I am also inspired daily by my own experiences of motherhood, and I am very conscious of the ways motherhood has cycled throughout my family. The first story in my book of short fiction Recurrence Plot and Other Time Travel Tales, is a speculative reimagining of my own history. My mother had me at the age of 14, and I had my own child at the age of 14. After a time, I became conscious of the family pattern of teen parenthood and shift that cycle for my child, so that she would not repeat it. Speculative fiction allows me to dig deeper into the meaning of these experiences and how they interact, interconnect with, and follow similar patterns found within various other systems and cycles of nature, the cosmos, sociology, psychology, etc.
Schlosspost: As the founder of Afrofuturist Affair, a community formed to celebrate, strengthen, and promote Afrofuturistic and Sci-Fi ideas, what concepts do you work with and what is their potential? How do you define Afrofuturism?
RP: In 2011, I created The AfroFuturist Affair, a grassroots organization, to provide a digital and physical community and platform for Black people with interests in Afrofuturism and Black speculative fiction. AFA started out as a singular event in Philadelphia – a charity and costume ball – with proceeds benefiting local nonprofit Need in Deed, and evolved into other collaborative, creative events, around the country and world, free workshops, critical, creative writing, and social media which promotes and supports Afrofuturistic culture, practice, and events around the diaspora to an audience of more than 10,000. The Afrofuturist Affair has allowed me to create multiple platforms and mediums for both Afrofuturistic creators and marginalized communities to access and engage with the empowering, world-building concepts of Afrofuturism. I have curated hundreds of events and workshops locally, nationally, and internationally. Leading up to that first event, I was also feeling empowered and inspired by the Black Science Fiction Society online community, the local spoken word community, and local Black punk scene.
»Afrofuturism prompted me to think about alternative temporalities, how time imprints itself on communities, and how time plays out in the lives of marginalized and oppressed people who have uneven access to both their histories and their futures.«
When I came across the term Afrofuturism in 2011, my experience was that it was primarily being used in academia, internet subcultures, and artistic circles. I became interested in how it manifests in liberation practices and in communal, cultural activities I was really interested in how Afrofuturism could be applied to the type of work I do as a public interest attorney, representing low-income tenants who are facing eviction and advocating for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. As a sci-fi writer interested primarily in time travel, I was also really interested in the domain of the future and the role of time in Afrofuturism. Afrofuturism prompted me to think about alternative temporalities, how time imprints itself on communities, and how time plays out in the lives of marginalized and oppressed people who have uneven access to both their histories and their futures.