JUVENILE HALL: BEHIND THE LINES
AEROSOUL Comic Book Covers Project
AeroSoul members Duane Deterville and Refa 1 do work teaching art to incarcerated youth. One of the many projects recently completed by them is this series of comic book covers wherein they enabled the youth to imagine superheroes that eradicate social toxins in their respective communities. Each superhero was conceived of by predominantly Black and Brown incarcerated youth. Both girls and boys were asked to think about what problems exist in their community and to create superpowers that will address them. Our goal was to nourish, spark and free the imaginations of our youth because we firmly believe that in our creative mode of thinking we are in our most radical, liberatory and revolutionary Afrikan minds. These are the practical uses of science fiction, fantasy and speculative fiction as a tool for liberation.
The African centered ideas of Negritude and Afri-Futurism have historically tapped into the imaginative and revolutionary notions of Black/African people. In keeping with those notions we teach youth how to envision their environment as a place wherein they have autonomy to express themselves and choose their own destinies in culturally safe spaces. Our youth envisioned superheroes with supernatural and telepathic healing powers, heroes who protect their communities from drugs and police terrorism. One particularly impressive superhero battles against the stealing of natural resources from the continent of Africa. All of these images and the potential narratives that stem from them are a testimony to the power and resilience of our youth’s imaginations. With proper stimulation they maintain imaginations for liberation in the face of the status quo’s toxic and dehumanizing media propaganda.
Eyesis Irene is a psychic healer who uses the power of her ancestors the ancient goddess Isis. Irene is a healer from the hood who through her superpowers can heal the mental trauma of the people that she saves. Her healing powers make her neighborhood safe from mental trauma.
Is a comic book cover about the everyday life of a young man in the Black community who is a deep thinker. The main protagonist has no superpowers beyond his ability to contemplate deeply the conditions of people’s lives in the neighborhoods. His thoughts illustrated in this cover also consist of ancient West African symbols called Adinkra, which indicate that he is aware of his deep and rich African heritage.
A former juvenile inmate who has super athletic abilities. Not superpowers just highly athletic. An extremely strong martial artist His mission is to bring justice to the people in his community and help people in their time of need. Specifically the Black community. The youth who began the process for this character envisioned him self as the superhero. As other youth began to develop the character his narrative became more detailed and specific.
Dark Matter has the ability to draw all negative energies into a dark matter space away from the communities that they are destroying. Police terrorism, Crime, Drugs and guns are all sucked into the dark matter providing safe space for people in the community. Dark Matter’s superpowers function like a super detox that can draw all of the social, chemical and spiritual toxins into his body’s dark matter without it harming him. As a result he saves his community from social ills.
This team of vigilante women superheroes organized to empower themselves for the protection of their community – especially Black and Brown women - from being exploited, robbed and abused by the system and street thugs.
Mozzy is a superhero that can speak into the minds of people to raise their consciousness. He wears the colors red, black and green representing Pan-African unity and advocates for peace and solidarity in Black communities. With his ninja steal outfit he battles crime in the Black community.
Blood Diamond was a child laborer in an African Diamond mine. One day one of the mine shafts collapsed trapping him inside. He gained his superpowers when he was trapped in one of the shafts. Instead of dying inside, the diamond mine pressurized his body and gave his body the qualities of a diamond or crystal. He now works as a crusader to liberate African people from slave labor. He has control over the natural resources of Africa and can make those resources work in the manner that he desires.
The Antidoto Sisters are healers who focus on the health and wellbeing of the Latina community. The youth artists insisted that flags representing South America be present in their comic book cover and that the logo have a heart and a hand with a lock. The banner indicating that they are “Latina Healers” was also an important part of their concept. The machete is used to cut healing herbs and other natural growing medicines as well as a weapon for defense. The emblem on the belt of one of the healers is an ancient Aztec sign for healing.
Journey are twins who have the power to lead someone to safety. They are spirit guides who always know the way to safety. One twin can lead a person to safety in the darkness of night while the other can do the same in the daytime. They have special compasses on their belts that enable them to use their superpowers.
Hood Ninja is a neighborhood vigilante superhero with the agility of a ninja. He is equipped with night vision goggles, a power sword and a stealth costume. His stealth equipment enables him to see the criminals in his community without them seeing him.
Shade is a formerly incarcerated youth who escaped imprisonment by using a superpower that enables him to escape into shadows. He was at one time recaptured by the authorities and placed into a completely dark cell. However, he was able to escape when one day the guard served him food through a small slot in his cell. A thin shaft of light came through the slot and cast a tiny shadow. It was enough for Shade to use his superpower and escape into the shadows. He is able tocontrol the shadows and make them do his bidding. He can also throw Shade.
Kadabra uses the mystic arts and magic to fight police terrorism. He has superpowers on both the physical and spiritual levels that enable him to protect his community against corrupt police. He defeats his enemies using his telepathic powers.
Behind The Lines: Denim Jacket Project
Part of AeroSoul’s mission is youth advocacy through the practice and preservation of hip hop’s visual culture. Wearable art has long been a part of that culture and these jackets – created by San Francisco’s incarcerated youth – are a continuation of that culture. The culturally specific political themes of these painted denim jackets exemplifies AeroSoul’s mission to advocate for self-determination in struggling Black and Brown communities. The themes include classical African notions of justice, stopping street gun violence, indigenous/Brown pride, Sisterhood and the very contemporary valorization of Black youth’s lives in the personae of Travon Martin. These examples of youth expressing themselves in these culturally specific ways also underline the 5th element of hip hop which is knowledge of self.