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Janelle Monáe: The Queer Icon Has a Warning For the Future

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Janelle Monáe's debut short story collection, The Memory Librarian, is eerily prescient.Texas has passed a law that restricts classroom instruction on controversial social and historical issues.

School districts across the United States are asking that educators teach “both sides” on atrocities like the Holocaust. Politicians are knowingly lying, trying to make us doubt, even erase our memories, and Monáe has taken note. “One of the main points that’s super important is about the threat of censorship, memory censorship,” she says on the LGBTQ&A podcast. “Memories are essentially our stories that we tell ourselves to survive.” Expanding on the world created in her career-defining album, Dirty Computer, Monáe writes of a future where memories can be controlled and erased.

Surveillance is everywhere and a courageous few seek to hold on to their “dirtiness.”It’s a dark yet plausible warning for the future, but the stories (written in collaboration with Alaya Dawn Johnson, Yohanca Delgado, Eve L.

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