Gale Greenlee with Michelle Tracey Berger, Sheree Renee Thomas, Afrofuturism, Greensboro Cultural Center Conference Room, Saturday, 3:15 p.m.

“I think speculative fiction helps us to create and hold on to visions and hope.” says Gale Greenlee, a recent PhD graduate in African-American literature from UNC-Chapel Hill. “It’s almost like providing all these different roadmaps or showing us that there isn’t only one way to solve our problems. We have to live in this world together and these different forms of media can show us that there’s a possibility that we can create a better world.”

While authors such as Shelley, Wells and Atwood are celebrated — as they should be — their black colleagues in the field of speculative fiction are often ignored. Afrofuturism is a cultural arts movement that aims to shed light on invisible, black artists.

“There is an inherently political element to AF; we’re talking about a future where black people can be free,” says Greenlee. “I think that right now, in our current political climate, we are steeped in anti-blackness and racism, and Afrofuturism gives us different visions and different possibilities of how we can navigate these moments.”

Michelle Tracey Berger, author of speculative works such as Reenu-You (2017) and Awakenings (2018), will speak with Sheree Renee Thomas, editor of the speculative anthology Dark Matter, on the topic of Afrofuturism and the inspirations for their work. The panel will be moderated by Greenlee.

“Speculative fiction can break down our ways of thinking. It can reveal the things that we take for granted about identity, power and those who hold power. These kinds of stories can make their readers question things about our world,” says Greenlee.

The group plans to talk about Afrofuturism “as a cultural movement, an aesthetic movement and envisioning a future where black people have some agency and where we’re able to live as freely as possible, even in the midst of oppressive societies.” says Greenlee. “For some who come, it will probably be an introduction to Afrofuturism. For others, though, it’ll just be a space for us to acknowledge and highlight the amount of creative work that’s coming from black writers and creators.”

Find the full 2019 GSO Bound schedule here.

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