Subverting Racist Tropes in Fiction

Over at Apex Magazine, I published a powerful short story by Maurice Broaddus titled “Super Duper Fly.” The author confronts the deeply ingrained “passive” racism that still exists in contemporary literature. In particular, offensive stereotypes of black people: the magical negro, the mammy, and others.

It struck me after reading “Super Duper Fly” that writers lean a lot of stereotypes to build stock characters. The story even references one of our society’s most famous depictions of the magical negro trope by one of our most popular and beloved authors: John Coffey in The Green Mile by Stephen King.

“The Magical Negro is not bound by the rules of space and time. It is a sacred responsibility.” Another man stepped from his light. Over six and a half feet tall, weighing over two bills, he strutted toward the two, all swagger without consequence. He held his arms out, either for an embrace or waiting for a white woman to swoon and fall into them. “You had one job. One.”

“What was that, The Buck?” The Magical Negro asked.

–excerpt of “Super Duper Fly” in issue 77 of Apex Magazine

I interviewed Maurice about the story. We had a good discussion about race in fiction. At least, as good as one you can have between a pasty white country boy publisher and a popular black author. He had some smart things to say about Stephen King, about an author’s social responsibility, and cultural appropriation.

There is also the unspoken, yet very present, social responsibility to the community in terms of the stories we tell and the characters we craft.

–excerpt of interview with Maurice Broaddus

I encourage you to check out the interview and story. You’ll enjoy them.

“Super Duper Fly” by Maurice Broaddus

My interview with Maurice Broaddus

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