Introduction – Part Two
By Kyra Brue
Growing up black in a predominantly white neighborhood in the south, I rarely saw people who looked like me on the street. I saw just as little representation of black people, and especially black women like me, in the media or literature. Partly because I was an oblivious child, and partly because I didn’t think that much about race and its importance in my life until I grew up. As a child, I only knew of a small amount of accomplished black women who I chose to look up to, which resulted in me being a bit ignorant to the small amount of representation around me. The few times I was introduced to works that depicted black women, at a young age, occurred in a book club that my mom persuaded me to participate in. However, at the time I was either too young or too bored to really care about the messages that these stories were trying to relay. The closest example of an African American female-centric work that I was introduced to (and actually enjoyed reading) as a child was Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees – a personal favorite of mine. This novel was one of my first introductions to African American women depicted in literture, and even though it wasn’t written by a woman of color, the story outlined important themes that I still remember to this day. Along with this book, the book club exposed me to other works by African Americans like Maya Angelou, Spike Lee, and Tyler Perry, but since I was only about eight years old at the time, I didn’t appreciate these works as much as I should have. I grew up not thinking too much about the lack of representation that was running rampant throughout American culture, because I would rather have watched Disney Channel or read Junie B Jones books over watching School Daze or reading Mildred D Taylor’s Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.
It wasn’t until my teenage years that I finally became aware of and started caring about the lack of black women in television, film, literature, and music, mostly because the representation of these women was growing right before my eyes. During this time—in the early 2010s—it became more common to see the success of black across all aspects of entertainment. I was finally aware of people who looked like me and I had a plethora of great women who I could look up to. Thanks to successful black women like Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Oprah and more, the groundwork for success had already been laid out, but the rest of the world was finally beginning to incorporate even more women like them into mainstream society. I was starting to witness and appreciate the accomplishments of many wonderful African American women like Beyoncé, Zendaya, Michelle Obama, etc. However, even with all of this growth and acceptance there was still one genre that I didn’t see this demographic in: science fiction.