This is my last post on the Girls of Color in Dystopia guest blog series. I've read nearly 40 books just for this series and was disappointed (but, sadly, not surprised) to realize just how many of them have few to absolutely no girls of color in them.
Like millions of Americans reared in the nineties, I grew up rather mindlessly consuming Nick’s cartoons and teen sitcoms.Slimed author Mathew Klickstein prods viewers like me to revisit the influential channel's beloved shows with an eye on racial diversity, gender dynamics, and the process behind creating each show.
Two years ago, on vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains, I saw a white couple at a restaurant with their Asian daughter. Though her father told her to quit staring, I felt the girl’s eyes on me all through the meal. I smiled at her, feeling a strong sense of kinship, a pang of sympathy. As a child, whenever I saw another Asian person – which I hardly ever did – I used to stare, too, hungry for the sight of someone, anyone, who looked like me.
When I first picked up Nalo Hopkinson's The Chaos last summer, I thought, "Finally! A book with a young woman of color as the protagonist!" Of course, I've since learned that there are other dystopic novels with girls of color, but this hasn't ended my love forThe Chaos even after a second (and third) reading.
The Chaos isn't actually set in a dystopia. It's more of a post-apocalyptic world in which Toronto transforms from its usual racist, misogynist, able-ist normalcy to utter chaos, complete with hoodie-wearing sasquatches, escalators that ask questions about quantum physics, and Baba Yaga and her flying house.
For almost fifty years, the disempowered and the marginalized and the outcasts have held up Star Trek as a show that said, “This is what we can aspire to: a humanity that has evolved beyond inequality and oppression”. The show presents a vision of Earth that has moved beyond racism and classism, beyond ableism and sexism and homophobia. As a life-long Trekkie, it is tempting to agree with this reputation. Me and Star Trek, hand in hand, running through fields of wildflowers on a soft-focus sunny day while I gaze upon them longingly. Oh Star Trek! So progressive! So feminist!
Star Trek: Into Darkness came out this weekend, and like any good Trekkie, I was eager to see the film. And although I came away from doing so feeling satisfied, there was one thing that stuck in my craw.
A couple of years ago I saw ex-Bikini Kill singer Kathleen Hanna speak in New York City, right before she donated her musical archives to New York University’s Fales Library. I was struck by her acerbic wit, her ‘I don’t give a fuck’ attitude.
While I was a teenager during the grunge and Riot Grrrl era, for some reason I was (at the time) more drawn to hyper-masculine, testosterone-saturated grunge and metal bands and was not that interested in what was happening on the other side of the scene. As Hanna’s talk was intriguing, I took the opportunity to check out The Punk Singer, part of the Hot Docs Festival in Toronto.
About 10 minutes into the documentary, I knew that I had made a colossal mistake.
Kat Zhang's What's Left of Me takes the mass suspicion, xenophobia, and hysteria that's become normalized since 9/11 and sets it in an alternate United States where people are born with two personalities inside one body.