Being Black in America – A Real-Life Dystopia

“Black to the Future” is an article in which Mark Dery introduces the concept of Afrofuturism as he attempts to look for science fiction that centers Black people and their stories. He begins by describing his understanding of Black science fiction.  He acknowledges that there are many black characters and, more importantly, writers within comic books, but he notes that outside of comic books, there are not very many. Dery interviews black science fiction writers to give them a space to contribute to the discussion. They point out the limits of his heteronormative white male experience and challenge him to conceive of other historically marginalized perspectives. 

This reading comes before we begin reading Parable of The Sower by Octavia Butler, a black science fiction writer. This reading is meant to give us a context of the Black sci-fi literary tradition before we approach a work by one of its most significant writers. The feeding emphasizes the fact that the themes of alienation and tribalism that often pervade science fiction works are not foreign to the black experience in the United States. The article references Henry Louis Gates’ quotation asserting that Black people inherently have an orientation toward figurative language. Moreover, Delany implies that Black people have a deeper understanding of dystopian lifestyles because they live in one. Black people experience alienation as they interact with systems that are designed to oppress them. The article also challenges me as a sci-fi reader to think about the fact that dystopian works do not address the racial implications that exist within these societies.

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