Childless and Childfree Black History: Octavia Butler and Ava DuVernay
There are some subjects I feel as though I am not qualified to speak about. Imposter syndrome is strong, y’all. Black History is one of those subjects. I can appreciate it, and I can learn from it, but I can never speak on the subject with any real authority.
So when we were separating out which NotMoms to recognized for Black History Month 2018, I was nervous about offering my opinions. Am I enough? Is my admiration for these women enough to give me the permission to speak about them? Either way, here I am and here they are.
In September 2017, I wrote a post about Butler and her writing career; a career that I am both happy and sad to have discovered after her death in 2006. She was only 58 years old.
I had heard her name mentioned a few times over the years, mostly in relation to her death and the fact that she had no children. Why had I never read her books? Her titles were published as far back as the mid-70s, so why wasn’t she on the sci-fi lists with Bradbury, Heinlein, and Atwood?
What I know now is that Octavia E. Butler brings social, racial, and economic concerns to life with her fiction much like Margaret Atwood writes about women’s issues and environmental disaster.
Butler's Parable of the Sower, published in 1993, eerily predicts the rise of a politician who will “make America great again” in the 2020s. It creates a world where poverty is rampant and the protagonist, Lauren, has the resolve to change not only her own circumstances, but those of the entire world and beyond.
Even if this is the first time you've heard Octavia E. Butler’s name, you know it now. Women, and particularly women of color, are poorly represented in the sci-fi genre. Octavia's legacy is strong even if it’s quiet, so don’t let her down.
Read Octavia's books. Recommend them. Let’s keep this NotMom’s work alive, because what is remembered, lives.
While she didn’t write A Wrinkle In Time, director Ava DuVernay's name is now forever associated with the classic book as her movie adaptation is about to drop in March 2018.
I included Ava in my prediction for New Year 2018 because she is the first black woman to direct a live action movie with a budget of over $100 million (Wrinkle). In 2014, she was the first black female director to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award and the first to be nominated for an Oscar. The film was Selma. In 2017, Ava was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for her film 13th.
The director has referred to her movies as her "children" on social media and was quoted in the Atlantic saying, “I don’t have children. I don’t plan to have children.”. It’s no wonder that she pours her heart and soul into everything she does, from indie to blockbuster. Ava Duvernay is just 45 years old at the start of 2018. I hope she has many years for Her magic to shine with the all-star casts like A Wrinkle in Time, (featuring The Supreme NotMom, Oprah Winfrey), and the box office and awards shows, too.
In August 2017, a variety of Hollywood news sources linked their names to a new project for television. Ava DuVernay was tapped to bring Octavia Butler’s Dawn series to the network. The story revolves around an African-American woman, Lilith, who teams up with an alien culture to bring back the human race after an extinction-level event.
This is a first for any work of Octavia Butler, because even though she was prolific in her career, none of her books were adapted for television or cinema. This adaptation will bring more color to science fiction on TV and big screens.
There has been little talk about this project since the original announcement, but I am eager and excited for this expansion of Butler’s world building and DuVernay’s groundbreaking career.