The Sunday Post for February 6, 2016

How Chris Jackson Is Building a Black Literary Movement

Vinson Cunningham profiles Chris Jackson, editor to Ta-Nehisi Coates, Jay-Z, and others, and looks into why it's important for black writers to have a black editor.

"The great tradition of black art, generally," he started again, "is the ability — unlike American art in general — to tell the truth. Because it was formed around the great American poison, the thing that poisoned American consciousness and behavior: racism. And black culture, such as it is, was formed around a necessary resistance to this fundamental lie. That’s the obligation. And this is the power that black art has."

This power — the power of the unvarnished truth — is what is at stake when we talk about the problem of exclusion in the world of books. What believable version of American reality can be the product of an industry that, according to a recent survey, counts black people as just 4 percent of its employees? We can admit that race is not our only national reality without denying that it clarifies the workings of — and relations among — the others. A kind of American Rosetta Stone.

This is the unique claim on the truth that black art can make: It draws its energy from its embrace of hybridity, from a rejection of the illusion of American purity. The joy of expression and the sorrow of experience, properly commingled, might result in something new — and true.

What It Means To Be a Science Fiction Writer in the Early 21st Century

Charlie Jane Anders, with an optimistic look that the greatest years of science fiction lay ahead of us.

I believe that science fiction’s best days are ahead of it, because I have read a lot of science fiction. And if this genre has taught me anything, it’s optimism about human ingenuity—along with a belief that the unexpected is just around the corner. I’m not alone: Many people seem to feel like science fiction is healthier than ever.

Which is funny, when you consider that science fiction died in 2003, or maybe 2004.

The Problem with Female Superheroes

Don't let the headline fool you, this is no brottack on women and minorities ruining the great white superhero. Instead, this piece looks at how, although it's great to see so many superheroines getting the spotlight lately, not all is perfect between the panels. What does social research show about the influence of superheroines on girls?

But new research by Hillary Pennell and Elizabeth Behm-Morawitz at the University of Missouri suggests that, at least for women, the influence of superheroes is not always positive. Although women play a variety of roles in the superhero genre, including helpless maiden and powerful heroine, the female characters all tend to be hypersexualized, from their perfect, voluptuous figures to their sexy, revealing attire. Exposure to this, they show, can impact beliefs about gender roles, body esteem, and self-objectification.