Living at the intersections of identities means to be honest about ourselves we have to write from the intersections of voices, of selves, of genres. We do not fit neatly into preconstructed boxes based on hierarchies. When myself and my co-editor adrienne maree brown were originally trying to find a publisher for our anthology Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories From Social Justice Movements, a collection of visionary science fiction written by organizers and activists, we were told multiple times publishers couldn’t figure out how to market the book. What box it would fit into. Who would buy it.
The beautiful success Octavia’s Brood has experienced in the year since its release, rooted so deeply in communities of justice around the world, has proven we are hungry for dreams of new futures where we can see ourselves as whole complex beings. For images of organizing that center the leadership of those who are marginalized amongst us – queer and trans folks of color, undocumented immigrants dealing with ability issues, and the intersections of all the above – because it is through this centering we see what true and total liberation can look like. Since receiving the Tiptree fellowship I have continued that work:
and folks have continued to see those possibilities in the anthology: http://www.raintaxi.com/octavias-brood-science-fiction-stories-from-social-justice-movements/
As I have come more into myself as a writer, as a Black feminist who embraces organizing and poetry and science fiction and public scholarship as vehicles of transformation my own writing has become more intersectional. It is often much easier to see the value and splendor in others’ work as I did with the short stories in Octavia’s Brood, but when we turn to our own work, often the self-doubt settles in for the ride, especially as marginalized folks who have had impostor syndrome beaten into our very DNA.
Being one of the first two Tiptree fellows has provided a validation both for my own work, and also for the idea that this type of writing is both valued and needed. I have been using this support for my continued work on two projects: a collection of Black gendered liberation poetry through the lens of quantum physics called Tubman’s Uncertainty Principle, and a novel-length exploration of my short sci fi story in Octavia’s Brood “Black Angel.”
For the novel, I am working within the speculative fiction frame of superheroes, having created a grumpy Black big-haired female fallen angel as a reluctant superhero. Through this medium, I am exploring real histories of resistance amongst people of color, like those in Palestine and connecting it to Black liberation here in the U.S. I am working to explore current social issues such as police violence and Black Lives Matter as well as deportation and immigrant justice. I am working most of all to shift the fundamental framework of the superhero model, to move from an elitist and exceptionalist notion of the one who will save, to instead seeing the ways oppressed communities have, do, will, and can organize together to create visionary means of resistance and community building.