Sade Green ’20 is an English major. Her thesis is a collection of short stories with Black women as protagonists. Her advisor is Thirii Myo Kyaw Myint, a visiting writer in the English department.
Q: Can you tell me about your thesis? A: I’m an English major, and my thesis is a collection of short stories that feature Black women as the protagonists. Having Black women as the protagonists was really important to me because growing up I was an avid reader. I loved to read Nancy Drew and “The Hunger Games,” but then I saw that all of these protagonists were white. I didn’t see myself in these books. While I saw myself in the qualities that they had — they were smart, brave, and funny — I didn’t see myself fully represented. I didn’t see my hair texture; I didn’t see my skin color. I always wanted to be an author growing up. When I got to college, I thought I want to be an English major. So when I became a senior, I was like “This is a great opportunity to create a book that I have always wanted to read.”
Q: What kind of research have you done so far for your thesis? A: I’m actually starting my research right now. A lot of it is talking to friends, the Black women in my life. While there are some identities and experiences that I do hold and can talk about, there are some that I can’t hold and I don’t hold, and I can’t speak to. What I’ve been doing is talking to friends trying to get their experiences about their identities, the ones that I don’t have.
Q: Have you begun writing? A: I do have at least two stories outlined so far. The first one, I wanted to talk about themes or issues that Black women face. For example, colorism is going to be something I talk about. One of the stories is about a protagonist who experiences colorism in her family and her school growing up and then towards the end she ends up in a relationship where colorism affects whether or not they stay together. The second story is going to be a little bit personal because it is about me, but I just put another character on there. It’s about a Nigerian American and African American protagonist — I’m Nigerian and African American — and she kind of has to explore both identities and navigate both worlds. She doesn’t feel like she’s Nigerian enough because of the people she hangs around with. They both have Nigerian parents. For me that represents some type of healing to have one part that was taken from the continent and one part that is still there, and what does it mean to have both of those come together and it’s not until college until I really felt whole in that way.
Q: What is your favorite thing so far about working on a thesis? A: I love this thesis because it’s really creative and I can create this whole world outside of the world I’m living in. That’s what I’ve really liked about reading and writing. It’s good to go through the stress of Amherst and you have all of these classes. I think of my thesis as a way to relax. I know that sounds weird but for me that’s how I get it done. I love writing so much so this is my down time to create all these new characters, to create a new world that is not my own.
Q: What has been the most rewarding aspect of your thesis? A: I think it’s really amplifying the voices of Black women. I don’t believe in being someone’s voice because people have voices and the Black women in my community and all over the world have voices and people are just not listening. What I want to do with this thesis is amplify their voices and give them a platform for the things that they have already been saying for years now, and people need to really start listening. Also the idea that there are so many people that have paved the way for me. Toni Morrison has paved the way for me. Nikki Giovanni, Maya Angelou, all these great Black women writers have paved the way for me and this is kind of an ode to them as well.
Q: Where would you hope to take your final thesis? A: We’re trying to get published! It’s funny because when I had my first meeting with my thesis advisor, she was like — what are your goals? I said, “I want to create and book and get published.” And when she started talking about it, she made it seem more realistic than I thought it could be.
Q: Do you have any advice for students considering writing a thesis? A: Do the type of thesis that you want. I know that sounds like basic advice but really make sure that it is the type of thesis you want to do in general. For example, I could have had an analytical thesis comparing different works. I was thinking that an analytical would be good for law school to show that I can actually argue a case. But I was just like, “Would you sit there for a whole year, would your passion be behind this?” I would find zero interest in that. I’m going to do what I’m going to do regardless of how it looks to people and I enjoy it.