Early Black Writers, Speculative Fiction and Confronting Racial Terror

BlakeIn the bleakest of moments African-American writers have turned to literature to confront racial terror and the trauma it could induce–turning to poetry, personal narratives, plays and novels. Sometimes, they even dreamed of the fantastic.

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GOT- “The Wars to Come”

tyron844After what seemed like forever, Game of Thrones is back! HBO’s adaptation of George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, with its feuding houses, dragons and one Khaleesi, has returned in triumphant fashion. That means of course, so have my Monday morning recaps. So let’s do this thing!

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Welcome to Crimeopolis: Trinidad’s Dystopian Utopia

Anyone acquainted with dystopian science fiction is familiar with the theme of crime. As the stories usually go, in some near-future basic human decency has severely broken down. This can leave us with societies where crews of psychopathic rebellious youth terrorize the rest of the populace, like A Clockwork Orange. Or we find ourselves in the midst of a crumbling urban community ridden by rampant criminality, as we get in Robocop. The most bleak assessments are those that feature the utter breakdown of civilization, where everyone is left to fend for themselves against leather-clad S&M biker gangs, psychotic rapists and cannibals who’ve learned to hunt in packs. Often, these latter dystopias are based on cities in our present world with a crime-related image, such as John Carpenter’s classic Escape from New York (with all its questionably racially suggestive metaphors) to 2009’s District 9 (equally filled with problematic racial allusions) set in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The one place I would think furthest away from this futurist world of societal blight and crime is Trinidad & Tobago, where I spent the earliest years of my life. But if you’ve visited the island republic any time in the past few years, you quickly learn that crime is the hot topic on everyone’s lips. From relatives to friends, acquaintances and strangers, journalists and government officials, crime is the crisis du jour. Everyone has stories of crime to tell you, each more harrowing than the next. And everyone is worried about where the country–and crime–is headed. A small Eastern Caribbean country often associated with utopian scenes of beaches, Carnival and festivity, is experiencing its own crime-associated dystopian reality.

*disclaimer: these are the observations of an outsider-insider, and are not meant to supplant anyone’s daily lived experiences.

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Hunger Games

Finally saw Hunger Games last week, or as I like to call it Lord of the Flies meets Soylent Green. Basic storyline: in a dystopian future, following a fracticious war that almost destroyed humanity, the world is divided into the wealthy victors, and the downtrodden nearly-starved rebels, who are forced to live in impoverished districts according to their usually dangerous occupations (coal miners, etc); as macabre sport and psychological punishment, every year each district is forced to participate in a lottery where two children are selected at random to participate in a survivalist, winner-kill-all, spectator contest called The Hunger Games. I haven’t read Suzanne Collins books, though I’ve been “meaning to get around to it.”

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