My fellow speculative writer, Resa Nelson, has taught me to Google myself every few months and see what comes up attached to my name or my work.
Somewhere in the educational wilds of Wisconsin, my published short story, The Skinned, can be found on a syllabus for an Afro-American Studies class. Right on! I document this with a pang of regret that I can't be privy to what the students and their instructor might have to say about it. I know when I wrote The Skinned I was thinking of a particular experience I wanted to create. However, once a writer publishes anything, that writer lets go of her/his idea about what s/he was saying and it moves into the province of the readers. So, I must let the matter rest, but I did find it amusing for about forty seconds and then promptly devolved into a panic.
I am an African descended person; it is true. There are some less obvious elements of my heritage that I would be challenged on, for instance, say if I were to stake my claim as a member of Clan Boyd based upon my ancestor James Cloud Boyd's presence in my bloodline. No, it is not politically correct to talk about the "one drop rule" but I wonder why it is okay for my work to be categorized as an example of what "Afro-Americans" are thinking. Am I speaking for Afro-Americans? Am I a female, cisgender, pro-LGBTQ, speculative writer who just happens to be African descended? Why should it matter? Why am I even ambivalent about it?
I wish Samuel Clemens were here so he could say something completely off-the-wall and funny to me. Perhaps, I shall sit in front of my computer today and try to tap into his wise-ass spirit. I wish Octavia Butler were still only a phone call away so I could ask her what she thought about this issue.
Perhaps they would both gang up on me and tell me to just forget it.
Back to my regularly scheduled writing life.