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The gatekeepers of publishing keep marginalized people from getting their work out there. Jemisin is proof that this practice needs to end.

N.K. Jemisin just won her third Hugo award in a row accomplishing something that no other author in history has done. This wasn't a fluke, this wasn't a one off, Jemisin is proving that the stories Black women have to tell aren't just for other Black women. They're creative, powerful, and worth your time and money. Science fiction and fantasy have been genres dominated by white boys since time immemorial. Why? Not sure, since people from all across the spectrum have been creating spectacular work in the genre. Jemisin has come out to stop this erasure of diverse voices by taking home the Hugo Award not once, not twice, but three times in a row — a feat that has never been done before, not even by the most famous and prolific white boys. Jemisin has won the last three years since 2016, each year for a book in her Broken Earth trilogy, the first of which is being developed into a series for TNT. This accomplishment is amazing but also shows that Black women have been creating powerful and memorable works that deserve a space in larger, more mainstream arenas, something Jemisin highlighted in her acceptance speech on Sunday:This is the year in which I get to smile at all of those naysayers: every single mediocre, insecure wannabe who fixes their mouth to suggest that I do not belong on this stage, that people like me cannot possibly have earned such an honor, and that when they win it’s meritocracy, but when we win it’s identity politics,” she said. “I get to smile at those people and lift a massive shining rocket-shaped finger in their direction.” Maybe this doesn't seem important if you think that science fiction and fantasy is just entertainment, but it's not. It is, at its heart a political and revolutionary genre. Sure there are aliens and ray guns but the work has always been about the human experience, our fears, our hopes. The problem is that the majority of the work that is considered classic, that gets notice and notoriety has been focused on the fears and hopes of white men, leaving out the entire spectrum of culture and reality that anyone else has to offer.

Afrofuturism creates stories that puts Blackness in a central role and deals with the reality of what that means in the cultures and societies that it creates.

When people think of science fiction as a genre, they're usually thinking of books about the coded fears and dreams of white men. Books that are considered masterpieces of science fiction by and large are written by them but the remedy from this pale and exists in Afrofuturism, the future as told by people of the African diaspora. I first encountered Afrofuturism before I knew what it was. The term was coined in the 90s by Mark Dery as a way to explain the collection of speculative fiction and assorted media that was created from the point of view of Black people. I read my first Afrofuturistic novel in 1993. It was Octavia E Butler’s Mind of My Mind. I would later find out it was part of a series, which I bought book by book from various bookstores as they had them in stock. It was the 90s. We didn’t have Amazon. These books were a different way to see science fiction. Never mind the most obvious fact that the covers featured a woman of color, but the stories themselves spoke of life in a completely different manner. Unlike the standard science fiction, these people weren’t “Big Damn Heroes”, they were people who weren't just dealing with their own internal and personal pressures,  but did so while navigating in a society that already distrusted them. That's what's at the crux of what this particular literary style is. It’s not just “stories that feature Black people as leading characters”. They are stories that put Blackness in a central role and deals with the reality of what that means in the cultures and societies that it creates. RELATED: Being Weird and Black Doesn’t Mean You’re Interested in Being White

Given the racism found in speculative fiction as well as the lack of onscreen Black representation, the adaptation Nnedi Okorafor's “Who Fears Death” should be celebrated instead of overshadowed.

By Latonya Pennington Nnedi Okorafor is one of the most successful Black speculative fiction writers in existence today. Last year, she won a Hugo award and a Nebula award for her sci-fi novella “Binti”. Now, her post apocalyptic SFF book “Who Fears Death” is going to be adapted into an HBO television series. Yet, VICE magazine decided to make this accomplishment about author and executive producer, George R.R. Martin. First, let me start off by saying George R.R. Martin is not to blame for this. VICE magazine probably thought no one would read the piece if they put the name of a lesser known Black female writer first. Therefore, they used Martin's fame in order to get clicks and views. Not only is this disrespectful, but it is racist. By putting Martin's name before Okorafor's and cropping Okorafor's name off her own book cover, VICE has made it seem like a black female writer needed help from a super famous white male author. In other words, Martin is positioned as a white savior to a Nigerian-American author.

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