The United States is in the midst of a reckoning.
Protests are raging across the country following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade last month — three more Black Americans killed by police. Black activists and allies of all races are demanding justice, demanding the upheaval of a racist law enforcement system and constant abuses of power. But calls to end police brutality have only been met with more police brutality — and so the protests continue.
The revolution has never felt so close at hand.
It is both an exhausting and invigorating time. And that's exactly where (H)afrocentric comes in.
The comic by Juliana "Jewels" Smith was published in 2017 and explores many of the issues we are now all too familiar with: gentrification, appropriation of Black culture, and of course, police violence. It even touches on the rampant misinformation that at times undermines revolutionary efforts.
(H)afrocentric is clever in all the right ways and brilliantly self-aware.
Main character Naima Pepper, a biracial undergrad in Oakland, CA., is all of us right now (or me, at least) — driven by radical sensibilities and the desire to carve out a safe space for the Black community, but at the same time dispirited by the constant pushback from predominantly White society.
Smith takes us along on Naima's journey to create the first anti-gentrification social network, throw a block party to fundraise, and find an internship that won't force her to sacrifice her revolutionary values. As you can probably imagine, it's a struggle.
She's flanked by her brother Miles, their best friends Renee Aanjay Brown and Elizondo “El” Ramirez, and the savvy street entrepreneurs Kwame and Rahsaan.
Or, in essence, the five people you meet at the revolution.
Be it White 'allies' who coopt Black movements and speak over Black voices instead of amplifying them (Smith's caricature of this is just... *chef's kiss*), or the "All Lives Matter" detractors who support "equality" only if it's obtained in a way that lets White people stay comfortable.
Whether you're beginning to feel protest burnout and want some mental relief or just need a reminder to love — and fight for — your Blackness, (H)afrocentric is the perfect read for the current moment.