The one consistent thing that came out of the Dark Matters: Weird Fiction from the African Diaspora panel at Necronomicon was that weird fiction in black imagination isn’t really concerned much with Cosmic Horror. The idea of a vast, indifferent universe isn’t terrifying when you are consistently othered and in the Eurocentric worldview, you are already treated with indifference. We have to deal with our horrors away from the spotlight. In panelist Chesya Burke’s short piece “Walter and the Rat,” the cosmic horror is infrastructure of White Supremacy, which causes disenfranchisement. “The Rat in the Wall” is the literal point of view character in this story. In panelist Victor LaValle’s “The Ballad of Black Tom,” the title character, who was the monstrous other in Lovecraft’s “The Horror at Red Hook,” has a different relationship to the indifferent, malevolent chthonic deities. For myself, I am drawn more towards ‘weird fiction’ that is imbued with dream-logic rather than fear or horror. As discussed in the panel, many of the tropes used in Euro-horror, like possession, zombies and voodoo (Vodoun) are, in the diaspora, not necessarily evil or bad things. The gods we hid behind the edifice of Christianity are not good or bad. They are both. Possession is an intimate joining with these spirits. It is not an invasion; it is an invitation to partake of the Divine. Yes, there is sacrifice in Vodoun/Santeria/Candomble; but the rituals are prayers and not demonic summonings. Our wise woman weren’t burned at the stake. Tituba escaped that fate. Mining the black folkloric traditions creates it’s own wonderful cosmology, once freed from the White Gaze.
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