Myth Makers

myth makerMyth Makers. It is one of those topics that the very name has captured my fascination. Myth makers...
I suppose that this is because I never thought that you could make a myth. I thought myths were coined because they couldn't be proven but everyone usually accepts it as fact.

Myths make the people who tell them and not the other way around. Clearly I was (am) bound in the spell of the myth maker.
From my academic studies, myths are just explanations of man's relationship to God.

They are usually filled with battle, conquest, destiny, decisions, consequences and moral obligations. They tell a story of how one can overcome those that oppress them or even how to kill Gods that would keep them slaves and unaware.

Myths are those wonderful stories that explain the cosmos to children and gives life to the cosmic expression that we can come to see as mundane.

But every society has a collection of myths and each clan usually tries to protect the sacred knowledge that was passed down from generation to generation.

In this aspect myths are legacy driven and often tell of the morals and philosophies of the people who hold onto these stories.

I have always wanted to write a myth but it will be derived from the West African tradition and not really original. But if I created a myth out of my own life then it would be just as compelling. It will start with an action scene and move into me and some core others killing the Gods straight out.

Once I did that, the obvious quest for legitimacy would ensure. The thing I understand about myths is that they are never what you quite make out to be. Blade for example was quite blood thirsty but I imagine that he is actually mild mannered.

But the point of my personal myth would be to become a deity myself, something that would have impossible for any regular human.

You see the theme here is self actualization and I can dig it very much.

Legends

legend

A legend is a story that has been handed down to the generations and cannot be proven to be false or true since the actors of the story have long since expired . Legends start somewhere in the seed of truth but  after so many re-tellings one can never pinpoint was was actually done.

Take the story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round table. Who would have thought that Camelot was not a place n Britain but a a place where lots of black faces resides.  Or the fact the word knight begins with letter K which lets you know that they are not who we are taught to believe that they are.

But this is one small example of a well known legend.  So great is its fame that some one not only believes it o be true but will get you to protect their interests from seeping thorough.

What separates a legend from a myth is that we do not know if this true this is what gives it its romantic appeal.  The possibilities are endless and  with the legend. Myths are a bit more historical in the fact that they are known stories that were told.

Urban legends are the modern equivalent.  They are often mini horror stories without much a moral foundation.  One urban legend that comes to mind is the story of a young person that decided they wanted to go to the movies.  After some debate with their friends, they all decided to go.  Someone comes through the door very stealthily and decides to stab said person in the neck or back through the chair.  The culprit leans forward and tells his victim that they now have AIDS.

This is the only urban legend I really know of but the attempt is to be scary.  I usually find them to be ridiculous.

Black Western Novels

cowboys

 When it comes to the existence of black cowboys and the hard lives they lead it is not documented enough.

There is something majestic about a man and a horse.  To see him straddle those strong beautiful beasts evokes images of warriors of old.  When men were allowed and took pride in being the epitome of masculinity.

Black Westerns gives us the opportunity to explore and exploit this vision to its fullest extent.  Black men and women are not bogged down by their lack of esteem and self -knowledge.  Instead they forge their own in harsh climates and even harsher predicaments. They redefined their existence, taking pride in the starkness of their life because it was their own and no one had a say in it except their own hearts.

Often black cowboys took their freedom far earlier than their Eastern city counter parts.  In a world that was not clearly defined, demarcated and demoralized a stake could be made and land could be owned.

Even today in the modern, the West still symbolizes freedom.  When the harsh winters hit the East seaboard and every day is grey, one could set out to the open blue skies of the West.

It was a life where everything that you have, you must earn in every way.  This is the price that true freedom brings, responsibility.  It forces you to think outside the box and create something new everyday that will ensure your survival.

This is the romance of the western novel.  In  our world of schedules and paychecks we often are stuck in a system that softly creates a dependency on the system.  Sometimes to escape that reality of servitude, a good western will do.  It was a time when men could be men and women find in themselves a strength that was unparalled.

Science Fiction

science fiction

The Genesis of science fiction came from what was called speculative fiction.  Speculating what the future would be like, what the world would come to.  This sort of curiosity would be bred out of an oppressed mind searching for freedom. Though it is in our nature as human being to wonder about the future in order to try and predict the safest outcome I suspect that this genre is more about exploring the logical extremes of social mores.

Science fiction is about the journey and the most important questions in life such as what happens when man believes it has completely conqured nature? Or what will it look like when human become so addicted to technology that there becomes a push to merge with technology? What will happen to human emotion and feeling when it becomes digitized? Or in a society that is increasingly apathetic to their responsibility toward life and cosmic law what will happen to the children? Will the government succeed in its plan for complete and total dominance over its citizens?

The questions continue and its answers are generally explored in the science fiction world with imagination and scientific insight.

The beauty of speculative fiction is that there is no right or wrong answer on logical conclusions based on a particular assumption. It makes complete sense that writers of African decesent would gravitate toward science fiction writing.

In a world where walking the streets for a Black man or woman is dangerous, one could take that premise to its logical extreme and speculate what if there is a social agenda bent on destroying a particular kind of melanin and it caused brown skinned people to become targets of a sinister and genocidal plan.  What would the people do? How would the defend themselves? Could they even try?

Truth is stranger than fiction. But often science fiction lets one explore the truth.

 

List of writers:
Sam Delaney

Octavia Butler

Steven Barnes

Tananarive Due

L.A Banks

Nalo Hopkins

Ishmael Reed

Black Magic in Fiction

black magic in fiction

It has become my favorite book, Nnedi Okorafors's Akata Witch.  The title is what first grabbed me, I cannot remember how I found it but there it was like a golden beacon in a dark tunnel.

akata witch

You see, I'm a huge fan, (geek snort) of anything magical and paranormal.  When I was 10 I created my first vampire coven and made all the members dress in black and red everyday.  I was addicted to the idea of  the power, the night, and the freedom.  The coven disbanded after two weeks because no one had enough black and red clothes to wear. (True story)

But the dearth of melanin dominate witches, mages, warlocks, fairies, gnomes, ghouls, and other spiritual entities began to take its toll and would leave a slightly dissatisfied feeling within me even as I scrambled to read as much as I could on the topic.

So  when I got older and finished my Christian phase (man....)I began a serious study of Afrikan mythologies.  All great cultures have them so I knew I was just missing out on something.  Then Nnedi Okorafor went and did it---she wrote one of my favorite novels.

I read the book in two days, mostly because I had to punctuate the experience with adult life but I didn't want it to end but desperately wanted to know what else happened.

Set in Nigeria  and the hero was a girl, how could you lose with a combination like that? This was black magic and beautifully demonstrated.  You never know what power lies within you until you are tested, some fail and die but others not even knowing their greatness rise to the occasion.

From as long as I could remember, black magic was depicted as something evil.  Anything authentic that came out of Africa wasn't to be trusted and is to be stamped out as quickly as possible.  It was and still is such a disservice to young black minds to not even be able to imagine that you can fly or face a death eater.

So when I say I cried at the end of the book, not so much because it was wretchedly sad (it ends in a cliff hanger), but from sheer relief.  I could connect to every part of the story and the 10 year old in me wouldn't need to pretend anymore she could just be herself.

Fantasy Fiction

Fantasy

I have a thing for fantasy fiction. Life is usually simpler but has much more meaning to it.  The chance to discover hidden and latent talents are available and perhaps delving into a deep darkness can also beckon.  But really I’m just a nerd that loves an interesting story.

To me, a black unicorn is the epitome of fantasy fiction. Only in the minds of a creative individual could something so wonderful exist. Fantasy fiction is about the ultimate escape into a different world all generated in the mind.

With fantasy fiction one could document their astral with vivid detail to the delight of the reader.  New technologies, strange languages, a higher moral code, a cosmic evil, witches, dragons, fairies and grass all exists in the world of fantasy.  It is about engaging a different reality.  You can bend and morph it in to something spectacular and intriguing.

Fantasy fiction is just a delight to the senses and the interplay between human being remains the same no matter what the culture is.  “There are plans within in plans” a quote from the famous series Dune and uncovering them and understanding them is the delight and awe of the fantasy reader.

In truth fantasy is such a broad genre.  So many other genres bleed into it but what marks it as fantasy is its complete deviation from what we know as reality.  It’s an expansion of perception and that it useful in real life.

But I think what really makes fantasy fiction so popular is that each character is actually living and doing and being and that’s intoxicating.  They live outside of four walls and dedicate themselves to a cause worth dying for.

No one ever writes an entire book about going to work, coming home to watch TV or consume the Internet and falling asleep to do it all again the next day..seriously though, never.

Authors:

N. K Jemsin

David Anthony Durha, _ Acacia Trilogy

Octavia Butler

Nnedi Okorafor

Black Historical Fiction

historical fiction

Historical fiction is a particular genre that evokes visceral emotion because you can emotionally connect to the characters in their place in history.  To rewrite history is a helluva thing.  You are able to project yourself into the past and envision a different outcome to your favorite story.

What if Nat Turner and his uprising was more covert than aggressive and systematically eliminated all of the most powerful slave makers in his time? He could have secretly learned to read and write as to plant evidence of his strategic warfare skills and to create suspicion in the midst of the slavers.

What if Arminita code name Harriet Tubman was really a general for a powerful cadre of freedom takers?  She wasted no time in making a name for herself but more importantly she knew she belong to the sacred warrior class and didn’t blink at her soul’s call. She masterfully wielded her ancestral gifts and helped millions take back their freedom.

Booker T Washington got a lot flack because of he stressed economic freedom over political freedom.  But little did they know how genius he was.  He fought his way out of the vicious and spirit crippling social condition and decided that he really didn’t need the approval of a political structure designed to keep him from meriting off of his human capital. Instead he was about getting rich quietly and living the kind of life that he deserved.

But instead of the backlash that he faced what if the masses had listened. Instead of a Civil Rights movement for political acknowledgement there would be an economic movement that stressed the protection and equality of black businesses and black economy.

This would be how future generations could create their own universities and medical research facilities that actually spoke to the needs of black folks instead of vying for entrance to a group that would like to be kept to themselves.

The list is endless and historical fiction provides the backdrop to writing the story that should have been told.

Black History

black history month

Today is the last day of black history month. The staples include Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X, Ruby Bridges, Jackie Robinson, our dear sister Rosa Parks, throw in Langston Hughes, Bessie Coleman and my personal favorite the warrior princess Araminta Harriet Tubman.

Because somehow Black history began with the enslaved Afrikans, rided the Civil war, landed in the 20th century and dies with election of President Obama.

While these events are certainly notably, it certainly does a disservice to a people to not include their origins, achievements, philosophy and mythology.  So much is left wanting when you leave these significant aspects of a culture in the dark.

But then if you are one that relies solely on popular culture and propaganda to educate you, you wouldn't even know that there was more to look for.

Black history month is an American invention. “We are going back to that beautiful history and it is going to inspire us to greater achievements.” These were Carter Woodson's words as he and several others created and championed the of knowing and celebration of the genius of black folk.

In a time when black people were truly concerned about who they were and the advancement of themselves as a whole unit, the success of Woodson's effort was demanding and 20 years after his death, black history month became a nationally recognized phenomenon.

The intent as gleaned from his words was to go back, a Sankofa journey, beyond slavery and beyond Amexum  in order to understand how to be be even greater as a whole.  This should have been a staple in the black children's education and not just a small snippet of time.  But as one gets older the responsibility to educate yourself about yourself falls on your own shoulders.  So here at buyblackbooks we have the materials you need.

 

Autobiography

biography

An autobiography is usually penned when the author wants to make sure his or her story is told with veracity and feeling. Words of power often jump out of the page from a person you admire.  The truth of it will often bring tears to my eyes because it resonates so strongly within me.  That was the feeling I got when I read Assata Shakur's autobiography for the first time.  

I was taken through a myriad of emotions, from understanding, to rage to sadness and then pride.  One woman stood tall and beat unbeatable odds.  It is enough to make me shout from the roof tops, "THERE ARE NO NEW SLAVES"- just the same ones perpetuated over and over again. 

But the truth of her story is this-- that love is an action word, that self determination and self validation is necessary to see change and that those who can, will stoop to the lowest of lows to try and stop you from making a difference and it really doesn't matter.

As an icon of empowered woman, she stands tall, though exiled, as what it means to remember what it is to be Afrakan and as the one who struggles for the love her people she remains a beacon of light.

She suffered greatly.  She was tortured and terrorized for speaking truth. Saw her comrades, brother and sisters die all around her for the same truth and was separated from her child because she would not stand down.  She would not let her oppressors break her spirit.

She is of an elite warrior class, a true righteous empress, and one of the last of her kind.  I salute Assaat Shakur.  And though her life remains in danger due to the ridiculous bounty on her head, no one can take away what she is and what she means to black people.

Politics

It is a doctrine held by many good men, in Europe as well as in America, that every oppressed people will gain their rights just as soon as they prove themselves worthy of them; and although we may justly object to the extent to which this doctrine is carried, especially in reference to ourselves as a people, it must still be evident to all that there is a great truth in it.--Frederick Douglass, 1848 from a speech, "What Are the Colored People Doing for Themselves?

"Yes we can"  It was a simple but elegant slogan for what at first seemed the long shot choice for America's next president.  The political arena was fraught with questions of racism and citizenship but in the end Barack Obama became the America's first black president.

For many African Americans this was a time of weeping, gloating, and triumphant praise and for others they kept a watchful eye on his actions rather than his rhetoric.

Because the history of black politics is a rather disappointing one. Instead of looking within our own history and legacy for models of government and behavior, it is the norm or rather it is demanded that one to look to the legacy and history of oppressors and colonialist for approval.

When one leader rises us up and speaks the truth about self determination words like "militant" and "terrorist" are aimed at them like predator drones aiming at American citizens.  It is a threat and eventually the black masses succumb to the fear that their oppressors will not give them approval and call them worthy.

But then another leader comes donning the flag of hope and change and the price that was paid for this facade is legendary. Instead of change and so called redemption, an oppressive regime just got a tinted make over.  Touting words spewn like an impressive southern baptist preacher, but acting as an agent for white supremacy, President Obama clearly meant with his slogan that "yes, we can... prove our worth".