These Black Authors Have Been Awarded MacArthur Foundation Genius Grants

Three Black women have been awarded 2020 MacArthur Foundation genius grants for their lauded work in science fiction, young adult literature and essay writing.

Authors Jacqueline Woodson, N.K. Jemisin and Tressie McMillan Cottom were honored as MacArthur fellows and will each receive a $625,000 grant to be paid over the next five years, CNN reports.

Woodson, author of Brown Girl Dreaming has published nearly 30 pieces of media about Black life and the Black experience, according to the foundation. Woodson was praised by MacArthur officials as a writer who is “redefining children’s and young adult literature to encompass more complex issues and reflect the lives of Black children, teenagers, and families.”

From 2016 to 2108, Jemisin, 48, won the Hugo Award for Best Novel for each of her books in the widely acclaimed Broken Earth trilogy. In The City We Became, Jemisin illustrates an abstract New York City populated with diverse LGTBQ+ characters.

The MacArthur Foundation highlighted Jemisin for “pushing against the conventions of epic fantasy and science fiction genres while exploring deeply human questions about structural racism, environmental crises, and familial relationships.”

In June, she told CNN Style that she writes from her own perspective — one that as a Black woman, hasn’t always been prioritized.

“Fantasy is enhanced by having different voices. But I’ve always said that Black and female and queer writers will know when we have arrived when our work doesn’t have to be exceptional. When our mediocre wish fulfillment fantasies get published as often as the white dudes’ fantasies get published,” she said.

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