I have a ton of conflicted feelings about this piece.
It starts off with Cleavon in 1955 when he’s only ten years old. He’s at a funeral of a friend who was shot by a white man.
The second part takes place in 1975.
And so on until it ends in 2025. Each section is another snapshot of Cleavon’s life and focuses on times of injustice, racial bias, and systemic racism. All these issues are worth writing about and must be addressed in realism as well as genre. But my conflicting feelings focus on the fact that this piece was written by a white person, imagining what the black American experience might be like. While I don’t think any writer should shy away from a topic due to fear, I do think it’s imperative for a writer who is not part of that culture/experience to represent it in a realistic manner. While Kristine Kathryn Rusch is a reputable author who has won a collection of awards, I think she took a risk on this piece. It’s not that she wrote a piece with a black main character, it’s that the subject matter is: what it’s like to be black in evolving (or devolving) the USA.
It’s a slippery slope and doesn’t know if she has the right to take space up that would be otherwise left to those who live this experience rather than imagine it.