In the culture of science fiction, there is a Black alienation in a largely white saturated genre, but Howard University students have high expectations for what the University plans to bring to Howard’s homecoming theme, the “Meccaverse.”
In the article “Why Blacks Don’t Read Science Fiction,” Charles R. Saunder states, “A Black man or woman in a spacesuit was an image beyond the limits of [their] imaginations.”
The Black community’s fight for basic human rights is so ubiquitous in the media, the community hasn’t been allowed the time to dream and think about fiction in its most fantastical forms. There are so many real face-to-face struggles that have to be fixed so that one day the Black community can think about ideas like Black astronauts, what the world would look like untouched by colonization or alternate realities with Black superheroes. That imagination is a luxury that has not yet been given to create a strong sense of Black science fiction entertainment. The Black culture incorporated in sci-fi is so unheard of, most cannot imagine what that would look and feel like.
“NK Jemisin is my go-to for thinking about how the white male-dominated genre of science fiction, with few exceptions, failed to imagine a future with Black people in it in any significant way,” Howard University English professor Jennifer Williams said, “You can think about it in terms of these writers writing a future in their own image as they’ve always done.”
Sophomore sports medicine major Drew Fraser shared, “The main way I see African American culture fitting into sci-fi is the subversions of Black characters in unfamiliar settings, for example, 2018’s Spider-verse movie or Jordan Peele’s ‘Nope,’ because we usually don’t see Black representation in this genre.”
In comparison to the vast representation of white stories of sci-fi, this year’s Homecoming theme will spark that change. Students are taking time to think about what Black culture looks like in a different, widely seen setting.
Richard Broberry, a sophomore computer science major, shared that what he wants to see from Homecoming is “A ‘Black Panther’ tribute for sure and the explorations of a different planet with ‘Matrix’ vibes, this idea of afro-futurism.”
Late Howard alumnus and School of Fine Arts namesake Chadwick Boseman sparked many students’ interest in afro-futurism through the blockbuster “Black Panther.” This film integrated the story of African tribes and high-tech innovations that shows Africa untouched by Europe.
When asking Dr. Williams about what she hopes to see incorporated in the Meccaverse Homecoming, she discusses that “Howard is always ahead of the curve when it comes to imagining Black futures, so I suspect I’ll see a lot of creativity in the way of performance, the imagination, the fashion. We can use the Meccaverse moment to think about what we want the future of HU to look like. How do we want to interact with the world?”
Copy edited by Chanice McClover-Lee