REVOLT’s “Imagine If” Black History Month campaign gives creators the ability to challenge historical distortion and reshape the portrayal of Blackness in media. For the entire month of February, select artists and writers will depict a Black future with zero constraints.

From the Sleeping Beauty Galaxy to the Eye of God.

No matter how many times I have traveled from one galaxy to the next, I have always been captivated by the beauty of stars. Do you ever notice how they twinkle like diamonds? Honestly, it never fails to amaze me. Our universe is mesmerizing.

Even more intriguing is that when stars die and form nebulae, they create a spectacle of beautiful, bold colors and patterns in their path, making them even more striking.

It’s as if they’re putting on a grand finale before fading into the great unknown.

Which is literally space in a nutshell: The unknown. And yet, I yearn for more.

When I was a little girl, I used to go through my mother’s things that she inherited from Nanna after her untimely passing. Nanna had so much cool stuff that gave me a dope glimpse into her childhood on a planet once called “Earth.”

It is where all humans originated before the Colonies. I read somewhere during my studies that years of people polluting their oceans and mistreating their planet caused massive destruction.

But, the mass burning of fossil fuel was ultimately the nail in the coffin. Those greenhouse gases made Earth much hotter and inhabitable. Nanna — who was born in 2094 and lived to be over 139 years old — was just a teenage girl when her family had to flee.

I used to go through her old magazines, and play in her wigs and makeup. But my favorite item of all time was a cool device with a half-bitten apple on the back of it. I believe it was called an “iPhone.” It belonged to my great-grandmother, Savanah James-Walker.

Since there wasn’t any way to charge it onboard, the little brainiac in me had to open it and extract the memory. On it were thousands of videos and pictures of my great-grandmother and great-grandfather on Earth.

My favorite videos are of them visiting this beautiful place they called “The Beach.” I often felt trapped in my deepest thoughts about what the sun’s warmth could feel like on my skin. How would it feel to have waves crashing against my body?

I often wonder if I will ever experience a sunset sky painted with pink and orange hues. Will I ever get to feel grains of sand slipping between my stubby little toes? Ugh, I’m dying to build a sand castle.

The more I think about it, the more I yearn to explore the wonders of what lies beyond our reach, just waiting to be discovered.

Beyond The Colony, Beyond The Stars

Goddess of the stars. The Galaxy Trapper.

Depending on who you ask, I go by many names. But, to my friends and family, I’m just Aaliyah Bennet. I am a renowned astrophysicist and inventive space traveler, born and raised in Colony G7. Of all the Colonies, we’re the most melanated and definitely the most innovative.

Some of the Colonies’ most prolific scientists, astronauts, and inventors are from G7. I learned everything I know from Dr. Sean Williamson White, the most brilliant astrophysicist who ever lived.

G7 raised me, but Dr. White made me into who I am today. He grew up with my grandmother and was a dear family friend. When he realized my love for science at a young age, he took me under his wing. As a kid, I spent hours in his lab until my mom had to beg me to come home. Little did she know, that was my home. It was my sanctuary.

Many of the missions and projects he led were transformative for The Colony. After his passing, I took over his lab and continued his work. I have big shoes to fill, and my size seven really ain’t comparable.

“Tyyyyyyyy!!! Tyyyyyyyyy!!!” My irritation went from one hundred to zero as he shimmied through the lab. How can I possibly be mad at this kid?

Once those headphones get put on, he gets lost. I can’t help but laugh because when I was his age, Dr. White used to snatch my headphones out of my ears to get my attention.

See, Ty is just 19 years old, but man, he is brilliant. At 9, he discovered XO Planet R19890. By 14, he graduated at the top of his class. His dissertation “Beyond The Colonies” was a masterpiece, and it was one of the reasons why I welcomed him with open arms into this lab.

Ty and I share a unique belief that there is a better way to live beyond the Colonies. Hopefully, one day, we’ll prove it. We both think that somewhere out there is a planet that is a replica of Earth.

I gently poked my finger into his shoulder. Startled, he jumped up out of his seat. “Wow, Miss B, you trying to put me in an early grave?”

“Boyyy!!! You don’t hear me screaming your name?”

“My bad, Miss B. You already know I get in the groove when that old-school playlist drops.”

“Do you have an update for me on Project L99?”

“I don’t just have an update; I have our first prototype ready to rock and roll for testing.”

“Now that’s what I’m talking about!”

Screaming on the inside, I gave Ty the biggest hug. I inherited Project L99 from Dr. White and promised him we would see it through one day. This top-secret project is a spacecraft that is not just made out of indestructible materials; it can also travel up to 2 billion light years away. Our current spacecrafts can only travel up to 300 million light years.

To put this into perspective, how cutting edge this technology is, one light year is the equivalent of 5,878,625,370,000 miles.

To get an idea of how expansive and infinite space is, the farthest galaxy known to man is CEERS-93316. It’s 25.7 billion light-years away. This means we haven’t even scratched the surface of what’s beyond our reach.

In other words, we’re about to change the game for space travel as we know it.

Alien Superstars: One Giant Leap for Humanity

After a few months of testing project L99 with Ty, we think it’s time to flex our muscles on our first destination. The spacecraft is small but mighty. It can only carry two passengers and up to five years of supplies. We don’t ever intend on being onboard that long, but as the saying goes, “S**t happens.”

We’ve been looking into a few untouched galaxies to test the waters with, something that isn’t too far but is also undiscovered. The goal is to be onboard for no longer than eight months to a year.

As we sat down, plotting our next moves, a rapid, insistent pounding on the door jolted us from our seats. I quickly ran to the front cameras to see who it could be, but the doorway was empty. Puzzled, I grabbed Starla (you know your girl is always packing that heat).

I swiftly opened the door, and no one was there. It was just an envelope on the floor with a seal that read IGA. Ty yelled from across the lab, hidden behind a bookcase, “Who is it, Miss B?”

“Nobody, big scary! You know to be 6’7 and way stronger than me; why the hell are you hiding?”

“I’m not scary; I’m just cautious,” he shrugged. “What’s that?”

“I don’t know. This was on the floor in front of the door.”

I broke the seal open, and inside was a note with a memory chip. The note simply read, “Watch me.”

I rolled out our biggest projector and popped the memory chip in to see what this was about. A video with six masked men appeared. It was apparent that they wanted their identities sealed. Each mask was unique and distinct.

“Aaliyah Bennet, we are the guardians of G7, and we need you to listen very carefully.”

Their voices were also altered.

“Before Dr. White transitioned, he told us you would continue his work. He was a brilliant man who made significant strides for the Colony. The colony is in grave danger, and we don’t know who else to task this difficult mission to but you. As you know, the colony has been running on hemp fuel since its inception in 2097. For the last 10 years, the scarcity of water and resources has made us stretch ourselves thin. We’ve made some really hard but poor decisions.

We have tapped into our fuel reserves, and the Colony has less than eight months of it to keep us in orbit. Without any fuel, we’ll just be floating into uncertainty until something pulls us into destruction.

We’ll spare you the details because you already know what kind of destruction we mean.

We know that Dr. White worked on hundreds of projects. We don’t have any answers to what will save us, but the Colony of G7 rests on your shoulders. We will give you whatever you need, but please know you are our only option.

We’ll keep in touch, Miss. Bennet, and we’ll be awaiting your next move.”

The video goes dark, and silence fills the room. Speechless, Ty and I both just stare at the dark screen. He breaks the silence. “What are you going to do?” Lost for words, I quietly whispered, “I don’t know, Ty, but we can’t let the Colony perish.”

“You might think this is a crazy idea, but what about L99?” he says.

“Ty, we can’t sit here and even think about going onboard right now; our trip will have to wait.”

“No, Miss B. I mean, what about using the technology from Project L99 for the Colony? It may take us a few months to get this right, but if we can replicate this technology for the Colony, we may be able to save her. But, if we take apart L99 and use its technology for G7, you do realize we may never have the opportunity to ever explore beyond our current reach. Miss B., you taught me that even the word impossible has possible in it. Let’s bunker down for the next few weeks and find a solution to use this technology for something greater than ourselves.”

“You’re right. Let’s get to work.”

Two weeks later, while going through Dr. White’s things, I found a box with my name boldly written on the front in black marker. Curious, I ripped it open and found a memory chip. I rolled out the projector and popped in the chip.

“Aaliyah, if you’re watching this, it means that I am no longer here to carry through some of my most important work. Before I begin, I want you to know that, of all my greatest accomplishments in this lifetime, you were by far my favorite. Since you were a child, I knew you would be someone special.”

With tears streaming down my face, I continued to listen intently. Dr. White poured into me for the next three hours until my glass overflowed.

Ty and I have now hit a wall. When we cracked the code on L99, it was for a spacecraft big enough for two passengers.

The colony has thousands of people who live here year-round. Equipped with a newfound confidence, I rushed into the lab and got to work.

Cracking the code: All or Nothing

We’re down to the wire and five months in building. Over the last few months, IGA has supplied us with so many resources and tools to get to this point. We’ve been testing our technology, and we are progressing so far.

We’ve expanded the lifeline of our fuel supply through our solar energy, and we are currently working on implementing a hybrid model system that will allow the Colony to run on both solar energy and fuel.

We have a long way to go before we can fully solar, but G7 has another lifeline for another decade. Within that timeframe, we’re confident we can crack the code to sustain us for a lifetime.

Though I may never see the beauty of a “Beach” in my lifetime, the technology we’ve developed may give someone from the Colony the opportunity to one day.