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!