Nisi Shawl: Smile and Nod

Laurie says:

I saw Nisi Shawl get the Tiptree at the award ceremonies at WisCon. It was one of the high points of the convention for me. The Tiptree is “an annual literary prize for science fiction or fantasy that expands or explores our understanding of gender.” She won for her short story collection Filter House (I just started reading it this week).

Publishers Weekly, which selected Filter House as one of the best books of 2008, described it as an “exquisitely rendered debut collection” that “ranges into the past and future to explore identity and belief in a dazzling variety of settings.” Tiptree jurors spotlight Shawl’s willingness to challenge the reader with her exploration of gender roles.

We were talking at WisCon because I make the Octavia Butler Memorial Scholarship award pendant. Nisi is one of the core people involved with the scholarship.

Octavia Butler was an American science fiction writer, one of the best known among the few African-American women in the field. She won both Hugo and Nebula awards. In 1995, she became the first science fiction writer to receive the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant. (Wikipedia)

The Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship [was created] to enable writers of color to attend one of the Clarion writing workshops, where Octavia got her start. It is meant to cement Octavia’s legacy by providing the same experience/opportunity that Octavia had to future generations of new writers of color.

Octavia Butler’s totem was the owl. Many years ago I made an owl pendant for her with the understanding that I could keep the design. When the scholarship was created, I volunteered to make her owl pendant for the winners. They are presented at the scholarship ceremony. From what Nisi told me, they have been very much appreciated and that makes me really happy.

I have Nisi in mind tonight because I’ve been thinking about anger and it’s meanings a lot lately, and her post “Smile and Nod” really struck me. She crossposted it on Alas, A Blog from The Angry Black Woman.

“Some people have said they liked my introduction yesterday. Good! Stay with me now. You love me when I’m angry.

“Or anyway, you should. Especially if you’re white, because the fact that I let you know I am angry, well, that’s me being nice to you. It’s a sign of trust on my part, a measure of the strength of our relationship. If I didn’t like you, if I didn’t feel comfortable letting you know I was angry, I would treat you the way I did the woman on the bus this morning.”

Read the rest of it.