If there was a display of beautiful art on any street corner and the art was free, most people would take a piece of art and place it somewhere in their lives.
If there was a pop-up book stand full of inspiring, visionary, informative books in front of any local grocery store, the books would likely be gone by the end of the day, and people would be reading or planning to read them.
If one day, in mailboxes everywhere, there was a verified step-by-step blueprint for ways that anyone across race, gender, etc., could change their living conditions and tap into community resources, many more people would be taking action to make that change.
Journalism can be all of that.
But today, most of it is not.
So for now, we’ll refer to the kind of journalism that takes you from the past to the future with facts, insights, and possible visions from the future as speculative journalism.
Speculative journalism is a derivative of speculative fiction, a writing genre that teeters on the lines of fantasy, dystopia, utopia, and science fiction by combining history, folklore, contemporary social issues, and visions of a distant future.
Some of the most masterful speculative fiction authors and artists include Octavia Butler, N.K. Jemisin, W.E.B. DuBois, and Sun Ra. Speculative journalism exists as kinfolk in their lineage and our colleagues at Media 2070 and Media Justice have been playing in public with speculative journalism ever since they first co-hosted Black Narrative Power Month, inviting folks to share #BlackFutureHeadlines.
In order to create a new, more just world, we must first be able to imagine that world. This project goes back and forth in time using pieces of speculative journalism by our contributors which link to pieces of journalism from the archives of the New York Amsterdam News. We felt it was important to remind ourselves and our community of our rich history as we continue the long tradition of creating bold new worlds where we are treated justly.
This collection of speculative fiction is free from the chains of traditional journalism and allows us to visit a world, nearly 50 years in the future, where collective ownership and action help to ensure that everyone is treated humanely. But this world, just like our current one, and the one of our ancestors documented by the articles from our archives, still struggle with the legacies of slavery and oppression.
Throughout this edition of the Amsterdam News, you’ll experience various iterations of speculative journalism. Our hope is that the time you spend here grounds you in the thick and juicy richness of our history while it pulls you further into vision, hope, possibility, and the action necessary to build the kind of community power we need.