“We are allowed to be magical. “
Jasmine La Fleur, founder of the exciting event Black Fae Day, is what I like to refer to as an “inner-child whisperer”. There are people you will meet in life who awaken the dormant part of yourself, the part you’re encouraged to quiet down as you age. You’ll notice you shy away from becoming too excitable, you might hide your love of the whimsical for fear of ridicule. Jasmine will have none of that.
We bonded easily over Rankin and Bass’ animated version of The Hobbit, and I was promptly pulled out of any attempt at professional distance. Jasmine makes you want to be open. She makes you feel deserving of a little bravery. It stands to reason, then, that she would be the founder of an event – a movement, really – making space for Black people in Fantasy.
At the time of our conversation, she was preparing for the first in person Black Fae Day event and came to our conversation dressed like the kind of fairy godmother I still hope will visit me someday.
What follows in a excerpt of our interview, which will be available in Issue #1 of The Seelie Crow magazine.
The Seelie Crow: What is your relationship with fantasy? What sparked that relationship, and have you always been a Fantasy fan?
Jasmine: I’ve always been a Fantasy fan. My parents told me that the very first movie I ever saw in theaters was Beauty and the Beast. I think I was like two years old ,and I had to go multiple times, like back to back, because I loved Beauty and the Beast. And, to this day, this is still my favorite fairytale in a Disney movie. So, I kind of came out of the womb enjoying Fantasy and fairytales. It’s funny, because I wasn’t that kid that had a bunch of Disney princesses and stuff in my room, but I was always curious about the characters, like the beast and all of the enchanted items and the worlds around these stories.
I think my hero growing up was probably Peter Pan. I wanted to fly like fairies. I wanted to be in an adventure, and I felt like he was so free to go wherever he wanted to go. So, I think that sparked my love for Fantasy in childhood and up into my adulthood.
The Seelie Crow: Well, I just love that aspect of seeing yourself as Peter Pan, and not the kids he’s taking, like, you having that kind of desire for your own agency to have your own adventures. Are there any other stories that inspired you and, you know, developed your love of fairies and fantasy?
Jasmine: Anime is such a crazy medium that you’d never know what kind of stories they’re going to tell. And recently I went and saw Belle, which was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast that was made by Studio Chizu. They made this more digital version of, you know, talking about influencers and how that relates to your own identity, and how people perceive you. If you look a certain way, or there’s all these
things, and labels that people will attach to you, not really knowing your whole full story.
I was introduced to anime really young, as well. My dad was geeky and watched anime, and I probably saw a lot of things that I probably shouldn’t have seen when I was younger [laughs]. And, so when Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings and those kinds of movies hit the mainstream, I was like, oh, this is where it’s at.
Those stories even translated to my love of video games. I always played RPGs (role player games), and Dragon Age and Mass Effect are two things that completely made me want to just go away in a spaceship, or go fight dragons. I was immersed in that for a very long time. I might do a replay even now, but I love being able to see that imagery.
Anime and video games definitely helped develop a love for Fantasy that I didn’t really get to experience at the beginning of my life, but in my adulthood, that’s how I spent my money, basically.
The Seelie Crow: What a great way to spend your money. It’s so much fun. So, you talked about kind of leaning more into it now as an adult and discovering all these other things. Why was right now the right time for Black Fae Day to start?
Jasmine: I think last year, when we started in 2021, it was a heavy year. You know, COVID had us all locked down and isolated, and then there was so much senseless death. There was so much racial tension that made you almost scared to leave home when all this, you know, resolves itself.
But, I wanted a space to kind of run away to. And I realized even if I were to get on a plane I wouldn’t have far to go with everything that was going on around us. So, when I made the initial posts, it was really like me daydreaming, and being like, well, what if? What if all of us got together and were carefree and didn’t care about what people are saying about you? I didn’t want to ask for permission. We are allowed to be magical. I felt this was the right time, because of the need for escapism, from all the traumas that a lot of us have seen over these couple of years. A lot of people felt the same.
The Seelie Crow: Were you anticipating that kind of, you know, explosion and for people to really tack onto it?
Jasmine: I didn’t anticipate it, but I feel like I was always intentional about, well, what if? So, when I made the kind of call to action on Twitter I was like, okay, do this on this day, you know? Use this hashtag, it’s completely available to you. So there’s no excuse. You don’t have to buy anything. You don’t have to look a certain way. You just make it how you want. So, leaving it that accessibility open for everyone to participate. I felt it had the potential to be big.
If people hear me, or see me, but at this time I had zero social media presence. The fact that it caught on really was like a fairy tale moment, um, to have like 30 followers and some family and friends to, you know, thousands of people using your hashtag and millions of uses on Tik Tok. It’s outrageous.
The Seelie Crow: I dunno, I feel like Fantasy is so healing and we needed that outlet. In that lane, you know, needing to see more of us in the Fantasy sphere. It’s been my experience that a lot of Fantasy culture has been framed as a space for a very particular kind of person: white, straight, male. How do you think Black Fae Day is challenging that lens?
Jasmine: I think just us having a presence being in the room, and showing up, and normalizing images of us and what our culture and what our bodies and our features look like. That alone speaks volumes. It really does. So ,when you have someone like me, who’s Black and plus-size, and queer, you know, and I’m out there and I’m posting myself with my partner, people see that and it gets shared.
And then that becomes a normal image for them. We’ve seen that in other industries like Barbie, for instance. They have tall and short, and all kinds of colors, and blue hair. And, you know, they’ve really shown diversity to children in a way that’s very helpful. I mean, they even have children with different abilities, so some Barbies have wheelchairs, some have canes. It’s normalizing differences in showing that it’s beautiful and it’s acceptable, too.
Yeah, I think we do that a lot on my page. You know, here are going to see all kinds of people and what we look like there’s fantasy. But behind that Fantasy character is a real individual who deserves their space.
The Seelie Crow: Amen. Following up with that, how, how have you seen Black creators changing this Fantasy landscape for others, from different backgrounds? Are there other events popping up that you’re particularly excited about from people of other backgrounds?
Jasmine: There are some artists, a collective collection of women in the UK who about not even a month after Black Fae Day, they reached out to me and said, “we want to do this for our community.” And these women are Asian and I’m like, yes, wonderful!
There’s so much folklore and culture that should be accepted and normalized, as well. And I really want to see that. And so they set their day in June, following Black Fae Day as Enchanted AsianDay. And it was gorgeous! I mean, it was such a beautiful experience because at the same time, the Asian community was getting a lot of hate and anger over the COVID situation
And it was a success for them as well. And so you got to see, you know, their interpretations of dragons, or you got to see these characters that have been oral histories for hundreds of years be brought to the forefront by their own words and their own interpretations. And so I was very excited and proud to even have inspired a moment like that.
Be sure to check out Issue #1 of The Seelie Crow for the rest of the interview and to read even more great pieces by our writers and interviewees!