A brilliant teen game developer.
The beauty of the African Diaspora people.
A kick-a** VR game highlighting #blackexcellence.
SLAY by Brittney Morris is the book I really needed when I was a teenager, but one I am so glad exists for the teenagers of today. This is the book for Black kids who've had to contend with life in spaces where they are the minority -- SLAY is a celebration of a space created for Black people to simply be who they are without being bothered by the questions, ignorance, curiosity, presumptions, and harms that come from being othered from the time you are born. Brittney Morris, thank you for writing this book! We need more like it.
Kiera, Kiera, Kiera. A book heroine after my own heart! I loved this character y'all and I could see so much of myself in her character. Like Kiera, I've had to deal with going to a school being one of the very few minority (let alone Black) kids attending. Like Kiera, I'm very familiar with what an incredibly alienating experience it can be, especially when you're attention adverse. Like Kiera, I've struggled with defining my Blackness on my terms and no one else's. SLAY made me feel SEEN in a way that I wish more media did. Of course, unlike Kiera, I'm not a brilliant game designer (at 17 no less), but as a business owner who's core mission is to celebrate and elevate a specific niche of people, I can relate to Kiera's struggle.
At its bones, SLAY is READY PLAYER ONE meets DEAR WHITE PEOPLE. READY PLAYER ONE in that Brittney Morris immediately introduces us to the world our protagonist Kiera has built, the VR game called SLAY. SLAY has a very well thought out game system -- if you've ever played any MMORPG, you'll pick up on the rules (very clearly explained by Morris) quickly. The game uses aspects of Black culture as a way to wield power and win battles, which will leave some fun lil discoveries for the reader as they enjoy this book. The DEAR WHITE PEOPLE has to do with the very much needed discussion throughout the book on Blackness. What Morris does that I love in this book is that we're not limited to just Kiera's perspective and struggle with SLAY and what it means and represents to her. Morris switches the POV from chapter to chapter to the other Black folk in Kiera's world, thus bringing to light a conversation that Black people will have until the end of time -- what does Blackness really mean? How is quantified? Do exclusionary safe spaces help or hurt?
SLAY is a book I'd not only have given my teen self (because like all teen girls, I was going THROUGH it y'all), but also one I wish I could have given to so many of the White people I've encountered throughout my life. What Brittney Morris does so brilliantly is that in talking about the beauty of Blackness, she still makes it clear that Blackness is not a monolith -- the beauty is in the various ways identity is expressed without expectation, prejudice, or question. Kiera must unpack the presumptions she has about others to truly appreciate what she's created. I think that Morris is asking the reader to do the same, to investigate our presumptions and allow ourselves the grace to change in light of new or discovered truths.