Sunday, August 28, 2022

"Ancestors of three continents" in N. K. Jemisin's "Red Dirt Witch"

In N. K. Jemisin's story "Red Dirt Witch" (in her 2018 short-story collection "How Long 'Til Black Future Month"), the main character faces a crisis while her children sleep: "[...] Emmaline burned sage, and she prayed to every ancestor of three continents who might listen [...]." Emmaline's ancesttry includes people from Europe, Africa, and North America, so she appeals to each of her cultural traditions for support in her sitution. But she does not turn to each of them as a separate tradition that she sees as somehow being incompatible with the others; rather, she turns to all three of them together as the unified and consistent foundation of her identity. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 28 August 2022)

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