Monday, August 31, 2009

Chris Crutcher Gets It

Since writing characters of colour seems to be the topic du jour (both by White writers and Writers of Colour), I want to spend a little time looking at WHALE TALK, by Chris Crutcher. As some of you know, Mr. Crutcher is white, and male. He writes believable, multi-dimensional characters of colour while exploring issues of race head-on. In this YA novel, the protagonist is a young man of colour navigating teen life and school, and exploring the concepts of identity and family. In the same novel, Crutcher also takes a brutal look at how racism affects the life of a young biracial girl (white mother, black father).

What makes Crutcher's portrayal of characters of colour so effective in this book is quite simple: he gets it. Mr. Crutcher's background is in social work. He was a therapist and child protection advocate. He directed a "last chance" alternative school for at-risk K-12 students for almost ten years. I have no doubt he would agree that among the first steps to self-actualization are self-acceptance and self-love. And isn't self-actualization what we're trying to do? To fulfill our highest potential? To shine our light -- to be as great as we are capable of becoming?

Mr. Crutcher has obviously been around young people of colour and knows, quite intimately I'd imagine, the issues they face in school and at home. As anyone who has worked with or been around young people of any colour knows, they are working out issues of--among other things--identity. Young people of colour are working these issues out with the added element of race.

Obviously, all teens face issues of self-esteem at one point or another. But teens who fall outside of the social power hierarchy (teens of Colour, LGBTQ, and working class teens, as well as teen girls) are particularly prone to bullying, alienation, ostracism, and plummeting self-esteem because of the added layers of oppression.

Crutcher doesn't skirt around the topics of neglect, abuse, racism, and class. He slams into them without fear, picks them apart and looks at the way they function on a micro level. He connects all of them and brings them home, to the personal.

In one scene, the young biracial girl scrubs her skin raw because she is trying to "wash the black off." This is heart-breaking to read for so many reasons, but specifically, 1) what a devastating place for any child to be; and 2) this is, tragically, not uncommon.

Most PoC know what it's like to be compared to a beauty ideal that is often not only unrealistic, but completely impossible. White skin and/or light skin are ideals in countries where brown people live the world over, including countries that are predominantly non-white. "Non-Asian" eyes have become a beauty ideal for Asian women, and the practice of blepharoplasty (surgery to create a double eyelid fold) has become a profitable venture for many plastic surgeons. Women everywhere struggle to accept body shapes that deviate from the Vogue and Cosmo norm. Magazine, film, and television images featuring one idealized type of beauty affect the self-esteem of PoC and women, and are tremendous obstacles to overcome when working toward self-love and self-acceptance,* and thereby impeding self-actualization. In children, these types of self-hatred work themselves out in the most devastating ways.

Crutcher not only displays an understanding of the fact that all teens struggle to accept themselves, but that this battle is exponentially amplified for teens and children who are on the margins of mainstream society (as depicted in the "reality" of television, books, and mainstream media).

WHALE TALK shows a grasp of two critical elements: 1) all teens (and people) are essentially the same; and 2) all teens (and people) are not operating on a level playing ground. In other words, yes, on a personal level we are all the same. We have the same emotions, similar struggles, and want the same basic things out of life. But on a systemic, political, and economic level, we are not all the same. And this reality affects our personal lives -- advantaging some over others, with the advantaged never having to acknowledge or be aware of their unearned privilege.

These two elements are not only beautifully incorporated into Crutcher's fiction, they allow his characters to breathe on the page. Combined effectively, they create life-like, believable characters who are "other" to Crutcher's experience, without "otherizing" them. He is with them as an insider, not looking at them as outsiders. And when we read them, we experience them as intimate as family; we rejoice in each character's triumphs as we would our own family, and we share in their pain as we would with our own loved ones.

This is an accomplishment for any writer, indeed. WHALE TALK is believable, it is compassionate, and it is a must-read, IMO. I'm also thrilled to note that the cover now features a model who is more obviously multi-racial, to reflect the main character. Here is another review for this book by teen blogger, Miss Attitude, who runs the blog, Blackteensread2.

I'm hoping to feature more writing of the "other" that is multi-dimensional, layered and nuanced, and effective. I want to explore what the author did that worked exceptionally well where other writings may fall flat. It helps us all understand what makes us different and what makes us the same. It helps us all understand, period.

*For those of you still insisting that not all White people experience white privilege, this is yet another of the unacknowledged benefits of being white. It is part of the "knapsack" of white privilege that Peggy McIntosh describes in her most excellent essay, though she does not list "beauty ideal" specifically -- the closest her list comes is with numbers 6, 26, and 50, which, to me, are along the same lines.

Just An FYI

A bit about my comment moderation policy:

For those of you who are upset about my posts, essays, or opinions otherwise expressed, I suggest you stop visiting this blog and reading my essays where you *know* they will be posted. It is, by now, fairly obvious that I am intent on working with others of like mind to create balance of power and an equitable distribution of resources within the field where I focus my efforts (children's/YA literature), as well as anywhere else I may have influence.

If you consider my efforts against racism, sexism, homophobia, etc., to be "reverse-racist," anti-male, anti-straight, or otherwise offensive, there are numerous other forums on the internet where you will find those who share your views. Here, your comments will be deleted, often without being read.

If you are truly interested in learning, dialogue, and exchange of ideas, there is a list of required reading here.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Greece Is the Word

Today, a message from Greece:

"hey, are you the writer who wrote shine, coconut moon? do you know if it's coming to Greece?"

I would LOVE for SHINE to come to Greece. Keep watching this blog or join the SHINE page on FB for updates. There are some coming soooon!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Dragging Butt to Finish Line

I am going to have an entire day to myself this weekend. After two weeks of being with the kiddies 24/7 on my own, I am. SO. Looking forward to breaking out for a bit.

Whatever will I do with ALL that time?? Don't worry. That's a rhetorical question. I have a list *grin*.

Have a great weekend, all!

Thursday, August 27, 2009


This video is part of the "Dark is Beautiful" campaign from Women of Worth in India (thanks to this post from Phillygrrl on Sepia Mutiny). It's a campaign to build the self-esteem of dark-skinned women and girls, and to counter toxic, mainstream campaigns by skin fairness creams (which are a multi-billion dollar industry in South AND East Asia).

Reminds me of the "Black is Beautiful" movement of the sixties which was based on a similar idea: to create a new aesthetic where non-European features were considered beautiful.

After you watch this video, do click on the link above to see the ad for the Fair and Lovely cream. If you can stomach it. If not, here is a brief summary: doors close on a young girl's future because she is too dark (and, therefore, not "modern"). The father, angry and determined to do right by his daughter, goes to the Ayurvedic files for a fairness concoction. The girl uses the cream and, voila! She is fairer! More modern! She is hired. And the whole world opens up to her.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Are We Family?

Yesterday, I went into an "Indian fashion shop" (not actual name) to search for outfits for my girls. We're going to a gigantus Indian wedding in a week and it's the first one my girls will attend. They are thrilled and excited. All of it enthralls them: the mayaan, or "henna evening" with the women, the colorful, glittering fabrics, the bindis, the food, the music, the gathering of family and community . . .

Me? Not so much. Don't get me wrong. I love Indian weddings. Not so crazy about the drama. Anyway. We walk into the store and my girls go nuts looking through the racks and the bangles and the earrings and such. The store clerk smiles and begins to show them outfits she thinks they'll like. I veer them toward the outfits I know are more affordable.

All is well until one of my daughters holds an outfit against herself and admires it in the mirror. She beams. The outfit is dazzling. It has a long skirt and is in her favourite colour--fuschia. "Do I look like a princess, Mommy?"

The store clerk turns to one of her colleagues and, in Punjabi, says, "that colour doesn't work with the child's dark skin."


Before I can think about it I fire out, in Punjabi, "Oh, that colour works just fine on the child. What doesn't work on dark skin are your blue contact lenses."

She has the decency to be embarrassed. "Oh--you speak Punjabi! You . . . you don't look like you're Indian."

Okay. This, I've heard plenty in my life. But rarely has it come from another Indian, Punjabi, Sikh woman*. A woman who sees Indian, Punjabi, Sikh people all day long, who goes to various parts of South Asia to shop for the outfits that hang on her racks. I've been to India. I know that Indian, Punjabi, Sikh people vary in skin shade from very European-looking to very African-looking. In fact, in my own family, my mother often passes for Italian or Spanish, while my father has been called many derogatory names used for those who are of the darker persuasion in India. So . . . what exactly was this woman referring to when she said I didn't "look Indian"? It was my turn to be stunned.

The experience made me think a lot about family--both chosen and biological. This upcoming wedding is bringing up a lot of issues for me about belonging and family and community. Much like Sharan, the main character's mother, in SHINE, COCONUT MOON, I had a bit of a rocky path with both family and community. Most of my life choices did not sit well with either.

And then this store clerk -- making a quick judgement about me and my daughter both, in one fell swoop. On the one hand, I was grateful that my daughter doesn't speak the language and, therefore, didn't understand what the clerk said. I know how painful it was to hear things like that as I was growing up. It definitely leaves a lasting imprint.

But on the other hand, the language, the culture, the traditions, the spirit of the ancestors . . . these are her birthright. And regardless of what some ignoramuses say or think, she is entitled to them. As am I.

As I walked out of that store (and went into another where we bought our outfits), I was full of gratitude. I thanked whoever or whatever watches over us for helping me find like-minded souls in the world who eventually became my family and community. Like-minded souls who came in all colours, all genders**, and with varying life experiences. But I only found them when I stepped away. Made the decision to follow my own truth and my own path. Some things are just non-negotiable, you know? Sometimes you have to walk away to save yourself.

I hope for the same for my children: that they search for the light and love first, and everything else second.

*I knew she was Sikh because of the various symbols used to identify Sikhs. The "five K's," as detailed in SHINE, for instance.
** Yes, "all." I prescribe to the belief that gender is fluid and part of a continuum.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Future Posts & Random Musings

It is raining and gray and I have a steaming mug of coffee. Perfection. So, obviously, I am thinking of future blog posts. Here is the tentative line-up:

* a long one with my thoughts on what to do, and what not to do, when writing characters who are "other" to one's own experience, particularly characters of colour

* a contest. I'm still fleshing this one out, but it will be a contest in collaboration with one or two other bloggers. The prize will be a cash prize (in the form of a gift card) + (of course,) books + whatever signed Gossip Girl (and other Hollywood stars) paraphernalia that I can snag from insiders who work on shows and films.

Also, in other news:

I am feeling slightly in love with my Canadian publicist. She is gorgeous; has done the impossible (gotten a deadline extended for an award so that we could submit my book--long after said deadline had passed); and returned an email on a SATURDAY.
*SIGH* I shall continue to ply her with chocolate and liquor.

I realized that this year I managed to accomplish two things I never thought I could:
(1) Write a paranormal novel featuring strong, multicultural female characters; and, even more challenging,
(2) wear black nail polish.

Next year, I shall run for president and wear a bikini (one where the top actually matches the bottom). Though I probably will not do those at the same time.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, all!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Author Definitions: Sweet-and-Sour

I think I am going to start a series (I'm liking the series) called Author Definitions. These are words and phrases that have a commonly accepted meaning in the world at large, but to authors (or maybe just to myself) they mean something entirely different. Today, we kick it off with . . .

Sweet-and-Sour: receiving requests for translation/audio/film rights to a debut novel, yet having no agent to negotiate said requests should they morph into offers.


Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Writers Against Racism

Amy Bowllan is doing a Writers Against Racism series on School Library Journal. I'm thrilled to help kick off the series with Laura Atkins who wrote a wonderful essay on white privilege. Please hop on over there when you get a chance and contribute your thoughts to the ongoing discussion.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The SHINE Cover Story

Susan over at Coloronline reposted a wonderful review of SHINE, COCONUT MOON by teen blogger, MissAttitude, a.k.a. Ari (I love that she has a "Male Monday" theme).

In the comments thread, a couple of people mentioned that they were disappointed or upset by the cover. I've heard this complaint before -- the cover has been described as "exploitive" and "objectifying" of young women.

And I don't disagree. I've written bits and pieces here and there about the SHINE cover story, but here is the full background:

When my editor first asked me about my thoughts on a cover, I said, "I'm fine with just about anything as long as it's not a headless woman." You can see, by looking at the cover, how far my opinion went *grin*.

My editor said that she had suggested the cover have an image of a "modern-looking" Indian teen. However, this idea was poo-pooed because another South Asian novel came out in the same year with an Indian woman's face on the cover. So, in order to make my novel stand out and be noticed, they went with a whole different image.

My editor emailed me, saying, "I really hope you love this cover as much as we do. We think teens will snatch it off the shelves."

I have to say that she's probably right. When I think back to my teen self, I would have positively drooled upon finding a cover like SHINE's in a large, mainstream bookstore, right there next to bestsellers and glossy novels that had been made into films. To find the sexy, tough, hip image of a South Asian teen girl was unheard of when I was a teenager, and when I look around at the shelves of bookstores today, I'm afraid not much has changed.

For South Asian women, it's a bit of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, we're absolutely thrilled that there is SOME representation--especially if that representation is not of the usual, passive, submissive, sari-clad, new-immigrant variety we're used to seeing on television and in movies. On the other hand, yes, it absolutely objectifies young women as does all of the mainstream media we see every single day.

I feel so strongly about the issue of objectification of women that I may have fought harder on the cover issue, if I hadn't had another--to me, more important--battle to wage: the back cover photo was an image of Krishna, the Hindu deity. Some non-South-Asians may see an image of Krishna and see no problem with it representing the entire vast swath of brownness that is the South Asian diaspora. However, South Asians come in many different shades, languages, and religions.

SHINE is about a Sikh family. The battle to have the back cover changed was absolutely necessary for me to fight for a number of reasons. But the main one being that South Asian history (not unlike other geographical regions) has been rife with butchery over religion, and one very recent period was in the eighties, between Hindus and Sikhs around the invasion of a Sikh temple and the subsequent assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Keeping the image of Krishna could have been seen as a positive thing, or it could have been seen as an insult, depending on who was looking at it. I didn't want to take that risk. It's a volatile issue, and I didn't want it to become the focus of a novel that deals with the post-9/11 Sikh experience in the U.S., particularly as it relates to three generations of Punjabi, Sikh women.

Thankfully, my editor gave me her unwavering support, and took my feedback to the cover designer and whoever else needed to know these things. The back cover was changed to a gorgeous, sensual image of a young woman dancing. I was delighted.

Let me just say, here, that the bigger battle for me was the one about accuracy. Having an image of a Hindu deity on a book about a Sikh family was not about opinion or interpretation. It was just wrong, as in it was inaccurate. And that would have been a misrepresentation of the contents of my novel. For that, I was willing to battle till the very end (luckily, I did not have to). The image of a headless woman? Well, that is problematic on another level, but does it inaccurately represent the contents of my novel? Not really. If we'd nudged the camera up just a teeny bit, we'd have had a young couple: a hip, young, Indian-American woman and her boyfriend.

I've seen posts up in the blogosphere about Justine's cover for LIAR--about the fact that yes, the publisher changed the cover to reflect the African-American protagonist, but that's not enough because the model still fits the (white) ideal of beauty.

All true. I absolutely agree. The images of Black and brown people are habitually air-brushed to be lighter, our features finer, and our hair straighter in the same way that women's bodies are air-brushed to be thinner, with bigger breasts, flawless skin, longer legs, etc. This (what I refer to as the) "selling of lies" is a huge, very prevalent problem in our society. The damage of these acts is enormous and takes a tremendous toll on the health of our society as a whole (I'll do another post on this at some point).

On the other hand, I completely understand that Justine waged the battle about accuracy and misrepresentation. The light-skinned model on the cover with the curly hair is a whole other layer that we haven't even gotten to. I'm not saying we should not rage and voice our dissatisfaction. We absolutely must. That is what creates the ripples of change we so desperately need. What I'm saying is that we, as creative-types who must sell our work in a consumer-driven set-up, are having many, many battles thrown our way on a daily basis. We make decisions about which of these battles to take on, while at the same time retaining some version of our health and sanity.

The battles around representation are critical--they are also about accuracy. Most images we see on billboards and in magazines have been touched up to reflect the prevailing ideals of beauty and cultural acceptability. Women actors in Hollywood, for example, must always be shorter than their male leads. Because of this, camera angles and apple boxes are used to create that illusion, even if the female lead happens to be taller. Why? To support some archaic notion of women as smaller, helpless, in need of a bigger male protector? Could be. But the key word there is "illusion." As in not real. Inaccurate.

When there are so many inaccuracies, sometimes we have to start with the big, glaring ones and work our way up--always, always keeping in mind that this is a long term process. My dad always said, "It's better to fight smart than to fight hard." I'm often reminded of his words as I navigate both my personal life, as well as my professional and creative one.

Monday, August 17, 2009

This is What It's All About

Got this email yesterday:

When I first heard what your book was about, I was immediately interested. It’s not every day the main character of a novel is a teenage Sikh girl.

Your novel was definitely one of the best I have read in a long while. In a time where Twilight is pretty much the extent of what teenagers are reading today it was nice to take a break from all that fictional stuff and read something real. I admire you for being able to create a novel that so many South Asian teenage girls can relate to. Shine Coconut Moon has definitely caught my attention and the attention of my friends.

Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts about your novel. I look forward to reading whatever novel you decide to write next.
-- Jasmine Hayer

SIGH. Such a gift. Reminds me that this is one of the main reasons I do what I do--and why I love it so much.

Happy Monday, all!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Not *one* South Asian Author??

Okay, today must be blog-a-thon day. I was just sent this link. I went over, excited to see who the must-reads were, according to the Cooperative Children's Book Center (via the National Education Association). They have an impressive array of multicultural voices there including some of my favorite authors of color -- for this, let me state emphatically that I am thrilled beyond measure.

However, how is it possible that from 1990 through 2009 there is not ONE SINGLE South Asian author whose book could be listed as "one that every child should read"? How is it possible to overlook an entire demographic? One that is the second largest (quite possibly the first now) population on the planet?

I think of my fellow South Asian authors whose books I've held close because they reflected me back to myself and showed me the beauty in who I was . . . authors like Mitali Perkins, Tanuja Desai Hidier, Uma Krishnaswami, Marina Budhos, Anjali Banerjee, and a whole host of others. And I think of all the teens and children out there who are desperate to see their own reality reflected within the pages of a book that they will cherish throughout their lives, and pass along to their own children.

I am saddened and, quite frankly, stunned. Obviously, the discussion around diversity needs to continue.

Update: Yayy!! Just received a warm and wonderful email from Kathleen Horning, Director of the Cooperative Children's Book Center--the organization that compiled the original list--and she said they would update the list to include South Asian authors, and maybe make it "75 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Know"!!! It's a GREAT day. *beaming*

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Response to Comments on Justine's Blog

If you are here to express at length, your views on how not all men and White/straight/rich people are the same, you are wasting your time and ours. We know this. We are referring to systems of oppression. To read responses to your concerns and others you may not have thought up yet, the following sites have done a FAR better job addressing them than I ever could.

The first link is from Tim Wise's blog. He is a white man who says many of the same things I do about race, gender, class, and other forms of systemic oppression. Of particular interest might be his essays on color-blindness and the inconvenience of white privilege.

Peggy McIntosh's essay, as well as Laura Atkins' Reflections on White Privilege in the Publication of Children's Books are also important reads; comments for the latter are here.

Tim Wise
Peggy McIntosh's Essay on White Privilege
Anger Does Not Equal Hate
How Not to Be Insane When Accused of Racism (a guide for White people) 
How To Suppress Discussions of Racism (read this before weighing in).
White Privilege
Racism 101

There are many, many others, but we'll start with those. I'm glad you are taking the time to read my essays and posts. It shows one of two things: 1) you are truly interested in dialogue and changing the world for the better; or 2) you simply want to prove yourself right. If it is the former, I welcome your insights and support. If it is the latter, I suggest you find forums better suited to your efforts.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Writers On Writing: Sherman Alexie

So this will be my final Writers On Writing entry. And I'll be winding this blog down for the next few weeks so that I can enjoy what remains of the summer of 2009. I will pick it back up mid-September-ish.

This one is pretty long, but fascinating all the way through. Sherman Alexie on winning the National Book Award, being diagnosed as "brain damaged" as a child, leaving the rez to go to an all-white high school, wanting to be a pediatrician, and being in love with a lesbian. He also talks about being seen by other kids as an apple--red on the outside, white on the inside. Obviously, there are other versions of this analogy: coconuts, bananas, oreos . . .

Enjoy, and have a great summer, everyone!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Writers On Writing: Jeanette Winterson

I found the video for this quite annoying, but the audio--OMG. Jeanette Winterson is amazing. She talks about the importance of art in the midst of what might be considered more "urgent" matters, like terrorism and war...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

On Women, the "Other," Sci-Fi, and Spirituality

Speaking of Octavia Butler . . .

I was thrilled to be asked to guest post on Alma Alexander's blog. I decided, in honor of her genre of writing, to do a post on something I've been wanting to explore for some time--my passion for certain types of fantasy/paranormal/sci-fi writing. And here is the post I came up with (cross-posting from her site):

Octavia Butler once said “Every story I read practically had, as its main character, a white man who drank and smoked too much and who was about thirty. So I began writing, for my submission, about white men who drank and smoked too much and were about thirty. It’s not surprising that these were rejected.” If you want to see the video where she says this, it is here. In the same clip, Robert Silverberg says that Star Trek, with its portrayal of women characters and people of color, caused a giant leap in the readership of science fiction. In other words, people who normally were on the margins, saw a reflection of ourselves in the center.

I was first introduced to the works of women authors of science fiction in my early twenties. Octavia Butler, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and Diane Duane were among the first I read. They were presented to me as “feminist science fiction authors” at the time and, at first, they hardly registered on my radar.

I’d been writing for pretty much my whole life, but until then, I had never really thought I could write a book. And when I finally ventured to read the first book—Marion Zimmer Bradley’s THE FREE RENUNCIATES trilogy, I was enthralled. I inhaled the rest of the titles and went out in search for more. Reading the works of these women showed me that the kinds of things that moved me—stories featuring strong women and people of color, living lives they created according to their own definitions—were valuable. Books about these characters were important, and people wanted to read them. It suddenly struck me that there was a huge market for these kinds of novels. And that these novels were more than just stories . . . they were doors.

I absolutely walked through a door the first time I read WILD SEED by Octavia Butler. I fell so utterly and hopelessly in love that I changed course one hundred and eighty degrees, and have never looked back. Part of the reason her book left such a deep imprint on me is that the themes in her books, and those of the women I’ve mentioned above (as well as Marge Piercy (WOMAN ON THE EDGE OF TIME), and the relatively newer voice of Nalo Hopkinson), is that they not only portrayed the “other” as complex, fully realized characters, but also because they explore themes of rebellion, resistance, challenge to systemic oppression . . . and spirituality.

The use of magic (as discussed on this blog in previous posts), the age-old battle of life and creativity versus death and destruction, shape-shifting, time travel, eternal life, a journey of searching, visiting other worlds . . . all of these are allegories of transcendance, re-birth, the life-death-life cycle, that colossal battle within us all for inner balance, and faith. Where else do we most commonly see these themes, other than in religious texts?

The books I read by women authors of science fiction and fantasy incorporated a spirituality that included and exalted women, honored the ancestors, and implied a reverent relationship between the self, others, the earth, and the cosmos.

Octavia Butler and Nalo Hopkinson explicitly use spiritual imagery and reference in their works. In WILD SEED, the protagonist Anyanwu/Emma clearly adheres to her old, African ways and beliefs, even as she enters and spends centuries in slave-era America. In KINDRED, the setting of the American antebellum South depicts a different kind of spirituality: one of holding on to humanity and dignity, believing in the unknown . . . and clutching faith close. Nalo Hopkinson also uses elements of her Caribbean upbringing in her novels—BROWN GIRL IN THE RING incorporates many Caribbean Voudun rituals and beliefs into its text, and THE NEW MOON’S ARMS seamlessly threads a Caribbean spirituality into its text.

Marion Zimmer Bradley, Marge Piercy, and Diane Duane focus on the most immediate site of devotion: the Self. Their stories all involve discovery of the Self—the age old journey of moving away from the Self, wandering lost and alone and in the (symbolic) woods, then seeing the light and making one’s way back to the Self: life, death, resurrection—all using stories told with masterfully written allegory.

Science Fiction and Fantasy will never die as a genre. It speaks to everyone because it is so often about the journey we are all on: discovery. It is universal in its specificity. It is a door. And it is one that more and more women, people of color, and other “others” are walking through because, as a result of women authors and women of color authors, it is now part of the great Possible.