I am not only working on the blog right now; I am also working on a collection of speculative short stories called Narratives.
These narratives are futuristic slave stories that reveal what happened to the black people sold by America to China in exchange for China’s US Treasuries in 2081.
Right now, I have eight plans for eight stories. The first is called “The Brilliant Idea.” It is narrated in the traditional Chinese manner by a fictional ceremonial storyteller named Heisé Jun and describes how The Seeding – the establishment of the new slave system in China – was precipitated.
I finished the story last year. I hope that I am done with it, so I can move onto the others. Right now, all I have of them are synopses and titles: “The Making”; “The Breeding Room”; “Scars”; “The Whipper”; “The Lynching”; “The Exhibition”; “The Decision”; and “The Prisoner.”
I have never written speculative fiction before, but Octavia Butler is one of my favorite authors, and the political landscape of this current time has impelled me to imagine what the fate of the country will be after 45. The fixedness of institutional racism in the culture – the use of race as a technology to advance American whiteness and white patriarchal hegemony – makes it entirely feasible to me that slavery could be reinstated in an innovative form.
Still, I am extremely nervous about this piece. And usually I don’t do this, but I want to make sure that I have “something” here before I sink a lot of time and energy into finishing the collection. So I’m posting “The Brilliant Idea” here, and anyone with constructive feedback? You can feel free to give it to me.
The Brilliant Idea
Told by Heisé Jun, Famed Storyteller, during her 2181 visit to the White House, to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of The Seeding
- The story says that a terrible disease struck America, a disease even worse than the nation’s greed. It found a higher level of susceptibility in the white people of the country than in other groups; they lacked a certain antigen in their blood, so they caught the disease more readily and died of it more frequently and quickly. There were people that attributed this to causality or what Hindus or Buddhists call karma. Indeed, the white population lost more lives than any other to the disease that struck America. The government responded by quarantining the whites that survived the outbreak. It built a sterile residential facility that stretched over most of Wyoming, where the ocean would take another century or more to stretch.
- When the disease struck America, it was 2076. The nation was 300 years old. It had the frailty of something that old. It was economically and spiritually desiccated. It had never become a proper empire, so it did not fall. It became a sump – a cesspool of bitter emotion that whites and blacks flung at each other in various forms of violence. Millions of Hispanics left the nation in disgust, and went to Mexico and other Spanish-speaking nations, to escape becoming collateral damage. Millions of Asians and Arabs did the same; many returned to the countries from which their families had originally come. Sociologists called their abandonment ‘social rupture.’ They called their exodus “racial hemorrhaging.” It severely weakened America and put incredible strain on the countries to which the disaffected Americans relocated.
- The racial hemorrhaging, when calculated with the number of people lost to random, mass acts of public violence, to crime, to common diseases, to the tightening on access to quality healthcare, to the steep increase in capital crime cases and sentences, prevented America’s population from growing according to projections made in the early part of the 21st century. China had bought so much of America’s debt at that time because it meant to continue low-balling American corporations and selling its products to Americans at tremendous profits into the 22nd century. By 2076, however, America didn’t contain enough consumers to make holding the debt worth China’s while. Then, once the disease struck, and blacks began to talk of leaving the country, too, China knew it had to unload the debt. The problem was no other country would buy it.
- America and China had been passing US Treasuries back and forth like adolescent love notes since the last part of the 20th century. America never imagined China would attempt to unload all of its US Treasuries at any point, and China never imagined it would need to unload all of its US Treasuries. By 2076, however, China was desperately cash-poor. Overcrowding was forcing the country to import more goods than it had ever imported in the whole of its history, and its exports weren’t generating enough money to keep the country afloat.
- When China sought to sell its US Treasuries, and end its poverty, it couldn’t. Its economists began brainstorming a solution, and one came up with Huīhuáng de xiăngfă – the Brilliant Idea. This man – Zhang Wei – is sometimes called the Chinese Heinrich Himmler, after the Reichsführer-SS of the Third Reich. Indeed, his plan does have some similarities to the Final Solution, though conscription and extermination, at the end of it, are two very different things.
- The Brilliant Idea hatched by Zhang Wei was simple, but effective: China would sell its US Treasuries back to the US – the only country that would buy them. Since the US was cash-poor like China, it would pay for the Treasuries with laborers instead of money. These laborers would work in Chinese industries for free, as instruments of the government, allowing businesses to cut a certain percentage of what they spent on wages and benefits; this would create higher profit margins and put more cash into the pockets of paid Chinese workers, which they could buy more exports and balance out China’s economy. Zhang Wei pegged the population the American government would be most amenable to serve up as labor instruments based on his study of American history and sociology. The black population. Hundreds of thousands of black were imprisoned during the undeclared race war that raged in America from roughly 2026-2076. They already worked for the US government – building and repairing infrastructure – for theoretical pennies stored in electronic prison banks. These inmates could simply go – Zhang Wei postulated – from being instruments of one government to being instruments of another.
- The story says that by 2076 America’s resources were badly strained by the mass incarceration of the black population, the mass quarantine of the diseased, and all the racial hemorrhaging of the Hispanics, Asians, and Arabs; the country had lost millions of workers and consumers, and the government, trillions of dollars in taxes and kickbacks. With so many unpaid mouths to feed in prison and quarantine, and so little money with which to do it, America was ripe for China’s plan. China called the plan, when it became an official program – Bozhong – The Seeding. America called it the Purge.
- In January 2081, after a very bloody, laborious culling process, America exported 56 million black “instruments” to China. These were not all inmates of the prison system. Most were free citizens, turned over to the government for interment by struggling businesses in return for hefty ‘grant’ payments. Many were black military servicemen and servicewomen. All together, they comprised three-quarters of America’s black population.
- The remaining quarter remained in interment, in complexes erected in Nevada, Kansas, West Virginia, and Mississippi, to keep them ‘safe’ from the ‘Righters’ that would kill, prostitute, or sell them to other countries.
- These ‘Righters’ were large groups of militarized whites that believed black had conspired to plant the disease and kill off the white population in America. They didn’t call themselves ‘Righters’ because they were Republicans; this was not a version of the 20th century term ‘rightwing.’ Indeed, the bipartisan political system had ended in 2050, when America adopted its policy of eminent leadership, which dictates that any native-born American over the age of 35 with an ‘established history of patriotism, academism, humanism, and dynamism’ can run for President, but the most qualified candidate with the highest IQ – as measured by the State Assessory – must be chosen for the office.
- No – the ‘Righters’ of the New America weren’t traditional rightwingers. They called themselves ‘Righters’ because to their thinking the white population in America had been unforgivably wronged by the black population. They were determined to avenge their white ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’ by ‘wiping out the true plague on [their] beloved republic’ and ‘returning [their] home to its former state of grace.’
I wanted to capture the stiff, formal tone of the Chinese oral storytelling tradition in the narration, but still make the details of the story interesting somehow.
I hope I did all right.
I’m either going to write “The Making” or “The Breeding Room” next.