Building Our Own Table: Breeze Harper, PhD

Meet the founder of Black Zephyr Inc: Afrofuturism, Narrative Strategy, and Equity Catalyst

Hello friends,

In the course of arranging these interviews, there are a few names that come up time and again. Dr. Breeze Harper is one of those names. And as a sci-fi buff, you can imagine how delighted I was to learn that Afrofuturism is a central part of her work at Black Zephyr Inc. Please meet Dr. Breeze…

Dr. Breeze, tell me briefly about your background prior to founding Black Zephyr Inc

Since I was in the 3rd grade, I was passionate about writing novels. In the 7th grade, my first day of school was met with being called the n-word. In high school, I realized I was pansexual and noticed that the USA in the 1990s, there was pervasive homophobia. As a high school senior project I wrote a novel called 'Father Figure' about a teen being raised by his fathers (two gay men).

When I enrolled into Dartmouth College in the mid 1990s, I discovered bell hooks and Audre Lorde which gave me (1) the language/framework I needed to understand a anti-Black racism and heterosexism better and (2) the inspiration to keep on writing the justice-oriented worlds I wanted, in the realm of novels. I would eventually go onto to Harvard for my Masters degree and then earned a PhD at University of California Davis where I studied cultural food geography, Black feminist theory, and gender studies. I discovered and devoured afrofuturist and science fiction writer Octavia Butler's works and was blown away by the Earthseed series and Kindred.

Upon graduation in 2013, I published my 2nd book called Scars which was about a Black Lesbian teen growing up in rural and white New England town. I decided to use my passion for racial and gender justice by becoming a DEIJ professional consultant, co-founding a company called Critical Diversity Solutions with Elise Aymer in 2017.

Give me the elevator pitch for Black Zephyr Inc

I combine narrative strategy, Afrofuturism, and racial equity to create regenerative futures and reparative justice. Our foci include climate justice, food and farming justice, and Black reparations.

And in more detail?

After nearly 2 decades of DEIJ, novel writing, and public speaking as a sole proprietor, in 2023 I officially created Black Zephyr, Inc, a C Corp. Black Zephyr fuses narrative strategy, storytelling, and Afrofuturism methods in order to focus on regenerative futures for Black people in the USA. (That website is not up yet but my freelance website that conveys the work I have been doing that led to establishing Black Zephyr, Inc is at www.abreezeharper.com until I can get it moved over to Black Zephyr, Inc).

Black Zephyr has several initiatives: Creating a space for Black women/femmes/non-binary folx to literally write/create a future of joy, possibility, liberation, and equity through creative fiction and narrative strategy as change catalysts and movement builders. A current Black Zephyr Inc project I am in the midst of in is called "Seeds of Sankofa". An Afrofuturist endeavor, "Seeds of Sankofa" is currently (1) a lecture and interactive writing workshop series and (2) an epic novel in progress which is a synthesis of my PhD work on Black inequities in climate, food, farming, nutrition, and land. The novel should be completed by end of 2025.

What inequity were you trying to address, and why is this important?

I'm working on using Afrofuturism as an equity and justice framework as a viable answer for reparative justice (reparations) due to corporate-colonial induced climate change and land/farming injustice within Black communities. These issues are important because climate crisis and land dispossession disproportionately impacts Black (and Indigenous) communities the most in the USA.

How’s it going? What has the response been?

The Afrofuturism, equity, and justice oriented workshops and lectures I have given have been received very well by UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, Evergreen State College, Butler University, and Sacramento City College, to name a few. I am currently collaborating on a Black Birth equity initiative for California. I

What’s next for Black Zephyr Inc?

I really want to create a publishing initiative/company within Black Zephyr for Black women/femmes/non-binary authors who enjoy Afrofuturism, speculative fiction, afrofantasy, etc.

In relation to racism, what is your vision for the future?

My vision is that the racial caste system -- well, all types of caste systems-- are dismantled. In particular, I have hope that reparative justice succeeds.

I find the idea of using Afrofuturism to drive reparative justice pretty exciting, don’t you? Please connect with Dr. Breeze on her website and LinkedIn.

Thanks for reading,

Sharon

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© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2024. All Rights Reserved.

I am an anti-racism educator and activist, Co-Founder of Mission Equality, the author of “I’m Tired of Racism”, and co-host of The Introvert Sisters podcast.

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