I was excited to be invited to join this set because it celebrates one thing: DIVERSITY. I grew up in a diverse household, run by women during a time when female empowerment wasn't nearly what it is today. My mother’s family hails from Sicily and Italy, and my father's side is Irish and Native American (from the Seminole tribe). I identify as bisexual. Growing up in Chicago, I knew everyone, of every race and religion you can imagine. The real world is a brilliant place filled with billions of unique individuals, yet there are times when they seem to be seldom represented in urban fantasy fiction.
This was an opportunity for me, personally, to show the diversity of Chicago, and how people of many different races, religions, and backgrounds can defy the odds and band together not despite their differences, but because of them.
Growing up, being Sicilian and Native American, my eyes looked almost Japanese, and people used to whisper to my mother, “Is she Asian?” like it was some sort of scandal. My grandmother was extremely dark-skinned, so much that she looked biracial with her big dark eyes and gorgeous ink-colored afro (she didn’t dye or process it, it just looked that way). The treatment she received when shopping in Marshall Field’s (that’s Macy’s now) was disgusting. The treatment my family still receives is awful. We’ve literally been followed by skinheads, especially living in Los Angeles as we do now.
As a child, I never knew what skin color really was to some people. I knew people came from different countries and therefore looked different. They had different holidays, different traditions, all of which my public school taught us about openly. It wasn’t until I was in second grade, where my Muslim friend’s older sister was sent home from school because she wore her hijab in class. That was my first taste of racism in any form, and it stayed with me till this day.
I was chased around my mall by three huge guys for wearing a LGBT+ t-shirt. I’ve been called every name you can call a Latinx person (because I live in LA with dark hair and eyes, so I must be from Mexico, right? Ugh.)
Rereading this, it seems almost disjointed, and for that I apologize, but I am not rewriting it. I don’t live in a monochrome world. My world has color and vibrancy and is bursting with so much life. I go outside and I will literally see these races within ten minutes: Arabic, Korean, Chinese, Mexican, Guatemalan, El Salvadorian, African-American, European, Greek, Filipino, Thai...and you know what? I love it. That’s my world. That’s OUR world.
And if our world can have that kind of diversity, why can’t our books? Our films? Our everything? When I plotted Soul Syndicate (two years before Faith and I would start to work on it) the plot was meant to have people of all races and backgrounds, to showcase diversity. This boxed set wasn't even being plotted at that time, but I knew this was a story I needed to write. I am so happy that it has a home here, with other like-minded tales and authors.
Please help support us in our effort to diversify urban fantasy!