Q. Do you feel it is important for young people of color to have relatable heroes in sci-fi?
A. Absolutely. The purpose of science fiction and fantasy is to help people dream. It is essential that young people of color see themselves in the stories. Literacy can lead to great things such as education, employment and mental health. I will do anything I can do to help young people enjoy reading. I remember being that young person of color once and it was the science fiction and fantasy books that eventually lead me to business books.
Q. Oakland has a thriving visual arts and music scene, how do you think the literary arts relate to it?
A. In a time of blogs and tweets, mastering art through language is even more important. It is literary arts that provide context for other arts that provide a background for the times. I am really happy to see Oakland thriving. It is bittersweet though. I remember trying to invest in the art scene in Oakland two decades ago and being stone walled by the city. Now there are a lot new members of the Oakland community and resources around cultural development. The difference is it will be the writers in the Ishmael Reed tradition who will highlight the water lines of the scenes through the years of Oakland.
Q. How did you like BayCon this year, and what did you think of its Women of Wonder theme and diversity focus
A. Wonder Woman is pretty counter cultural if you understand the context. It’s a good place to start the important discussion around breaking down structures of patriarchy and misogyny. We live in diversity. Science fiction and fantasy emulates diversity. If we can throw down tons of dollars on intellectual property about Wookies, Klingons, elves, and dwarves then I would think we should very comfortable around large groups of people who may appear different than us based on their gender, skin tone or culture.
Q. Do you think being the child of a civil rights activist affected your point of view as a writer?
A. As I age I become even more reflective. Most of my writing is about questioning matters of inclusion, pointing out hypocrisy, changing large systems and shaping movements. My parents were heavily involved on a leadership level. It pushed me toward expressions that have social change associations.