Notes from a Bookseller: Black Future Month

Rasa is young, gifted and Black. They are a branch bookseller who loves a good story.

When artists play with the future, they confront the end of the world. To me, such an event symbolizes transformation, an opportunity for better days to come. 

When asked to speculate on the legacy of anti-Black racism in the United States of America, James Baldwin offers, 

“I can't be a pessimist because I am alive. To be a pessimist means that you have agreed that human life is an academic matter. So, I am forced to be an optimist. I am forced to believe that we can survive, whatever we must survive.”

I’ll venture a step further. Black folks deserve beauty. We deserve abundance!

He continues, “But the future of the Negro in this country is precisely as bright or as dark as the future of the country.”

The task of survival takes attention away from abundance. It is hard enough to stay nourished, let alone inspired. However it takes creativity to reimagine and invest in systems that serve all Black communities, particularly those with intersections of gender, sexuality, immigration status, ability and class. Promoting these creators enables us to learn their vision of the world directly from them. Their leadership in their own liberation is paramount.

These books I offer explore Black future across genres. These works of fiction are boundless in their exploration of personhood, place and purpose. The format of science fiction empowers storytellers to see time as malleable. Just as we can be weighed down by historical traumas, we heal our pasts by laying claim to our futures. I have also included works of non-fiction in acknowledgment of those organizers, activists, and laborers keeping the future never too far from the present.

There are actions we can all take to invest in Black futures—redistributing funds to individuals and activists is a tangible way to do so. Also, paying the Black creators who protect our humanity and hearing Black voices across all genres.

Moments of uncertainty provide opportunities to enact change. We all can prioritize efforts that value, support and protect those of us who have been intentionally forgotten. Future worlds empower us to explore new models of kinship, commerce, mutual aid, community protection.

N.K. Jemisin begins The Fifth Season with a reminder, “The ending of one story is just the beginning of another. This has happened before, after all. People die. Old Orders pass. New societies are born.”

What if the future was Black? Oh, how beautiful life could be!

The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316229296
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Orbit - August 4th, 2015

The Intuitionist: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385493000
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Anchor - January 4th, 2000

A People's Future of the United States: Speculative Fiction from 25 Extraordinary Writers Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525508809
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: One World - February 5th, 2019

Rosewater (The Wormwood Trilogy #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316449052
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Orbit - September 18th, 2018

Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orisha #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250170972
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) - March 6th, 2018

Queer Times, Black Futures (Sexual Cultures #30) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780814748336
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: New York University Press - April 16th, 2019

Everfair: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780765338068
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Tor Books - September 26th, 2017

Futures of Black Radicalism Cover Image
By Gaye Theresa Johnson (Editor), Alex Lubin (Editor)
ISBN: 9781784787585
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Verso - August 29th, 2017

Parable of the Sower Cover Image
ISBN: 9781538732182
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Grand Central Publishing - April 30th, 2019

Electric Arches Cover Image
ISBN: 9781608468560
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Haymarket Books - September 12th, 2017

Magical Negro Cover Image
ISBN: 9781947793187
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Tin House Books - February 5th, 2019