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There is the sense in the mind of not being here or there, of no way out or in. My goal as a writer of speculative fiction is to engage the tropes of captivity, migration, and transformation in a narrative that is thrilling, compelling, and revealing.
Unlike our unfortunate president, who is attacked whenever he dares to broach the topic of race (and even when he does not), my goal isn’t racial reconciliation.
Instead it is to expose and explore what Canadian writer Dionne Brand calls “the fissure between the past and the present”; with my writing I aim to reveal “a rupture in history, a rupture in the quality of being…a physical rupture, a rupture of geography.” Brand explains: That fissure is represented in the Door of No Return: that place where our ancestors departed one world for another; the Old World for the New.
I learned early on that only white children had wonderful adventures in distant lands; only white children were magically transported through time and space; only white children found the buried key that unlocked their own private Eden.
Perhaps the one benefit of being so completely excluded from the literary realm was that I had to develop the capacity to dream myself into existence.
The door out of which Africans were captured, loaded onto ships heading for the New World. I grew up in a former British colony, dreaming of magical wardrobes and secret gardens.
It is a door which makes the word door impossible and dangerous, cunning and disagreeable.—Dionne Brand, A Map to the Door of No Return I am an immigrant.
Now Obama, an African American, the most powerful person in the world, is going to be standing here.
For us it will be a full-circle experience.” For Brand, returning to one of the physical sites of the Door in no way “completes” the traumatic journey that began five hundred years ago.
I started high school that same year, and my essays took on a formal tone and were sprinkled with archaic words (such as gaoler for jailer).
When asked to make a picture book in my senior creative writing class, I wrote a story about a white family that neglects its youngest member; when little Violet goes outside to play with the wind, she grabs hold of a neighbor’s kite and is swept away.