You know what the beautiful thing about running NAZAR is?
Nobody can tell me what it is supposed to be or do. I’m not even beholden to my own definitions. I’m free to revise NAZAR’s stated purpose, descriptions, goals, and etc whenever I feel that I must. Sure, I have readers (appreciate y’all) and paid subscribers (appreciate y’all), but NAZAR doesn’t pay my bills. If I lose readers or subscribers because I adjust this project rather than pretend it must remain stagnant, so be it.
This realization — combined with revisions that I still haven’t caught up on — is part of what led me to put NAZAR on a minor hiatus. But in addition, I found myself having difficulty with NAZAR’s current structure and limitations. Yes, I wanted (and still want) to cover surveillance. I will always be the anti-surveillance auntie going off on some obscure shit in the corner of your get-together. However, it felt as if I had to put surveillance into its own, limited box.
(Anti-)Surveillance had to be at the forefront of every conversation. It had to dominate; it could not share space. These feelings, and pressures to make NAZAR into a strict journalism project, led me to limit myself when it came to how I could think and write about surveillance. What sense did that make? I always joke that journalism pays the bills but fiction is where I thrive. It allows me to reflect on what I’m reading, see, and thinking about; it allows me to release my anxieties; and, sometimes, it allows me to be more optimistic than I ever am in person.
I want to pause for a moment and quote Pauline Hopkins, who wrote Of One Blood, one of Afrofuturism’s earliest examples that I reflected on here. In the introduction to her novel Contending Forces, Hopkins wrote, “Fiction is of great value to any people as a preserver of manners and customs — religious, political, and social. It is a record of growth and development from generation to generation. No one will do this for us; we must ourselves develop the men and women who will faithfully portray the inmost thoughts and feelings of the Negro with all the fire and romance which lie dormant in our history…”
Reading this quote, I had to ask myself how can I think of and about surveillance while neglecting fiction? I don’t do it in my personal life so I must not here, either. To me, any thoughts about surveillance — any dreams about moving beyond — must take up fiction and, specifically, Afrofuturism so we can conceive of better futures while plotting the destruction of our current World. (See, the shitty meme I made one morning when I was running on about five hours of sleep.)
This brings me to NAZAR’s changes.
NAZAR’s (Reading) Collective
You can’t talk about Afrofuturism without reading Afrofuturism.
Also, the downfall of a newsletter is I’m not in conversation with anybody. I do want to talk with and hear from other people. What better way to do that than through an Afrofuturist reading collective?
Beginning in March, NAZAR’s Collective will meet from 12-1:30pm EST on the first and third Friday of the month. As far as structure, I’m not thinking of anything super strict like, I’m coming with ten questions and y’all better have answers. I’ll prepare some questions to help conversation if it gets slow but that’s it.
Of course, we’ll be reading fiction — short stories and potentially novels over the course of multiple meetings. I plan to include papers, essays, and other shit too, though. In addition, I haven’t finalized the reading schedule, so I am open to suggestions (comment! tweet at me!). Please note that I am only picking materials that are online for free.
Details of how to join the meetings will be included in the e-mailed version of NAZAR only. Take this as your reminder to make sure it isn’t going straight to your promotion folder and to remember to read the damn thing.
So, how does NAZAR’s Collective change the newsletter?
The Newsletter’s Changes…
I’ll continue sending out newsletters on the first and third Wednesday of the month. Time switch: moving from sending it out at 9am to 5pm.
The first Wednesday will be the usual: original coverage from myself or a guest writer. Could be a reported article, profiles of different organizations / projects, interviews, and more. The reading and organizing roundups will not be included in the first Wednesday’s newsletter but reserved solely for the third.
I’m also switching up the third Wednesday a bit. This will be a brief (4/500 word) reflection from myself on the month’s readings. I have comments open and encourage y’all to see those short reflections as a conversation. If you couldn’t make it to the reading group, drop some thoughts! Share any interesting and related material you’ve found!
You’ll get the usual article from a guest on February 17. I’ll start these changes in March.