This is my second attempt at writing visionary fiction, but the first I’m sharing. Visionary fiction is a term created by Walidah Imarisha, and describes science fiction that challenges normative paradigms and makes space for sweeping social change. I recently finished reading Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements, and it has really inspired me to think more creatively in imagining a world that is grounded in the principles of human rights and transformative justice.
I don’t have a title for this very short story, and I don’t know if I will finish the story (though I hope I will), but I’m going to put this out in the universe….
“We have to figure this out!” exclaims Aisha as she paces the hard dirt floor of the secret meeting place of her and her friends. “The longer we wait, the harder it will be to rescue Emmit and free the rest of our people,” Aisha goes on to explain, in her shrill voice, that belies the height of her dark brown body.
“I say we try to summon the spirits again,” Belle offers.
“We’ve tried twice already and it didn’t work. Obviously our ancestors don’t care to help us,” says Aisha with frustration.
“That’s not true, exclaims Sara, and it will work this time. We just have to have believe it.”
“Sara’s right, Saffronia piped up, in order to rescue Emmit and free our people is if we receive guidance from our ancestors. They survived so much, and we need their powerful and resilient spirits.”
“We can do this, Belle pleads while taking hold of Aisha’s hands. We’re young, but we’re also intelligent and intentional about our mission. We need to show the Council that our voices deserve to be heard!”
“Ok, let’s do it,” says Aisha, hugging Belle, Sara and Saffronia. Forming a circle, holding tight to each others’ hands, the girls close their eyes, take deep breaths, and begin their summoning of the ancestors.
Laying on the hard cot in the tiny cell, Emmit struggles to contain his thoughts. Afraid of crying, he tries to repress thoughts of his family and love, Tomas. Crying equals weakness in this prison hellhole, and he doesn’t want to become a target. But with the screams and other angry sounds entering his head from the other cells, he couldn’t sleep. Emmit let is mind drift to the night he was captured…
It had been Emmit’s turn to get water from Lake Michigan, and like the other times he went and how he was taught, he made sure to cover every inch of skin on his body. Since the extermination campaign began, being Black meant you were imprisoned or shot dead, depending on if the police thought you could be of use, or just based on his feelings that day. It was July, and the temperature had still been 90 degrees even at 1 am; so just for a moment, in order to breathe better, Emmit removed his hood as he gathered water. He tried unsuccessfully to not let memories of frolicking on 63rd street beach with his friends and Tomas rise forward in his mind; those days are over and might never return.
When the Black Lives Matter movement was in full swing, and it seemed we were making substantial change, Emmit’s grandma was proud of all the young people resisting police violence, but she was also afraid. How would the State try to decimate this movement, as it did in the late 1960s and 1970s, to the black liberation movement? With the advancement of nuclear weapons and drones, and 24 hour news shows with pundits fanning the flames of violent retribution against protestors, she imagined their tactics would be far worse than anything they could imagine. And sadly, she was right…
Lost in his memories, Emmit didn’t hear the footsteps approaching from all sides until it was too late. He was tackled to the ground and felt fists and heavy boots attacking his body, from head to toe.
“This nigger thought he escaped from my prison, huh,” wildly shouted a big, tall, white man with a buzz cut in army uniform. “Where did you think you were gonna run to, huh? We either own you people, and there’s no escaping that.”
“Answer him nigger!” yells a shorter white guy, that Emmit could barely see through his swollen brown eyes. “I just wanted water,” he gasps through a broken jaw. There’s enough water in prison you stupid nigger!, shouts the shorter one.
“Come on, lets take him back to the prison before other people come out here. We’re gonna already have to reassure people tomorrow that we have iron-clad control of the prisoners. Those damn hipsters have probably already spread the news that a nigger escaped the prison to the whole neighborhood by now” commands the third soldier, who pulls Emmit up off the ground with one hand as if he was just a rag doll.
Help me, Emmit said in his mind, hoping someone or something, would save him.