February Tempest Challenge Day 2

Black Women in 19th Century American Life | Tempest Challenge BHM

A couple of years ago I wrote a piece for NPR Books highlighting literature that proves Black people existed in certain time periods (despite popular misconception) and that, where they existed, they were more than just The Help. My favorite of the books I mentioned is Black Women in Nineteenth-Century American Life: Their Words, Their Thoughts, Their Feelings. I like this one best because it’s a collection of contemporary writings by these women, not just about them. One of the best ways to understand history and the people in it is to read their own words.

The biggest reason I wanted to include this book is because it contains the writings of Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler:

The first African American to publish a medical text… also the first black woman to earn a medical degree. She wasn’t alone in this for long; within a few years she was joined by Rebecca J. Cole and Susan McKinney Steward, and by 1900 there were also Matilda Arabella Evans, Ida Gray Nelson Robbins, Eliza Ann Grier, and Sarah Parker Remond.

For Remond, her career as a doctor was a second one. She was a prominent lecturer and abolitionist who traveled throughout the US and to Europe to lecture against slavery, rouse foreign support for the Union cause, and advocate for freedmen once the war ended. She retired to Florence, Italy — where she earned a medical degree and set up a practice that lasted for 20 years. She never went back to America.

Did you ever learn about this woman in school? I sure didn’t. Just like we didn’t learn about Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, or Mary Jackson of Hidden Figures fame.

February Tempest Challenge Day 1

Tempest Challenge: Black History Month Edition

Black History Month 2017 has already gotten off to a dubious start, at least in Washington. Not that this is very surprising. Within that rambling mess of a speech you may note that the specific names mentioned are the names we always hear during February’s festivities–King, Parks, Tubman, Douglass–names that reflect the narrowness of most Black History teachings. Most white people (and, sadly, far too many Black people and other POC) will only hear about Slavery and The Civil Rights Struggle as if these are the only two significant periods in Blackness and as if the people associated with those eras are the only people worth remembering. This is bullshit, of course. Let’s change that.

The Tempest Challenge has been on a hiatus, and the vids will continue to be as I work out what I want to do with that project over the long term. For this, though, I don’t need vids, just a blog.

Here’s what I challenge you to do every day during the month of February: Read something by a Black person that isn’t only about pre-Civil War American slavery, the Civil War, or the Civil Rights Era.

Read fiction, non-fiction, articles, letters, whatever, as long as it’s written by a Black person. Don’t limit your definition of Black Person to African-Americans. Black covers the African diaspora and writers currently in Africa and is not limited to people descended from those brought to the Americas as slaves.

Every day this month I or someone who is awesome will offer you a suggestion here for what to read. Feel free to drop your own suggestions in the comments. Use the #TempestChallenge hashtag on Twitter or Instagram to share your favorite reads.

To get us started, my first suggestion is The Space Traders, a short story by Derrick Bell. You can read it online or you can pick up a copy of Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora and read it there.

There are two pieces of fiction that so effected me that they jacked me up for years after reading them. The first was Kindred by Octavia Butler. The other is The Space Traders. Thought they’re very different stories, the reason they jacked me up so hard is the same. They are both so true that it scared me as a Black person. With Kindred, I easily pictured myself as Dana and thought about what would happen to me if I found myself in her position. I didn’t think I would have survived. It scared me to think that. With The Space Traders, I pondered what would happen if the incident that kicks off the story happened in America right then (I first read this in the early 2000s when Bush 2 was in office) and realized that it would play out as written, which was an upsetting thought.

Bell published this story in 1992. One might have been lulled into thinking that it wasn’t prophetic during the eight years Obama was in office. I challenge anyone to read that story today and tell me that it’s not entirely possible.

If you don’t think so, then you don’t know your Black History.


Tempest Challenge #23 – Hell by Kathryn Davis

I love having guests on the Tempest Challenge! They often introduce me to books I hadn’t heard about, and, after hearing them talk about said book, I want to run right out and read them. Such is the case with this week’s book, Hell, written by Kathryn Davis and praised to the sky by Maria Dahvana Headley.

“All of the sentences are going to kill you, they’re so good,” Maria says about this and all of Kathryn Davis’ books. This short, experimental work “rewards multiple readings” and should be appreciated by everyone.

I hope you’ll also check out Maria Dahvana Headley’s books and short stories–I have enjoyed many of them and I’ll tell you why in upcoming Challenge videos.

Would love to hear your thoughts on Hell on the #KTBookChallenge tag on Twitter and Tumblr or the comments here or on YouTube. And, as always, you can support me making Tempest Challenge vids by clicking the links below when you…

Buy Hell from Powell’s or Amazon.

 

Tempest Challenge #22 – Women are DESTROYING EVERYTHING

The “Women Destroy” issues of Lightspeed, Fantasy, and Nightmare Magazine are master classes in how women have always been important to all of these genres–yes, even science fiction. They’re really anthologies with a mix of original fiction, reprints, flash, essays, and author interviews.

In this video I talk about a few of my favorites and about the importance of these issues to the genre, both present and past. If you have ever wanted to introduce someone to SF, fantasy, or horror and give them a taste of modern as well as classic, this is an excellent place to start.

Would love to hear your thoughts on how women are destroying everything on the #KTBookChallenge tag on Twitter and Tumblr or the comments here or on YouTube. And, as always, you can support me making Tempest Challenge vids by clicking the links below when you…

Buy Women Destroy Science Fiction directly from the publisher, at Powell’s, or at Amazon. Buy Women Destroy Fantasy directly from the publisher, at Powell’s, or at Amazon. Buy Women Destroy Horror directly from the publisher, at Powell’s, or at Amazon.

 

TempestvChallenge Delicious Foods

Tempest Challenge #21 – Delicious Foods by James Hannaham

Another guest challenger for this video: Gabriel Squailia, author of Dead Boys. Gabriel is actually taking the Tempest Challenge and this is the first book he read for it. Delicious Foods by James Hannaham sounds like a super intense book for many reasons, including the fact that Crack cocaine is a viewpoint character. “A silky, Satanic voice,” according to Gabriel. That’s deep.

Would love to hear your thoughts on Delicious Foods on the #KTBookChallenge tag on Twitter and Tumblr or the comments here or on YouTube. And, as always, you can support me making Tempest Challenge vids by clicking the links below when you…

Buy Delicious Foods from Powell’s or Amazon.

Tempest Challenge Ink

Tempest Challenge #20 – Ink by Sabrina Vourvoulias

Last year at ReaderCon I asked some friends to be guest challengers for the Tempest Challenge and several said yes! Score. This is the first of those videos. Author Gabby Reed, who is the best, talks about why you should read Ink by Sabrina Vourvoulias. It’s a book that deals with issues around immigration, which is in no way relevant to current events, right? Science fiction, oh you.

Would love to hear your thoughts on Ink on the #KTBookChallenge tag on Twitter and Tumblr or the comments here or on YouTube. And, as always, you can support me making Tempest Challenge vids by clicking the links below when you…

Buy Ink from Powell’s or Amazon.

My head superimposed on leonardo dicaprio accepting the oscar

Awards Season Is Upon Us #1: My Eligibility

Hugo Award voting opened not long ago, and the Nebula nominations are out. Awards season is in full swing! And that means it’s time (long past time, actually) for me to mention that I generated some award-eligible content last year. And I’ll be honest: I would indeed appreciate you considering me when you fill out your ballots[1].

My head superimposed on leonardo dicaprio accepting the oscar

I didn’t publish any fiction last year (damn novel taking up all my energy), so all my eligible works are in other categories.

Best Related Work: io9 Newsstand

“Works of literary criticism” fit in this category, and my io9 column fits that label. Every week I posted links to short fiction (stories, novelettes, novellas) that I loved and wanted everyone to read. I hope I also shined a light on stories and authors the io9 audience wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

Best Fancast: JEMcast

Just in case you think Jem and the Holograms was not a genre show, I will remind you that it was about a woman who changed her appearance via hologram-generating earrings controlled by an AI that was magically able to connect to government computers via wireless Internet, which did not exist in 1985, when the show happens. And that’s not even getting into the time travel.

Every week on the JEMcast we analyze (and sometimes make fun of) an episode of the show. We also provide commentary on Jem-related stuff, such as the movie we’ve already all forgotten exists. I love our little show and I’m very proud of the episodes we produced last year and continue to produce this year.

Links to some of my favorite episodes:

Best Fancast: The Tempest Challenge

Fancast includes vlogs, and thus my challenge videos are also eligible. I didn’t produce that many last year, though, so I’m putting more effort into boosting the signal for JEMcast. However, I will not stop anyone from nominating the videos as well.

Some of my best:

Best Fan Writer: K Tempest Bradford

Writing from my blog is what counts toward this–well, the blog and social media posts and such, perhaps? I’m not the most prolific blogger these days. Though when I do write I tend to drop a bunch of stuff at once then go back to social media.

Here is the link to all my 2015 posts and here are a few I’m particularly proud of from last year:

And that’s it. As I said, I hope you will consider me when making your nominations. In my next post I’ll list the stories and other stuff I loved from last year that I think you should also consider.

 

Footnotes

  1. Do I need to put a disclaimer here saying NO SLATES, OH GOD, NO SLATES? I doubt it. Just in case: No slates, y’all. Nominate stuff you love and vote for what you think is best.[]
TC Razorhurst

Tempest Challenge #19 – Razorhurst by Justine Larbalestier

Razorhurst is set in Sydney, Australia 1932. The protagonists are women and the characters AREN’T all white. What. How can this be? It’s a sneaky plot by Justine Larbalestier to make her books realistic and relevant or something. Justine continues to eschew uncomplicated and simple narratives about young people with this amazing historical novel. If you haven’t read her other books, start here and work your way back and do not pass Liar or How to Ditch Your Fairy on your way to GO.

Would love to hear your thoughts on Razorhurst on the #KTBookChallenge tag on Twitter and Tumblr or the comments here or on YouTube. And, as always, you can support me making Tempest Challenge vids by clicking the links below when you…

Buy Razorhurst from Powell’s or Amazon.

Tempest Challenge Uprooted

Tempest Challenge #18 – Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Next up on the Challenge: Uprooted. This novel is on the Nebula ballot for best novel and I am thrilled that this is so. The book deserves it. I’m still trying to figure out how Naomi Novik squeezed an entire trilogy’s worth of worldbuilding, plot, and action into a single book. It’s a thick book, sure. Not that thick, though! And yet it feels like in the hands of a less skilled writer this would be a sprawling trilogy with a middle book that leaves readers frustrated until they read the end. Skip all that and just read this.

Would love to hear your thoughts on Uprooted on the #KTBookChallenge tag on Twitter and Tumblr or the comments here or on YouTube. And, as always, you can support me making Tempest Challenge vids by clicking the links below when you…

Buy Uprooted from Powell’s or Amazon.

Gods of Egypt you done fucked up

Gods of Egypt is a Racist, Whitewashed Failure of a Movie

Gods of Egypt has been a problem since the final casting was announced and people started petitions against it. And yet Lionsgate Films and the director chose to ignore people’s upset over a whitewashed Ancient Egypt pantheon of gods. And now their movie is a big, fat financial bomb.

Good.

Serves them right.

When reviewers got ahold of this movie they tore it to shreds. It has a 13% score on Rotten Tomatoes (up from 10% a couple of days ago. Progress!). Everyone with sense is saying this movie is not funny haha cult following bad, it’s horrendous.

Charlie Jane Anders’ review on io9 is titled “Murder Is Legal and Torture Is Mandatory, Because Gods of Egypt Exists” and opens thusly:

The moment I walked out of a screening of Gods of Egypt, I set about building a massive throne out of human pelvises. I worked feverishly through the night, barely pausing to listen to the sounds of the city fracturing into seven brutal revels: a chainsaw maze, a great pit full of vengeful lobsters, a poisoned rave, and so on. As I climbed at last atop my pelvic majesty, I had a perfect view of the inundation of viscera that had turned the very streets into canals: For even if nobody else ever saw this movie, its very existence was enough to sunder every human relation for once and ever. There could be no language, no society, no kindness, after Gods of Egypt.

How did this happen? Why didn’t somebody involved with the creation of Gods of Egypt realize what they were setting in motion, and that this movie was not just bad, but obscenely, devastatingly bad?

There are so many wonderfully funny bits in this review that I can’t quote them all. Here are a few more, but read the whole thing, please:

Gods of Egypt has been justly criticized for its policy of casting white people as almost all of its Egyptian characters—to the point where it might be the first movie whose director apologized months before it was released. But the casting is just one of the many problems that eat away at this movie, which seems to have fed slices of Egyptian cultural traditions into a typical Hollywood “Save the Cat Goddess” structure, to try and create something familiar and comfort-foody, with an exotic veneer.

…loosely based on Egyptian mythology, if the Egyptian gods were mostly white people who could turn into animal robots, sort of like Transformers.

…every few minutes, the movie asks us to care about stakes-raising weird ideas like …“Set has stolen the glowing blue brain of the only black person in the movie!”

…you don’t get the impression that any of the human characters actually worships these gods or considers them more than just oversized people with random powers.

But for the most part, Gods of Egypt feels like such an abdication of story, and such a bastardization of culture, that the only sane response is to abandon sanity, and enlist in the murder-police of the senseless new era.

Good.

Serves them right.

Some other reviewers also mentioned the whitewashing thing, but didn’t make it a central part of their review. Not like Scott Woods, who just went in with “Gods of Egypt is the most racist film ever“:

For the record, I’m going to spoil the shit out of this movie because a) you have no business seeing it even for free, and b) fuck this movie.

Gods of Egypt is the most racist film in the last one hundred years. It is the most diabolically conceived, politically incorrect, and unapologetically racist film since The Birth of a Nation (the 1915 white one, not the 2016 black one, and how cool is it that we have to clarify that now?). It is more racist than Song of the South and Soul Man, which is no small feat. It is more racist than Mississippi Burning, The Revenant, The Help and Dragonball Evolution. It is more racist than the eye-rolling Bringing Down the House and The Last Samurai. It manages to somehow be more racist than Blendedand Dances With Wolves. It is more racist than Dangerous Minds and its didn’t-bring-shit-to-the-party cousin, Freedom Writers. It is magically more racist than The Green Mile. It has unseated my standing favorite, The Lone Ranger, for most racist movie, and I thought Johnny Depp’s Tonto was going to get us to at least 2020.

Damn, son.

Here’s how Gods of Egypt beat the high score:

When you do something wrong and you don’t know any better, that’s a crime of ignorance. You don’t know or understand the ramifications of what you’re doing, or you’re too stupid to see how what you’re doing is wrong. Matchbox Twenty singer Rob Thomas joking that he drinks until he becomes a “black Australian” is a racist act borne out of his ignorance. He says he didn’t know about the history and politics of the association, fine, you’re ignorant (and racist). The KKK, on the other hand, is willfully ignorant. It is not a group of blissfully unknowing individuals. There is nothing accidental about their racism. They know that the things they do are uninformed and illegal and wrong. They just don’t care.

This is the way in which Gods of Egypt is racist: the filmmakers know that the film is wrong. Not historically inaccurate…flat-out wrong. They knew that people would gather and point out that it was wrong. They did not care that it was wrong. They made the film the way they wanted to make anyway.

And he’s not wrong. The director knew from jump what he intended to do. Perhaps he got a little worried at one point and called up Ridley Scott, who was in the final stages of filming another racist whitewashed epic set in Egypt, and asked “Should I abandon the idea of casting white people as leads in my movie?” and Scott probably said to him, “Nah, son. You can’t mount a film with that budget and say that your lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such.[1]

You need to go read all of Scott Woods’ review/essay as well, as he breaks down all the reasons why the racism, the whitewashing, and even the token casting of one brown dude is a huge and serious problem[2].

All of this is enough, really, to condemn Gods of Egypt for all time. And so I feel silly even mentioning this. But… it makes me mad that this movie messes up Egyptian mythology so badly.

Not even on the I’m Black And Ancient Egypt Is My Heritage level[3]. As a person who has studied mythology and other aspects of a few ancient cultures, it fills me with rage when media properties treat mythologies as interchangeable. The first time I saw the trailer for this trasheap of a movie, my second thought (after ‘goddamn whitewashing!’) was: Horus is not Odin, you douchcanoes.

After reading the plot summary on Wikipedia, I am even more enraged. Ra is not Odin, either (nor as terrible a father; what the hell). Set is not Hades. Hathor is not Aphrodite or Persephone. Horus IS NOT THOR FROM THE MCU. Egyptian Sphinxes do not tell riddles! The Egyptian afterlife is not Hell!

I think I discovered why all but one of the main characters in this movie are white. Because someone thinks that Egypt is in the suburb of Greece where the Norse gods come to visit on holiday[4].

Honestly, Egyptian mythology and cosmology is far more complex and less straightforward than Greek mythology seems from the myths most people know. And attempts to make it straightforward and just like the myths we know result in crap like this. It could be cool for some movie to attempt to translate some of that complexity to the screen. For someone to use film to show how Egyptian spiritual conceptions were quite different from the other folks in nearby regions.

This is too much to hope for, I think. Especially in light of the fact that white Americans still put tattoos of Ganesha on their bodies because that’s rad, dude, and Hinduism is a living religion.

It’s only a small consolation that this movie is going to bomb and the studio has lost massive money and the bad reviews will chase the director for a while and maybe make him cry on his pillow at night. Too bad a slew of shit reviews and the loss of money won’t be enough to stem the tide of racist whitewashing in Hollywood.

Footnotes

  1. This is based on Scott’s real life explanation of why he cast all white folks: “I can’t mount a film of this budget, where I have to rely on tax rebates in Spain, and say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such. I’m just not going to get it financed. So the question doesn’t even come up.” I am not making this up.[]
  2. Don’t read the comments. Here, I’ll summarize them for you: Egyptians are not Africans and never have been and anyone who thinks Egypt had black people in it is stupid and arglebargleN-word.[]
  3. Which, to be honest, is not where my feelings about Ancient Egypt are based. I mean, since I don’t have the ~luxury~ of being able to trace my ancestry back to any specific location on the African continent, I embrace all ancient African knowledge, art, and culture as being part of my in general heritage as a human person whose near ancestors came from the place. But I don’t think my 10 times great-grandfather was a Pharaoh or anything.[]
  4. Imma stop all you BUT WHAT ABOUT THE PTOLEMYS folks right here. Because while there is a ton of cultural crossover between Egypt and Greece and Macedonia and other cultures in the region, it was the distant past people who we collectively call Greeks who were influenced by Egypt first. Also, I do not mean to imply that the Greek peoples are white, only that the Western perception of Greeks, or at least Ancient Greeks, as white, is what drives the nonsense behind Gods of Egypt.[]