“The Black Fantastic” is a project the University Communications and Marketing team
created as a means to highlight excellence among a few of WCU’s Black faculty and
staff members. As we celebrate Black History Month, this is an artistic and creative
look at some of the people who are helping to shape and mentor the great minds of
the future. In their own words, each was asked to respond to the phrase, “I am proud
of my success because …” The title “The Black Fantastic” was chosen by the participants
and stems from Richard Iton’s book, “In Search of the Black Fantastic: Politics and
Popular Culture in the Post-Civil Rights Era.”
As Munene Mwaniki, WCU associate professor in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology, explains, “The book broadly discusses the contemporary and lingering political problems facing Black America since the landmark Civil Rights legislation in the 1960s. Though still widely heralded, the Civil Rights era did not result in a restructuring of American politics, rather it found that the foundational aspects of U.S. politics had certain, if flexible, limits towards social change. In the decades that followed, Black entrance into the political sphere not only failed in many respects, but also led to a number of compromises that constrained Black political thought and attempted to separate Black political thought from its long relationship with Black popular culture. For Iton, the Black Fantastic represents a challenge, a destabilizing force, to the status quo that seeks to limit and constrain Black creativity and politics. It is a pushing of boundaries, a grasping and claiming of space, beyond those limits that only appear to be concrete in order to create something new, something human. The Black Fantastic here, then, should be seen as unconventional, with sense towards ignored or underdeveloped possibilities for those considered Black in the U.S. and throughout the Black diaspora.”
I am proud of my success because it taught me to be grateful for the help and support
of others. One cannot succeed alone. As philosopher Alfred North Whitehead once said,
“No one who achieves success does so without acknowledging the help of others. The
wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude.” Such gratitude works both
ways and is exemplified when one’s success is cloaked in an immortality by others.
However, there are personal and intimate successes of which the world knows little or fails to acknowledge. These shine through and brighten our world with humble confidence.