The Universouls on a quest near you!

Black speculative fiction – whether literary, visual, or musical – has always been ready to remix influence from East Asian sci-fi, way ahead of the mainstream. I was reminded of this when I came across Universouls, a project headed by Berelson and Binta Talla, two black creatives based in Paris.

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December meetup!

There’s so much we have yet to catch up on, from the amazing weekend at PAC45 to MozFest to the patreon and the new zines… but before we do that, we better invite you to our next event coming on 8th December at Birmingham Open Media Lab.

Join us as we watch some Nollywood and Ethiopian sci-fi, make comics, catch up on what’s coming next in 2017 and of course chow down on some plantain… Bring yourselves and what you do and don’t be shy. We’re all strange here!

Free tickets are on eventbrite.

Diversity and the pitfalls of techno-liberalism

What good are diversity schemes?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m the kind of person who gladly shares diversity tickets to tech conferences and indeed owes several life changing experiences to the willingness of those with more resources to share them on behalf of those without. I’m an advocate of affirmative action – although it’s always important to add that more needs to be done to offset poor mental health and decreased confidence which can be exacerbated by feeling like ‘the only one’ and the slew of negative expectations; not to mention that simply having a policy of affirmative action means nothing if the environment is still racist. I can appreciate the importance of representation, though hopefully not at the expense of personal/communal dignity and wellbeing.

But as I read the dutiful updates of Zuckerberg’s travels in Africa, the focus on diversity drives within companies such as Google, I also think about the fact five times more black people than white people per head of population in England and Wales are imprisoned. Simply having more black faces at the top of the food chain provides a dubious satisfaction. How does diversity impact the everyday material experience of a community? Can it?

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The Black Maker | Notes on Black tech and innovation

Last week was a week of firsts. On Thursday we hosted our first poetry-art-performance event at the Southbank, co-produced with Birmingham based ArtivistsUK. With barely any time to spare we were back to our 2016 AfroFutures_UK conference, The Black Maker, hosted by Birmingham Open Media Lab.

Featuring world renowned mathematicians, artists, local technologists and makers, The Black Maker was a glorious mix of the speculative and the commemorative; discussions ranged from the use of sonic technologies and fractals in pre-colonial African societies to the innovation and radical verve of black mathematicians working in a field often still beset by overtly racist perceptions of black ability. Through talks, discussion, workshops and music, we explored the range of black innovation in tech and the contributions of black makers to scientific progress.

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