Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Black Women Horror Fans & Horror's Future

With the network on Twitter being instant and the call to action in its beginnings fruitful, I've been thinking a lot about the sum of how the mission of Graveyard Shift Sisters will, in its evolution, remain consistent. More specifically, I've thought about how that consistency is demonstrated through the Black women horror fans, professionals, and creatives I've gotten the opportunity to talk to. I don't know if you, the 'you' who know who you are, understand the utter importance of your words, opinions, and perspectives in this genre community. You represent an astronomical shift in the way people see horror, from hardcore fans to those who sadly dismiss it.

I say this again; it takes a lifetime to find the collectives that encompass your identity. When you stand in opposition of what everyone thinks you are or should be, you spend that time trying to unfairly justify your existence. I've done this myself through research and writing. Research gave me critical-factual legs to stand on and writing added the needed passion of personal conviction.

It began with theoretical backdrops that heavily complicated the terrains of Blackness; which is nothing but a metaphorical foot journey to come full circle in the comfort of self. I've found inspiration in making sense of and complicating my negotiations with Blackness in horror; its history, uncertain present, and promising future.

When we think of Blackness, we have to consider everything. Feminist scholar bell hooks uses postmodernism to describe how difference and otherness is formulaic to identity development in “Postmodern Blackness”. She states:

It has become necessary to find new avenues for transmitting the messages of black liberation struggle, new ways to talk about racism and other politics of domination. Radical postmodernist practice, most powerfully conceptualized as a ‘politics of difference,’ should incorporate the voices of displaced, marginalized, exploited, and oppressed black people.

If horror is not the space for this kind of transformative work, we're culturally in some serious trouble.

In its essence, horror is about oppression, repression, and its othered position in the film industry. And if horror is a reflection of society in the most visceral manner, Blackness and people of color's activity in this genre confirm its promise.

During its release in the early 1970's, Ganja and Hess was widely misunderstood
and under appreciated for the work of art and awesome contribution to Blacks
in film and horror that it is known as today
Discussing my love for horror in most spaces still remains a personal issue. To many, I still "don't look like a horror fan". But I take this too seriously to be intimidated when I'm asked about what and why. What people may see as just a hobby do not see the scholarship, event planning, business savvy, community building, online activism, all the hard damn work people put into making it a serious space.

We are visible, valuable, and visionaries.

So questions, not out of distress of being perceived as an object, but more for exploratory discourse:

Where does Black identity fit in horror on screen, at conventions, in novels, within an individual?

Why is race, weighed against gender, in horror an arguably more uncharted terrain?

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