I will be presenting and chairing one of the MELUS at SAMLA panels at SAMLA 88! Under the theme of "Utopia/Dystopia: Whose Paradise Is It?" I will be presenting a paper called “Home of the Free”: Deconstructing America the Utopia. Read the abstract below and hope to see you there!
The United States of America has always touted itself as the greatest country in the world. This belief in the utopia that is America has shaped our history; we have made ourselves stand out by reminding citizens that “it is worse in _____.” This is especially true thanks to the US’ romanticized notions of history. Ask any elder about their youth and they will enthusiastically state how much better it was in “the good old days”, and even Presidential hopeful Donald Trump has built his campaign on his journey to “Make America Great Again”. However, for any American citizen who does not live at the apex of our white supremacist heteropatriarchial society America has never been the utopia it has made itself out to be. America’s long and troubled history of racism, sexism, homophobia, and the like continue to paint our present and future, but many never see it because society is set up to delegitimize its own ills. It is for this reason that speculative fiction by authors of color, particularly Black Speculative Fiction, seeks to shine a light of truth in the darkness of America’s lies. This paper will use works of Black Speculative Fiction to demonstrate the prevalence of inequality both throughout history and in the present day and show how these same works are necessary to combat the dystopia that is America’s assumed utopia.