Guest blogger and preacher Antoinette Scully . . .
I discovered Octavia Butler in 2016 when I started my book blog and my Black author experiment. That year, I dedicated myself to only reading books written by Black writers and sharing my thoughts on those books at blackandbookish.com.
I’ve been a longtime reader but I had never heard of this Pasadena native until ten years after her death. Her book, Parable of the Sower, was one of the first titles I reviewed and it’s one of those books that shapes who you are for the rest of your life. Many of her novels have overtones of religion or more accurately, her dislike for it. But where she strays from religious conviction, she makes up in imagination.
As Rev. Hannah takes on the idea that James Baldwin had to teach his activism from afar, Octavia Butler chose to use her science fiction writing to image what a new world for People of Color would look like. Telepaths who summon people with their minds. A woman sent back to the south in the 1800s to help save an ancestor in trouble. A man who can’t die traveling the globe in search of people with special abilities. Families running from apocalyptic Los Angeles and building a community and a new religion.
Octavia Butler wrote herself, her skin tone, and her thoughts into the lexicon, and because of that, more Black writers began to follow. Nnedi Okorafor who wrote the Akata Witch and Binti series. Tomi Adeyemi who wrote Children of Blood and Bone. N.K. Jemisin who wrote The Fifth Season.
Butler imagined Black people on spaceships and as crazy as that sounds, made living on Earth more bearable. Today, activists like Adrienne Maree Brown use the concept of Butler’s Speculative Fiction to imagine a world without injustice. She and others are rewriting the present to bring us a brighter future because we are all “Kindred Spirits”.
– Antoinette Scully, Social Justice Chair