All posts by Latoya Peterson


Marjorie M. Liu’s Monstress Explores Our Inner Darkness

I’ve been a fan of Marjorie M. Liu’s work for years. From her work on the Hunter Kiss novels to The Astonishing X-Men, Liu’s masterful and inventive storytelling creates deep, expansive worlds that consume the reader.

Liu’s latest work is no different. Teaming up with Japanese artist Sana Takeda, Monstress is a lush, art deco influenced exploration of war and power. In her own words:

MONSTRESS is the story I’ve wanted to tell for years, a dark epic fantasy about a young girl who has suffered tremendous loss and who isn’t quite certain how to put herself back together — if that’s even possible. To make matters worse, she fears something else is living inside her: a monster. And she’s right to be afraid.

My other motivation for telling this story is that powerful women are always imagined as monstrous.  Bringing women, monsters, and power together — setting this in a world that never was, and could be — is something that speaks to my heart.  Every single girl in the world has had to fight to have herself heard, to have space and a self in societies that try their best to deny them all three.  Every single girl, whether we want to recognize it or not, is a warrior.  And me writing about a young warrior woman is less a fantasy than a reflection of what it means to grow up a woman in societies like ours.

From Marjorie M. Liu's Monstress.

From Marjorie M. Liu’s Monstress.

Set against the backdrop of an alternate 1900s Asia, Monstress blends steampunk and kaiju to tell deeply personal story about loss, war, and jihad.  In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, she explains the core questions underlying the work:

“What does it take to hold on to one’s humanity when you’re forced to suffer the long, continuous, dehumanizing experience of war? Is it just strength? Is it something in your character? Is it the kinds of friends you surround yourself with?” — which is one of the key themes to the series. “Other questions I’ve wrestled with, both in this book and others [are] what it means to be of mixed race, what it means to straddle the borderlands of two cultures,” she added.

“The world of Monstress is one that has been torn apart by racism, slavery, by the commodification of mixed race bodies that produce a valuable substance that humans require like a drug. Even if you look human, you might not be safe. It’s a familiar story to people of color in this country, and in the last four or five years I’ve found myself deeply immersed in the study of identity and race, especially in the Asian American context.”

Check out the whole interview, it’s well worth the read.   

If you haven’t picked up a copy, there are 500 signed editions at Midtown comics in NYC. (Not the Grand Central location, as I found out the hard way yesterday. They will get them in a few weeks.)

From Marjorie M. Liu's Monstress

From Marjorie M. Liu’s Monstress

If you have read the comic, after the jump, I’ll talk a bit about female characters and darkness, particularly around one particular scene in Monstress. There are light spoilers from Monstress.


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Screengrab from OP KKK 2015

Anonymous Outs KKK Members

Yesterday, Anonymous released the Official OpKKK HoodsOff 2015 Data Release. The list has only been vetted by members of Anonymous – however, a few names on the list have been known, active members of various hate groups (like the leader of Stormfront) for some time. There is also commentary associated with some of the names, like indicating people who are retired law enforcement with ties to the Klan or people who have been banished from their chapter due to criminal history.

In their collective statement, Anonymous is clear to stress that the believe in the right of the Ku Klux Klan to exist and hold their views, however abhorrent. But to commit acts of domestic terrorism under the cloak of anonymity is not acceptable to members of the collective, hence the mass outing. The statement begins:

Where to Start? The basics. The Ku Klux Klan has approximately 150 active cells, operating in 41 states, with membership concentrated in both the South and the Midwest. The KKK is not what it once was but it does continue to survive in various locations throughout the United States. At its peak, membership was in the millions. Now, membership is likely less than 5,000. It is very important to understand – the KKK does not have a central unified leadership. Instead, they are split off into local cells or groups.

These groups generally oppose interracial relationships, homosexuality and illegal immigration and historically express this ideology through acts of terror. We want to remind you: This operation is not about the ideas of members of the Ku Klux Klan. This is about the behaviors of members of KKK splinter cells that bear the hallmarks of terrorism. When members of the KKK like Frazier Glenn Miller, (founder of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the White Patriot Party) murdered three innocent individuals at a Jewish retirement home during Passover – the word “terrorism” was seldom found in mainstream media’s coverage of the attack. Why? What sort of violence does it take to call *some* factions of Ku Klux Klan what *some* of these cells really are?

We defend free thought and free speech. The anons responsible for this operation will not support *acts* of terrorism and *acts* of hate inflicted upon the public. The KKK is part of an important cultural landscape and history in the United States.

We need to make room for important, blunt, honest, public, productive conversation. Violent bigotry IS a problem in the United States. This is not a colorblind society. It deeply divided on racial lines.


Why I am still on the fence about Suffragette

I love supporting women focused films.

I like historical dramas.

I like stories about women kicking ass.

So, by all rights, I should love (and want to see) Suffragette. But I didn’t go to the free screening at ONA and the more I see from the marketing of this film, the more I wince. It’s pretty clear from the trailer that the film is about white women. Since anyone who studies history for more than 15 minutes knows history never fits neatly into a little box, where are the suffragettes of color? If they weren’t in the movement, where were they? What were they doing?

A Women & Hollywood piece stumping for the film tries to answer these questions, but in the worst way possible (emphasis mine):

3. It’s got (almost) all the other feminist bona fides on its side. The film is led not only by a woman helmer and writer, but has been guided by two female producers (Alison Owen and Faye Ward). It passes the Bechdel test with flying colors and has at its emotional core a political speech by Emmeline Pankhurst. Yes, the “whitewashing” concerns are real and the film’s promotional t-shirt campaign was poorly conceived, but Gavron isn’t blind to intersectionality. In an upcoming podcast with Women and Hollywood, she’ll discuss how most of the suffragettes of color she found in her historical research were of noble birth, and they unfortunately had to be waylaid because her intent was to focus on the working-class women who were the unknown soldiers of the movement. (There are well-to-do but no aristocratic women in the film.) We hope another film in the future will give suffragettes of color their due. 

As usual, the inclusivity of the film lies in the hands of the storyteller – there are always hard cuts to be made in any creative work, but why do the stories of women of color always pull the short end of the stick? Here’s to hoping Amma Asante takes a look at this next – somehow, she always finds a way to look at history through an inclusive lens. That tiny disclosure prompts so many more questions: what was happening to working class WoC in that era? Which nobles were involved? Where white suffragettes racist and/or violent toward their WOC counterparts? It’s tough to want to be transported by a film to another era, knowing you’ll be left unsatisfied in the end.

I understand that for some people, erasing women of color from historical narratives is simply an unfortunate oversight. But for those of us who continually see our stories erased from historical record, whitewashed depictions of history aren’t so easy to swallow.




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“We Build Our Village” – Ava Duvernay

[O]ur conversation shouldn’t be consumed with what he’s not doing or what they don’t value. We value us. We build our village. We grow stronger. We testify in commissions, and we write our own op-eds, and we push at every turn that’s necessary. We also blossom because we nourish one another. We focus on her—​the woman sitting right next to you. We focus on us. It’s equally as important. If we don’t do both, I think we lose. Toni Morrison, a prophet that I really admire, said the function of racism is distraction to keep you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining your reason for being. I think sexism is the same. Patriarchy is the same thing—​constantly having to justify our very presence. It’s something to think about. I believe that there are multiple ways we can attack the problems that we face as women in this industry. And fortifying one another and being food and fuel and fire for one another is one of those things.

– Ava DuVernay​, speaking at the Elle Women in Hollywood Awards

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Chescaleigh Breaks Down the Problems with Fetishizing Biracial Babies

Franchesca Ramsey is doing an interesting series for MTV called Decoded, debunking all kinds of racial stereotypes. This week, Ramsey takes on the racial bias that occurs when people think they are being complimentary. Explaining why people projecting their own thoughts on mixed race children is problematic, Ramsey also opens the floor to biracial people on Snapchat, allowing them to add their stories to the narrative.

When your transracially adopted child needs help…

Do not let the first person to show support be a peer or teacher. Your child should be getting emotional and psychological support at home. When your child comes home crying and tells you that a kid teased him/her about their skin color, facial features, hair texture, etc. PLEASE DO NOT respond with, “Just ignore them” or “It’s okay, Jesus loves you.” Call it what it is. VALIDATE your child’s experience. It’s called racism and it is unacceptable. Then discuss appropriate ways to respond to ignorant people.

From “Top Ten List for Transracial Adoptive Parents” by Joy Lynn Song Hoffman, 2013,  adopted through Holt International, 1968

(via AAWW_NYC Tumblr account)


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Friday Hotness: The Hamilton Cypher

Words cannot express how hyped I am for Hamilton: An American Musical.

The sold out show (seriously y’all, all the tickets left are resales and they start around $350) is setting records on Broadway thanks to MacArthur winner Lin-Manuel Miranda’s defiant interpretation of Hamilton’s story.

Our own Kendra James reviews the play on the Toast:

This is part musical, part protest music; characters rap their way through songs with themes and lines that wouldn’t be entirely out of place at a Black Lives Matter protest (“and though I’ll never be truly free / until those in bondage got the same rights as you and me”) or a Bernie Sanders rally (“They tax us unrelentlessly / Then King George turns around and has a spending spree”). Both lyrics come from “My Shot,” a song that turns into a rallying cry for protest and revolution: “Rise up / when you’re living on your knees / you rise up / tell your brother that he’s gotta / rise up / tell you sister that she’s gotta / rise up.” In 2015, it was hard for me to watch so many brown bodies play this scene out onstage and not immediately think of the images that came out of Ferguson.

If Alexander Hamilton is the show’s protester/agitator, then Aaron Burr — with his advice of “talk less / smile more” — is the show’s Respectability Politic. Burr’s lines are quieter, more spoken word than the driving raps performed by Hamilton and the other revolutionaries like Lafayette, Hannibal, and Laurens. In “Farmer Refuted,” Hamilton shouts down the Tory representative Seabury rather like Marissa Johnson and Mara Willaford with Bernie Sanders in Seattle, while Burr urges “let him be.” Burr’s philosophy is mapped out perfectly here: “Geniuses, lower your voices / You keep out of trouble and you double your choices / I’m with you but the situation is fraught / You’ve got to be carefully taught / If you talk you’re gonna get shot.” It’s a “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar” strategy that mirrors accusations from GOP candidates like Ben Carson that the Black Lives Matter movement is too “divisive.”

And after the jump, more reading on Hamilton, including the inspiration behind the work and how the money flows. Continue reading