Thursday, February 23, 2012

Celebrating Black History- Ms Octavia Butler

EAOC Team Member Robert Trujillo is an mixed media artist and illustrator living in Oakland California.  Here's a special post written and illustrated by Robert Trujillo.

To celebrate Black history month I want to praise one of the greatest storyteller's to ever put pen to paper, Ms Octavia butler

“the thing that I want to build is so damned new and so vast. I not only don’t know how to build it, but I’m not even sure what it will look like when I have built it. I’m just feeling my way. Using what ever I can do, whatever I can learn to take one more step forward”

These were words coming out of the mouth of Octavia via her character “Lauren Oya Olamina” in the story “Parable of the Talents”. I was introduced to Octavia by my mother. My mom and I both share a love for science fiction, good stories, and nerdy things all around. She would always tell me I should read her, but like most teenagers I hated reading! It wasn’t until I was in my mid twenties that I picked up “Wild Seed”. I started it and could not fathom how or why I was done with it days later. I read Parable of the Sower, Clay’s Ark, again same thing; and I’m a slow reader. I have many people to credit for teaching me how to read and Octavia is one of them. I’ve read 6 or 7 of her books and the last one is read was “Fledgling”. Her work not only weaves present day struggles and ideas into futuristic planes; it dissects society, flourishes with love, and promotes character.

I asked my mother to describe how she came across Butler’s work. Rubbing her hands together she began to describe a teacher and a library at Peltan junior high in Hunters Point San Francisco where she went to school. She had a professor who was into science fiction and led her to Butler’s work. She went on to tell me that winning the Nebula and the Hugo for a black woman at that time was unheard of. Not only were there few women who had one the award, but few people of color who had won it. Also, MacArthur awards, which Butler also won are usually reserved for people in science? Wow.

After reading a little bit on Octavia on wiki, I decided it best to leave her beginnings and finer details to you to research. I ahvent read her story “Kindred” yet so moms told me that I still had some reading to do. She also said that she was interested in Butler’s work and that of other science fiction writers because it gave a glimpse into a world outside of what we know. There’s tons of information on her, even a scholarship for writers of color set up in her name. Happy page turning.

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