The core contradiction of North American science fiction and fantasy fandom is that while often describing itself as a bastion for people who faced rejection from small-minded people, for decades it offered plenty of rejection of its own.
North American fan culture was dominated by European men and boys, predominantly middle class and straight, with Western, Northern, and ancient Southern European cultural reference points. While obsessed with physical sciences and militarism, it was largely ignorant of social sciences and popular struggles for justice.
Even to this day, as plenty of fans attest, fandom was a closed shop where alleged outsiders could ride the starship in small numbers, but could never by the helmsman or the captain.
While some abusive and oppressive fans still cause havoc for others as with the Gamergate and Hugo Award Rabid Puppies scandals, many fans have brought many changes. And inside that fan-vanguard are feminist participants and creators who are changing the culture and changing the content.
Cosplay has moved from mass-produced and monotonous Star Trek uniforms to superbly hand-crafted costumes from thousands of storyworlds. Convention artists tables are no longer simply sales-spots for a few men, but rows and rows of women with outstanding art, particularly of female characters in exciting, fun, and non-sexist portrayal. Women are creating science fiction, fantasy, and superhero comics, graphic novels, documentaries, feature films, costumes, video games, conventions, and more. They’ve evolved the scene from what it used to be, into where it’s going for the 21st Century.
In E-Town, that leadership belongs to the Lady Geeks Unite. On the first Thursday of every month, they meet at Happy Harbor Comics for Lady Geek Nite. They host a range of events that include table top gaming and role-playing games, documentaries and discussions, and costume creation workshops, and annual events such as a Christmastime fan-craft sale.
For a few months I was embedded at Happy Harbor Comics to write a play about it for Workshop West, and I got to attend many meetings of the Lady Geeks and learn of their mysterious ways. So on May 14th, 2016, I sat down at the store with lady geeks Sylvia Douglas and Sylvia Moon to talk about what they do.
Sylvia Douglas is an arts administrator, writer, and indie filmmaker who works for FAVA, the Film and Video Arts Society of Alberta, and she’s a board member for the Alberta Media Artists Alliance Society. Sylvia Moon is a graphic designer who helped organise Lady Geek Nite since its inception; she even designed its logo. She was one of the artists who created the World’s Biggest Comic during the final two days of the Royal Alberta Museum’s original location.
In today’s episode of MF GALAXY, the two Sylvias discuss:
Malcolm X is an icon of Pan-Africanism. Born May 19, 1925 to a Pan-Africanist family active in Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association, Malcolm survived the racist murder of his father and his own descent into crime and prison. He emerged as a minister for the Nation of Islam, one of several organisations born from the US government’s destruction of Garvey’s UNIA.
While committed to the NOI’s religious doctrine, Malcolm X developed a secular, revolutionary, political ideology that combined Garveyism with the Original World liberation struggles raging against imperialism throughout the 1950s and 60s. So respected was he that after he broke from the NOI in 1964, Malcolm X formed the united front Organisation of Afro-American Unity and won observer status on behalf of African Americans at the newly-formed Organisation of African Unity. While Nation of Islam assassins murdered him in Harlem on February 21, 1965, extensive evidence points to involvement of the United States government as Karl Evanzz details in his monumental work The Judas Factor: The Plot to Kill Malcolm X.
On today’s episode of MF GALAXY, we’ll hear from Evanzz and also from Malcolm X associate A. Peter Bailey, who was the editor of Malcolm X’s newsletter The Blacklash, later the editor of Ebony magazine, and eventually the co-author with Malcolm X’s nephew Rodnell Collins of Seventh Child: A Family Memoir of Malcolm X. I spoke with Evanzz and Bailey in 2005 for the 80th anniversary of Malcolm X’s birthday. They’ll offer their responses to the then-unfinished final work by Manning Marable, later published as the controversial Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention. Marable claimed, among other things, that Alex Haley, the author of Roots and co-author of Malcolm’s Autobiography, was collaborating with the FBI against Malcolm X’s interests. We’ll also hear Evanzz and Bailey on three chapters deleted from the Autobiography, whose contents Marable claimed were explosive.
Karl Evanzz is one of the planet’s leading Malcolm X scholars and also the author of The Messenger: The Rise and Fall of Elijah Muhammad. He was once an online editor at The Washington Post. Both men spoke to me by telephone from Washington DC in May 2005.
But first we’ll an excerpt from a February 21, 2005 Democracy Now! interview with Manning Marable, former head of Columbia University’s Institute for Research in African-American Studies. He authored a dozen books, including How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America. We’ll then hear Bailey’s and Evanzz’s reactions.
For links to Malcolm X books, including a discount ebook offer for The Judas Factor, and a video of editor Jared Ball discussing his book A Lie of Reinvention: Correcting Manning Marable’s Malcolm X, visit mfgalaxy.org.
And to hear the half hour patrons-only extended edition of this focus on Malcolm X, visit mfgalaxy.org to click on the Patreon link to become a sponsor for a dollar or more per week.
By funding MF GALAXY, you get access to all extended editions of the show, plus video excerpts from selected interviews as they become available. This extended edition includes:
Although best known for her role as the Baltimore homicide investigator Kima Greggs, Sonja Sohn is also a performance poet; her second film role was in Marc Levin’s 1998 indie film Slam, which she also co-wrote. She went on to appear in John Singleton’s Shaft reboot, and in Martin Scorcese’s Bringing Out the Dead. Of combined African-American and East Asian heritage, she won a 2008 television supporting actor Asian Excellence Award for her work on The Wire.
In 2008 she campaigned for Barack Obama, and in 2009 she founded reWIRED for Change (http://rewired4change.org), a Baltimore-based NGO that seeks to help at-risk youth. In 2011, she won the Woman of the Year award from the Harvard Black Men’s Forum.
In today’s episode of MF GALAXY, Sohn discusses:
Sohn spoke with me by telephone on September 11, 2008. She began by discussing her experiences and influences as a poet, and the poetry scene in the US as she knew it in 2008.
Joy Lusco Kecken began her professional screenwriting career as an intern and script coordinator for NBC’s Homicide: Life on the Street, and went on to freelance for the show. She served as a script coordinator for HBO’s The Wire, for which she also directed one episode and wrote three; she served as a story consultant on the 50 Cent bio-pic Get Rich or Die Tryin’, wrote for Standoff and The Division, directed the documentary We Are Arabbers, and wrote and co-directed the award-winning short film Louisville starring Andre Braugher.
In this episode of MF GALAXY, Lusco Kecken discusses:
Along the way, Lusco Kecken cites Wire series co-creators and writers David Simon and Ed Burns, both of whom I’ve interviewed about their work on The Wire. Keep listening for those conversations on upcoming episodes of MF GALAXY. She also cites The Corner, the controversial collaboration between Simon and the late David Mills whom I also interviewed, the miniseries that depicts the miseries of people with addictions on a Baltimore street corner.
Lusco Kecken spoke with me by telephone on January 25, 2008. She begins by discussing the work of a script coordinator and how it shaped her career.