Walidah Imarisha

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Walidah Imarisha
OccupationWriter, Activist
NationalityAmerican
GenreVisionary fiction

Walidah Imarisha is an American writer, activist, educator and spoken word artist. She is known for creating the phrase "visionary fiction."

Career[change | change source]

Writing[change | change source]

Imarisha is co-editor, with adrienne maree brown, of Octavia's Brood: Science Fiction Stories From Social Justice Movements.[1] It is named after the legendary science fiction writer Octavia Butler.[2]. She also co-edited Another World Is Possible in response to the 9/11 attacks.

Imarisha is the author of the poetry collection Scars/Stars (Drapetomedia, 2013).[3] She also wrote a nonfiction book about criminal justice issues, Angels with Dirty Faces: Dreaming Beyond Bars (AK Press/IAS, 2016). It won the 2017 Oregon Book Award for Creative Nonfiction. She was a member of the poetry duo Good Sista/Bad Sista. She appeared on Puerto Rican punk band Ricanstruction's second album, Love and Revolution. Her words have been featured in Total Chaos: The Art And Aesthetics of Hip Hop, Letters From Young Activists, Daddy, Can I Tell You Something, Word Warriors: 35 Women Leaders in the Spoken Word Revolution, The Quotable Rebel, Near Kin: A Collection of Words and Art Inspired by Octavia Butler, Joe Strummer: Punk Rock Warlord, Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany, and Life During Wartime: Resisting Counterinsurgency.[4]

Imarisha was also one of the founders, and the first editor, of the political hip hop publication AWOL Magazine. She worked on the editorial board for the national Left Turn Magazine. She was the director and co-producer of the Katrina documentary Finding Common Ground in New Orleans.

"Visionary Fiction"[change | change source]

Imarisha and Octavia's Brood co-editor Adrienne Maree Brown describe the term "visionary fiction" as follows:

Trying to imagine "a world without war, without violence, without prisons, without capitalism" is making a kind of speculative fiction. Organizers and activists work hard to create and imagine another world, or many other worlds, just as science fiction does. [5]

"We believe that radical science fiction" should be called "visionary fiction because it pulls from real life experience, inequalities and movement building to create innovative ways of understanding the world around us, paint visions of new worlds that could be, and teach us new ways of interacting with one another. Visionary fiction engages our imaginations and hearts, and guides our hands as organizers."[6]

Teaching[change | change source]

Walidah has taught in many places, including:

She spoke in public all over Oregon as a scholar with Oregon Humanities' Conversation Project for six years on topics such as Oregon Black history, alternatives to putting people in prison, and the history of hip hop.[8]

Organizing[change | change source]

Walidah was a member of the board of the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors for six years. She helped to start the Human Rights Coalition, a group of prisoners' families and people who used to be prisoners.

References[change | change source]

  1. Mirk, Sarah (2014-12-15). "(Re)Writing the Future: Social Justice and Science Fiction". Bitch Media. Retrieved 2015-03-06.
  2. Hansen, Mary (December 3, 2014). "Science Fiction and the Post-Ferguson World: "There Are as Many Ways to Exist as We Can Imagine"". Yes! Magazine. Retrieved 2015-03-06.
  3. Smith, Donovan (2014-02-26). "The Black Experience: Local Author Weaves Personal Tales into a Fascinating Read". The Portland Observer. Retrieved 2015-03-06.
  4. "College of Liberal Arts & Sciences: Black Studies". Portland State University. Retrieved 2015-03-06.
  5. "Octavia's Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements". The American Book Center. ABC Treehouse. 2014-07-16. Retrieved 2015-03-06.
  6. "Quick Hit: "Octavia's Brood" available for pre-order". Geek Feminism Blog. 2015-02-11. Retrieved 2018-08-30.
  7. Burbank, Megan (December 8, 2014). "World-Building as Resistance: Walidah Imarisha and Grace Dillon Talk Revolutionary Science Fiction". The Portland Mercury. Retrieved 2015-03-06.
  8. "Are the Gods Afraid of Black Sexuality?: Religion and the Burdens of Black Sexual Politics". Columbia Institute for Research in African-American Studies. Retrieved 2015-03-06.