The other day, my boyfriend asked if I believed in ghosts. “Of course,” I said. He kind of smirked.
“Really? Why?” He’s German and only believes in science, efficiency and VFL Wolfsburg.
“Because!” I said. “Because…there’s lots that science can’t explain, and I think anything is possible. Including the existence of ghosts.” He chuckled his uber practical German chuckle.
“Ok sweety,” he said, highly amused.
Truth is, I’ve always believed in ghosts, and so has most of my family, and so do a lot of other Southerners like us. My classmates and I grew up on the Jeffrey tales. My cousin Novena thrilled us with stories about Bloody Mary and I know at least five of my family members who earnestly believe they’ve had encounters with a haint.* Heck, even I’ve had an encounter, kinda sorta. My ex-boyfriend had warned me his house was haunted, and one day there was this weird incident where something unseen (coulda been a mouse, but then it coulda been a haint) moved in a living room corner. We locked ourselves in his bedroom until his parents came home. This same boyfriend often told me about being ridden by a witch.
So when I read this post on Racialicious about the lack of African-American inspired folklore on the CW show “Supernatural”, though I don’t watch the show, I could totally understand where the author is coming from. African American folklore is rife with tales of the supernatural, yet it’s kind of hard to find horror stories in TV, film and other media that are by or about black people or have origins in black culture (voodoo being the glaring exception. And maybe “Thriller.”). In fact, just a few weeks ago, my coworker and I were trying to figure out how many “black” horror films we’d seen.
Me: There’s Tales from the Hood**. And Blade, sort of.
N: Oh yeah, and Vampire in Brooklyn (raucous laughter from us both because have you SEEN this movie? It’s more of an unintentional comedy than a horror film). And…and… that movie with Snoop in it (Bones).
That’s all we could come up with.
Granted, there are probably more (and if you know of some, tell me about ’em!), but that’s all we could come up with. We fared a little bit better on books, though. Here are some that are worth checking out.
The Dark Thirty by Patricia McKissick and Brian Pinkney (I remember reading this book in elementary or middle school
The People Could Fly by Virginia Hamilton (has a nice section of horror folklore)
LA Banks’ Vampire Huntress Series (it’s like Twilight for Tupac fans)
Fledgling by Octavia Butler (I haven’t read this yet, but it’s on my list)
My Soul to Keep by Tananrive Due (also haven’t read it, but plan to; i hear it’s all kinds of good)
What about y’all–know of any good books featuring black ghosts, goblins and things that go bump in the night?
*haint–southern for “ghost”
**i LOVE Tales from the Hood! sure, it’s kind of campy, but it’s still crunk.