A term created by Jennings and Carpenter, 'ethnogothic' comes from a series of conversations the two had about the subgenre of horror and its relationship with Afrofuturism, and more broadly Black speculative fiction.
"What I'm putting on Afrofuturism is the way it looks forward, but what we were dealing with were issues around trauma," says Carpenter. "If Afrofuturism is about looking up and out, horror is going in. That's a thing we felt needed its own space and its own vernacular."
"You have to name that monster, claim that monster, kill it, let it go," adds Jennings. "When you name things like that, you control it. You can actually deal with it. And then maybe you'll get on the bus to the Afrofuture."
For Anderson, there's an urgency to have terminology to help explain and describe what the panel recognizes is a renaissance moment for Black horror stories in a variety of media.
"We are grappling with these things at the same time as the work is actively being produced," she said. "One of the things that's coming out of this with more eyes on Black horror works is that we're developing better language for how to address it."
The panel agrees that this resurgence and interest in Black horror stories is directly related to the work of Jordan Peele, starting with Get Out in 2017, Us in 2019, and Nope that released on Friday, July 22, 2022.
"I think he's a good compass for artists, not only in breaking out of the box, but in shying away from violence against Black people," says Due. "I think one of the dangers of how commercialized Black horror became after Get Out is that some artists with proximity to Hollywood who are not necessarily horror artists were given opportunities to tell stories of horror that were about the thing itself. Like lynching as horror. Yes, lynching is horror noire. But what I think a lot of these new artists don't understand is that horror is first and foremost entertainment. I'm not entertained by lynching."
"Jordan Peele has absolutely done something amazing because he's a world class humorist," adds Barnes. "He's able to adjust the tension level perfectly. He doesn't have to make you vomit with the fear. He can make you laugh at it. It bubbles up, and then you laugh."
THE KEEPER'S OMNIPRESENT HORROR
Due and Barnes also discussed their upcoming horror graphic novel The Keeper that's set to release on September 27. The story follows Aisha, a young Black girl who must live with her ailing grandmother after her parents are killed in a car crash. But almost as soon as Aisha moves in, her grandmother's health rapidly deteriorates. Concerned about Aisha's welfare after her impending death, the grandmother summons a dark spirit to watch over Aisha, a spirit that has protected the family for generations that Aisha refers to as The Keeper.