Not long ago, Therí A. Pickens, one of our contributing writers, was writing about anger and noted that “I consider Michelle Obama's comments about being an ‘angry black woman,’ Serena Williams’s angry outbursts, Venus Williams’s notoriously stoic interviews, and Audre Lorde’s fierce expressions of a uniquely black queer feminist anger." However, she added, "I must ask what people are so afraid of.”
In another entry, Professor Pickens began writing about the subject of monsters and observed that “Monsters are radical if only because they force us to confront our deepest fears about race, gender, and sexuality – associated as they are with excess, transgression, and violence.” Her observations served as points of departure for our Halloween special assignment. I asked a group of our contributors to explore issues pertaining to fear, scariness, and the supernatural concerning black women writers and artists.
We wrote about poetry, short stories, Octavia Butler, Audre Lorde, and Katherine Dunham, and highlighted what might be perceived as scary features of different works.
• Margaret Walker’s Uncanny Molly Means By Briana Whiteside
• Frances E. W. Harper’s Land of the Living Dead By Elizabeth Cali
• Elizabeth Alexander’s Horror at the Carnival By Emily A. Phillips
• The Fear of Explaining Evie Shockley's Approaches to Design By Howard Rambsy II
• Margaret Walker and the Ballad of a Scary Black Woman By Cindy Lyles
• Possessed by Katherine Dunham By Danielle Hall
• Audre Lorde and the Horrors of Breast Cancer By Christina Gutierrez
• Octavia Butler’s blood-curdling short story By Erin Ranft
• Octavia Butler’s Uncanny Wild Seed By Briana Whiteside
• The Dawn of Octavia Butler’s Monstrosities By Emily A. Phillips
• The Venom of Zora Neale Hurston’s “Sweat” by Allegra Castro
• Nas and an “Illustrious Cemetery” for Hip Hop’s Dead and Invisible Female Emcees By Danielle Hall