Sunday, May 17, 2020

Book Review: SLAY

This book is beautiful and knocks you off your feet in all the best ways. Slay follows young black gamer, Kiera who creates the magical world of SLAY, a VR world where Nubian kings and queens can go to feel save and heard. But when one of their members dies over game conflict, Keira comes face to face with the racial backlash of non supporters.

My copy of SLAY is an ARC so there was a letter to the reader at the beginning of the book where Britteny Morris (the author) talks about her struggle to be understand as a black youth and how she finally felt like a part of something and "enough" when she watched Black Panther. As a young black woman growing up in America, I have experienced some of the same things that Brittney talks about in her letter. I've been called an "oreo" all my life because I never fit into the black "stereotypes" America forces upon us. So growing up it was hard to figure out where I fit in, never black enough for my black friends but definitely not white enough for my white friends. Because of the color of my skin I would always be deemed other or less than. And that has carried a tremendous amount of weight as I grew up. It wasn't until probably after college when I started accepting my blackness for what it was and started creating my own black story of self love and acceptance. I am an avid reader, I'm educated, I love Harry Potter, I love science fiction, I wear my hair between a mix of natural and straight, and I love the color of my skin. Feeling proud of your culture in a society that has told you throughout your whole life that you're a second class citizen has lasting effects on a person, I can say 100% that I am proud to a strong black woman who fights for what she believes in in spite of what the world says.

What I absolutely love about this book is that it doesn't shy away from tackling tough topics about race relations and how that affects young people today. Kiera has to deal with wanting to feel proud about this thing she created while also knowing that it may have lead to someones death. And knowing that there are people out there who do not support something that is meant to be a safe space. You can really tell the guilt weighs on her. Not being able to share this part of herself with her closest friends and family, even thought this part is her truest self. It doesn't help that her boyfriend, Malcolm is very militant and pro-black to the point where it is detrimental to his growth as a person. Or that her two white friends assume she and her sister (Steph) are the representers for the entire black race when they ask about dreads. This book almost perfectly captures what it's like to be a black youth in America. Specifically, gaming while black, and how many of these games are filled with racists and often more white characters than characters of color.

For me SLAY has that Black Panther effect. After watching Black Panther I felt even more proud to be black. What that film did for black youth is remarkable. I recently watched again for the 2nd time and I loved it even more this time. I felt even more connected to it this time around. I even understood Killmonger's perspective. He's the product of constantly being beat down by a system that is stacked against you because of the color of your skin. Malcolm is the Killmonger of the book, even is Twitter handle is xxPeaceMongerFOOxx. Black Panther is filled with black excellence and being able to see our culture up on the big screen in that way was a monumental moment. Now little boys and girls can see themselves as superheroes. And after reading this book I felt seen and heard and once again proud to be black!


Happy Reading!