The CFC

24 Jul 2014

*Trigger Warning: This article contains material addressing rape, gender based violence, and mutilation.*

Hello Everyone, I’m Judith and I’m currently an intern here at CFC.  I’m a student at Agnes Scott College double majoring in Women’s Studies and Political Science. Outside of my academic interest, I make zines and ponder feminist theory. 

From the moment I watched Tomb Raider; I have been a fan of Angelina Jolie. When I first heard word of the film Maleficent, a remake of Sleeping Beauty, the idea of Angelina, draped in black, casting spells on people sparked my interest. Before I went to the theater, I read a few reviews of the film. I read part of an article that compared the cutting of Maleficent’s wings to that of a rape scene. On the other hand, I read other articles that praised it for being a “feminist film” (Well it does pass the Bechdel Test). Going into the theater with this knowledge I believed I was prepared to view the scene and that it wouldn’t be that bad. Countless shows and films depicted violence against women as a key part of the plot, so how would this be any different? But once I got there, it was painful for me to watch even with knowing what was to come.

Disney presented us, viewers, with a woman drugged and mutilated by a man she was romantically involved with. By saying so I am not perverting the story or film but simply stating a fact. Disney used the imagery of a broken, mutilated female body, in which her greatest strength was taken from her out of fear and greed in order to break her. Unfortunately, this image of the mutilated female form is often exploited throughout film as a humanizer and way of depicting vulnerability. In the beginning, Maleficent is trusting yet a aware character who befriends a human boy despite the rift between the two worlds. The storyline is familiar: woman trusts man and/or person and the trust is broken and is betrayed by this person and, as a result, the woman is harmed, either physically, emotionally, or mentally. Maleficent suffered all three, her body was pained and weakened, the man she loved harmed her, and her personality severely changes as a result of trauma. Through this journey of violence and trauma, the storytellers are able to create a complex character as a result of her being a victim. And I can attest that it worked. Sitting in the theater, I was on Malficent’s side all the way. I wanted her to get revenge on those who harmed her and to gain her strength. But did she have to be harmed in order for me to love her?

It is not that the narrative of abused women should not have a voice or be shown, but I am troubled by the way in which it is done and the group it was marketed too. I sat in the theater with my younger brothers, who are 16 and 14, cringing. It hurt to watch and it made me hate all the humans in the movie. Sitting there, when she wakes up in pain, screaming and crying, I couldn’t help but look around to see who was near. There were a few older couples and little girls with their mothers, who I believed just saw a rape scene and the aftermath of such: Maleficent weak, barely able to walk, first crying and then mad as hell. I don’t believe that young girls shouldn’t be educated on rape but I’m not sure if this was the best medium to expose them to this form of violence.

And for many parents and viewers in general this act of violence was not viewed as rape at all. Because of societies strict view of what constitutes rape and what factors must be involved for sexual assault to be “real.” Maleficent is a victim but not a rape victim. I believe these types of problematic distinctions make it easier for the viewer to watch a woman be mutilated by someone she trusts. Maleficent doesn’t fit into the “perfect victim” model: she isn’t sexually abused, she is not “pure”, and she “allowed” it to happen (seeing that she was drugged after drinking with a friend *insert mocking republican voice*).

Am I asking for an expanded notion of rape? Yes, because the film depicts a type of gender motivated violence and the intentional destruction of a woman’s body used as a weapon against her, similar to how rape is used. The medium and presentation of this gender based violence delegitimizes it because it doesn’t easily fit into a box that your average viewer can stomach or wants to explain to their kids. By recognizing the way in which Disney exploited rape culture in Maleficent there can be a larger discourse about how rape culture permeates film (including children’s films) and an attention to different forms of violence beyond sexual assault that impact women and girls.

Was Maleficent a “feel good” feminist movie? Well, it wasn’t exactly “feel good”. Yes, Maleficent was a strong, leading female character. Yes, there were other women. Yes, she was a badass. Yes, this was one of those few times in which there were lead female characters that romantic love wasn’t the answer to all their problems. I will say it was feministy. My counter to the feminist argument would be, do women have to be broken (in film) in order to be reborn and viewed as good? Great question. Her wings were a source of power and strength and they are taken early on in the movie. And as a result she is left alone and to an extent othered by her community. Her “dirty” body is then paired with darkness and she is perceived as evil and witchy. This often happens to women of color in films. She is then positioned next to a blonde, blue eyed, pure “pretty” girl making Maleficent’s ways more apparent. The image of darkness juxtaposed with light has always had light as the saving grace, as if the image of darkness (in this case, Maleficent) could not save itself. In a variety of movies and shows a white character is the savior to the women of color and the voice of reason, while the person of color adds excitement and spice to the white character persons content life. This white “savior complex” reinforces racist ideals of women of color lacking ability to run their own life and as a result need the guidance of a white woman. Sleeping Beauty is Maleficent’s white savior. She is only redeemed by loving this innocent blonde girl.

So, while the film had feminist qualities, I won’t let it off easy. I would say this film contributes to rape culture in that it allowed us to view the mutilation and dismemberment of a woman’s body by making this violence more palatable. The pairing of the destruction of the environment with that of a woman’s bodies is all too familiar for many of us to pay any mind. Maleficent’s depiction of gendered violence allows us a cop out, letting us to continue watch, dazzled by theatrics and special effects.

22 Jul 2014

jada

It has been almost three years since we learned the name Amber Cole, a fourteen year old blackgirl who was secretly recorded while performing fellatio on a former boyfriend.  Images and taunts spread quickly as the video went viral and commentary about Amber’s agency, privacy and sexuality sparked controversy across the interwebs.  There was slut-shaming, blaming, and judgment of Amber and her family (especially her mother) with little mention of the three boys involved (the boy receiving oral sex, the boy recording it on his phone, and a third who watched in the background).  In my gender class we discussed Amber with empathy and understanding, attempting through our closed door discussion to make sense of the thoughtless and cowardly ways people were vilifying her, defending the boys involved, and seeking a scapegoat.  There were several claims in online discussions that Amber should have “known better,” that she was just “being grown,” and “where was her mama at?”  It seemed inconceivable to consider Amber’s vulnerability, not only as an impressionable young woman, but seemingly because she was a young black woman.  My class discussed the racial implications of Amber’s situation and how her race (alongside her sex and age) colored her as anything but a victim, regardless of the laws of consent (for sexual engagement and being filmed).  We opined that perhaps if Amber were a white girl there would have been more sympathy, less visibility.  Stereotypes of blackgirl hypersexuality made Amber fair game, it seemed, and despite possible hurt feelings and embarrassment, she would “get over it.”  She was black so she was strong, right?  The pseudo-remedy for being bullied, shamed, and mocked in real time and online (to the extent of being included in the Urban Dictionary) was changing schools and a short lived twitter campaign.  Not so much.  The scars left from the trauma she experienced by being betrayed and parodied had to leave her broken and emotionally distressed, strength be damned.

It has been about three weeks since we learned the name of another blackgirl whose image and identity has been hypersexualized and ridiculed online.  Jada is a 16 year old rape victim who was drugged and sexually assaulted at a party.  Within days graphic images of her before and after her assault went viral on social media with memes and videos being made mocking her unconscious body.  In a brave and admirable response to being bullied Jada, with the support and encouragement of her mother, has used social media and television interviews to speak out against her attack, her alleged rapist (who continues to mock her online), and the countless cowards participating in attempts to demean her and her character.  Jada has said, “There’s no point in hiding. Everybody has already seen my face and my body, but that’s not what I am and who I am.”  Jada is amazingly resilient and initially I was impressed with how seemingly effortlessly she could recount her rape without emotion during interviews.  But then I thought about myself at sixteen.

While I join others in supporting and celebrating Jada’s bravery I worry that being proud of her stoicism is an improper response to the trauma she has experienced.  Jada is 16 years old and not only has she been raped, but publicly exposed, outed, mocked, teased and threatened.  Rape victims are usually afforded privacy and time in which to process the trauma.  Jada, however, has been put in a public spotlight and interrogated about an event with consequences that far exceed the immediate backlash and immaturity of peers. Perhaps instead of being proud of her for being strong we should let her be visibly devastated, distraught, shocked, and inconsolable.  Maybe instead of being impressed that blackgirls can withstand so much suffering and become role models for strength, we should be concerned about their emotional wellness, their vulnerability, their humanity.

I am not always strong.  When I hurt, I cry.  I sob deeply and from my belly releasing heartbreaking wails and screams until I feel more empty than sad.  There is nothing wrong with feeling pain and expressing it but society doesn’t let black victims mourn, society doesn’t want black people to feel.  We are made to believe that our feelings are dangerous so we suppress them.  We are told, repeatedly, even amongst ourselves that we are nonfragile so we think we must live up to those expectations.

Truth is, black folk feel implicated by other black folk and strength is something we feel we can be proud of.  A lot of the backlash against Amber Cole by the black community was shrouded in respectability politics and fear that her sexuality and participation in a public sex act might blemish an already sullied and stereotypic image of blackgirlness.  With Jada (and her mother), her strength and refusal to be shamed and silenced as a rape victim is seen as heroic and commendable (and don’t get me wrong, it is, but I believe that part of the reason we “need” her to be strong is because it reflects the overall strength of black women).

Remember Sybrina Fulton's "strength?"  Even on the stand it was her stoicism, not her tears, that seemed to demonstrate her strength.

Remember Sybrina Fulton’s “strength?” Even on the stand it was her stoicism, not her tears, that seemed to demonstrate her strength.

The problem with blackgirl strength is that it never lets up.  Blackgirls don’t have the luxury of a time out or a break to breathe.  The problem with blackgirl strength is that our very lives are stake and if we don’t learn to mask our pain we won’t know how to survive.  The problem with blackgirl strength is that practice makes perfect and after while we have that strength, no pain, never let ‘em see you sweat ish down pat.  The problem with blackgirl strength is that it doesn’t offer protection.  The problem with blackgirl strength is that nobody ever tells us we don’t have to be strong and we don’t know how not to be. That is a problem.

Blackgirls become strongblackwomen, whether they want to or not.  That is a problem.

Anger is permissible as long as it is tempered with strength, but black women cannot afford to be blue. That is a problem.

No matter what happens to them, blackgirls are taught they can “take it.”

That is a problem.

Mistreatment, abuse and misogyny are so commonplace it is common place.

That is a problem.

There has to be a way to protect our Jadas, our Ambers and ourselves without shaming and silencing our visceral responses to trauma.   There has to be a way to be okay without having to be so damn strong.  We have to make room for blackgirl emotional fluidity.  We can raise a fist in the air with tears in our eyes and still be powerful.

8 Jul 2014

From Occupy.com

From Occupy.com

Growing up in the 80s and 90s, I mistakenly thought that environmentalism was something simply to do with saving the rainforest and the ozone layer. “Environment” was a fancy word for places far away from the working class former factory town where I lived. Certainly, “saving the environment” was important for all of us, but it was hard to think about forests and the ozone while living next to a crack house and being battered by Reaganomics. I did not learn until I was much older and formally learning about Black feminism in a classroom that environmental justice was inextricably linked to issues of race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, and access.

The effects of climate change and the do-nothing attitude of governmental leaders is creating a recipe for epic disaster as you read this post. These days it is hard for me not to notice how connected so much of the violence we experience in communities of color as an issue of environmental justice.

Take, for instance, Detroit.

Detroit is a city that can’t seem to catch a break. Between the extreme government-sponsored fiscal mismanagement to the don’t-give-a-fuck attitude the city has towards its residents, Detroit is generally not seen as a place that has its shit together. Nevertheless, the current fabricated water crisis is the coup de grace of fuckery in a city already under resourced.

Workers World reports that:

“Mass water cutoffs have been accelerating in Detroit. The Water Department has hired special contractors, under the direction of Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, as part of restructuring the city in the ongoing bankruptcy proceedings. Up to 3,000 families a week are being denied water for failure to pay their water bills. These bills are often only $125 dollars behind.

Many victims of the shutoffs are already in an agreed-upon payment plan schedule. It is believed that the aim is to make the Water Department more attractive as an investment for privatization.”

Folks who are $125 behind in their bills in a city where the streetlights are routinely off are now also being denied water, a basic human right?

Oh wait, we’re talking about low-income Black and Brown folk, not humans? ‘Cause that’s clearly the message that is being sent here.

Before someone bends their mouth to talk about personal responsibility and the like, I want to be clear that lack of access to water is not only a reprehensible moral issue, it is an impending public health crisis. Water is not just for drinking, although that is, of course, vitally important. We need water to cook with, to bathe with, to flush our ding dang toilets. When thousand of residents in a city are without water, this circumstance could turn into an even bigger, and potentially more deadly, health problem.

The conspiracy theorist in me just thinks that the powers that be just want poor folks to die and if they can’t have a natural disaster (see Katrina et. al.) then one can be made up. Then we can have gentrification, displacement, and the destruction of another chocolate city.

Thankfully, this situation is getting some much needed attention not only in Detroit, but across the nation and the globe. The United Nations has condemned the water shutoffs in Detroit—not like any part of the US government gives a rat’s ass about what the UN says unless it’s convenient. But I do hope that this highlights the good work of organizations working towards environmental justice on the ground in the D, such as Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice and the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative.

So, fam, what are your thoughts on the situation in Detroit? What are the issues of environmental justice in your own communities?

1 Jul 2014

Yesterday, while we lamented the SCOTUS decision to exempt Hobby Lobby and other Corporations-cum-People from paying for birth control because it violates their religious freedom, I learned that 30 Black women released a signed letter offering their support for the President’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative.  This letter from women like former Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin and Rev. Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr., comes on the heels of two major letters from the African American Policy Forum, one from a group of 200 Black men asking for the inclusion of women and girls in My Brother’s Keeper and one from over 1400 women of color, including Alice Walker, Angela Davis, and Anita Hill, asking for the same.

In a moment when it is so clear that the war on women is real, I wonder how Black women can accept analyses coming out of the White House re: MBK that marginalize Black women’s struggle. I have been thinking on this for weeks, as I have participated with the group of folks helping to organize a response to MBK. When I initially saw those sisters caping for the President, I thought of a favorite line from Project Pat: “Don’t Save ‘Em…They Don’t Wanna Be Saved.”

But I know that’s not productive. So let me think it through out loud with you.

Is our struggle invisible to us, too? I don’t believe that. Do we really believe that men have it worse than we do? I think many sisters do. I also think that while we have received and transmitted an incredibly sophisticated analysis of the nuances of racism and how it impacts our lives, we have been more reticent to think through the effects of patriarchy and sexism, primarily because it  creates a rift between us and Black men.  And at an affective level, we feel connected to Black men. Moreover, what so many sisters want, straight sisters who dominate the discourse on this, is a strong Black man, a knight in shining armor type, to show up for us, save us, love us, care for us, ride for us, and provide for us.  Hell I want that, too, but not at the cost of political invisibility.  And even though most Black women know this program won’t make that happen, we would support almost any program that makes it possible for us to have more Baracks for our many Michelles.

Also when we dare to assert that our womanhood matters, that sexism is a racial concern, there is hell to pay. The charges of race traitor get thrown like so many grenades.  As all the conflagrations pop off, brothers can’t hear us when we say, yes, young Black men and boys are in crisis. And they need all the help they can get. If that is all we were saying, they would hear that, but because we dare to say this:

Black girls need help, too.

We get branded as race traitors.

There’s a deep psychology to this that is disturbing. What will it take for us to become a both/and kind of people? What will it take for us to build racial freedom visions that include everyone? What will it take for Black men to stop telling the lie that our desire to be included is a call for Black men’s exclusion? The opposite is far more true. When Black men call for their inclusion it is frequently predicated on our exclusion. Brothers feel very little political allegiance to Black women as Black women. Their political analyses make very little space for gender, other than their own.

At the heart of this though is a far more inconvenient truth. To deal with Black women’s struggles would be to have to confront issues of male privilege, rampant sexism, and copious amounts of sexual and physical violence perpetrated on Black women at the hands of Black men. With us, it ain’t just the system that beats us. Our brothers beat us, too. Not all brothers. Not even most brothers. But far too damn many. And no one wants to address those issues because it seems then like we are pathologizing Black men.

So instead, they say simply help the race, and by helping the race, they mean Black men.

This is unacceptable.

It is unacceptable because we go to the same schools, live in the same unsafe communities, deal with the same systemic lack of access to resources that Black boys do.

It is unacceptable because like Ersula Ore, a professor at Arizona State University, Black women are frequently harassed by and violently engaged by police, who have no problem using excessive force, even when it is clear that we pose no threat to anyone’s safety.

But here’s the thing: I’m not going to spend this post engaging in attempts to prove that Black women and girls are doing worse than Black men.

For one thing, I don’t have to prove that. I simply have to show that Black girls are doing badly and are in need of help. The idea that two severely sick people don’t both need medical care is absurd. The measure by which we determine wellness is not whether you are as sick as another person but whether you are in fact well. And it would behoove us not to forget that.

So no intelligent person who responds to actual facts and studies (which you can see here and here)  can rightly conclude that Black women and girls en masse are doing well by any social measure.

This whole conversation isn’t about facts. The facts are on the side of helping women & girls alongside boys and men.

This is about feelings. This is about the President’s feelings about not having a father. This is about Black men’s feelings of invisibility in a system that makes clear in so many way that they are first and foremost, a problem with which to be reckoned.  This is about Black men’s feelings of pride at having the leader of the free world, a Black man, stand up finally and say “Black men matter.” And this is also about Black men’s deep and inexplicable feelings of hatred and resentment toward Black women, summed up the best by Chris Brown and pastor Jamal Harrison Bryant: “These Hoes Ain’t Loyal.”

And it is those feelings, rooted as most of them are (sans the disloyalty) in actual social realities, that make it seemingly impossible for brothers (and sisters) to get out of their feelings and assimilate new facts into their frame.

So rather than engage facts, they use accusations. “You academics are elitist, out of touch, and you are letting feminism run amok.”

To be clear, I grew up in a family where most of the men have had some level of interaction with the prison industrial complex. This shit is not theoretical for me. But I also grew up in a community where lots of young girls had babies before they had the resources to parent. My own father was taken out by gun violence, but he was a terrible domestic abuser, and that meant that I had to deal with those things while going to school and trying to make excellent grades. Correcting his abuse would have helped, certainly. But resources to help my mom not struggle to make it would also have helped. Mainly having governmental resources that not dictate what kind of family structure my mother should choose to be well mattered most.

When I went to school I dealt with racist teachers who made me cry everyday, teachers who saw my questions and my right answers as a challenge to their authority, teachers who tried in big and small ways to break my spirit. I made it, but so many of the other Black children – boys and girls—didn’t. Again, this shit isn’t theoretical.

Here are three prevailing responses to our advocacy for women and girls of color.

Let the boys/men go first. Well we’ve heard that one before.

The Council on Women & Girls helps women and girls of color. Oh I thought our race was always supposed to matter first. Let us not forget the way the brothers tripped in 2008 over Hillary. As one man said to me, the question is “what matters more? Your Blackness or your womanhood?” To him I replied, “find me the moment in which I’m not one of those at exactly the same moment that I am the other and I will answer your question.”

But now all of a sudden, we are women first. And we need to lay our claims for resources that acknowledge the realities of both race and gender to the side.

That is the most insidious and wrong-headed cooptation of intersectional discourse I’ve ever seen.  As it goes, if it’s not white women, then it’s Black men, coopting the project of intersectionality to narrow the parameters of our freedom vision rather than make them more expansive and inclusive.

Women and girls of color are doing just fine. To quote Clair Huxtable, “Let the Record Show” that that is complete and total bullshit.

The frame that governs Black politics at large remains deeply patriarchal. That frame says a few things. Among them, slavery emasculated Black men and made it impossible for them to assume their rightful place at the head of Black families and communities. 2nd, Black men are targeted by racist policies in which they are killed, locked up, and otherwise disfranchised by police. 3rd, even though Black women have also been harmed by slavery, Jim Crow, and modern day iterations, rape is a lesser crime than lynching. Moreover if our men were able to lead families, they could protect “our” women from rape. So rape is first and foremost a disrespect to the Black man’s right of sexual entitlement over his woman. 4th, Brothers are an endangered species. 5th, if we could just restore Black men to the head of communities, all would be well.

President Obama may not subscribe to every idea listed above, but he subscribes to and traffics in the father-lack narrative that binds these ideas together, going around giving copious speeches about how much he missed having a dad. A father lack narrative is not the basis of good social policy. Black feminist scholars have talked about forever how this idea of father lack, which also translates to the larger idea of needing men to lead shit, functions to pathologize the work of Black mothers and to minimize the leadership capacity of Black women.

In this regard, the President has become Moynihan 2.0. And the fact that he is progressive about women’s issues more generally does not mean he is progressive on the role that Black women play in communities. More to the point, whatever he may know intellectually about the role Black women play, that knowledge is trumped by the emotive force of his father lack narrative. Long way to say, the President remains all in his feelings about not having a daddy and we are paying for it.

Let me also take this opportunity to respond to those critics who say, “why would we on the left or far left actually expect or look to the federal government to save Black people’s lives?”

Good question. And valid point. At best, MBK is a neoliberal framework that abdicates the federal government of actual monetary responsibility to ameliorate the social conditions it created. It suggests that helping men and boys of color is a public good, but that the actual machinery to lift them up is a private duty. It simply outsources that private duty from communities of color to corporations.

And in a world where corporations are people, (rich, white male people who can practice religion apparently) outsourcing the fate of Black boys to said corporations is dubious at best.

But here’s the issue: MBK is the president’s signature racial justice initiative. I know it doesn’t deserve that designation, but such as it is, it is what we have. And what this initiative does at a discursive level is make a powerful and unprecedented argument about the ways that long-standing racial structures have structurally disadvantaged and limited the pathways to success for men and boys of color, particularly Black men.

Thus the initiative suggests that when a group is structurally disadvantaged the government has a prevailing responsibility to stand up and offer resources to ameliorate those conditions.

This is an important argument, despite the fact that I have serious reservations about its execution.

But when juridical structures interpellate identities, which is a fancy way of saying that when the law recognizes your unique structural position, it sets a precedent for future forms of recognition.

What MBK does is remove Black women, very particularly, from this social equation. By arguing forthrightly for the legitimacy of excluding us, it suggests that we are not structurally disadvantaged by long standing systems of racism. Or if we are, the refusal to commit resources to help us, suggests that we have magical powers to overcome these systems.

Of course, neither of these things is true.

And while it is true that helping Black boys and men does help Black women, my question is “Are we only worthy of trickle down racial justice?”

Surely not.

When Kimberle Crenshaw theorized intersectionality 25 years ago, she was offering a solution to a specific problem. Existing legal frameworks could not account for forms of employment discrimination that were unique to Black women. They could help if all Black people were excluded or all women were excluded but not if Black women as an intersecting category were excluded, for say, wearing braids.

A quarter century later, our first Black president, who enjoys the overwhelming support of Black women, is using the logic and social analyses pioneered by Black women to argue for our active exclusion. And  some of our most powerful Black women are actively co-signing the madness.

Jesus wept.

Black women deserve better. Even the ones who don’t know they do. And we won’t stop fighting till we get it.

Further Reading: Paul D. Butler, “Black Male Exceptionalism? The Problems and Potential of Black Male Focused Interventions”  DuBois Review, Vol. 10, 2013. (PDF Here)

24 Jun 2014

Octavia Butler being a beautiful badass surrounded by her books.

Octavia Butler being a beautiful badass surrounded by her books.

Dear Octavia,

Yesterday, it was your birthday. Happy birthday, dear! I’ve been missing you a lot and thinking about you a lot lately, especially since there’s a newly discovered crop of your short stories. I feel like that was a gift for all of us.

Your work has continually been a gift to me and, though you have transitioned to being an ancestor, I want share my appreciation for you life and your work.

I’ve been a fan of science fiction and fantasy since I could read. Reading about lords and ladies, outer space, and other fantastical things were crucial to my development growing up. It gave a girl from hood license to think, dream, and build beyond what I could see in front of me. But by the time I became a teenager, I was wondering, “where are the Black people”? in all the stories I devoured. I started reading more Malcolm X than Robert Jordan or Anne McCaffrey and my love affair with speculative fiction waned.

One fateful trip to the library (this was a very lucky trip, because I also discovered Julia Alvarez’s How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents that day), I ambled into the sci-fi section and was stopped dead in my tracks. There was a book with a Black woman on it. I’d never seen a science fiction book with a Black woman on it. The book was called Parable of the Sower and it changed my life completely. I had already started scribbling my own little sci-fi stories, but reading this brilliant book that was well written, fascinating, terrifying, and thrilling inspired me to really think of myself as a writer. Thank you.

A few years ago, I was reading your essay “Positive Obsession” and the following quote really stood out to me. You wrote:

What good is any form of literature to Black people? What good is science fiction’s thinking about the present, the future, and the past? What good is its tendency to warn or to consider alternative ways of thinking and doing? What good is its examination of the possible effects of science and technology, or social organization and political direction? At its best, science fiction stimulates imagination and creativity. It gets reader and writer off the beaten track, off the narrow, narrow footpath of what “everyone” is saying, going, thinking – whoever ‘everyone’ happens to be this year. And what good is all this to Black people?

Thank you for explaining my lifelong love. Thank you for writing works that transform hearts, minds, and worlds. Thank you for providing a possibility model for Black feminist brilliance.

Thanks you for your words and your work.

Love,

Crunkadelic