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(H)afrocentric is the comic for right now: Black, queer, and throwing punches

Juliana “Jewels” Smith's satirical comic is billed as "the feminist version of Boondocks." It's never felt more relevant.

“We don't have time to discuss your wet dreams of anthropology. The police are here.”

Naima Pepper, (H)afrocentric

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.

Stefano Guidi/Getty Images News/Getty Images

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.

(H)afrocentric

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 ElizondoEl” Ramirez, and the savvy street entrepreneurs Kwame and Rahsaan.

Or, in essence, the five people you meet at the revolution.

(H)afrocentric

The book itself is interactive.

You'll find pages to color in — like the very useful "Tools You Need to Start a Revolution" — and QR codes that will bring you to the (H)afrocentric Soundcloud, where you can hear the playlist and speech snippets to go along with Naima's block party.

(H)afrocentric

(H)afrocentric is Black, it's queer, and it's throwing punches — not just at cops, but at anyone trying to stand in the way of a better future for Black people in America.

(H)afrocentric

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.

(H)afrocentric

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.

Volumes 1-4 are available for physical purchase and digital download and you can subscribe here to get the Sunday Funnies.

(H)afrocentric

“Every act of resiliency is an act of love. Every act of justice is an act of love. Every act to dignify Black life is an act of love. Act accordingly.”

(H)afrocentric

(H)afrocentric

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