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.
Gaining the courage to write fantasy fiction has made me realize how important the genre means to me as a Black queer writer. Designated in October 2013 by Black SFF writers Balogun Ojetade and Milton J. Davis, Black Speculative Fiction Month is dedicated to celebrating Black speculative fiction creators in literature, film, and more. While reading Black speculative fiction has always been a thrilling experience, I've recently learned that creating it can help me imagine my most magical self. In late September, I finished "Moon Bloom" my very first fantasy short story with Black queer characters. The story was inspired by many things, but the most important factor was the desire to give myself the representation I've wanted to see for years. Since grade school, I've adored fantasy fiction and how the stories paint the imagination with magic, adventure, and wonder. I grew up with the Harry Potter series, which served as an entry point for other fantasy books like Tamora Pierce"s Tortall series and Garth Nix's Abhorsen trilogy. However, I didn't read any books by or featuring Black people until 2010.
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