Kevin Grevioux Has A Theory On The Lack Of Black Sci-Fi Filmmakers

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by Sergio
October 19, 2013 9:02 PM
72 Comments
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Let’s start a debate shall we?

We have previously written about actor/screenwriter/producer Kevin Grevioux whose latest film, which he wrote, co-produced and co-stars in, I, Frankenstein, comes out in January 2014.

And despite my reservations about the film, judging from the trailer I posted two weeks ago, that it looks like another routine CGI orgy “tentpole” movie lacking in originality, I still genuinely admire Grevioux for always thinking “outside the box” in terms of what black filmmakers and artists are supposed to be doing.

And also the fact that he’s got the deepest voice of any human being on the planet. No joke.

Aside from his work in films, Grevioux also writes and creates his own comic books, starting out as a writer with Marvel and DC, before breaking out on his own to form his own company, Dark Storm Studios, eventually creating the character of Blue Marvel who will become one of The Avengers.

And there’s no need to tell you that there are many African Americans involved in the comic book field as writers, illustrators and just avid readers, but not enough in his point of view. Especially when it comes to black filmmakers of sci-fi films; and he believes he knows the reason why.

According to a recent interview with The Grio, Grevioux states that the lack of black people creating sci-fi projects, comes from “a pragmatism facing the dreams of black youth…and depends on what fits within a frame of reference."

As he went on to elaborate: "When you’re white, your dreams go far and a lot of times that is because there are no encumbrances. The world is wide open to them in a way that isn’t open for us. So when their reality is taken care of, it’s like, ‘Okay well we can dream about this. We can do this. We can do that.’ For us, it’s a little different."

He goes on to say: "It’s like how can you think about traveling to another solar system or alien life if you have a problem getting a job or eating on Earth. African-American dreams are more reality-based, and that’s why I think our films have to do with our daily environment more so than alien or science fiction environments."

He also added that: "A lot of science fiction is based upon your experience in terms of looking at the world differently. Thinking about it in more abstract ways, a lot of times that takes education."

O.K. I can see what he’s saying and definitely agree with him, but I think there’s a lot more to it than that, which goes back to that "box" I referred to which black filmmakers are put in.

I think peer pressure is also a huge burden to overcome. I don't need to tell you that, way too often, we allow our so-called friends, colleagues and even family members to tell us what we should or should not be doing for fear of being shunned, ridiculed or, the greatest fear of all, accused of “not being black enough. Hell, I’ve been assured of that by commenters on this site.

The fact is that you can’t let people with closed-off minds dictate your life. They want you to live in their own closed-off, hermetically-sealed little world and be strangled creatively and spiritually. Why should you limit your what you want to do for them and be miserable the rest of your life? Follow your own path. If you love sci-fi or want to become a classical musician, or whatever, just do it and be happy.

Do you agree, or is what Grevioux said ridiculous in your opinion? Do you have anything to add?

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72 Comments

  • Clay Robinson | February 8, 2014 12:52 PMReply

    In '84. there was a core group of my friends who were into sci-fi. Most friends and family weren't into it though. I remember my bedroom floor being cluttered with Star Wars action figures and playsets in the early '80s. I've always been a fan of SCI-Fi and will always be one. A great story isn't bound by setting, gender, race, or anything really.

    I've had the acting bug since I was 9 or 10 and watching Magnum P.I., Dukes of Hazzard, and the A-Team. Yet I never to even the smallest step toward making my dream come true. I've been told I'm a Will Smith/Larry Fishburne type, whatever that means. Most of the billions of adults in the world haven't gone after and/or achieved their dreams. Also, everybody loves fried chicken. Why address media trickery or others "low information" perceptions of us as a whole?

    The Underworld series is one of my favorites. Mr. Grevioux's writting and producing role wasn't known to me until yesterday. Growing up in the D.C. metro area I've known many HU grads over the years and enjoy a product and latter gain and understanding of who it came from excites me.

    Frankly, I don't see the need for questioning the number of AA actors in Underworld. I don't see the need for every AA project to be filled with mostly AA actors. The Powers that be have controlled media since the beginning of human history (the all-time most circulated product in media to date is the Bible). And yes, said powers control more than just Hollywood............ please don't get me started on conspiracy theories, ancient aliens, and the like.

    Why have an all black cast just because?? Why not build past performance, on the level of Underworld, with multicultural casting?

  • Clay Robinson | February 8, 2014 12:52 PMReply

    In '84. there was a core group of my friends who were into sci-fi. Most friends and family weren't into it though. I remember my bedroom floor being cluttered with Star Wars action figures and playsets in the early '80s. I've always been a fan of SCI-Fi and will always be one. A great story isn't bound by setting, gender, race, or anything really.

    I've had the acting bug since I was 9 or 10 and watching Magnum P.I., Dukes of Hazzard, and the A-Team. Yet I never to even the smallest step toward making my dream come true. I've been told I'm a Will Smith/Larry Fishburne type, whatever that means. Most of the billions of adults in the world haven't gone after and/or achieved their dreams. Also, everybody loves fried chicken. Why address media trickery or others "low information" perceptions of us as a whole?

    The Underworld series is one of my favorites. Mr. Grevioux's writting and producing role wasn't known to me until yesterday. Growing up in the D.C. metro area I've known many HU grads over the years and enjoy a product and latter gain and understanding of who it came from excites me.

    Frankly, I don't see the need for questioning the number of AA actors in Underworld. I don't see the need for every AA project to be filled with mostly AA actors. The Powers that be have controlled media since the beginning of human history (the all-time most circulated product in media to date is the Bible). And yes, said powers control more than just Hollywood............ please don't get me started on conspiracy theories, ancient aliens, and the like.

    Why have an all black cast just because?? Why not build past performance, on the level of Underworld, with multicultural casting?

  • Clay Robinson | February 8, 2014 12:52 PMReply

    In '84. there was a core group of my friends who were into sci-fi. Most friends and family weren't into it though. I remember my bedroom floor being cluttered with Star Wars action figures and playsets in the early '80s. I've always been a fan of SCI-Fi and will always be one. A great story isn't bound by setting, gender, race, or anything really.

    I've had the acting bug since I was 9 or 10 and watching Magnum P.I., Dukes of Hazzard, and the A-Team. Yet I never to even the smallest step toward making my dream come true. I've been told I'm a Will Smith/Larry Fishburne type, whatever that means. Most of the billions of adults in the world haven't gone after and/or achieved their dreams. Also, everybody loves fried chicken. Why address media trickery or others "low information" perceptions of us as a whole?

    The Underworld series is one of my favorites. Mr. Grevioux's writting and producing role wasn't known to me until yesterday. Growing up in the D.C. metro area I've known many HU grads over the years and enjoy a product and latter gain and understanding of who it came from excites me.

    Frankly, I don't see the need for questioning the number of AA actors in Underworld. I don't see the need for every AA project to be filled with mostly AA actors. The Powers that be have controlled media since the beginning of human history (the all-time most circulated product in media to date is the Bible). And yes, said powers control more than just Hollywood............ please don't get me started on conspiracy theories, ancient aliens, and the like.

    Why have an all black cast just because?? Why not build past performance, on the level of Underworld, with multicultural casting?

  • Clay Robinson | February 8, 2014 12:51 PMReply

    In '84. there was a core group of my friends who were into sci-fi. Most friends and family weren't into it though. I remember my bedroom floor being cluttered with Star Wars action figures and playsets in the early '80s. I've always been a fan of SCI-Fi and will always be one. A great story isn't bound by setting, gender, race, or anything really.

    I've had the acting bug since I was 9 or 10 and watching Magnum P.I., Dukes of Hazzard, and the A-Team. Yet I never to even the smallest step toward making my dream come true. I've been told I'm a Will Smith/Larry Fishburne type, whatever that means. Most of the billions of adults in the world haven't gone after and/or achieved their dreams. Also, everybody loves fried chicken. Why address media trickery or others "low information" perceptions of us as a whole?

    The Underworld series is one of my favorites. Mr. Grevioux's writting and producing role wasn't known to me until yesterday. Growing up in the D.C. metro area I've known many HU grads over the years and enjoy a product and latter gain and understanding of who it came from excites me.

    Frankly, I don't see the need for questioning the number of AA actors in Underworld. I don't see the need for every AA project to be filled with mostly AA actors. The Powers that be have controlled media since the beginning of human history (the all-time most circulated product in media to date is the Bible). And yes, said powers control more than just Hollywood............ please don't get me started on conspiracy theories, ancient aliens, and the like.

    Why have an all black cast just because?? Why not build past performance, on the level of Underworld, with multicultural casting?

  • Clay Robinson | February 8, 2014 12:51 PMReply

    In '84. there was a core group of my friends who were into sci-fi. Most friends and family weren't into it though. I remember my bedroom floor being cluttered with Star Wars action figures and playsets in the early '80s. I've always been a fan of SCI-Fi and will always be one. A great story isn't bound by setting, gender, race, or anything really.

    I've had the acting bug since I was 9 or 10 and watching Magnum P.I., Dukes of Hazzard, and the A-Team. Yet I never to even the smallest step toward making my dream come true. I've been told I'm a Will Smith/Larry Fishburne type, whatever that means. Most of the billions of adults in the world haven't gone after and/or achieved their dreams. Also, everybody loves fried chicken. Why address media trickery or others "low information" perceptions of us as a whole?

    The Underworld series is one of my favorites. Mr. Grevioux's writting and producing role wasn't known to me until yesterday. Growing up in the D.C. metro area I've known many HU grads over the years and enjoy a product and latter gain and understanding of who it came from excites me.

    Frankly, I don't see the need for questioning the number of AA actors in Underworld. I don't see the need for every AA project to be filled with mostly AA actors. The Powers that be have controlled media since the beginning of human history (the all-time most circulated product in media to date is the Bible). And yes, said powers control more than just Hollywood............ please don't get me started on conspiracy theories, ancient aliens, and the like.

    Why have an all black cast just because?? Why not build past performance, on the level of Underworld, with multicultural casting?

  • Clay Robinson | February 8, 2014 12:50 PMReply

    In '84. there was a core group of my friends who were into sci-fi. Most friends and family weren't into it though. I remember my bedroom floor being cluttered with Star Wars action figures and playsets in the early '80s. I've always been a fan of SCI-Fi and will always be one. A great story isn't bound by setting, gender, race, or anything really.

    I've had the acting bug since I was 9 or 10 and watching Magnum P.I., Dukes of Hazzard, and the A-Team. Yet I never to even the smallest step toward making my dream come true. I've been told I'm a Will Smith/Larry Fishburne type, whatever that means. Most of the billions of adults in the world haven't gone after and/or achieved their dreams. Also, everybody loves fried chicken. Why address media trickery or others "low information" perceptions of us as a whole?

    The Underworld series is one of my favorites. Mr. Grevioux's writting and producing role wasn't known to me until yesterday. Growing up in the D.C. metro area I've known many HU grads over the years and enjoy a product and latter gain and understanding of who it came from excites me.

    Frankly, I don't see the need for questioning the number of AA actors in Underworld. I don't see the need for every AA project to be filled with mostly AA actors. The Powers that be have controlled media since the beginning of human history (the all-time most circulated product in media to date is the Bible). And yes, said powers control more than just Hollywood............ please don't get me started on conspiracy theories, ancient aliens, and the like.

    Why have an all black cast just because?? Why not build past performance, on the level of Underworld, with multicultural casting?

  • Clay Robinson | February 8, 2014 12:50 PMReply

    In '84. there was a core group of my friends who were into sci-fi. Most friends and family weren't into it though. I remember my bedroom floor being cluttered with Star Wars action figures and playsets in the early '80s. I've always been a fan of SCI-Fi and will always be one. A great story isn't bound by setting, gender, race, or anything really.

    I've had the acting bug since I was 9 or 10 and watching Magnum P.I., Dukes of Hazzard, and the A-Team. Yet I never to even the smallest step toward making my dream come true. I've been told I'm a Will Smith/Larry Fishburne type, whatever that means. Most of the billions of adults in the world haven't gone after and/or achieved their dreams. Also, everybody loves fried chicken. Why address media trickery or others "low information" perceptions of us as a whole?

    The Underworld series is one of my favorites. Mr. Grevioux's writting and producing role wasn't known to me until yesterday. Growing up in the D.C. metro area I've known many HU grads over the years and enjoy a product and latter gain and understanding of who it came from excites me.

    Frankly, I don't see the need for questioning the number of AA actors in Underworld. I don't see the need for every AA project to be filled with mostly AA actors. The Powers that be have controlled media since the beginning of human history (the all-time most circulated product in media to date is the Bible). And yes, said powers control more than just Hollywood............ please don't get me started on conspiracy theories, ancient aliens, and the like.

    Why have an all black cast just because?? Why not build past performance, on the level of Underworld, with multicultural casting?

  • Clay Robinson | February 8, 2014 12:50 PMReply

    In '84. there was a core group of my friends who were into sci-fi. Most friends and family weren't into it though. I remember my bedroom floor being cluttered with Star Wars action figures and playsets in the early '80s. I've always been a fan of SCI-Fi and will always be one. A great story isn't bound by setting, gender, race, or anything really.

    I've had the acting bug since I was 9 or 10 and watching Magnum P.I., Dukes of Hazzard, and the A-Team. Yet I never to even the smallest step toward making my dream come true. I've been told I'm a Will Smith/Larry Fishburne type, whatever that means. Most of the billions of adults in the world haven't gone after and/or achieved their dreams. Also, everybody loves fried chicken. Why address media trickery or others "low information" perceptions of us as a whole?

    The Underworld series is one of my favorites. Mr. Grevioux's writting and producing role wasn't known to me until yesterday. Growing up in the D.C. metro area I've known many HU grads over the years and enjoy a product and latter gain and understanding of who it came from excites me.

    Frankly, I don't see the need for questioning the number of AA actors in Underworld. I don't see the need for every AA project to be filled with mostly AA actors. The Powers that be have controlled media since the beginning of human history (the all-time most circulated product in media to date is the Bible). And yes, said powers control more than just Hollywood............ please don't get me started on conspiracy theories, ancient aliens, and the like.

    Why have an all black cast just because?? Why not build past performance, on the level of Underworld, with multicultural casting?

  • Donella | February 3, 2014 10:48 AMReply

    Kevin Grevioux is unfortunately contaminated by the same delusions as Viola Davis in regards to access to power, money, and influence when it comes to greenlighting Black-focused science fiction projects in Hollywood.

    Black people are not limited by dreams, imagination, or inspiration. This statement by Grevioux is just Grevioux doing "maintenance" to convince the people who've let HIM into the door that he won't cause trouble by talking out of turn.

    Black people are limited by the stereotypes of White-controlled studios, producers, and fanboys who remain convinced that Black people do not belong in science fiction.

    This White belief of Black men and women as INTERLOPER in the white-washed futuristic and fantastic world has led to white-washing of ethnic roles, white suppression of Black science fiction and fantasy works, white denial of Black interest in science fiction and fantasy, and outright hostility by white people who've thrashed Quevenzhane Wallis. Jaden Smith, and Amandla Stenberg all over the internet for daring to show their faces in science fiction and fantasy. AND THESE ARE CHILDREN!

    I strongly object to the promotion of this imaginary "BOX" and the unwillingness of S&A to address outside suppression of Black-dominated science fiction and fantasy.

    FOR INSTANCE:

    The relentless, unceasing, over-the-top ridicule of Will Smith's After Earth project.
    The marginalization of Wesley Snipes in the Blade movie series, continuing with the marginalization of the Blade character in the television series (and Tricky's Grevioux-like willingness to go along to get along).
    The optioning of Black science fiction and fantasy novels with no intention to produce.
    And closer to home, my own experience in interaction with whites who wonder who invited me to the party.

    I could go on, but whatever.

    If you're easy enough to be that convinced that Black people are too stupid to see over the rainbow, beyond the Milky Way, or maybe tomorrow we'll all be free if not today...

    Then YOU'RE the problem.

    Someone mentioned George Clinton's mothership connection... free your mind and your ass will follow.

  • monkeysuite | February 3, 2014 12:46 PM

    Self-hate is an epidemic. It can't be the system, which we already know to be racist. No, it's because we're not imagining hard enough. Just open your mind and the good white people will let you in.

  • Ken Barker | February 3, 2014 9:31 AMReply

    I had exactly ZERO actors of colour wanting to appear in my retro sci-fi movie On The Shoulders Of Giants https(colon)slash slash distrify(dot)com/films/6097

    Yes, I am a black filmmaker outside of the studio system.

    Its not exclusively Hollywoods fault.

    Good luck and best wishes to my fellow filmmakers on here - whatever your skin colour.
    Kenneth
    WOTR
    UK

  • Jeff Carroll | February 2, 2014 8:39 AMReply

    I agree with Mr. Grevious about the limited imagination of Black Americans and Black people of the diasporia. That is why I became a black Sci-fi writer. I do think times are changing and more black youth are interested in Sci-fi. I also think that there isn't enough variety of black Sci-fi. I remember being interested in Dragons, Wizards, vampires and space as a teenager but all of the books had white characters. It wasn't until I was in my 20s when I read Zuru a tale of Alien Avengers did I break away from nonfiction black history books. Then I read Street Lethal and the black Sci-fi fire was lite. I think we need more black Sci-fi because I think we will be surprised of how many fans we do have. My first Sci-fi book is a mixture of Streetlit and Sci-fi. Its like Underworld meets Man on Fire or Training Day. Its called Thug Angel Rebirth of a Gargoyle. I have been receiving amazing reviews and lots of positive feedback. People always talk about Black people don't read but yet we have millionaire authors who started selling their books on the streets of black neighborhoods. Overall I think this problem of black people and Sci-fi can be solved.

  • Timothy Holloway | December 20, 2013 4:40 PMReply

    I'm a black filmmaker and author who has experienced the difficult task of trying to break into the film industry as a black science fiction filmmaker. I've been trying since 2008 to get my novel "Peril" green-lit as a feature film. "Peril" is set in the year 2185 and features a black female lead character who struggles with her decision to terminate her pregnancy in order to captain a deep space mission to save humanity from extinction.

    While shopping the project around Hollywood it has gained the attention of many producers and was even named as "Project of the Day" on this very website. I suspect that a recent big budget film "borrowed" several aspects, plots and themes from my screenplay after I entered it into a screenplay competition which was judged by one of its writers. I won't name this film, but I will say that my last name was used in this film for one of the main characters (smh).

    As far as the difficulty in getting this project green-lit --I don't know if its a case of my being black, the lead character being black, or if its just the normal uphill struggle of an unknown/unsigned artist trying to break into the industry. With that stated, I expect that the project will eventually catch on, because it does attract much attention from industry folks.

    I'm glad that I read this article -- it's food for thought.

    For those interested "Peril" by Timothy Holloway is on Amazon and also visit periluniverse to learn about the film project.

  • Richard Murray | October 24, 2013 11:07 AMReply

    I agree with Grevioux that it is the communal context within which Black people live, the world over [India, USA, Brazil, France, Australia] whether they be descended of Africa or not that dictates our fiction. Three the hard way [70's film] where the White supremacist made a genetic black only killing bacteria, or the great Daughters of the Dust where we go into dream states, or the works of Octavia Butler, like Parable of the Sower , where it is post apocalyptic prove we have science fiction in us. Yet, in each of these stories, the communal reality on the ground comes through. As a writer myself, I don't see a lack of stories, or interest. But, the way we tell the sci-fi tale is simply different.
    This connects to how we tell our tale on stage. If you consider, the August Wilson Century Cycle up against, the works of Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller you see a fiscal narrative that is key. In a Streetcar named Desire, Blanche is an english teacher, Stella lost her plantation. A similar scenario is in a Cat on a hot tin root. In death of a salesman, Loman is a salesman. In King Hedley II , Hedley came out of prison. That doesn't occur at all with any major characters in Williams and Miller. You see that potency of the hustler, the operator of illegal fiscal acts similarly with two trains running, remember the end when he got the ham for hambone. The end is an act of theft. I jitney we have a collection of gypsey cab drivers. So, the fiscal differences in the Black community are clear in the differences between Wilson and Williams.
    All humans are human, but how each human community got to the now is different. The stories each commnity makes in different genre's from Fantasy, to Sci-Fi, to Love Stories, should be different. In Underworld, you have a tale that is it's own but has a communal feel away from the Black and to the White. This doesn't mean it is a bad story, I like underworld and Grevioux, but the kind of Sci-Fi that comes out of the Black community tends to be different, just like the crime drama's with the Kenyatta series by Donald Goines. Where like the Godfather you have a high level of murder and crime but the wrapping is Black Nationalists who want to improve and defend the community in an outwardly way, not a fundamentaly fiscally criminal organization like the Italian Mob, that helps its community from the shadows.
    I have a book that includes all forms of fiction. It is on Kobo and it is called Sunset Children Stories.
    http://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/books/Sunset-Children-Stories/xKx5q8Ex_UuzcWEBnB-z_w

  • Doctuh Buzzard, Beaufort, SC | October 22, 2013 11:25 PMReply

    Mr Grevioux and others may want to check out “Doctuh Buzzard's Rootworks” - Facebook page . This may be something we should all pay serious attention to. I'm just sayin...

    Doctuh Buzzard

  • Anonymous | October 22, 2013 12:16 AMReply

    As a black woman I enjoy both "Scandal" and "Sleepy Hollow," for different reasons. Admittedly, outside of the original "Star Trek," however, I'm not a Sci-Fi fan. And the elements that most attract me to "Sleepy Hollow," are an historical mixture with present day prose, as well as Nicole Beharie. I don't believe I would have been as interested in SH if it weren't for Beharie and the great chemistry between her and Tom Mison. When, as black people, we're able to envision ourselves as said protagonists or antagonists I believe it really helps to draw us in as potential viewers. ... At least it does for me.

  • Walter Harris Gavin | October 21, 2013 9:47 PMReply

    When I was growing up, my parents' friends, the folks I called aunts and uncles, would always tell me to shoot for the stars. If you failed to get there wasn't the point. The point was never let anyone tell you what to dream. Dreams, what happens in our imaginations is what makes us truly free. If someone controls your imagination, controls what you think is possible, if one lets that happen, one is never really free.

  • Indomitable | October 21, 2013 7:59 PMReply

    While I agree with Grevioux, I also KNOW that the elitist Jews that run the world, ALSO control the images that Hollywood puts out. These images keep people submerged in a sea of stereotypes and false beliefs. They're purpose is to keep the power structure of the US and the world at large to remain the same... white. Media is the most powerful weapon in the arsenal of these international bankers/industrialists/military defense contractors/"humanitarians" that comprise the TRUE power structure of our planet. They WANT Blacks to focus on sports/entertainment and stay out of high positions in ALL of the other industries like banking/finance, biotech, health care, construction, media, etc., and the images that they put out to young Blacks and the world, greatly help to accomplish their goal. They KNOW that if the media starts showing Blacks EQUALLY in these other fields of human endeavor in the media, it will inspire Black kids to want to aspire to something other than rappers, dancers, singers, and professional athletes. They are AFRAID of that because they KNOW that the intelligence, creativity, and willpower of Black people is extremely formidable. Yes, racism will eventually destroy the world as we now know it. Racism is a system just like communism, socialism, and capitalism. It's the system wherein one race oppresses another race by keeping them from having EQUAL access to wealth, health, positions of power, justice, and all of those good things that we ALL want access to. A racist is a member of that system that actively OR passively supports racism. This is different than a bigot, which is someone that hates another group of people. If someone of a different race than you is being oppressed in your presence and you choose to NOT help them, then YOU too are a racist because you are passively supporting the system of racism. This makes MOST non-Black Americans racist by definition. Yes, racism will eventually destroy the world as we now know it because NOTHING EVER STAYS THE SAME FOREVER. The major system of racism on the planet is called white supremacy. The most active component of white supremacy is white privilege, which is defined as :"The right, advantage, or immunity granted to or enjoyed by white persons beyond the common advantage of all others; an exemption in many particular cases from certain burdens or liabilities." ALL whites benefit from white privilege just as ALL males benefit from male privilege, and in both cases, the privileged are TAUGHT to not recognize that they are indeed privileged. To learn more about how to change the world into a better place, check out these links.
    whiteprivilegeconference.com/white_privilege.html
    amptoons.com/blog/files/mcintosh.html
    academic.udayton.edu/race/01race/whiteness05.htm

  • Cristalexi | March 23, 2014 11:31 AM

    Beautifully put. It's so sad that most people just don't get it.

  • ExodusAnimator | October 21, 2013 7:41 PMReply

    I happen to fully agree with Mr. Grevioux. We are sadly limiting our expression. When I mention the great Octavia Butler, her name is not well known in the Black community. The same can be said for authors Tananarive Due and her husband Steven Barnes, Nalo Hopkinson, Samuel Delany, and Jewelle Gomez. What's scary is that Whites know more about these authors than African Americans. We prefer to support films and books that focus on the hood, Blaxploitation, or the church. Now why is that?

    I am an animator and artist, and have seen first hand, how small the African American audience is for African american animation and arts in general. Why do we limit our support towards subject matter that promotes our stereotypes and limits creativity? Maybe it has to do with how we see ourselves, and the limitations presented to us through the media.

    For Whites, the universe is viewed as wide open. There aren't many limitations presented to them within the media and society. Not to mention that Whites do not have to deal with the barriers of racism, discrimination, and negative stereotypes.

    We need to support our creative people who choose to create outside the collective Black comfort zone. If we are so willing to pay to watch or read the likes of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Twilight, or Harry Potter, why can't we support The Xenogenesis Series, The Good House, Parable of the Sower, Blue Light, Midnight Robber, Wild Seed, Babel-17, The Gilda Stories, or The Descent of Anansi.

    Our vision needs to expand greatly.

  • Donella | February 3, 2014 12:35 PM

    Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Twilight, and Harry Potter were greenlit for production (with Twilight, Harry Potter, and the Hunger Games fast-tracked).

    Xenogenesis, Parable, Kindred, Blue Light, Futureland, and the rest have not been greenlit for production.

    The works exist. Readers exist. Film audiences exist.

    I was lucky enough to attend Octavia Butler's readings and each time, her rabid BLACK fanbase demanded film versions of several of her works. The same with Walter Mosley's science fiction works.

    The "Blacks don't understand scifi propaganda" (and propaganda is what it is) doesn't reflect what I've seen for myself.

  • Donella | February 3, 2014 12:30 PM

    Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Twilight, and Harry Potter were greenlit for production (with Twilight, Harry Potter, and the Hunger Games fast-tracked).

    Xenogenesis, Parable, Kindred, Blue Light, Futureland, and the rest have not been greenlit for production.

    The works exist. Readers exist. Film audiences exist.

    I was lucky enough to attend Octavia Butler's readings and each time, her rabid BLACK fanbase demanded film versions of several of her works. The same with Walter Mosley's science fiction works.

    The "Blacks don't understand scifi propaganda" (and propaganda is what it is) doesn't reflect what I've seen for myself.

  • Monique A Williams | October 21, 2013 2:06 PMReply

    I understand his point, but it doesn't apply to me as my Blackness has never been a limitation. I write what I like, what I wanna see. My speculative fiction isn't quite ready for prime-time, but I'm continuing to create and hone my craft. Like someone mentioned below, perhaps he should discuss mentorships instead of just identifying a small facet of a larger problem.

  • Lonita Cook | October 21, 2013 1:34 PMReply

    I disagree with all of it, even the premise that Blacks aren't into sci-fi. Black consumers are very into sci-fi, there would be no Terminator franchise, nor Matrix franchise without us...or the Black writer who created those landmark characters. I also disagree with the impetus to criticize the nature of Black environments without offering equal criticism of/for the movie industry and how it shapes the involvement of movie makers, Black or otherwise. This guy's ideas are an assault on the imagination, which is not lacking, though it seems he believes it is. That is the effect of racism. Racism allows for the denial of Black creativity (even, and sometimes especially, by Blacks). So, for all the inventors, musicians, and even filmmakers we will deny the excellent influence of Black people to give it to the mainstream and then we will blame Black people for it. For shame.

    The better question is why he creates this beautiful franchise...Underworld...yet the majority, if not all of the actors were non-Black (aside from himself). Not that they have to be Black, but that if the question on the table is why, WHY, Blacks are not involved I think we can look at his work and begin there.

    p.s. I hate the campaign of hatred against the hood. His point rises from that. But, whether or not the hood is a bad place, or if we believe it's a bad place is a "which came first, the chicken or the egg" scenario. Remember, at some point, the chicken perpetuates the egg.

  • Donella | February 3, 2014 12:22 PM

    I'm going to not only question why there weren't more Black people feature in Underworld, I'm also going to question why the lead character in I, Frankenstein wasn't portrayed by a Black man.

    There were no Black male leads available? Every last one of them were busy trying to find their way "out of the box?" No Black male lead was interested? Did they all lack "imagination" and could not "imagine" themselves in the lead role? Did Grevioux send his script out and have it turned down by every Black male actor?

    That's amazing and unbelievable.

  • geoff thorne | October 21, 2013 11:12 PM

    both those franchises– THE MATRIX an TERMINATOR– were created by white men. the line that a black woman had them stolen from her is a lie. simply not true. a lie.

    if you knew what people like us are up against in "Hollywood" you wouldn't ask why there weren't more black people in UNDERWORLD or in any film.

  • Derek | October 21, 2013 1:17 PMReply

    On first read I almost agreed with Mr. Grevioux. But then I read through the comments and saw the posting about p-funk and the mothership connection. Here's what I think: Black folk are imaginative in our own way. It's like when slave owners heard our sorrow songs and thought we were happy, rather than trying to lift each other up, transcend our circumstance and often communicate very important coded details (eg. about a planned escape, or someone who did escape). In 2013, whites (and well-meaning black folk who have a white audience), still suffer from gross misinterpretation. I've always been a fan of west coast hip hop and in my final year of film school attempted to write a mocumentary about it. I eventually scrapped the project in part because people "weren't getting it" and wrote something else. I regret it and hope to come back to the project. Again, while the mainstream focuses on the stars they (think) they understood like 2Pac or Dr. Dre, in truth there were a lot of other quirky and odd artists during the era who actually used satire and mocumentary style techniques in their interludes and music videos. I say all this to say that with everything about being black in America has a twoness, just as Du Bois identified. And we must always ask ourselves if we're seeing ourselves as ourselves (in the individual and collective sense) or as others see us. When I look I always see imagination.

  • Lonita Cook | October 21, 2013 2:59 PM

    I appreciate this response very much. Thanks for this. :)

  • OTF | October 21, 2013 11:24 AMReply

    I can see his point but I dont necessarily agree with it. I grew up in an all black inner city in the 80s and I had a core group of friends that loved sci fi, RPGs, comics etc. We played D&D at a local hobby shop every Saturday. For us, coming from an environment like this as kids actually encouraged us to imagine and dream more as an escapism tool. When everyone around you is into big gold chains, Troop suits and wanting to be Nino Brown, it was a way to create our own world to avoid that madness.

    I dont think that black kids have limited dreams due to their environment, I think the peer pressure of 'black culture' and black social norms plays a larger part in black kids not being into sci fi.

    Whether we like it or not, there is a defeatist strain in the thought process of a lot of what black people believe. Its the same reason lots of black people believe that 'black people dont swim' or that tennis and golf are 'white people' sports. Or other black kids say 'you are talking white' when you actually speak properly. It starts at a very young age too.

    I've said this before in a few different forums but I'll say it again here and many people wont like it. The very concept of 'black culture' is sort of defeatist in itself because it puts limitations on what is right or wrong in terms of what it means to be black. Black people arent the Borg from Star Trek, we are all individual people.

    What has happened is the people in charge of the money in the film and media industries have actually used these forms of media to actually define and market what it means to be black, so I'm sure black film makers and other creatives are put into boxes of what these folks believe to be the standard of what black people will consume. 'Black people dont like sci fi' is probably thrown around by Hollywood execs like a frisbee.

    Not to mention racism itself. Look at the pushback people were giving when they found out the character in the Hunger Games was black (even they there were black in the book too) or how a lot of white people frothed at the mouth when Sam Jackson was Nick Fury.

  • Nadia | October 21, 2013 11:22 AMReply

    All you folks saying that you agree with Grevioux, I assume you're black, and that you're scifi fans, and that some of you are even writers and filmmakers. So my question to you is, what're you doing about this "problem" that you're all agreeing is a "problem"? And if you're agreeing with him, you realize that you're black too right, and that he's talking about you and your brothers and sisters, cousins, nephews, and nieces. What are you doing to fix this "problem" as fans of scifi, other than sitting in front of your computer writing about this "problem" and how much you agree with it?

  • Ras the Exhorter | October 22, 2013 6:22 PM

    CareyCarey -- you lost practically all of your of credibility by saying "SCI-FI SUCKS"; a disproportionate number of the highest grossing films are sci-fi... which means a wide-spectrum consumers love the genre (this includes fantasy films like The Wizard of Oz") and avidly consume it. No way Avatar breaches a $1billion gross in the theatre if "sci-fi sucks" and mate-less, lazy film watchers and white boys living in their mother's basement are the only ones who watch these films multiple times.

    Along those lines, you'd have to claim that the vast majority of entertainment consumers have no taste; you, yourself, might not like the genre, but the empirical evidence says otherwise.

  • CareyCarey | October 21, 2013 1:01 PM

    *LOL*... Don't even do it, Nadia. All concerns are not and should not be defined as fixable "problems". I believe Grevioux was merely identifying an area of concern which may add to the never-ending question of (in simple terms) why blacks (in simple terms) are just not into Sci-fi.

    Looking at this debate from that perspective, many (rightfully so) have identified why blacks are not represented (across the board, in large numbers) in this genre. Were they "fixable" problems? Well, again, I'd say, some comments were merely testimonies of individuals who had experienced various forms of "roadblocks" in their attempt to enter the Sci-fi genre, they were not looking for solutions to a problem.

    Granted, this is not a "one size fits all" dilemma, and I don't believe Kevin was suggesting such. Hey, to a large degree, the "problem" is very simple. SCI-FI SUCKS, okay. Only mate-less nerds, lazy film watchers and white boys who live in their mother's basement, spend an inordinate amount of time watching and discussing that brainless *BOOM*--*BAM*--*WHAM*-- *BAM*. Consequently, most blacks treat that mess as if it were the Bubonic plague, aka, THE BLACK DEATH.

    Anyway, it's quite possible that those who are agreeing with Grevioux can relate to his opinion that external factors which are out of their control, may lead to one having limited dreams and opportunities. Now how can you disagree with that? Well, more specifically, why would you disagree with this--> "When you're white, your dreams go far and a lot of times that is because there are no encumbrances. The world is wide open to them in a way that isn't open for us" ~ Kevin Grevioux

  • Marie | October 21, 2013 10:20 AMReply

    I completely agree with Grevioux's comments and have often made the same argument. I often lament the lack of imagination among blacks, especially the youth. We don't dream big and unencumbered. I think it's because we're taught that since we're black, we don't have that luxury, that we have to be practical, that dreaming is for white people. We need to teach our kids that they CAN do anything they want in life. Yes, it may be harder due, but it's doable. Others have proven that one must MAKE one's own opportunities instead of waiting for someone to give them an opportunity. We need to stop focusing on the obstacles and instead focus on how to get around them. I was told not be pursue my interest in animation, that instead I should be a lawyer despite me having zero interest in that field. I'm middle-aged now and still pursuing the dream, compensating for the bad advice I got when I was younger. I intend to pursue the dream until it's realized.

  • Troy | October 21, 2013 10:44 AM

    You were discouraged. Everyone gets discouraged for different reasons. The graduated system of compensatory education doesnt discriminate humans do. So as a child you are put in a room and told to think like the rest if the class because you all have to pass the same tests. This is not specially targeted at race but at youth and adolescence. This systems seeks to squash individuality. So the sermon is with boxed in thing you can thrive and become a better citizen. Our school systems are like the community in The Giver(Of which they are making a movie for) separates children from parents and starts assigning roles. It is those few that come across a true visionary who is give the opportunity to inspire his peers. Here is when the boxed in thinking comes to fruition. It is not in the failures but the successes in verticals like sports and entertainment that incites an attack. Preachers are literally preaching against the successes of young black because of how they are portrayed by the media. Too many black people believe in conspiracy theories and negative propaganda pointed toward successful "young" black men.

  • Troy | October 21, 2013 2:54 AMReply

    Many black people watch almost every movie that comes out. Many bootleggers are selling these very movies in black neighborhoods. Many full time drug dealers watch all kinds if programming. I would say possibly at critical mass for the black male audience. How black women are definitely a more coveted demographic when it comes to film and television. Many black women of all ages enjoy sci fi and speculative fiction. I credit my mother born in 1949 for introducing me to many B movies of this type. We as a family watched all the major sci fi movies that came out over my childhood. Of which I discussed with many friends who had also seen them. Does sci fi need to hit critical mass with black women? Maybe if we are to become a force in this genre but we don't have to be in order for a small percentage of black creators focusing on this space to have success. People not black people should be the target audience. Watch yourself black sci fi creators because if it becomes too successful the church and black community will attack you guys like they do athletes and rappers.

    They stay up all night reading their comics book and drawing characters. Why can't they focus on being a lawyer or a doctor. Why don't they want to go to school for the next 8 years instead of trying to make money right now? Now black people aren't patient enough to work their way up a vertical they aren't sure they would enjoy. Every bodies comments only makes sense in the bubble of their limited perspective. No one on here typing knows what 100 black people have going so how do you know about millions. Ah, cause your not seeing finished products. Seem like the speculators are the patient ones. At 29 what level if the process am I supposed to be on compared to someone as accomplished as Kevin and Steven Forbes? Just wait and keep opening doors for others. He should've been asked how many people of color has he mentored or guide in this field. I'm sure I'm one of thousands that would live to learn from the man.

  • Daryl | October 21, 2013 1:02 AMReply

    It 's some truth in what Kevin Grevioux says but I think he misses some real points. It's plenty of black filmmakers that got the imagination to do sci fi and fantasy films. It's the white corporate structure holding us back and it's ourselves. The white corporate structure puts black writers and filmmakers in a box on the stories they can tell and the black audience and black people with money that can invest in these films put black writers and black filmmakers in a box. On the indie scene it's the actors and actresses, you can get more love doing a hood story or comedy than doing a complex sci fi film or fantasy film. You hear that bs of black people don't want to see that too many times. The reason it's like that is because the black audience has been trained on these are the films black people suppose to do and want to see, but this doesn't mean we shouldn't still do these films, we should still make them, eventually the audience will catch up and we won't be having these conversations. So I tell the black filmmakers and writers that won't to tell these stories do it, tell the stories you want to tell, don't buy into it's not black enough bs that's just something to keep your mind in chains control by the white corporate structure that want to dictate who black people are.

  • Tishauna7 | October 20, 2013 11:59 PMReply

    i think EVERYTHING that's been mentioned is the problem so everybody is right to some extent. i'm a black girl who grew up with speculative fiction. Scifi/fantasy/horror/cyber punk/steampunk/dieselpunk/genre hybrids and genre busting. but Kevin isn't wrong, it's just thatit's not the only issue, the editor is also right about blacks being pout into boxes by other black people. the poster who said that scifi isn't made often in general is also right. but i would argue speculative fiction as a whole is treated like a red headed stepchild in all mediums. so yeah that's also a issue. i also think Hollywood is reluctant to make black sci-fi/fantasy/horror films due to the belief nobody will go see them (and of course budget issues for such a risky problem). black people seem to hate dramas (outside of tyler perry) with a unparalleled passion and tends to prefer comedies (but not comedies that are like Peeples), probably due to the reasons Kevin just mentioned. yeah i know there are popular black dramas, but they're the exception to the rule. also it's hard to get funding for black projects no matter what it is. so basically we need to get past all the above hurdles.

  • Carl | October 20, 2013 8:46 PMReply

    Very True geoff thorne

  • Joe Thompson | October 20, 2013 8:44 PMReply

    As a black writer attending film school, I've been subject to all sorts of stereotypes when it came to my writing. Most of my professors and administrators have on many occasions, doubted my ability to tell a science fiction or fantasy story. Instead, they would often try to push me into comedy or drama, while questioning my diversity. This became increasingly frustrating, especially since my non-black peers weren't being questioned at all. I endured through this though, and continued to tell the kind of stories I wanted, regardless of what they were telling me.

  • geoff thorne | October 21, 2013 9:40 PM

    those "professors" are morons. you can tell them I said so. "write what you know" doesn't mean blacks can only write about blacks, city kids can only write about the city or americans can only write about americans.

    Write your heart. Write the things YOU want to see in book or film form. If a "professor" thinks otherwise, ask them please, for me, exactly how much work they've sold, what films they've written, directed, produced or otherwise caused to come into being. If the answer is anything close to "zero" then nothing they have to say on the matter of what to write or not write is valuable. Nothing.

    I'm here to tell you, and Kevin is clearly here to tell you, that you CAN write the things that fill your heart and mind and anyone who doesn't like that can sit and they can spin.

    But you do have to be excellent. You won't have the luxury of being less than excellent. That's one thing we will never get.

  • Lawrence | October 20, 2013 7:57 PMReply

    I have a sci-fi show based around black characters coming out this week. www.youtube/llw777

  • Lonita Cook | October 21, 2013 1:47 PM

    Hey, looks interesting. I'm a critic, so I'm not necessarily an artist's best friend, but I'm also a supporter and I look forward to watching.

    Congratulations, btw. This IS pretty significant. :)

  • Terrence Jenkins | October 20, 2013 7:47 PMReply

    @Sergio. No, not at all mate, not at all...Carry On!

  • TM | October 20, 2013 7:42 PMReply

    People with great "imagination" are able to get around low budgets. We need to stop using that as an excuse. See "Brother From Another Planet". See "Destination: Planet Negro". See "Primer".

  • Kevin K | October 20, 2013 7:13 PMReply

    I find this to be an interesting discussion and will relate my experience. I wrote, directed and produced a short Neo Blaxploitation Sci-Fi piece which seemed to fall under the radar on the black sites... but NOT due to me not trying to reach out to them. One black site in particular gave the piece a 10 on his WTF-o-meter. Several white sites picked it up and promoted, saying positive, even if they didn't understand it.

    So, what do I surmise from my experience? Some type of resistance to the presentation of an outside-the-box idea. Nonetheless, I will continue to proudly pursue the sci-fi/fantasy road as a person of color

  • geoff thorne | October 20, 2013 6:41 PMReply

    kevin's right. although, now, there is a small army of creators, QUALITY writers, capable of pushing down this wall. and who are doing it, regardless of what many in "our community" may find proper.

    Personally, my "peers" have never influenced what I make or don't make. Life is much too short to worry about pleasing the group.

    And, it must be said that many of the people trying to make this sort of material are so busy being black they forget to make something good. Just being black in a space suit is not enough. Just being a black magic wielder is not enough.

    Be better than the next guy, than the next ten guys. If you're not, go home.

    Blackness, alone, is nothing without excellence to support it. Excellence has NOTHING to do with skin color. Too many creators forget that.

  • Troy | October 20, 2013 6:11 PMReply

    Every time a subject is pondered dealing with a lack there of scenario facing a specific racial demographic we should be reminded to never use absolutes, making the focus of why it hasn't reached critical mass yet. Why haven't excessive numbers of people just create the art instead of planning and waiting. We can assume that many black people have seen almost every single movie distributed in the regions where black people live. Sci fi is apart of millions of black people's lives. If they can't get a" job" how are they gonna get a "job" producing sci fi? The very type of black men that you may envision peer pressuring are watching and distrubuting catalogs of science fiction content. So some may assume that a person is highly likely not to do something not easily attainable, lack of seeing someone else do it. Parents should encourage a research but ultimately it is their interest. Sci fiction writing never has to reach critical mass amongst black people even though the genre is in risky popular amongst the demographic and almost in spite of any actual prejudice in that industry. He and others may pave the way but if they all died today they'll be more eventually maybe tomorrow.

  • Michael | October 20, 2013 5:28 PMReply

    Years ago, Richard Pryor had a comedy bit about a sci-fi movie that was out in the 70s. It went something like this:
    "They had a movie of the future called Logan’s Run. There ain’t no [n-word] in it. I said, 'Well, white folks ain’t planning for us to be here.'"

  • dancelover51 | October 20, 2013 6:30 PM

    Paul Mooney actually wrote that bit for Pryor. He is the one who told Richard about the movie and said "They wrote us out of the future".

  • Afterthoth | October 20, 2013 4:11 PMReply

    I think there's a lot of truth in what he says, but the obstacles for film makers don't just exist in the mind. There are not many Black faces acting as gatekeepers in the industry to begin with.

  • THORSHAMMER | October 20, 2013 3:18 PMReply

    I agree with Kevin. We don't topple walls with Imagination. How many people of color read the Harry Potter Series or even saw the movies. I talk to people all the time and they hadn't seen those nor the LOTR trilogy. It comes down to believing in magic, something that churches deceive black people into believing is evil and a form of satanic notions.

    WE pass this nonsense of fear to our children who then stay away from stories that deal with mystery within Sci-fi, assuming it's not possible. This 'LEAD" down is a factor in why blacks don't leave their communities and venture our into the "WORLD," and I am not talking about visiting DOWN SOUTH, but actually getting on a boat or plane and venturing into other continents and discovering mysteries that contribute to better stories.

    Whites, as he state, believe they can do anything because they aren't afraid to venture....we stop ourselves from fear of pressure from others that are stuck in ruckus lines that form into crowds, stopping your vision from seeing the front lines because of height in ignorance.

    I am excited to see what he comes forward with in the future.

  • CareyCarey | October 20, 2013 1:22 PMReply

    Race ALWAYS matters but the devil's in the details. Anyone, black or white, who resists that basic fact are themselves living in an unrealistic dream world.

    Having said that, I have to question not only the motives of the wishful thinkers who vehemently object to Grevioux's proposition, I question their understanding of the human psyche. You know, that mind functioning as the center of thought, emotion, and behavior and consciously or unconsciously adjusting or mediating the body's responses to the social and physical environment of which we live, holds a different set of realities, images and such, for black folks in America than our white counterparts. Consequently, it goes without question that our dreams will be the manifestations of a world that's quite different for blacks than for those of European descent. So what fool's errand on the naysayer traveling? I mean, I can only assume what's fueling their dream-like world of wishful thinking of a world where race never matters, but I am reminded of the words of an S&A reader who said "Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference, but if you do decide to engage a fool, there will soon be two fools talking".

    Anyway, today we're fortunate to be in the company of S&A's resident film historian who has studied the ways of white folks in the film industry -- and whites in general. So I'd suggest everyone skip on down to his thought provoking and on point comment. But first, I leave with the words of another S&A reader who for some reason didn't leave their name:

    "Individuals, who happen to be black, are encumbered by race -- whether we want to be or not; it's a factor that's constantly lurking in the shadow of our daily lives in a way that is not present for whites. And that does have a conscious, and unconscious, effect on how people approach just about everything they do" ~ Anonymous

    HIP HIP HORRAY... that makes perfect sense to me.

  • Donella | February 3, 2014 12:13 PM

    Speaking of the "ways of white folks in the film industry," Hitler recognized the power of film, television, radio, magazines, newspapers, AND comics to influence the minds and hearts of the consumer.

    Since his early career experience concerned art and graphic design, he knew how to manipulate slogans with symbols and graphics to create an atmosphere of either indifference or hatred leading to complicity.

    He even knew that a spoonful of sugar would make the medicine go down way before Disney. Triumph of the Will was one type of inspiration for ethnic cleansing, but rather than harsh political drum-beating, the Nazis also used light comedic entertainment to get their message across. I'm still puzzled by Kevin Hart's insistence that white men don't fight.

    Hitler even went so far as to study Hollywood actors to learn how to perform line delivery, position his body for a strong stance, and how to gesture for the greatest effect.

    Film as propaganda has a long history in Hollywood with Birth of a Nation's deadly inspiration for the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, the end to Reconstruction, and the multi-city destruction of successful Black towns and Black businesses.

    And that's what I believe Grevioux's statements are: Propaganda to be repeated over and over and over and over, until people accept his statements as truths universally known.

  • saadiyah | October 20, 2013 1:05 PMReply

    I think Grevioux's comments are valid. I've made similar comments on this site about what I see as the lack of imagination among Black filmakers and writers. Most sci-fi films are derived from books or comics. Where is the sci-fi literature written by Blacks? Are they popular or successful commercially? Are Blacks consumers are sci-fi in large numbers?

    If those questions can be answered we can get a better understanding of how true his statements really are.

  • David Gorden | October 20, 2013 12:21 PMReply

    People that don't believe that what Kevin said is spot on let me relate to you a random story from when I was living in Atlanta. My friend and I had gone to a local comic book shop and were talking with the owner, who is black, about comics and science fiction. It just so happens that two young children were in the store. One had a comic book in his hand and his homeboy was berating him. His homeboy told him how lame he was and that he was a nerd. We interceded and shot his homeboy down but still I will never forget how defeated and embarrassed the little dude felt after getting talked to so badly by his peer. Science fiction, fantasy, and the like are not strongly supported in our community. Another case in point lets compare two of the hottest shows on television. Scandal features a black female lead who is involved in an affair with the president and her job is to clean up embarrassing situations for people in power. Sleepy Hollow features a black female lead that had a troubled youth due to an encounter with a demon and is now helping a resurrected man stave off the apocalypse. Which show do you think more black women identify with? Check your Facebook and Twitter feeds on the days that the shows are playing and you will know the answers. Lastly I go back to something my father told me when I was a child. He would make me watch Star Trek reruns he told me he never wanted my mindset to be about just my surroundings he wanted me to think beyond that. It led to my life of being a nerd and becoming a writer and an artist. We can't get mad at Kevin for saying what he said because I can relate and being a black Sci-Fi creative I have personal experience dealing with the very prejudices he is highlighting.

  • Donella | February 3, 2014 11:58 AM

    I attended a HBCU. To my surprise, the guy I dated had a comic book obsession that I didn't know about until I brought him around my guy friends who also had a comic obsession I didn't know about.

    Once they got together, it was dungeons and dragons and X-men for hours. And here, I was afraid they'd try to beat him up.

  • dancelover51 | October 20, 2013 6:49 PM

    You are spot on with the observations of Scandal vs Sleepy Hollow. I have been anticipating Sleepy Hollow for months now and was trying to build anticipation among my Black female friends. I can't tell you how many of these ladies told me that "They don't like those kind of stories" or "that looks like a big flop" or "that looks stupid" or "you know I don't watch that type of sh*t". I don't even go on Facebook on Thursday night anymore because too many sisters are talking their way through the whole episode of Scandal.

    Of course there is diversity among Black people and our tastes but I don't think it is an indictment on us to say that in general we do have particular types of tastes when it comes to art and artistic expression. No one would argue that for the most part we have specific taste in music.

    I am encouraged that there is such a lively debate on this topic because I think it underscores people's passion for seeing more opportunities in sci-fi/fantasy for Blacks and minorities as a whole.

  • Phred G. | October 20, 2013 4:13 PM

    Interesting comparison of Olivia Pope and Abby Mills. I love both shows and feel there are good at being what they are, soap opera, scifi fantasy. As black women, Abby seems a little more 'sistah' than Olivia imho.

  • Tambay | October 20, 2013 11:38 AMReply

    I think this line of thinking is actually dangerous. The argument that black imagination is limited or stunted because of any handful of external factors, is itself putting black creativity in a box. And if it's repeated enough times, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. As I think I've said before in previous posts, if blacks can write science fiction, surely we can shoot science fiction too. There are numerous black authors who have written and continue to write science fiction and fantasy novels. So certainly their imagination isn't at all challenged. And they come from the same pool of black creatives who are also filmmakers, musicians, fine artists, etc. I would further argue that, if anything, I think encumbrances like racism and poverty actually instead fuel the imagination, not hinder it. If that is your reality, then dreaming of, or imagining a world in which those burdens don't exist, can become essential to your sanity and survival. There might be some for whom Grevioux's theory may apply, but to use it as some kind of blanket explanation for why there aren't as many science fiction and fantasy films made by black filmmakers as we would like there to be, is indeed risky. There isn't as much African American representation in film to start with, when compared to the volume of white filmmakers that film schools are churning out every year. It's really an unfair and needless comparison. The creativity and imagination is certainly there, as I referenced in the myriad of black science fiction and fantasy authors, as well as in the blacks, like Grevioux himself, who create content for the screen (big and small), and shouldn't even be questioned. So, as I see it, it's not a question of a limited or stunted imagination. The evidence proves otherwise. This, to me, reads like another one of those "what's wrong with black people" CNN specials. There's a broader conversation to be had about black cinema still really being in its infancy, compared to mainstream cinema, and even compared to black literature (we've been writing since forever, allowing our literature to grow and evolve and become that much more diverse, as we have, and as we are; I can't say the same for filmmaking). The likes of Micheaux, Williams, the Johnson brothers, and a few others aside, black filmmaking (as in films written and directed by black filmmakers, starring black people) didn't really start to awaken until the 1970s, post-Civil Rights - 40 years ago. And even since then, output hasn't been as consistent - thanks to any number of factors that we've likely addressed on this blog in the past. I'd argue that black cinema, still in its "youth," is still "finding itself," and it might take several more years for us to essentially "catch up," which is why I find all the current talk of a "renaissance" or "rebirth" in black cinema fatuous. If you believe the film press, there was a black cinema renaissance 10 years ago, and 10 years before that, and still even another 10 years prior. So let's be patient, supportive (of those filmmakers we appreciate especially) and nurturing of black cinema in general, and I believe we'll eventually start to see more of the variety many of us would appreciate, instead of making these classist "clinical diagnoses" of black pathology as an encumbrance to black imagination and creativity.

  • John | October 20, 2013 7:41 PM

    THANK-YOU THANK-YOU THANK-YOU Tambay. I am a science fiction/fantasy writer published by Warner Aspect Books. There is no lack of Black writers whose works are WILDLY speculative, greatly imaginative, amazingly insightful, incredibly emotional and just plain ol' entertaining. What there IS a lack of is OPPORTUNITIES for us to get our works to a wider audience.

  • CareyCarey | October 20, 2013 4:41 PM

    "I think this line of thinking is actually dangerous. The argument that black imagination is limited or stunted because of any handful of external factors, is itself putting black creativity in a box. And if it's repeated enough times, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy"

    Stop right there my friend the editor who I will champion when I believe you're on the right path. But today, your premise, that premise to your argument has to be examined with a keen eye on details. Case in point, since every action is precipitated by a thought, if one focuses on the matters of race as they are presented in the context of Grevioux's argument, it's not wise to minimize and/or cheapen his points to a mere "handful of external factors". Those factors, more specifically, those racial factors, those fine details as they pertain to Grevioux's evolution of the dream sequence, has to be given the utmost respect. Consequently, if one believes a person can only create what the mind conceives (all actions follow a thought) then it goes without question that a black individual's perplexing set of circumstances are quite different than whites... and so goes his dreams.

    All that to say, it's disingenuous to suggest Grevioux's argument is putting us in a box, the reality is, the box has been placed upon us.

    Granted, there are black authors who have written and continue to write science fiction and fantasy novels who dreamed beyond the stars, but that minuscule minority segment of the black community does not speak for nor represent the overwhelming majority of blacks who are encumbered by the racial realities of this world. I would further argue that suggesting racism and poverty fuels the imagination is again, a woefully ambiguous suggestion that begs for further investigation.

    In the context of this debate, we are not talking about simple "imagination". Granted, everyone has the ability to "imagine" but today we are discussing the fine details of the images which shape the products of said imagination. We're discussing whether or not a black man's dreams - which are shaped by his realities - can be (and in many cases are) different than that of a white person. I believe the answer to that quandary is a resounding YES. So, to the suggestion that "encumbrances like racism and poverty actually instead fuel the imagination, not hinder it," I am forced to reply "hold up Mr. Oberson, don't make your move too soon. Every closed eye is not asleep and the devil is always in the details". The fact is, racism and poverty, which leads to less opportunities to experience life in all its wonderment, as experienced by whites, will definitely hinder one's ability to dream outside their world. A world fraught with boundaries and roadblocks designed to keep them in a box (which you conveniently implied was a figment of our imagination or of our own doing) is not something to poo-poo or cast away as frivolous poppycock. Nor should we misguidedly define this issue as a self-fulfilling prophecy of doom and gloom. To do so is akin to saying racism and poverty which leads to a plethora of missed opportunities, is a figment of our imagination. So we should walk on by Kevin's opinion, smile, and keep our mouths shut, because, by and by, if we're patient, stay mum, stay quiet (as you inferred) our pie in the sky will come, some day.

  • Frances | October 20, 2013 2:41 PM

    I completely agree, Tambay! And I disagree wholeheartedly with Kevin Grevioux. His analysis is liberal but not critical.

    I would never say that Black folk are less imaginative because of external factors. In fact, if socio-economics play into it, I would venture to say that poverty breeds MORE imagination. Have you worked with young kids of different social strata and seen how some are engrossed in iPads vs. building entire metropolises from cardboard boxes? Also, spend a night sitting with an African elder and you'll hear of spiritual worlds that are far more detailed than Mordor or Pandora or Hogwarts.

    I hate these essentializing arguments, no matter how well-intentioned.

    The issue is who is ENCOURAGED to imagine. There is little black representation in mainstream film because mainstream film is controlled by white people. And how do white people want to see black people? In ways they can superficially connect with (read: pity and/or fear): gangsters, ghetto stories, drug dealers, tokens, ratchetry. And they can smile because they get and accept black culture. Woohoo! They want The Wire and Orange is the New Black. I'm sorry, I don't care how well-written these shows are. On the surface, these characters seem fluid and complex because the actors portraying them are KILLING IT. But it all still fits into the same rubric. I'm still always on set with Yale-educated, Juilliard-educated black actors who—after chatting with me during break—have to slide on their do-rags, put on "black accents," and play thug-types.

    Who do we give permission to imagine?

  • mawon | October 20, 2013 10:13 AMReply

    A lot of these "issues" with black creativity are blown out of proportion. First of all, there aren't many sci-fi movies being produced period. Unless there's well-known superhero involved, good quality sci-fi is few and far between. Why? Maybe because generally speaking, most artists prefer to write from reality when interpreting the world. This has nothing to do with limiting oneself creatively. Just because Steve McQueen chooses not to make a dystopian future the backdrop of his stories, doesn't mean oppression stunted his imagination. That's an elementary way of looking at story-telling. And you could say the same for white artists. Of all the top filmmakers these days white or black, how many of them have built their work on sci-fi? Two? Three?

    There are as many black sci-fi creatives as there needs to be. The seemingly lacking number doesn't represent some insight into the black psyche. Any statements suggesting this are like Dr. Boogie said, evidence of self-hate. Black people always think they're not good enough. It's shocking to me that after all our amazing creative achievements, we'll still claim our imaginations aren't wide enough. What nonsense.

  • Dr. Boogie | October 20, 2013 9:44 AMReply

    Pure ignorance.

    Ronald McNair (See Youtube video Eyes on the Stars)
    Parliament/Funkadelic-->The Mothership Connection
    "Planet Rock" Soul Sonic Force/Cosmic Force
    Sun Ra

    Poverty and racism stunts imagination? Preposterous. Anecdotal internalized racist nonsense. This is no more valid than Keenan Thompson, Don Lemon, and Ben Carson's latest escapades into victim blaming and faux sociology. Black people have NEVER let life circumstance and challenges limit how far they can dream, imagine and create. Pick ANY decade and you find creative genius imagining worlds beyond their immediate circumstances and as the American culture's fascination with science fiction emerged, Black people were a part of the move also. He needs to have a seat or go read a history book. Even Martin Luther King, Jr. had time to be a Star Trek fan.

  • John | October 20, 2013 7:43 PM

    Thank-you too.

  • mawon | October 20, 2013 9:57 AM

    I'm glad somebody dissented.

  • Anonymous | October 20, 2013 2:12 AMReply

    "When you’re white, your dreams go far and a lot of times that is because there are no encumbrances. The world is wide open to them in a way that isn’t open for us. So when their reality is taken care of, it’s like, ‘Okay well we can dream about this. We can do this. We can do that.’ For us, it’s a little different."

    Grevioux's comments are completely spot on, but I don't see them as being limited to Sci-Fi moviemaking. I think what he said about "reality" being taken care of could be attributed to lots of different dreams that black people have. ... Even for blacks who come from solidly, well-educated middle and upper middle class backgrounds. ... We still struggle, as a people, on varying levels, with racism and how it effects our individual abilities to break through glass ceilings of every stripe. And because we don't have natural networks, it makes it that much more difficult to dream, freely, and go about the task of simply being able to focus on the work -- whatever it may be (i.e. being an astronaut, an opera singer, a classical musician, a French teacher, a professional tennis player, gymnast or golfer, Fill-in-the-blank).

    Individuals, who happen to be black, are encumbered by race -- whether we want to be or not; it's a factor that's constantly lurking in the shadow of our daily lives in a way that is not present for whites. And that does have a conscious, and unconscious, effect on how people approach just about everything they do.

  • Andre Seewood | October 20, 2013 12:04 AMReply

    I think that Grevioux's comments are right on target with regards to African-Americans and Science Fiction, because the question is not one of budget, creativity or motivation. Many great science fiction films have been made on shoe string budgets, but what passes for science fiction today has us distracted by costly (and often unconvincing) CGI. Although, I would add to Grevioux's observations the fact that Black writers of science fiction are often confronted and/or deterred by what I might define here as: The Paradigm Choice. That is to say, the Black Science Fiction writer is forced to choose between whether or not racial inequities, injustices and prejudices are to be carried forward into the speculative world they are creating or have these inequities, injustices and prejudices been resolved in their speculative world. It's not just a matter of "ignoring" race, which seems like an option only White science fiction writers and filmmakers can do by merely casting Whites as the leads in their movies, it is a matter of building the conflicts within these speculative worlds upon ideas beyond racial differences or whether to retain the racial aspects of these conflicts. It is a choice that can ultimately disengage the writer/filmmaker from the work because where White science fiction can "ignore" race (i.e. eliminate racial conflict by eliminating or toning down racial differences among the cast in a variety of seductive strategies) the "reality" that comes into play for the Black science fiction writer/filmmaker has its roots in race and how have the ongoing racial conflicts been resolved or carried forward into the future or speculative world. My suggestion is that the Black science fiction writer/filmmaker do two things at once to get beyond the Paradigm choice; that is build their speculative world upon ideas that are beyond race and carry the racial inequities, injustices and prejudices forward in ways that allow the viewer to see the story from two different perspectives (the race based and the conflict based). The technique is to be found in those seductive strategies of White writers and filmmakers who believe they are eliminating racial conflicts by eliminating or toning down racial differences within their casts. If we are being seduced by "them" can not they be seduced by "us"?

  • BluTopaz | October 19, 2013 11:53 PMReply

    I agree with his assertion that it's often difficult for us to think in the abstract because we tend to focus on daily survival. I think one of the biggest ironies about this topic is that much of global history concerning African descendants sounds like dystopic science fiction itself. Groups of beings separated from their homeland, distributed all over the planet as merchandise for an evil tribe from another land, often considered not human, etc.

  • dancelover51 | October 19, 2013 11:29 PMReply

    I think Kevin is spot on with his comments and could not have put it better myself. People are shaped by the realities around them and that in turn shapes their art. However, I think that as some Blacks have made progress economically you will see a diversification of the film and art we create.

  • Ted | October 19, 2013 9:37 PMReply

    I don't find Grevioux's conjectures particularly persuasive. And if artists are influenced by "peer pressure" than I have zero interest in their work anyway. Great artists go beyond conventions and expectations.

    I think the main story here is one of budget. Studios are unwilling to extent the budgets necessarily to do a proper Sci-Fi film to black filmmakers. Great low-budget science fiction isn't impossible (see Marker's "La Jetee" or Godard's "Alphaville"), but it limits your possibilites severely. I think a lot of black filmmakers, who have trouble getting financing anyway, opt for easier projects.

    I also think there is a tendency among black filmmakers to want to tell their stories. Cinema has, and continues, to ignore the lives of black people - as they are lived. In black American cinema, even going as far back as Oscar Micheaux, there has been this craving to tell our stories because they aren't usually told. I think this drive still exists because our stories are still neglected by mainstream cinema.

  • sergio | October 19, 2013 10:48 PM

    I fail to see how making a low budget sci-fi "limits your possibilties" as you say. If you have to imagination to work with what you have and a good story, then how does this create a problem?

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