A few weeks ago, I was standing in the ‘check-out’ line of the local library, clutching a giant stack of books. All sci-fi.
An older woman stood near me and started looking over the books in my arms. I smiled and nodded, hoping she would get the hint that I just wanted to check out and get on the train, but I wouldn’t be writing about this if that’s what happened.
“Why do you like that?” Her voice wasn’t harsh or mean, just inquisitive.
She motioned towards the books, one cover brandishing a steam-punk style mechanical heart, and asked again. “Why do you like that weird stuff?”
I would’ve been offended if she hadn’t seemed so genuinely puzzled that anyone could enjoy the style of books I was carrying. I’ve always liked sci-fi. Fantasy. Fiction. Some prefer books about a bare-chested lothario sweeping them off their feet. I prefer reading about quests to stop ancient AI beings from taking over the world. Tomato. To-mah-toe.
I shouldn’t have been surprised, either. As a woman, a woman of color at that, we’re not exactly at the forefront of people’s minds when they think of the average sci-fi fan. To be a Blackgirl and be ‘nerdy’ is considered niche; something marketable for brands and companies who are only now realizing that, yes, we exist.
And so when asked why I like that weird stuff, I was reminded of my younger self, flipping through page after page of every Harry Potter book. Admiring my father’s comic book collection. Binge watching every episode of Firefly and wanting to be as cool as Captain Reynolds. Hours-long conversations about why Death Note is an anime classic.
I thought about every girl who’d been told to stop liking that ‘boy stuff’, that it was stupid, or childish.
“Why do you like that weird stuff?”