It's the day before Earth Day and former Apollo 17 astronaut Edgar Mitchell has caused a stir about extraterrestrial life. Yes, folks, he's convinced there's life beyond our singular existence on Earth. He also confesses our government is keeping the alien files on lock down. Now before you lock me away as the crazy black dude who's obviously "smoking", let me confess a little something. I've never sighted a U.F.O. Except for a cousin who claimed she was lifted into the air by aliens at the age of five, I don't know anyone, personally, who has made a close encounter. Folks have certainly claimed they've spotted something "curious" flying overhead or saw some "strange light" that offered no logical explanation, but the real deal E.T. set up? No. However, [and this is interesting] most of the people who claim to have had some form of extraterrestrial encounter have been, well, not Black. Why is that?
I'll be the first to admit that I love sci-fi. From Aliens to The X Files to The 4400, there's a part of my subconscious that's drawn to the idea of life beyond our solar system. It certainly may be wishful thinking, but if an alien dropped through my Brooklyn spot and offered a trek to a planetoid to check out true communal living, well, I'd go. I'm adventurous like that. But what's up with all the alien-hating from the black community? A very articulate and resourceful brother w/ locks told me once that black folks don't have time for extraterrestrial life. He said, and I quote, "Black people are too busy trying to figure out life on Earth and I should use my creative time to stop injustice on the streets." A minister from Atlanta once insisted aliens were a manifestation of the devil. Come on, I refuse to think THAT single-minded.
Are Black folks too burdened by the "now" on Earth to appreciate the possibility of the extraterrestrial? Or does our commitment to religion trump everything? What's the deal?
Keith Josef Adkins is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and social commentator.