Columnist J.M. Sorrell: Sci-Fi or Karma?

  • J.M. Sorrell FILE PHOTO

Published: 10/3/2023 5:01:06 PM
Modified: 10/3/2023 5:00:06 PM

Octavia Butler wrote novels, short stories and science fiction classics. As a Black woman in a white male dominated genre, she blazed trails. She won Hugo and Nebula awards and was the first science fiction writer to be awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. Her novel, “Kindred,” leaps from 1970s Los Angeles to a 19th-century Maryland plantation. Issues of race and sex prevail.

I find myself wondering if Butler was alive today, what would she think about Black women leading justice against white male supremacy in the form of New York Attorney General Letitia James; Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis; and Washington, DC United States District Judge Tanya Chutkan?

These women are involved in one way or another in seeking justice for the crimes of Donald Trump. Black girl magic is a term that acknowledges how amazing and accomplished Black women are. Just as Stacey Abrams saved our election in 2020, Black women are working for justice that may save us from dystopian America.

Over the years and including the period when Trump was impersonating a president, his most hateful insults were both racist and misogynist in nature. He has been publicly accused of sexual misconduct including rape by at least 26 women since the 1970s. He and his father went to court on several occasions when they were charged with illegal racist practices in their real estate dealings.

A science fiction novel would have the farmer Trump overstating his place as a large plantation in early 19th century Georgia. He would have two enslaved women who he abuses because it’s all the real power he feels. He wins a congressional seat where he puffs his chest much like Matt Gaetz because he has nothing else to offer. Just as he is running for president, he time travels to the current day.

He is horrified to learn that Black women are educated and in positions of power in the justice system. They are going to bring him down. One of them is from Georgia! He will be the one in shackles. The white male supremacist’s dystopian novel is a novel of hope and long overdue karma for Black women and the rest of us who seek a just world.

In the current fraud case in New York, it is being made clear that the emperor has no clothes. AG Letitia James said, “No matter how powerful you are, no matter how much money you think you may have, no one is above the law. And it’s my responsibility and my duty to enforce it.”

I would also like to time transport Fannie Lou Hamer who famously said, “Black people know what white people mean when they say ‘law and order’.” What would she think about a Black woman not afraid to use her position and her sworn duty to prosecute a white man who held the highest office in the country? Would she marvel at her fellow southerner, DA Fani Willis, for her professionalism, composure and confidence in the face of danger with much on the line? Then again Hamer said, “Sometimes it seems like to tell the truth today is running the risk of being killed. But if I fall, I’ll fall five feet four inches forward in the fight for freedom. I’m not backing off.” She was a fierce Christian who recognized Jesus as a revolutionary.

In the film version, someone would play the voice of AudreLorde as narrator: “When I dare to be powerful — to use my strength in the service of my vision — then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” Oprah would produce the film, and all proceeds would buy books for children and adults to learn about the real history — good and troubling — of the United States. The novel and film would assist the evolution of a healthier democracy.

In real life, we are at a monumental juncture for the soul and future of our country and its place in a peaceful world. It’s not the first time a sizable number of Americans have expressed fascist or racist leanings.

In the 1930s, many Americans supported Germany and were openly antisemitic. In 1939, more than 20,000 people attended a Nazi rally at Madison Square Garden, and it was marketed as a “pro-American” event. In the Jim Crow South, Black people were lynched as white people picnicked and bought post cards for their entertainment. I cannot imagine such evil, but it was normative for a large segment of white Americans.

I raise these examples to remember we have evolved. Backlash movements are weak as truth wins. Karma or science fiction?

J.M. Sorrell is a feminist at her core. She admires women who serve justice despite not always receiving it. They rule.


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