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Gaining the courage to write fantasy fiction has made me realize how important the genre means to me as a Black queer writer.

Designated in October 2013 by Black SFF writers Balogun Ojetade and Milton J. Davis, Black Speculative Fiction Month is dedicated to celebrating Black speculative fiction creators in literature, film, and more. While reading Black speculative fiction has always been a thrilling experience, I've recently learned that creating it can help me imagine my most magical self. In late September, I finished "Moon Bloom" my very first fantasy short story with Black queer characters. The story was inspired by many things, but the most important factor was the desire to give myself the representation I've wanted to see for years. Since grade school, I've adored fantasy fiction and how the stories paint the imagination with magic, adventure, and wonder. I grew up with the Harry Potter series, which served as an entry point for other fantasy books like Tamora Pierce"s Tortall series and Garth Nix's Abhorsen trilogy. However, I didn't read any books by or featuring Black people until 2010.

Afrofuturism creates stories that puts Blackness in a central role and deals with the reality of what that means in the cultures and societies that it creates.

When people think of science fiction as a genre, they're usually thinking of books about the coded fears and dreams of white men. Books that are considered masterpieces of science fiction by and large are written by them but the remedy from this pale and exists in Afrofuturism, the future as told by people of the African diaspora. I first encountered Afrofuturism before I knew what it was. The term was coined in the 90s by Mark Dery as a way to explain the collection of speculative fiction and assorted media that was created from the point of view of Black people. I read my first Afrofuturistic novel in 1993. It was Octavia E Butler’s Mind of My Mind. I would later find out it was part of a series, which I bought book by book from various bookstores as they had them in stock. It was the 90s. We didn’t have Amazon. These books were a different way to see science fiction. Never mind the most obvious fact that the covers featured a woman of color, but the stories themselves spoke of life in a completely different manner. Unlike the standard science fiction, these people weren’t “Big Damn Heroes”, they were people who weren't just dealing with their own internal and personal pressures,  but did so while navigating in a society that already distrusted them. That's what's at the crux of what this particular literary style is. It’s not just “stories that feature Black people as leading characters”. They are stories that put Blackness in a central role and deals with the reality of what that means in the cultures and societies that it creates. RELATED: Being Weird and Black Doesn’t Mean You’re Interested in Being White

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