When African and African American children think about superheroes or an imaginary future what models exist for them to aspire to. The movie and television industry is riddled with new champions of liberty and freedom, but too often these characters are portrayed as side kicks or subordinates and do not present young people with models they can follow. Black girls especially lack adequate examples of imaginary characters who live lives of substance in impact in some future or past world. Many times in science fiction, black people in particular and black women specifically are conspicuously absent.
One series that has been traditionally inclusive of images of Black male heroes is Star Wars. Since early on in the story, Black male characters have appeared as important characters and helped to elevate the story and the film in the African American community. Though Star Wars captured the imagination of many young Black boys, Black girls will still left without an image or an character to rally behind.
Edutainment for Equity has been engaged in a number of projects aimed at restoring pride in Black people. From the media of Antique Naked Soul to the art and performance of Young Gifted and Black of Oakland, E4E works on designing products and programming to forward pride as a tool of healing and restoration. Much of the work with adults centers around creating and training allies to be more effective and impactful, by providing them with insight and frameworks to improve their professional and inter-personal practices. With the youth our work has been about arming them with history, poetry, and songs that serve as tools of instruction and platforms for the expression of their identities.
Town Futurist has been a key media production partner for E4E, assisting in the creation of much of the video content, in archiving documentation and producing events. Together they have created a number of great films including "Burn", "Remember", and "Nappy". In partnership with Refa One of Aerosoul and the founders of the online platform Black Girls Create, "Dark Star Universe" is an art project that includes the development of customized Star Wars characters, stories and worlds that forward a Black identity. The central stories follow two main characters, Admiral Nommo formerly of the Galactic Empire and General Asan Tewa Jedi Knight and former pad wan to Mace Windu.
The DarkStarUniverse.com project is currently in development and fundraising stage, including the design and facilitation of a curriculum to build dioramas of other worlds with Black children. The project is aimed at kids who are 5 - 15 and will include workshops, stop motion films, animation, children books and eventually even a full length film. We are inventing characters and stories that will be inspiring to Black youth and will empower them to see themselves in an imagined future. We are just at the beginning stages, with plans to incorporate the music of Antique Naked Soul and much more of the customized art of Refa One and Aerosoul.