Some of my earliest memories are of my mother reading to my siblings and I. Her voice would often find its way in my dreams at night and run torrents through my mind as I played during the day. It’s because of her that I read as much as I do. And by default, I spent many hours walking through the rows of shelves in my local library. In fact, our book limit was 50 and my siblings and I would try to meet that number almost every time we visited.
I was around the age of 11 when I learned that I loved reading stories about *magik, knights, and tech. But that fictional world, I found, it was filled with characters that didn’t look like me, and so by consequence, I had a hard time identifying with some of those characters and stories.
Looking back, I think that is when I lost a bit of myself.
In order to imagine a world with myself in it, I thought I had to become someone else. And the incredible but also very sad thing was that I was unaware of this change in me for many, many years. I assumed it was normal for me, a *Moorish girl to close her eyes and imagine fanatical stories where she didn’t resemble herself.
In my head there were times when I was an Asian girl (it was seldom that I even found a book about Asian characters to begin with) or I was a *wight European girl. I rarely found books that had Moorish characters and if I did happen to come across one, the stories were that of slavery, like Copper Sun by Sharon Draper.
Stories like that didn’t make me feel alive and creative, instead, I felt sad and depressed. That is not to say I didn’t read history because I did. However, I found the literary narrative of the Moors in America to only be concerned with that of slavery and little else. (This goes into a larger topic which I will write about in a later post.)
But, at some point, in my head at least, I had become someone else. I was me, but a different me. In order to create, I couldn’t be me. That’s so crazy, sad and powerful to finally get that out… wow…
For a number of years, the lack of representation affected my view of myself and other Moors; we never got the good parts or the breathtaking romances. And in the deepest part of me, I could feel this emptiness, a longing for something to identify with, so as I got older I began to actively seek places where I could find books written for girls like me and in the end I did not find what I was looking for.
One of my favorite series growing up was the Inheritance Cycle. I was completely obsessed and inspired by the books. I loved the fact that it was written by a teenager, first and foremost. But I was attracted to the work because it was a fantasy novel. So, of course, I liked all of the characters but Nasuda held a special place in my heart but cause she was like me. She was a Moor.
Nasuda was strong and powerful. She was a queen and a leader, and although I would have loved for her love line to work out better than what it did in the series I was still satisfied with her character.
But still, I needed more.
I remember doing a survey in my town’s Books a Million, we had finally gotten one in 2010. I remember the girls there all said the same things, the only books that had Moorish characters on them were few and they had something to do with sports or the hood. In the adult section, I remember seeing a section of romance novels but all of them were mostly trifling stories about drama, love affairs, and the hood. Eventually, interracial romance became the new theme but where was the love for the fantastical? Where were the stories about us creating entirely new worlds? Where were the Lucius Fox’s and other characters that challenged the norm?
Eventually, stories like the Marvelous Effect and Akata Witch came out I was happy because I realized it was a start to seeing other Moors creating stories outside of the slave narrative. Stories I knew we had in us.
This is why I am pursuing my career as a writer. When I was younger I wrote simply out of love for the craft but now I am writing for more than that. I am writing for other children, who like me, have a love for worlds of the fanatical. I want to write to give them stories to fill their dreams and when they wake.
In a nutshell, this is my attempt to explain what I’ve been working on since 2008 and why its taken me so long to finish this story. I am aware of the need to be intentional as I create stories that display my people in a positive light. And out of all of the journeys I’ve been on, this story has been the greatest. It has changed me the most and I am excited to share it with you.
Disclaimer: This is my blog. It is the place that I have chosen to document my thoughts while working on my novels and other stories. Most of my spellings and diction are reflective of my study of history; to explain some of the contexts I will leave notes under the posts.
*magik. I just like spelling magik this way – there’s no real reason for this other than that.
*wight. See: https://www.collinsdictionary.com/us/dictionary/english/wight; Simon, Ed. “How ‘White People’ Were Invented by a Playwright in 1613 – Ed Simon | Aeon Ideas.” Edited by Sam Dresser, Aeon, Aeon, 12 Sept. 2017, aeon.co/ideas/how-white-people-were-invented-by-a-playwright-in-1613.
*Moor See: http://www.taneter.org/moors.html
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