Studies have shown that, in the general population, Science Fiction and Fantasy has an impact on the teaching of values and critical literacy to young adults. Science Fiction challenges readers to first imagine and then to realize the future of not only the novel they are reading but, also the future of the world in which they live.
Looking at the most visible popular examples of Epic Fantasy – J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert E. Howard and bestselling authors J.K. Rowling, George R.R. Martin and Robert Jordan – a casual observer might assume that big, continent-spanning sagas with magic in them are always set in some imaginary variation on Medieval – and, sometimes, even modern – Britain. The stories include the common tropes – swords, talismans of power, wizards and the occasional dragon, all in a world where Black people rarely exist; and those who do appear are decidedly peripheral and usually work for the bad guys.
That same casual observer might therefore conclude that Epic Fantasy – one of today’s most popular genres of fiction – would hold little interest for Black readers and even less for Black writers. But that casual observer would be wrong.
Children and young adults of African descent can – and do – relate to the experiences in Science Fiction and Fantasy. Indeed, they crave these experiences and read speculative fiction just as voraciously as young adults of other races. But the lack of self-images in this literature can have a negative effect on the psyche of young readers and can, indeed, contribute to negative behavior. We derive our perceptions of self by what we hear, see, and read and our perception directly affects our actions.
The Process of Action works as follows:
Perception (precedes Thought)
Thought (precedes Impulse)
Impulse (precedes Action)
If the Perception of ourselves is a person who lacks courage, integrity and goodness – because we do not see ourselves possessing heroic qualities in most books – the Thought creeps into our minds that we lack those heroic qualities, so we are – by default – villains. The Thought grows into a strong Impulse to be the villain; and finally, the Action of villainy takes place.
However, if – through Fantasy and Science Fiction written with Black characters as the heroes – our youth begin to perceive themselves as heroic…as hard working…as good…they will begin to act in accord with how they perceive themselves.
With these facts in mind, the Founders of SOBSFic Con have added a Youth Track to the programming.
We have broken the programming down to offerings for Children and for Teens. Check them out:
Children (ages 6 – 11)
Afrikan Music and Movement
The children will learn traditional dances and traditional Afrikan drumming and the history behind these enriching traditions.
Create Your Own Comic Book
Participants will learn how to make comic books, from beginning to end, story board to final page.
Learn how to braid hair in beautiful and traditional fashions from Afrika and throughout the Diaspora.
Guest readers read their favorite Black speculative fiction picture book and children enjoy juice and cookies while listening.
Black Speculative Trivial Pursuit
Children compete against their peers for the title of champion of Black Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror trivia.
The children will be treated to an amazing magic show.
Teens (ages 12-17)
Books and Authors We Love
Teens talk about their favorite books and authors in this open discussion.
Reading and Q&A
Come hear short readings throughout the convention by YA authors, followed by an opportunity to ask questions about their writing, their experiences, and their careers.
Video Games We Love
Teens talk about their favorite video games in this open discussion. Video Games creators will be on hand to join the conversation.
What makes a costume “steamfunk?” What props do you need to do it right? How do you create a steamfunk persona? Teens will receive the answers to these questions and more from our panel of Steamfunkateers.
Comics Creators Panel
Our panel of comics creators talk about their work and answer questions!
We Love Anime
Teens talk about their favorite anime and manga in this open discussion with anime and manga creators. Part of this discussion will highlight Black characters and creators in anime and manga.
Teens Talk to Authors
Authors talk about what they like to write and listen to what teens like to read.
Let’s Draw a Comic Strip
Work together with other teens to create a comic strip that tells a story without words. How are comics made? How does graphic storytelling work? Join in and find out!
Hair Braiding Workshop
Learn how to braid hair in beautiful and traditional fashions from Afrika and throughout the Diaspora. Brothers – this is not just for the sisters! Learning to braid your friends’ hair will make you very popular and maybe even a little cash on the side. Come try it out!