America’s Parable: Octavia Butler Tried to Warn Us

Economic instability, climate change, and White Christian fascism made a maelstrom

Danielle Moodie
ZORA
Published in
4 min readSep 7, 2021

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The Statue of Liberty is broken and nearly underwater in this creative artwork. Image: Getty Images

Twenty-eight years ago, famed science-fiction author Octavia Butler published her apocalyptically prescient bestselling novel Parable of the Sower, which illustrated what America would look like when climate change, economic instability, and a white Evangelical Christian fascist movement took hold and converged.

Sound familiar?

The eeriest part about this novel is the way in which cultural and political norms were slowly erased. There was no major war, no invasion; instead, a sense of collective lethargy set in across the nation, and things went from bad to worse. Religious fundamentalism seized the country, slavery was reintroduced, water was scarce, and all the social safety nets that the government once provided were rolled back in favor of privatization. If you could afford police protection, health care, the creation of roads and bridges, great—if not, you were out of luck. Butler was clearly ahead of her time. She combined her brilliant imagination with a keen understanding of human behavior to illustrate where the U.S.A. was headed if we continued our ostrich behavior of sticking our heads in the sand and pretending that what was unfolding before our eyes wasn’t happening.

Right now, America as we have come to understand it is unraveling. In this radically new normal world, doctors and health care workers are accosted for trying to keep the public safe, poll workers are threatened for counting votes, anyone who aides a pregnant person seeking an abortion in Texas can be sued, mass shootings are commonplace, and historic climate events are happening weekly. Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright famously said regarding fascism, “If you pluck a chicken one feather at a time, people don’t notice it. So I am concerned about chicken plucking.”

We all should be very concerned.

Contrary to what people think, America’s democratic erosion didn’t begin with Donald Trump; it began with the birth of the Tea Party as a response to a Black man having the audacity to think he could be president. It was the first time in modern history when White Americans were demanding to see

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Danielle Moodie
ZORA
Writer for

is the host of #WokeAF Daily & co-host of the podcast #democracyish. She covers all the news and happenings at the intersection of politics and pop culture.