By: CASSANDRA SCHERR
Explorations of the power and place of rage have long been a part of activism, culture, and writing when considering the black experience in America, even more so when we view that experience through the lens of the supernatural. In works such as Victor LaValle's graphic novel Destroyer, what makes the feminine monstrous is not their looks or even their acts but rather their rage, more specifically that these "monsters" dare to express their rage in visible ways. On the surface, Destroyer is a retelling of Mary Shelly's Frankenstein with Dr. Baker filling in the role of Dr. Frankenstein and her murdered son, Akai, in the part of "the monster." However, beyond that, Destroyer is a story about a black mother's rage over her child's murder by a police officer. What drives home the horror of this story is not Akai's reanimated body but the unstoppable rage of a mother, who will not only rebuild her child but also destroy the world that allows little black boys to be gunned down by authority figures. This discussion utilizes the work of Victor LaValle to help explore the roles of femininity and monstrosity in black speculative fiction. What does it truly mean for a black character to be labeled monstrous and feminine when we consider a social history that so often denies black women their femininity and is often generous in its applications of monstrosity to blackness? Why are these stories so often told using supernatural elements when the reality is just as if not more horrifying? To explore those questions, this argument poses that characters such as Dr. Baker use their rage as a subversive strategy to escape the confines of the social hierarchy and respectability politics using monstrosity as a transformative catalyst for social change.
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