance. It is refreshing.

 

Tes and friend

If we are blessed, every day through various support systems, although filled with pain and adaptation beyond the majority’s norm,  may be difficult but joyful and fulfilling as we work, relax, worship, interact.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If we are not blessed, everyday is a hassle without family, without governmental intervention, with religious institutions that do not want us in their congregations, without adequate understanding or support in workplaces, with friends who will not be seen with us, with bullying and sadly with harsh criticism on social media for refusing to be invisible or silent in public spaces.

The cosplayers you will meet in this post all agreed to allow me to post their photos. Although tired near day’s end, they wanted me to convey to their excitement to have their presence recorded as a cosplayer. And, they wanted you know they were having fun too.

 

Fun with a cosplayer (tired, but willing to pose)

People in wheelchairs passed through crowds more easily this year. In various locations, they told me they felt a tangible difference in the crowd’s acceptance of them as fellow fans. A blind man was casually walking, talking, and enjoying the atmosphere with a friend. People with canes and walkers flowed with the crowd, some walking alone, others with friends or family. I even saw several cosplayers with developmental disabilities walking with caretaker/aids near City College. They had gotten off the trolley and were talking tired, but excited, about their day at Comic-Con.

It was really hot on day two and three. Yet along the side streets cordoned off to divert motorized traffic, cosplayers with disabilities were at restaurants and stores.

Cosplaying with friends

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone seemed to remember to hydrate and enjoy our California weather as they went to indoor and outdoor fan exhibits and events.

Star Wars Fighter Pilot

A young cosplayer named Marshall was riding in a batmobile with his mom right next to him. They were strolling casually along the boardwalk in back of the Convention Center. Looking closer, the realization was surprising.  He  was actually riding in a custom made Batmobile wheelchair.

Marshall

Marshall’s mom explained that a company called Magic Wheelchair had made Marshall’s batmobile. They also made several others used by young cosplayers at Comic-Con this year. I went to their tent area and talked with some of the founders and chair makers of Magic Wheelchair and their Magic Wheelchair Justice League custom wheelchairs for children.

Magic Wheelchair Justice League

The kids were happy to be part of Comic-Con 2017. For the chair creators, it was a dream turned into reality. Their labor of love resulted in beautifully crafted chairs to enjoy for the children and for those who admired their custom wheelchairs.

Aqua Girl Wheelchair made by Magic Wheelchair

It was nice to have so many people with visible disabilities and those with hidden disabilities in one area, unified by celebration of imagination and creativity. Personally, it was wonderful to experience kind spirited humanity in everyday reality.

A view from the bridge

The cosplayers with disabilities their family, friends, and support staff that I talked to and photographed wanted me ( a blogger with a visible disability) to say thank you to Comic-Con 2017, the fans, speakers, media, and other cosplayers for a really fun time.

Delores Fisher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

San Diego Comic Con International 2017: Thank you

One voice among many with disabilities,

Delores Fisher

 

 

 

Delores Fisher San Diego Comic-Con 2017 Post 1

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Delores Fisher and Cosplayer (more Ethnic Cosplayers joining in the fun this year!)

Hello Sonic Tapestry readers. It’s a hot San Diego International Comic-Con 2017 SUMMER! Thankful for a cloud cover early Thursday morning, it got really hot.

Waking up with anticipation, I considered how to cover San Diego International Comic-Con this 2017. Since I enjoy featuring cosplayers from an “outside view angle,” with occasional social commentary, this year seems like a good time to change the game a little, especially on this Thursday July 20th, the first day of events.

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Remember to check out the Interactive Fun Zone with exhibits and Fun Foods!

 
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Delores Fisher and Pac Man Cosplayer

First,  newby Cosplayer photo etiquette:

#1 San Diego Comic-Con is the largest on the West coast so, decide what and where you want to photograph first

#2 Have your camera or cell phone settings ready, also have specific questions ready about how cosplayers put together their attire

#3 ASK to take a picture first-especially family cosplayers with children

#4 Adjust to “cosplayer and general crowd flow,” if they’re walking quickly in the opposite direction, perhaps going to the back of an event line, they may not want to stop to take a picture

#5 DON’T SNAP MID-BITE! Take pictures when they are posing for you—not eating

#6 Don’t touch unless cosplayers offer handshakes, etc

#7 Thank cosplayers for stopping and posing for a photo

And now, a few more first day photos!

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Delores Fisher and 1st official cosplayer of Day 1

 

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With Cosplayer by the boardwalk

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Loki and Thor in action!

 

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Star Wars Cosplayer (popular Cosplay theme this year)

 

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Many Family cosplayers this year

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Evening Cosplayer, Walking Dead (He was interviewed on one of the local news stations earlier)

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At evening IMax event

Many more photos and posts. Welcome San Diego Comic-Con International!

Delores Fisher

 

Lacresha Berry as Harriet Tubman: San Diego International Fringe Festival 2017

San Diego Fringe Festival International just completed its 5th year with local, national and international performers presenting their traveling shows to our very appreciative city. Fringe romped through our consciousness from June 22 through July 2nd. With a total of seventeen sites including a Family Fringe at the City Heights Performance Annex http://sdfringe.org/

Actress/educator Lacresha Berry and blogger Delores Fisher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The City Heights Performance Annex with its indoor and outdoor stage areas, Fringe venue/space #17,  is well-known to most San Diegans in that area. Located on the crossroads of a culturally diverse neighborhood, the City Heights Performance Annex is respected for its embracing of the arts with innovative professional and amateur shows, school ensemble programs, dance festivals, entertainment representative of its surrounding rich cultural heritages. So are two other venues several miles away near Balboa Park. Fringe Space#7 Centro Cultural De La Raza and The World Beat Center Fringe space #8.

Here’s my World Beat Center Fringe space #8 experience.

Delores Fisher (selfie time!!) at San Diego Fringe Festival International 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last weekend, I notice the show “Harriet Tubman” is billed as a re-imagining of the life of anti-slavery activist; it’s playing one of my favorite San Diego world music spots, the World Beat Center. However, I  decide to go see “Kathleen Denny’s Nice Is Not What I Do”  at the Centro Cultural De La Raza and wait another week to see “Harriet Tubman.”

Curious as to what a re-imagining would look like, I buy my ticket and sit down. I am immediately aware of an anxious energy among audience members. The air is crackling with expectation. About five minutes later, a young African American woman in simple attire, white T-shirt, headband, jeans and tennis shoes, walks across the stage before house lights dim.

Lacresha Berry as Harriet Tubman at San Diego World Beat Center

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She takes her place at a microphone and waits for the house lights to go dark and the audience to stop talking. The lights go dark too quickly. The audience,  still buzzing,  becomes quiet. Lacresha has taken her mark on stage, waiting for almost two minutes  in an awkward silence. Then, lights go fast up, Berry pauses and dives hesitantly into an almost frantic monologue. Something is amiss. Who’s on tech?????? A clumsiness of house lights and sound in the opening scenes tempt me to excuse myself and leave. Berry keeps on.

Suddenly, resolutely, her pace relaxes and yet goes taunt at the same time. It feels as if a tightrope artist is battling unseen elements fifty feet above ground.

Then, I see it, that shimmering light, genius and experience,  tenacity and intuitive grit to get one’s voice, one’s message out to the people; Berry, a seasoned, well prepared performer, glimmers above apparent ill-timed lighting and sound cues for the rest of the show. I decide to stay. I’m glad I did. Ms. Berry’s acting and singing is nuanced and at times electrifying.

Berry situates Harriet Tubman in socio-cultural parameters that many young Black girls face today; this narrative strategy divides the play into major sections with several subsection of different characters. She even re-imagines Tubman in the foster care system, placed into the home of a wise care provider, Mama Kit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The young actress’s portrayal of mercurial Harriet Tubman intertwines with her portrayal of a twenty-first century young Black girl who has Harriet Tubman’s childhood and adolescent personality.

Lacresha Berry’s premise is intriguing. Without the romanticized notions of nostalgic history, spotlighted within today’s educational philosophies and biases toward non-compliant young Black female searching for freedom to be who dream themselves into being, beyond preconceived racialized gender narratives—Harriet Tubman might easily be labeled a highly problematic student.

Lacresha Berry as Harriet Tubman in the 21st century

 

In addition, some things come easy to her, others are difficult to learn. She lashes out in frustration. She challenges authority. She has an oppositional personality. She hears voices. She is in special education classes. Let’s be honest, a child or adolescent Black girl in today’s twenty first century society, with Tubman’s unpredictability, she WOULD be in special classes with an IEP.

Through various scenes,   characters, and songs, the audience experiences an illuminating roller coaster ride examining Harriet Tubman from different perspectives, embedded in a multi-lens educational narrative.

Berry has done her research; she uses quotes from leading educational specialists to bring academic substance to her performative narrative, encouraging us to think:what if?

Berry as Tubman re-imagine

 

 

During the Epilogue, Berry allows her audience to consider how past systemic barriers that are historically romanticize can breathe oppression into our contemporary lived-experiences. We must be willing to reflect on and create alternative future narratives based on our past and present in an ongoing expansion of hard won freedom.

Lacresha Berry as Tubman, a poignant reflective monologue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other educators in the audience felt a distinct resonance, as Afrofuturist Lacresha Berry, in a Stuart Hall sense, “speaks of truth to power.”

Lacresha Berry and international educator Fannie Garvey

 

If and when this show comes to your city–go see “Harriet Tubman” with Berry. Art at times can interrogate those slippery/dry places of reason and systems, hegemony and obtuse projections toward equity. This show is one of those times.

 

Berry and Pasadena Talk Show Host Debra SMILElady Johnson after show

 

Musewoman, Delores Fisher