I use history as a source and creative tool in most of my writing. Real world history has heavily influenced my writing since elementary school, since –after English – History was my favorite subject. History has been used as a source of terror in my horror fiction, and speculative history is a major part of my science fiction settings.

Among all spheres of knowledge, History – as a device for storytelling – best rewards our research.

History is not the absolute that it is often treated as, however. From the perspective of the present, the past can not be known with great certainty. Thus, history tells stories of past events, and – like all stories – is told by someone for a purpose.

History can be used to enlighten, educate, entertain, inspire, and influence.

Two history types are very useful for writing fiction: Imaginative History is history that is wholly created. This is the history of most fantasy worlds.

The other type is Speculative History. This includes the “what if” of alternate history, as well as the projection of possible events into the future, which is the history of most science fiction settings.

Both types use historical analysis to generate a plausible set of events. This allows us, as writers, to tap into these created histories to add depth and life to our stories.

By far, the simplest technique is to take a bit of real world history and use it for inspiration. Alter a few things, combine fragments together, and you can create something with depth and character.

Rewriting History

Begin with a change point – a historical event that you want to alter. From there, you can move on, creating changes until you end at the point your story begins. There are two theories with regards to change points. On one hand you can choose a major event, such as Germany winning WWII, the African Slave Trade never happening, or Frederick Douglass becoming President. The other theory is to change one small event and write what happens as a result, such as President Obama choosing Hillary Clinton as his Vice President, or Martin Luther King avoiding assassination.

Whatever you decide to write, the next step is to show how and why the change in history occurred. For smaller changes, this is easier. The larger changes often require a summation of smaller changes, which result in the larger change. The earlier the change point, the greater the ‘snowball’ effect of changes. To be believable, you must do your research. Otherwise, you may make a mistake in some detail in setting or dialogue and readers who have done their research – a common phenomenon in science fiction and fantasy – are going to call you out on it. The readers’ suspension of disbelief will fade; they will close your book; and they will tell the world – via all the social media sites – how much your book sucks.

Although you do not need to be an expert, it helps to be well versed in history. I cannot stress enough that, if you are going to write speculative history, you must research…research…research!

Alternate Reality

You sit down to write a new story or novel. You want your story to be alternate history, with strong elements of fantasy and science fiction mixed. In fact, you want your story to be about Harriet Tubman. You want the world she operates in to be of the steampunk subgenre of science-fantasy and you want her – and others in her world – to possess “superpowers” (by the way, this has already been done – see the novels Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman and The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman: Freedonia). What you are now writing is Alternate Reality – you are going to have to change not just history, but reality itself.

This means adding magic, anachronistic science based on clockwork mechanics and steam technology, psionics, super powers and the like. As with the altering of history, this will cause cascading effects on the timeline that need to be addressed.

If magic is possible, what does that mean to history? How would aether-based physics effect the development of social and political structures? If people can read minds, what does that do to concepts of privacy? If you have people flying around and throwing horses over houses, what purpose does society put these powers to? These are questions intrinsic to certain genres, but they also apply to the alternate history that introducing changes in reality can bring.

One of the pitfalls of altering reality is that suspension of disbelief becomes an issue. The degree to which you convince the reader these things are possible depends – once again – on the degree of your research.

Some of you may say “Research isn’t necessary. After all, I am just writing fiction. A simple ‘it happens’ should suffice.” To that, I say that the reader is more sophisticated than you give them credit for. I also would say that fiction is not the art of just ‘making things up’. In fact, I envision fiction as a turkey drumstick: It is the bone of reality covered by the meat of creativity. Meaning, at the core of good fiction is reality and then you add layer after layer of creativity around that core.

In coming blogs, I will explore techniques to help you with your research and the use of sources beyond the internet, for – indeed – Wikipedia has become the ‘Cliff’s Notes’ (remember those annoying yellow and black books?) of the modern era: the information is often incorrect; it is the literary equivalent of secretly using a calculator on a math test; and everyone knows you used it.

More, later, on that, though.

Until next time – happy writing!

Dream-casting The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman: Freedonia

The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman: FreedoniaSet in Freedonia – author Milton Davis’ world, brought to life in the Steamfunk! anthology and fully realized in the Steamfunk novel, From Here to Timbuktu – Harriet Tubman and her friend and rival, “Stagecoach” Mary Fields, chase agents of the vengeful From Here to Timbuktu 1Alchemist out of their world and into another, in which Frederick Douglass and a quite different Harriet Tubman govern a country of former enslaved Africans that rivals – and often bests – the United States, England and France in power and technology.

Harriet must fight to stop a powerful alliance of British and American soldiers and the elite and fearsome Hwarang warriors of Joseon (“Korea”) from invading Freedonia. But a wicked force from Harriet’s world has come to destroy Freedonia and all it stands for. Will Harriet and her allies be able to stand against it?

This is the premise of my latest novel, The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman: Freedonia, the final installment in the Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman epic adventure.

I was recently asked to consider developing the Chronicles of Harriet epic Steamfunk series into a feature film franchise. That initiated my dream-casting of the latest book. I would like to share it with you here.

Harriet Tubman: Erika Alexander

Freedom fighter. Psychic. Soldier. Spy. Something…more. Much more.

Harriet possesses fearsome skills and extraordinary powers – “brushed by the hand of God” she calls it – that she uses to combat her enemies and the enemies of her beloved friend and teacher, Baas Bello.

When Baas Bello falls into trouble that can cost his life, Harriet travels to another reality to save him.


“Stagecoach” Mary Fields aka “Black Mary”: Aisha Tyler

Whiskey drinking, cigar smoking, anti-hero with enhanced senses, a hide as tough as granite and strength beyond nearly any beast or man, Mary Fields once had a standing bet at her local saloon: Five bucks and a glass of whiskey said she could knock out any cowboy – or cow – in Cascade, Montana with a single punch.

After the second bull and the third fool tried to take her up on it, nobody ever had the nerve to do it again.

Black Mary – who joined Harriet in Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman in her fight against the Alchemist, Edwin Stanton, the Ghul King, Caleb Butler and other natural and supernatural enemies – joins forces with her again in The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman: Freedonia.


Caleb Butler: Chris Wood

The Ghul King; he is a crazed cowboy with the power to infect humans, turning them into flesh-eating, form-bending ghuls.

Caleb is bent on infecting the world’s populace and turning them into servants in his ghul kingdom.

Freedonia 5

George Washington Carver: Samuel L. Jackson

The most intelligent and inventive mind in the Freedonia reality. From his laboratories at Tuskegee Institute, Dr. Carver designs and builds the weapons, vehicles and other creations that have helped to make Freedonia one of the wealthiest, powerful and technologically advanced nations in the world.


John Brown: Andrew Lincoln

A man obsessed with creating a utopia in which Black people are free, fearless and under his rule. John Brown feels Harriet Tubman betrayed him when she did not show at Harper’s Ferry and he loathes her for that.


Baas Bello: Idris Elba

The most intelligent and inventive mind in Harriet’s reality. Baas is an immortal and a super-genius who is skilled in most known arts and sciences as well as several African spiritual and magical traditions.

Harriet’s long-time teacher, friend and lover.


Frederick Douglass: Morgan Freeman

President of Freedonia. Along with Vice President Harriet Tubman, he led Freedonia to victory over the United States of America during the Reunion War.


The Alchemist / Professor Kleinhopper: Chiwetel Ejiofor

The Alchemist, genius engineer and showman was once a student of Baas Bello. His greed led him to betray Baas and as payback, Baas crippled him permanently, leaving him a quadriplegic.

The Alchemist wants Baas Bello dead and will pay any price to bring about his demise.




Colonel Kim: Lee Byung-hun

Colonel Kim Kang-min (“Kim” is his surname) is leader of the elite Joseon warriors, the Hwarang and commander of a mighty Geobukseon, or ‘turtle ship’, a heavily armored, submersible warship.

Colonel Kim is a master seaman, martial artist and swordsman.


Connor: Rob Terry

Colin: Rob Terry

Colin and Connor are identical twins from Whitechapel, a district in the East End of London, England, in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

These hulking twins are bouncers in a brothel until Caleb turns them and then employs them as his personal security.


There you have it! My choices for the big budget summer Blockbuster, The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman. Who would your choices for each starring role be?

Unfamiliar with the characters? Then, what are you waiting for? Order your copies of Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman and The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman: Freedonia and immerse yourself in some great Steamfunk for a while.

You can thank me later.

The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman: Freedonia available NOW!


CONTACT:  Balogun Ojetade
Email: chroniclesofharriet@gmail.com



FreedoniaSet in Freedonia – author Milton Davis’ world, brought to life in the Steamfunk! anthology and fully realized in the Steamfunk novel, From Here to Timbuktu – Harriet Tubman and her friend and rival, “Stagecoach” Mary Fields, Freedoniachase agents of the vengeful Alchemist out of their world and into another, in which Frederick Douglass and a quite different Harriet Tubman govern a country of former enslaved Africans that rivals – and often bests – the United States, England and France in power and technology.

Harriet must fight to stop a powerful alliance of British and American soldiers and the elite and fearsome Hwarang warriors of Joseon (“Korea”) from invading Freedonia. But a wicked force from Harriet’s world has come to destroy Freedonia and all it stands for. Will Harriet and her allies be able to stand against it?

Get ready for a wild ride with this Steamfunk adventure, the final chapter in the Chronicles of Harriet Tubman epic series.

The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman: Freedonia is available NOW in print and e-book formats.


Freedonia Seal Color


Balogun and Milton 10Working as a volunteer can involve hard work and require patience, but it is also a great way to build camaraderie and make new friends. It is also a lot of fun.

Volunteers must be available to help with the day-to-day operations of the convention as needed. They must be friendly, professional, patient and punctual.

DSC_7803While volunteers might miss out on certain fan events, as they will be working during the Q&A sessions, photo ops, autograph sessions, panels, concerts and/or special events, all volunteers receive a free membership and may use the time spent as volunteer hours for any high school and college requirements.

The following is a list of needed volunteer positions for SOBSFic Con. If you have any questions about volunteering, please contact our Director of Event Services, Akinbobola (“Akin”) Donaldson at akin.ropmovie@gmail.com.


Registration volunteers greet pre-registered members, search for them in the registration database and issue badges to con goers and Guests.


Operations volunteers serve as the eyes and ears of SOBSFic Con, wandering throughout the convention space, addressing situations as they arise and reporting back to the Director of Event Services. This job requires you to think on your feet, use good judgment, and exercise a sense of humor. You may be called on to do crowd control or assist with emergency situations but will spend much of the time walking, observing and interacting with congoers.

Panels and Other Programming

These volunteers reset rooms, ensure microphones are turned on, do brief surveys on panels, make sure panelists have water and mints and they generally keep things running smoothly.

Photography / Videography

Our videographers capture video content from various panels, events, and performances. Our photographers take pictures of congoers, volunteers, staff and Guests. 

Social Media

These volunteers will act as roving reporters, using their smart phones, laptops or tablets to do live reporting of the panels  and other goings-on at SOBSFic Con. This content will then be shared on the SOBSFic Con twitter account, State of Black Science Fiction 2012 Facebook Group andwherever else the volunteer chooses to share it and hype the convention. 


These volunteers help put up the decorations and informational signs that will go up to convert the Southwest Arts Center into the SOBSFic Con Experience. Setup involves many different activities including assembling “swag bags,” putting up decorations and posters, setting up panel rooms, setting up the Awards show and Mahogany Masquerade and unloading supplies.

Tear-Down and Cleanup

These volunteers stay after the convention and help with the cleanup.


These volunteers will sit or stand and make sure people entering the Southwest Arts Center have a valid SOBSFic Con badge or know where to go to register. Hospitality volunteers needs to be polite and make everyone feel welcome.


Game Masters, Story Tellers, Game Referees – whatever you want to call yourselves – if you are interested in running a session of Ki Khanga: The Sword and Soul Role-Playing Game and can make the gaming experience fun for everyone, this is the job for you!

Of course, we don’t just need people to run the games, but also to assist in the behind the scenes activities including hanging signs, giving directions, notating schedule changes as well as keeping track of time for Game Masters and Gamers.

SOBSFic Flyer 2

It’s Official! SOBSFic Con gets a date and a home!

COn Blog 1No, this is not the story of some con-man who meets a rich cougar, convinces her to have dinner at Spago and after that dinner, uses his charms to bed her, wed her and then move into her Beverly Hills mansion.

It ain’t that kind of con; it ain’t that kind of date; it ain’t that kind of home.

It’s way cooler than that!

The con I’m talking about is SOBSFic Con, the State of Black Science Fiction Convention, the long awaited family-friendly convention that brings together creators and fans of Black Speculative Fiction, Film, Cosplay and Comic Books and explores all of the genres through panels discussions, film screenings, gaming, workshops, masquerade balls and more.

The date is June 10-11, 2016.

SW Collage 1The home is the beautiful, Blacknificent Fulton County Southwest Arts Center in Atlanta, GA – the first facility built by Fulton County, GA solely for the arts. Located on a 27-acre campus in the quiet, upscale Cascade community, Southwest Arts Center features classroom space, a black box theater, a 375-seat auditorium and theater and the only fine art gallery in Southwest Fulton County.

Now, you can ink in the date and prepare to walk, drive, fly, swim, dimension walk or teleport here.

We guarantee, it will be the best June 10-11, 2016 of your life!

Check back here – or at the official website – often for updates and more exciting news about #SOBSFicCon!



PUTTING THE FUNK IN STEAMPUNK: For the Mahogany Masquerade and Beyond!

Dressing Steamfunk can be fun, but it can also be frustrating without first having a concept of who the character you want to portray really is.

Steamfunk characters can be broken down into a few basic archetypes. Choose your character’s archetype and then develop a persona based on that archetype and create your persona’s back-story. This will help you determine what he or she should wear and make picking a costume much easier and more enjoyable.

My persona is Ogunlana, a Hunter / Fighter. He is the Aare Ona Kakanfo (“War Chief of War Chiefs”) of the Oyo Empire, who brought down an invading British airship with his war-drum, which emits powerful and destructive sonic waves. Ogunlana wears the trappings of the crew of the downed airship with his traditional African clothing to warn others what will befall them if they dare invade his homeland.

Here are a few archetypes. I have included suggestions for what they can wear. Add to or take away from them as you will, but most of all, make them your own…and make them funky!

Air Pirate: One of the quintessential Steampunk characters.  Air pirates are bad, bold, and armed to the teeth.

An Air Pirate can look scruffy, or he or she can be a dashing and daring swashbuckler-type.

Gear for an Air Pirate could include, but is not limited to, a tricorn hat, corsair boots, tailcoat, ruffled shirt, brushed cotton trousers, a telescope, eye-patch, cutlass, blunderbuss and neckerchief.

Adventurer/Explorer: Their reason for being is to boldly go where no one has gone before; to experience new things; and to discover new places.

Dressed for the wild and unknown, Adventurers / Explorers should wear utilitarian clothing, with sturdy footwear, equipment, such as a compass, map and wineskin, goggles and perhaps a safari vest and a pith helmet. Khaki is a great material for them and jodhpurs (horse riding tights) also work well. Accent your look with leather – add a leather belt, pouches, holster (and revolver) and other leather accessories.

Aviator: Whether military, or a rogue; whether they’re flying a bi-plane, a zeppelin, or a space ship; they are tough, brave, and even a bit gallant, especially in contrast to Air Pirates.

A pilot would wear goggles, a flight helmet, and sturdy boots, and would most likely have a military bearing, or the personality of a  rogue, depending on your preference.

Dandy/Femme Fatale: They use their wiles and charms to get what they want, sometimes at the expense of others.

Dandies / Femme Fatales wear very stylish, well tailored and flattering clothing. Suits, or a formal tuxedo or gown and well chosen accessories are the norm. Form-fitting and slightly revealing clothing in rich fabrics, rakishly worn hats, and bits of lace also work well.

Hunter/Fighter:  Monster hunters are all about firepower and skill in combat. They stay armed with stakes, silver bullets, and strange, arcane-looking weaponry.

The Hunter / Fighter will be a walking arsenal. The chosen weaponry would depend on its prey. Monster hunters would be armed with stakes, silver bullets and arcane-looking weaponry. They would wear leather or canvas clothing and accessories. The western look would fit this archetype well.

Mad Scientist/Inventor: Another quintessential Steampunk character, they embody the steam in steampunk, discovering new things, solving problems, and occasionally blowing things up.

Goggles and other tools of the trade, such as work gloves, practical clothing (so pants would be appropriate for women), a lab coat, tool belts, tools and light weaponry should be worn and wondrous inventions carried.


Mechanic/Tinkerer: A bit of a twist on the Scientist/Inventor.  Where the Inventor is creating things from scratch, the tinkerer is improving on things, often on the fly, or perhaps just trying to get things to work; making do with what they have. 

Your dress is similar to the Mad Scientist / Inventor, above, however, eliminate the work gloves and replace the lab coat with a grease-stained, leather apron. Don’t forget to add a few smudges of grease and/or dirt to the face and hands.

Philosopher/Scholar: They like old, rare books and wax poetic about the classics; they talk too much about things no one cares about or prefer books to people.

A philosopher or scholar would most likely wear a man’s or woman’s two-piece suit (the woman’s suit would replace trousers with an ankle-length skirt), a woman’s boater hat or a top-hat, a blouse or shirt, dress boots, a floppy tie and spectacles or a monacle.

Socialite/Lady/Gentleman: Often based on Victorian aristocracy, they can often embody the refinement and social norms we associate with the upper class of that era.  Many times they serve as patrons for the scholars, adventurers, and inventors.

Socialites would dress in a more sophisticated manner, with rich colors and materials. They would be well accessorized with gloves, parasols, or a cane, and a nice hat. For women, corsets worn on the outside and short skirts are also appropriate.


Street Sparrow/Scrappy Survivor: These are the street urchins, your pickpockets and beggars. This archetype also includes runaway slaves.  Hungry and dirty, they do what they need to do to survive.

Wear soiled, tattered clothing and scuffed shoes. Add a bit of dirt to your face and wear your hair disheveled. If you rock an afro, braid it the night before you cosplay and then unbraid it when you are in costume for a wild, unkempt look. 

Reformer: They could be abolitionists, suffragettes or an activist seeking to get rid of child labor or protesting imperialism. Reformers work to make the world a better place, often loudly and not always peacefully or without scandal.

Women could wear a suit, a hat, granny boots and maybe carry a derringer, tucked away somewhere in her suit.

Suggested wear for men includes an overcoat, waistcoat, John Bull top-hat, brushed cotton trousers, an ascot, a dress shirt and boots.



A Tribute to Science Fiction and Fantasy Icon, James Earl Jones!

In today’s blog , I am paying tribute to science fiction and fantasy icon, James Earl Jones!

Most of you know of Mr. Jones’ acclaimed work as the iconic, menacing voice of Darth Vader in the mega-blockbuster Star Wars films (for which he was paid just $9000.00 for Star Wars Episode 4), however, you might not know that James Earl Jones began his nearly fifty-year film career in a Science Fiction movie and has acted in nearly forty science fiction and fantasy movies, television shows and video games.

I will talk about those in just a second, but I would like to first tell you about my meeting and “conversation” with this incredible actor and great person.

Darth VaderI was living in Chicago at the time. I had just left a downtown Thai restaurant and was walking off the delicious panang tofu and tom yum goon when I noticed that one of the streets was cut off and a film was being shot. Having worked on a few sets myself and aspiring to write and direct films, I decided to take a closer look.

It so happens that two of the guys working security were friends I played paintball wargames with every weekend. They let me in and told me that James Earl Jones – one of my favorite actors – was shooting a film called A Family Thing. I was excited, to say the least, and one of my friends walked me over to the director – Richard Pearce – during a break in shooting and told him that I was a fan of James Earl Jones, an aspiring screenwriter and director and that I had done executive protection for several celebrities on a few films.

Mr. Pearce took me by the wrist and said “Come with me.”

I complied.

He walked me over to James Earl Jones and Robert Duvall – another stellar actor – and introduced me, telling Mr. Jones I was an admirer of his work.

Mr. Jones signaled me to come over. He held out his hands and I took them in mine and he just smiled warmly, not saying a word. He looked toward Mr. Pearce, who leaned in close, almost pressing his ear to Mr. Jones’ lips and Mr. Jones whispered a few words.

Mr. Pearce turned to me and said “James wants you to know that he has been crippled by stuttering all his life, but he wants you to hold his hand and feel the love and appreciation he has for you.” And I did. I stood there, feeling the kindness of this brilliant, talented man I admired so much.

He looked to Richard Pearce again and whispered to him once more. Mr. Pearce paused for a second, swallowed hard and said: “Mr. Jones says that ‘one of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can’t utter’, but he hopes you really do feel what he is trying to say. With that tears began to flow down my cheeks. Mr. Pearce wiped the tears from his eyes and even Robert Duvall’s eyes welled with tears. With that, I choked out “Thank you. You just made my year.” And I hugged Mr. Jones. I then shook Robert Duvall’s and Robert Pearce’s hands and then departed, telling my friends that I sincerely owed them a HUGE favor for the hookup.

After that meeting, I was so inspired, I began to write screenplays again and I have told this story to nearly everyone I know. I thank James Earl Jones for that moment and will never forget it.

Thulsa DoomWhy do I call James Earl Jones an icon of science fiction and fantasy (even horror)? Well, as I said at the beginning of this blog, his first film role was in the genre of science fiction. Ever heard of Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb? He plays Lt. Lothar Zogg – a B-52 Bombardier – in the 1964 film.

Of course, the Star Wars movies added tremendously to his iconic status as did his portrayal of the villain Thulsa Doom in the 1982 film, Conan the Barbarian.

Mr. Jones has also donated his acting talents to the following science fiction, horror and fantasy works:

    • The UFO Incident (1975 TV-movie)
    • Swashbuckler (1976)
    • Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)
    • The Bushido Blade (1981)
    • The Flight of Dragons (1982) (voice)
    • Faerie Tale Theatre “Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp” (1984)
    • Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold (1987)
    • Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night (1987) (voice)
    • Terrorgram (1988) (voice)
    • Best of the Best (1989)
    • Grim Prairie Tales (1990)
    • Ramayana: The Legend of Prince Rama (1992)
    • The Meteor Man (1993)
    • The Lion King (1994) (voice)
    • Judge Dredd (1995)
    • Stargate SG-1 (1997) (voice)
    • Merlin (1998) (voice)
    • The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride (1998 Direct-to-video) (voice)
    • Fantasia 2000 (1999)
    • Robots (2005) (voice)
    • Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005) (voice)
    • Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey (2009) (voice)
    • Jack and the Beanstalk (2010) (voice)

Much respect, James Earl Jones. If you ever read this, I pray you smile and feel what I am trying to say.



Black Pirates, Patriots and Pioneers: The Rococoa Anthology TOC

RococoaIt began as a call for stories for an anthology that would introduce the genre of Rococoa – the bridge between Sword & Soul and Steamfunk – to the world in a BIG way.

Months later, I am happy – and proud – to announce the TOC for the Rococoa anthology!

The stories and the authors are equally amazing. Fans of science fiction, fantasy, action, adventure, Steampunk, Steamfunk, Sword and Soul and Black History alike are going to love this book!

Here is the TOC:

March of the Black Brigade – Balogun Ojetade

Cane – Milton Davis

The Adventure of the Silver Skull – Deanna Baran

The Adventures of the Black Star – Jeff Carroll

The Crafters’ Cove – D.L. Smith-Lee

Fool’s Errand – Gerald L. Coleman

Fury – Zig Zag Claybourne

Mkono ya Mbao – Steven Workman

Sea-Walker – Carole McDonnell

Seven Thieves – Emmalia Harrington

The Bandit King and the Island Of Tears – S.A. Cosby

Traveler’s Song: A Pulse Prelude – Kai Leakes

Bloodline – D K Gaston


Art by Toni Justamante Jacobs

Art by Toni Justamante Jacobs

A Sword and Soul Brother crashes the party at Con-Volution 2015!

Con-Volution is an annual 3-day science fiction, fantasy, and media convention featuring guests, performers and vendors from a wide spectrum of the speculative fiction industry and community. Each year’s event is presented within the framework of a different central theme from which most of its programming items evolve.

ConvolutionCon-Volution provides a forum for creative professionals – writers, producers, artists, costumers, performers, game designers and editors – to network, entertain, educate, market their creations, and enjoy the company of people who love their works. For amateur creators and everyday fans, the event presents an opportunity to develop new skills, mingle with and listen to many of the professionals they admire, and to revel in the fellowship of the speculative fiction community.

A variety of games and tournaments are open to attendees, including collectible card games, live-action roleplaying and video games. The Gallery and Marketplace provide original themed artwork and a wide array of shopping items. Fan groups and other events similar to Con-Volution are represented at information tables and themed parties.

ConvolutionCon-Volution’s staff is comprised of everyday members of the community, who volunteer their time to present an event where fellow fans can gather to enjoy, discover, discuss and debate all aspects of speculative fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, horror, comics, etc.). Con-Volution also performs outreach to those who enjoy speculative fiction films, television, literature and games but don’t think of themselves as “sci-fi fans,” or who are unaware that a fellowship of people like them exists.

This year, I am a Guest of Honor.

Below is my schedule. If you’re in Northern Cali October 2-4, stop by and say “hello.”

Dork Forest Podcast – Balogun Interview – Toastmistress Jackie Kashian’s “The Dork Forest” interviews Guest of Honor Balogun Ojetade.

Friday October 2nd 2015 @ 6:30 PM – Harbor A: 75 mins

Cultural Appreciation or Appropriation – Where is the line between enjoyment of other cultures being respectful and being detrimental? Gregg Castro, Moderator with panelists, Thaddeus Howze, Rob Miles, Balogun Ojetade and Heidi Stauffer

Friday October 2nd 2015 @ 11:00 PM – Sumac: 75 mins

Diversity in Speculative Fiction – Beyond the strapping nordic hero in his American flag draped spaceship lies a world of other cultures and other visions of the future. Come find out what they are. Gregg Castro, Moderator, with panelists, Jaymee Goh, Thaddeus Howze, Bradford Lyau, Balogun Ojetade, Sumiko Saulson

Saturday October 3rd 2015 @ 5:30 PM – SandPebble B: 75 mins

Writing for and with minority groups in mind – Every audience has a different focus. What are the best methods of reaching minority groups with your work?

Thaddeus Howze, Moderator with panelists, Marisa Garcia, Kyle Aisteach, Balogun Ojetade, Bryan Thao Worra

Sunday October 4th 2015 @ 2:30 PM – SandPebble B : 75 mins

Mythologies: The World Outside of Olympus and Asgard – There’s a great big world of mythology out there. Come find out what you might be missing!

Bret Sweet, Moderator with panelists, Emily Jiang, Balogun Ojetade, Jason Malcolm Stewart

Sunday October 4th 2015 @ 4:00 PM – SandPebble B: 75 mins

Writers Workshop: Writing Fight Scenes That Aren’t Wack – A Master Class with Guest of Honor Balogun Ojetade. *Limited to 6 participants.

Register at: http://con-volution.com/2015/convention-registration/ 

Sunday October 4th 2015 @ 5:30 PM – Oak : 75 mins


SUFFERING IN SILENCE: Nerds, Blerds and other Victims of Bullying in the Black Community

BullyingThe death of a 7 year-old boy from Detroit, who is believed to have hanged himself in mid-May, 2012, because he faced bullying at school and the separation of his parents, should have been a wake-up call to all families and communities.

This tragedy should have prompted people of Afrikan descent to dispel the myths about the need for counseling and mental health when a child is troubled and of course, the need for more of us to pursue careers in the field of mental health.

But it didn’t.

BullyingLast year, in September, family and friends of Lamar Hawkins III gathered to honor the life of the 14 year-old who committed suicide in his school’s bathroom after suffering bullying for months, from boys AND girls.

Hawkins attended Greenwood Lakes Middle School in Lake Mary, Florida.

The family had recently moved to Sanford, Florida from New York to raise their children in a safer environment after Lamar Hawkins III suffered bullying there, as well.

On the day of the shooting, Lamar’s mother, Shaniqua Hawkins, went to pick up her son from the school at approximately 5:00 p.m. but he was nowhere to be found. He was reported missing two hours later and after deputies searched nearby neighborhoods, he was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound inside a bathroom stall inside of the school.

Our children need to know that they are loved. They need to know that they are important. This is not an indictment of anyone, but someone along the way failed these children.

These children felt hopelessness and helplessness. They decided that death was better than life. They were not crazy. They were in despair and we could have saved them.

But we didn’t.

They suffered in silence, as often we do.

anti bullyingThe 7 year-old boy, who the press refused to name, reminds me of my son, Oluade for a few reasons: 1) because he was the only boy in the home with eight girls and women, just as Oluade is – he has 7 sisters and his mother – and 2) because Oluade was also bullied.

Unlike the 7 year-old, however, Oluade, thankfully, still lives. The 7 year-old, on the other hand, was discovered by his 14-year-old sister, hanging from a bunk bed with a belt around his neck.

While the bullying is said to have occurred at school, psychologists say teachers and administrators usually are the last ones to know if a child is being bullied.

A child’s peers will know if he or she is being bullied, but teachers are usually blind to the suffering of the children in their care.

I say blind because children who are troubled by bullying and other pressures at school show signs. Teachers just don’t – or won’t – see them. A bullied child may display regressive behaviors; they become withdrawn.

When we parents notice unusual behavior in our children, we should talk to them, show them love and, more often than not, we should seek some outside help and support – from respected elders in your family and community, from mental health experts, from spiritual leaders and / or support groups.

It is not an indictment of your parenting skills to seek resources to help your child.

Bullying is an increasing problem for children in Black communities throughout the U.S., but there are not a lot of statistics that reflect that. Most of the statistics point to problems in white, suburban communities.

In the Black community, many services our children need are cut. Schools have counselors, but if a school counselor has 300 or 400 students on his or her case load, they aren’t able to serve any of the children properly.

Here are some of the warning signs parents should watch for in their children:

  • Signs of depression such as ongoing sadness, withdrawal from others, losing interest in favorite activities, or trouble sleeping or eating – experts define depression as a negative view of self; a negative view of the world; and a negative view of the future.
  • Talking about, or showing an interest in, death or dying.
  • Engaging in dangerous or harmful activities, including reckless behavior, substance abuse or self-injury.
  • Giving away favorite possessions and saying goodbye to people.
  • Saying or expressing that they cannot handle things anymore.
  • Making comments about things being better without them.

To some people, it is unbelievable that black children bully other black children. One brother told me “Black children don’t bully; we thug.”

Well, the word “thug” originates in India. It was a term used to describe a ruffian and assassin. Today “thug”is a nominally polite way of non-Afrikans saying “nigger.”

When someone other than people of Afrikan descent talks about thugs ruining a place, it is almost impossible today that they are referring to somebody with blond hair and blue eyes. It is a sly way of saying “there go those niggers ruining things again.”

Thug, in the Black community, for about the past 25 to 30 years, has also meant ruffian or violent criminal, but being a ruffian is displaying a healthy sort of countercultural initiative, displaying a kind of resilience in the face of racism and oppression.

TupacThe word thug made a major change with the rise in popularity and cultural influence of Tupac Shakur, who had Thug Life tattooed across his stomach. Tupac Shakur is thought of as a god by many people. If he was a thug, then clearly if an Afrikan says “thugs were messing up the neighborhood,” then we mean something other than reprehensible.

But bullying is reprehensible.

When a Black child makes straight A’s, comes to school on time, speaks in complete sentences, chooses a salad over McDonald’s, says “excuse me,” “please” and “thank you,” wears his pants up and talks about going to college or owning a business or being a CEO and is told they are acting white and then teased or even beaten up for it, he or she has been bullied – and that bullying is reprehensible.

Why? Because the bullied child changes with the hope that the bullying will stop. The grades slip from straight A’s to B’s, C’s and even F’s. The speech slips from speaking in complete sentences to calling his father “bruh” and his mother “shawty.” The clothing changes from neat to pants hanging down and the hair goes uncombed. They either drop out of school or finish at the bottom of the class – all done to stop the targeting and to fit in.

I know this to be fact. I am talking about my own son – other than dropping out, which he probably would have done had he been 16 instead of 11 or 12. And he wasn’t considered acting too white, but too Afrikan.

Did Oluade report to the school about his harassment?

Yes, he did. But it was ignored. It was not a big deal until Oluade fought back and someone other than my son got hurt, the fight ended up on Instagram and the school was embarrassed.

But the bullying didn’t stop. I removed Oluade from the school after students stole his new hat, new coat and backpack from his locker, urinated in his hat and spread the contents of his backpack all over the school. The coat was never recovered.

Urinating in his hat was an act of sexual violence and my gut told me the violence would escalate until either Oluade or one or more of the bullies were dead.

The poor monitoring of students and lackadaisical approach to bullying in public – and private – schools has to change in order to protect our children. Parents, teachers and other staff need to be taught that bullying is not acceptable and consequences must be put in place for such behavior.

Oluade’s plight and the plight of other children, teens and adults who continue to suffer physically and mentally because of bullying inspired me to write The Young Afrikan Warriors’ Guide to Defeating Bullies and Trolls. Within, you will find solutions to the problem of bullying and ways for the victims of bullying – and the bullies – to heal.

What are your experiences with bullying – as victim, parent, teacher, or bully? I invite and encourage your feedback.