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Why Do We Need More Strong Black Female Protagonists in Fantasy Fiction?

June 21, 2022

For many readers, fantasy fiction offers an escape from the real world and its problems. It's a genre that allows readers to explore different cultures and worlds, and to imagine what life could be like in alternate universes. But while fantasy fiction often includes strong female characters, they are often white. In recent years, however, there has been a push to diversify the genre and to include more strong black women characters but not necessarily as protagonists.

In a genre where racism and sexism are still unfortunately all too common, strong black women protagonists provide an inspiring example of what we can achieve if we dared to dream big and fight for what's right. It's no secret that black women are often underrepresented in fiction, and fantasy fiction is no exception. While there are many strong black women characters in fantasy fiction, they are often overshadowed by their white counterparts or are sidekicks.

Strong black women have been a staple in fantasy fiction for years. They are often the unsung heroes of the story, but their role has just been as side characters. Why is it extremely important to see more strong black women as protagonists?

Reasons Why We Need More Strong Black Female Protagonists in Fantasy Fiction

There are many reasons why it is important to have strong black woman protagonists in fantasy fiction novels:

  • Helps to diversify the genre and offer readers new perspectives on familiar storylines and tropes. 
  • Allows black women authors to share their unique experiences and view points with the world. 
  • Seeing themselves reflected positively in literature can help young black girls feel empowered and confident about themselves.
  • Provides representation for black women in a genre that is often dominated by white males.
  • Shows that black women can be powerful and heroic, just like anyone else.
  • Serve as inspirations for black girls and young women who might not see themselves represented elsewhere in pop culture.
  • Provides young girls with positive role models to look up to, and helps break down the barriers that tell them they can't achieve their dreams just because of the color of their skin.
  • Challenges the stereotype that all women in the genre are damsels in distress who need to be rescued by a white male knight. 
  • Shows that people of color can be just as heroic and capable as anyone else.
  • Images inspire readers to be brave, courageous, and makes a lasting impact.

Ultimately, strong black women in fantasy fiction play an important role in helping to diversify the genre and making it more inclusive for everyone. In fact, reading strong black women protagonists in fantasy fiction such as  powerful warriors, skilled sorceresses or wise advisors provide positive representation for black women and girls. 

What’s My Point? 

There's a long-standing debate in the fantasy fiction community about how strong black women differ from other women in the genre. Some believe that they're simply more muscular and physically powerful than their white counterparts, while others argue that they're also more mentally and emotionally strong.

We often see strong black women portrayed as cold, unyielding and often heartless. In truth, Black women are the mothers, the aunts, the guardians who raise us and protect us from harm. They are also warriors, queens, earth mothers, and sorceresses. 

Sharing these strong black women in fantasy fiction, levels the playing field and shows a balanced view.  Strong Black female protagonists can be presented as powerful figures who we can learn from and identify with…

 Whatever your opinion on the matter, there's no denying that strong black women protagonists are an important part of fantasy fiction. They provide a much-needed representation of diversity in a genre that has often been accused of being too white and male-dominated. 

Here is a list of some of the most powerful black women protagonists in fantasy fiction:

  • Prentice Tasifa from Kill Three Birds By Nicole Givens Kurtz investigates a serial killer operating in little known Gould.
  • Maya Sutton from Chosen By The Alien Admiral: Sci-Fi Alien Romance By Thea Dane is a Navigational Engineer on an Alien Planet and Ship that must survive an incredible attack on her crew. 
  • Luna from Dark Genesis by A D Koboah is a female slave who has attracted the attention of a deadly being that lusts for blood and is forcibly removed from everything she knows by this tormented otherworldly creature.
  • Onye from Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor Onye is a talented student at the Nigerian Academy of Magic where she learns to harness her unique magic powers. 
  • Shuri from Black Panther by Nic Stone is the brilliant sister of T'Challa, the Black Panther, and she uses her scientific knowledge to help protect Wakanda from enemies. 
  • Zélie Adebola from Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi Zélie Adebola is determined to restore magic to her kingdom and overthrow the cruel ruler who banned it.
  • Dana from Kindred by Octavia Butler is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South.
  • Jessica Jacobs-Wolde from The Living Blood by Tananarive Due must protect her child from those who will stop at nothing to exploit her child’s ancient supernatural power.
  • And, Nerissa from the Fae Witch’s Pregnancy by Alicia McCalla in the Curse of the Spiral Anthology must do whatever she can to ensure the safe delivery of her children. 

If you enjoyed this blog post, you might also enjoy these: 

Five Black Women Superheroines

10 Black Women SciFi and Fantasy Authors

Six Black Warrior Women in SciFi and Fantasy

Africana Womanism in Lovecraft Country

I’m author Alicia McCalla. Sign-up for my newsletter to get updates, learn about my latest projects and purchase my Sistas with Skills, Swords, and Superpowers Stories and Merchandise!

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    4 comments on “Why Do We Need More Strong Black Female Protagonists in Fantasy Fiction?

    1. Greetings!
      I am an author who often places strong Black women in his writings. I would love to get your review of my novel Cluth’s Call because of it's three dynamic female characters.

      1. Hey Gavin! Thanks for posting. I'm in the middle of several projects at the moment but send a review request through my contact me form and I'll see what my calendar looks like.

    2. This is a definite truth. Publishers and agents are dying to have diversity in fantasy and sci-fi. Even if it is 2022, just this week I heard someone say that so much of the hard sci-fi belongs to the white British male. Thankfully in the past few years women have added much more to this genre though not always in the hard niche of it.

      But in the world we need everyone to share in a way that lets us enjoy each other as we learn from our differences. I'm glad I learned of your site today and this blog post from June leapt out at me. Get your voice out there. You have a unique voice only you can use to tackle this topic. Being a white female, I have a whole different story to share to inspire girls and women. I can watch and learn as you inspire people to be themselves with your style. I can tell you already got this! 😀 Keep it going!

      1. Aww thanks Althea! Very much appreciate your kind words. And yes, it’s time for all women to add our unique stories into the SciFi & Fantasy realms. We’ll get there.

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