Musing: Regarding the Lack of Black Presence in Fantasy

Two Years.

So I’ve been in the blogging game for about two years, mind you, it wasn’t until April of 2012 that I started rolling out the stories.   I could hardly believe it when WordPress gave me the little nod saying I’ve been around for so long.

Back when TWO DESTROYERS didn’t even have a title, I wasn’t sure what direction the novel would go.   It was effectively a project I hadn’t put much weight into.  Now it’s a complete 120,000 word novel I can be proud of.

Something else came to my attention, while drumming up query letters.   There are alarmingly few African American fantasy authors out there.  There are stark recent exceptions of course, including N.K. Jemisin with THE KILLING MOON.The-Killing-Moon

Mind you, TWO DESTROYERS features a black protagonist as one of the four POV characters.  It isn’t a black-centric story.   There’s a reason for that.   Humanity has come a long way from our habits of categorizing each other.    Today more than ever, people can achieve their dreams regardless of their color.

I’d rather not open the can of worms of existing discrimination, but we have come a long way.  Some of the themes in my novel approach this.   Racism is a dated concept.   It will fade away eventually.   It might take a thousand years, but Sci-Fi has it right.   When you introduce aliens into the mix, Human becomes the important race card.

Even if aliens do not show up, or even exist.  This concept is happening.  Fifty years ago, things were so much worse.   And fifty years is a drop in the bucket.

So in that light, I write about people.  Anyone that has read by About the Author Page knows I’m a big ass black dude.   But it is my words that people look at on a daily basis, not my face.   I will say with pride though, I am proud to be a young-ish black guy writing fantasy.   I’m in a pretty exclusive club.

To those that have following my updates regarding TWO DESTROYERS, Dendarg is a facsimile of an African nation.   There aren’t that many colored people in fantasy.   It’s annoying.   I grew up playing a lot of console games, many of them come from Japan.

Soap Box

Up on the box, Humor me.

And well. They don’t exactly have a good track record regarding the representation of Blacks.   In fact most of the time, they simply don’t exist.

Dendarg is a key part of the conflict in the novel, but it isn’t the focus.   Simply because storytelling comes first, then pride in my color.   That’s not to say future exploits won’t focus on the Desert Scorpion and his home nation.  I think the best representation I can offer of my pride comes in playing a part in making a story awesome.

That’s something I learned in the past two years.  The past two years have been two of the hardest in my life, but it only motivated me to create more.

Thanks for two years everyone.   Here’s to another and many more.

2 thoughts on “Musing: Regarding the Lack of Black Presence in Fantasy

  1. You know, it’s funny — I was actually thinking about this topic (or at least a tangent of it) earlier today.

    I’ve always felt like there was — and technically still is — a pressure on me to write black characters because I’m black. And by extension, I have to write about (for lack of a better term) “black people things” because I’m black. I remember back when I was a little kid I showed my mom a mock-up cover for a story, one that featured five kids in the foreground while two planets collided in the background. Her first response? “Where are the black people?” Or something to that effect.

    I’ve always had this fear that the question is going to come up, and I’m not going to have a good answer — at least, not one that’ll satisfy others. So it’s always felt like there’s a tightrope I’ll have to walk on. I want to fulfill my creative vision and not limit myself to certain expectations…buuuuuuuuuuut I also understand the need for diversity. There are certain things worth exploring, simply because they hold new possibilities. It’s a tough spot…and I have the sneaking suspicion that anything I say in public on the subject will turn into a PR nightmare.

    But if nothing else, you’ve proven something important: confidence. It’s clear you’ve made your stand and your claim, and I for one have to respect that. I’d say there’s a fair chance others might disagree, and might even get a little hostile, but that firm stance of yours is vital. “Don’t let limits slow you,” as a wise (video game) man once said.

    In any case, congrats on the two-year anniversary. Keep on truckin’…in a virtual sense. And a physical sense, in that you actually have to write stuff. And…oh, let’s just say “in every sense” and call it a night.

    • Funny that. It seems to happen a lot with us. I laughed out loud about “Where’s the black people” Sci-fi is almost just as bad as fantasy. At least in that light, if we colonized space odds would be good that we would be some sort of mutt mixture and humans really WOULD look the same without heavy segregation laws in place.

      If you look at my short stories though, race is usually just left out. Intentionally so. That way I can leave it to the reader what they see them as. There are exceptions. But that is when I’m approaching race tension as a theme. Like Wind and Sky.

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