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.
Last week, the FBI named former Black Panther and member of the Black Liberation Army Assata Shakur as the first woman on its Most Wanted Terrorist List. This dubious milestone occurred 40 years to the day after she was, as she describes, unfairly convicted of shooting and murdering State Trooper Werner Foester in New Jersey on May 2nd, 1973.
In Karen Sander's dystopian young adult book Tankborn, the world is a stringent caste system where race and origins determine all status. Tankborn was a hit and the sequel, Awakening, just came out this April, which means now is a great time to discuss the race and gender angle of the book.
We all have words we love and words we hate. On this episode of Popaganda, we dig into those words we just can't stand, from "moist" to "exotic." In addition to ragging on words submitted by readers and friends, we discuss language with New York Times Magazine columnist Lizzie Skurnick, Northeastern Professor Sarah Jackson, and political cartoonist Matt Bors.
Are you a criminal? Let me be specific: have you committed the civil offense of working in the United States without papers? Have you thwarted our nation of laws through heinous acts of unauthorized fruit picking? How about using your degree from UC Berkeley to perform renegade statistical analysis? Are you one of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States?
"After the storm deaths came other casualties: deaths by debris, cuts, tetanus, or loss of blood; suicide, heart attacks caused by stress or loss, or stress of rebuilding, or just as often from the lack of medicines used to treat common ailments. The list of no-longer-treatable diseases grew: diabetes, asthma, cancer. Domestic violence rose, along with murder."
So begins the new book Orleans. Author Sherri L. Smith adds a dystopic twist to the post-Katrina disaster tale we (unfortunately) have come to know so well.
When I started this column on race in dystopian YA literature, a reader recommended I check out Shadows Cast by Stars, Métis author Catherine Knutsson's dystopic tale set on Canada's western coast 200 years from now.
In the book, a plague has ravaged the world. The only cure is antibodies found in the blood of aboriginal people (or "Others" as they are known by non-aboriginals).