Lions, Tigers, Bears & Black Trauma
Every week on Twitter we see these talking points of wanting more Black Fantasy & Scifi books that don't deal with Black trauma. And as usual, I sigh in contempt. Is this a valid take? Of course. But even some of your Scifi & Fantasy favorites have elements of Black struggle and pain. Stories like Kindred and Dread Nation come to mind. Which are basically slave stories with zombies and time travel. They both deal with elements of Black struggle. From colorism, racism, rape, abuse, misogyny, you name it. I can't think of a single Black story with no elements of what most would consider 'Black trauma'. Books such as Akata Witch come to mind as well. Sunny's story dealt with colorism and discrimination between Africans and African Americans within the realm of magic. Even one of the characters, Sasha was literally a walking teenage stereotype of young Black men in America. While this isn't the main focus, it's still there and Nnedi Okorafor doesn't shy away from it. But I believe that the unique relatability of trauma is what makes us unique. It's what makes our stories worth telling. No matter if you grew up in the projects of Brooklyn or come from a comfortably middle-class family in Orange County. We can all relate to some kind of Black struggles. Even in the form of microaggressions that aren't life or death levels of oppression.
This need to constantly point out that not all Black stories are about trauma or struggle feels more like a desperate attempt to 'other' ourselves from what we've been conditioned to view as bad or shameful. But there is nothing shameful about our pain or struggle. Which leads me to another issue I have with this subject matter. Many stories written by white authors are filled with trauma and tragedy. Dystopian novels about teenage girls living in poverty, dealing with genocide were all the rage a decade ago. What makes those authors any different from Black authors who essentially write about the same things just through the lens of Black life? Yet non-Black writers aren't asked to write less pain & struggle & more mermaids, witches, and other bullshit. My point is, Black trauma is natural. It's relatable, and it sells. No matter if it's wrapped up in steampunk or regency-era romance.
It's 2020. There is a good chance that any story you've ever wanted to read by authors of color has been written. So go find it.
If you want a fantasy story about Black shifters, check out River's Moonlight on Amazon!
Classic fairytales, but in Black? Check out Mahogany Tales!
Love Nicholas Sparks but without the bible-belt whiteness? Check out Fernando!
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