My Black Future Month

In 2018, speculative fiction/afrofuturist writer N.K. Jemison released a collection of short stories called How Long ‘til Black Future Month? I read it as my first book with the Afrofuturism Book Club last year, which has taken me on a journey with all sorts of fiction that I may not have searched for on my own. Some of the stories felt very personal and meaningful to me, especially a few that were set in New Orleans.

The original essay that inspired the title of the book is located here, which I recommend also reading. If you’re going to understand something, you might as well get the full details.

After a series of events that culminated at the end of January, I had some questions for myself, similar to the questions that Jemison presents in her works: How do I view myself, where do I see myself represented (or not) in the spaces I occupy, and what kinds of futures do I want to see in the world? I also realized that I needed to reflect on my past in a very Sankofa kind of way so that I could make the future possible.

I’ve done a lot of writing in the past month. Journaling, tarot interpretations, secret WordPress blog ramblings, a OneNote list, and even a half-finished blog post for this website. I’ve also been intentional about the media I’ve been consuming and the spaces I’ve been in this February to find how I want my future to be. Because of these things I have felt freer to make choices in my life and not feel as stagnant.

What follows next is sometimes a list, sometimes a journey of what’s been going on in my life that might be helpful to you.

Words

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

In the beginning, I was grieving. Even in the things you choose to end, you have the right to grieve them. I spent the weekend on my couch as Final Fantasy speedruns went on in the background, alternating between sleeping and trying to eat. I was very tired.

When my energy began to return, I went to a source of guidance I usually do when something happens: Women Who Run With the Wolves – Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, PhD. I read the chapter “Homing: Returning to Oneself” and reflected on its lessons on how we sometimes lose ourselves or try to fit into something not made for us, but must always return to our psychic and spiritual selves and strength.

From there, I thought about joy. How do I find joy within myself? What are the sources of joy in my life? What circumstances in life can I change in order to create more joy? I went to Pleasure Activism by adrienne maree brown and read a few chapters there. It brought up body knowledge and listening to your body and your intuition to help guide your life. What’s an orgasmic yes to me? What feels only okay, or actively wrong? Was I ignoring the things that I needed in my life?

I jumped back and forth between the next two books that were on my path: The Salt Eaters by Toni Cade Bambara and Their Eyes were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. Healing and love. People want to be healed but are afraid of facing the pain and the darkness of that healing. Wanting healing and expecting it to happen to them instead of doing the work (with help as needed) to get better. And then love. People putting you into their boxes of who they think you are and what love is, but having the strength and courage to remain yourself through it all and find a true love (even through its difficulties).

After a good conversation with Catie in the middle of a Lush store, I decided to buy Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself. I think this book is useful for anyone. It was interesting to do a self-inventory and reflect upon times in my life where I had very strong codependent tendencies and where I am now. It was also eye-opening to see the ways that codependency manifested in the people around me, and to think about the work that goes into cultivating a healthy relationship.

Sounds

Photo by John Matychuk on Unsplash

It’s been an interesting month for my Spotify, and I’m sure I’ve messed up its algorithms. Again. I listened to Public Enemy and DMX while washing the dishes. Final Fantasy music streams when I’m feeling tired and want to relax. My drives home have included 80s hip hop and heavy metal, and even a little bit of Felix Da Housecat. My top three artists for February have been Solange, Anderson .Paak and Deftones because of how their music makes me feel, and how it transports me off to different places.

On the podcast side, I’ve been taking things a bit more seriously. This month I’ve been listening to Gettin’ Grown, Therapy for Black Girls, Food Heaven Podcast, and the Mark Groves Podcast. Of course, I listen to many other podcasts, but these are the ones that have been streaming with more frequency to get insight on matters of the mind and body.

Community

Photo by Tolu Bamwo from Nappy.co

Only so much growth can happen in isolation. It’s been a process to find time to be out in the community while dealing with fatigue, writing work, an episode of illness, and the basics of maintaining life as an adult. But I have been fortunate to have spent time with amazing friends and diverse people. Talking about my feelings and getting Oaxacan food from a local restaurant. Discussing afrofuturistic books and sharing king cake in an intimate circle. Laying in bed with friends and being a support to their recent losses while playing Red Dead Redemption 2. Watching trashy reality TV shows and sharing candied apples. Going to queer-affirming sex-positive spaces with music, vegan food, and community. Exercising in spaces that are friendly and supportive to where I want to be physically. Texting and messaging friends around the country, making plans to see each other again. It’s been emotional and beautiful.

Through all of these things I realize that I want my future to have joy and connection. And I have the capacity to do that if I choose to put in the work to create the future I want to see.