Did you know the American Library Association has a Feminist Task Force? Of course they do. Each year, a group of people from this task force undertake a mission called the Amelia Bloomer Project where they name the best feminist books of the year for young readers.
What happens when two great black women fiction writers get together to talk about race in young adult literature? That's exactly what happens in the conversation below, where Zetta Elliott (below left), a black feminist writer of poetry, plays, essays, novels, and stories for children, and award-winning Haitian-American speculative fiction writer Ibi Aanu Zoboi (below right) decided to discuss current young adult sci-fi.
A Mighty Girl is aimed, as its name suggests, at girl readers, but I have sons. Does the site have anything to offer feminists shopping for boys? Site co-founder Carolyn Danckaert is passionate about nonsexist children's and young adult literature. She and I talked about tracking down feminist-friendly YA books for kids.
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.
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.
People of color are often seen as the exceptions in predominantly white societies' mass media, like US literature. Let's look at race and gender in two dystopic young adult scenarios in which the exceptional group is not people of color, but clones they've created.
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.
The book's society, seen through the eyes of young main character June Canto, is a clear critique of class and race dynamics that exist today. As in our real world culture today, the people at the top of The Summer Prince's society refuse to recognize the oppression that exists their literally pyramid-shaped city.
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.