A few years ago I got a phone call from the president of a prominent women’s organization. She was familiar with my work on images of women in the media and invited me to suggest a book for her group to read. I was poised to tell her she had the wrong person because her group was composed of business women and I thought I had very little to offer bankers and insurance executives. However as we continued to chat, she brought up the (at the time) new Star Trek film. When she said that a Black woman’s voice was the first thing those who encountered the Enterprise (in the 1960’s television show) heard I got really excited and I agreed to come to her national meeting. Then I suggested Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower as the book everyone should read.
I prepared to meet these titans of the business world and I developed a lecture that discussed how the protagonist of Parable of the Sower, Lauren Olamina, was a model for corporate and civic leadership. I had an extraordinary time at the conference and my theory was well received. I developed relationships that are ongoing and I expanded my scholarship. In fact, I will be teaching a course in the spring on models of leadership in Black speculative fiction and I’ll post a call for papers on how Black Speculative fiction imagines or re-imagines leadership.
Who knew my favorite after school tv show when I was kid would combine with JJ Abram’s revision, a business executive’s phone call, and Octavia Butler’s wisdom to lead me where I had not dared to go before–corporate America.