Sankofa, Survival, and Science Fiction: A Graduation Speech

This keynote speech was delivered at the Portland State University Multicultural Graduation Speech, June 12, 2015 in Portland, Oregon.

It is such a privilege to be at this year’s Portland State University Multicultural Graduation — I look forward to this graduation every day, to celebrate the amazing accomplishments of our students of color. I am so honored to be the keynote speaker, and to have been chosen by the student leaders to do so. Yall know the Cultural Resource Center student leaders are phenomenal, so this is definitely an honor!

This is such an incredibly important time for each of us here — students obviously, but also parents, friends, family, faculty, and staff. It makes me so happy to see so many brilliant students I’ve had the opportunity to get to know graduating here today. This is a time to celebrate the immense amount of work and sacrifice and dedication that got each of you graduating here.

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Rewriting the Future: Using Science Fiction to Re-envision Justice

Originally posted at Bitch Media1

When I tell people I am a prison abolitionist and that I believe in ending all prisons, they often look at me like I rode in on a unicorn sliding down a rainbow. Even people engaged in social movements, people who concede that the current prison system is flawed, voice their critiques but always seem to add, “But it’s all we have.”

For all of our ability to analyze and critique, the left has become rooted in what is. We often forget to envision what could be. We forget to mine the past for solutions that show us how we can exist in other forms in the future.

That is why I believe our justice movements desperately need science fiction. Stay with me on this one. I am the co-editor, along with visionary movement strategist adrienne maree brown, of the anthology Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements, which comes out this spring from AK Press. Octavia’s Brood, named in honor of Black feminist sci-fi writer and MacArthur “Genius” grant winner Octavia Butler, is a collection of radical science fiction written by organizers, change makers, and visionaries.

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We Can Finally Reveal the Octavia’s Brood Cover

The final cover for Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements has been sent to the AK Press production designer. The book is available for pre-order here. See the full hi-res cover after break.

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An Update to the Brood

We know it has been a while since you have received an update about the visionary sci-fi anthology Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction From Social Justice Movements.

That is because we have been involved in a transition and re-evaluation phase. It’s the end of that phase, and we are so happy to be able to officially announce two incredible things: 1) the final list of contributors to the project, and 2) that AK Press (in conjunction with the Institute for Anarchist Studies) will publish Octavia’s Brood!

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Octavia’s Brood is Touring the Northwest

ImageA few months ago, I wrote a piece for Nerds of Color called Growing Octavia’s Brood: The Science Fiction Social Justice Created. It focused on the genesis of the anthology, Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories From Social Justice Movements, an upcoming collection of sci fi short stories written by organizers and activists.

We are excited to announce we will be doing a Northwest Tour at the end of February! Though Octavia’s Brood won’t be out until the summer, my co-editor adrienne maree brown and I are excited to do a series of readings, writing workshops, organizing workshops, and presentations based on Octavia Butler, science fiction, social change, and the anthology.

Read on for details about each stop on the tour!

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Growing Octavia’s Brood: The Science Fiction Social Justice Created

During an interview in the 1980s, Black female science fiction writer Octavia Butler was asked her how it felt to be THE Black female science fiction writer. And Octavia replied she never wanted that title. She said she wanted to be one of hundreds of Black female sci-fi writers. She said she wanted thousands of folks writing sci-fi and writing themselves into the future.

My co-editor Adrienne Maree Brown and I didn’t even know explicitly we were answering the call Octavia laid down when we started working together on Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories From Social Justice Movements, an anthology of radical (or what we call visionary) science fiction by organizers, activists and those immersed in social change. We just knew we felt the power, the potential and the necessity of visionary science fiction.

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