I like video games. I wouldn’t say I like video games as much as normal people who like video games, but I like them more than people who don’t like video games. They’re cool. I like playing (although I’m not very good) and watching other people play sometimes.
Virtual reality is a whole other ball game. It kinda makes me a little uncomfortable that there’s technology that can totally immerse you in another world. I think that’s giving technology too much power and weakening the power of our imaginations.
But what if there was a world just for black people to be themselves and be free from online discrimination and harassment for being black? There was a world like that created by a 17-year-old black girl in the book Slay by Brittaney Morris.
This was a time where me picking books based on their covers paid off. I had no idea this was going to be about a video game, but I fell in love with this book because (1) there was a badass black girl who was good at tech and (2) Kiera is the unapologetic black girl I wish I was growing up.
This teen bop (yes, I just called a book a bop because I’m hip) was the perfect metaphor for the concept of double consciousness coined by W.E.B. DuBois. In the book, Kiera was living in two worlds, on multiple levels: she was straddling the two worlds of trying to fit in and not be “too black” for her all-white classmates trying not to come across as a white sympathizer her hotep, I mean woke, boyfriend. And then she was actually split between the real world and the one she created, one that she kept a secret.
I felt this growing up. The only difference with me, is that I didn’t want to be in the world of black people loving other black people. I solely wanted to belong to the world of privilege.
I felt like I didn’t belong in the other world, the world of people who look like me. Growing up and throughout college, I felt like I didn’t fit in predominately black spaces. I worked so hard at trying not to be black to fit in the white world that I felt like a fraud when I was around my own people, and I felt like they could smell my deceit and effectively shunned me.
That feeling could have been made up by me to further isolate myself from my home planet. If I could prove that I was an alien here, I could prove that I truly belonged in the other world.
Wow. I am glad I found self-acceptance. I think I have refined my art of intergalactic travel, aka code switching. And now I feel comfortable bringing myself into both worlds.
I’m glad Kiera felt comfortable enough to be her authentic self. She is young and navigating both worlds as your authentic self instead of being a version of your self in either worlds takes time.
But I’m afraid of dystopian futures overrun by technology and I hope we never find a way to merge virtual reality with reality reality. *shudders*