Susan Bernofsky described recently the “disheartening” numbers, when it comes to the percentage of female authors in translation. Across twenty-five presses evaluated by Women in Translation, only twenty-five percent of books in English translation were by women, and some of Bernofsky’s favorite presses (some of mine, too), like New Directions and Archipelago, were among the worst perpetrators, publishing sixteen percent and thirteen percent female authors, respectively.
In blending Cassie’s childlike fantasy with altruism and justice, Ringgold highlights not only one child’s ability to use play to prepare for the stresses of the adult world, but also the power fantasy maintains even for adults when it comes to seeking justice and defining freedom. Flight may be a typical childhood dream, but it’s also a deep motif of resistance in African-American folklore. (In 1985, author Virginia Hamilton packaged that motif expressly for young readers in her gorgeous collection The People Could Fly.) While Cassie’s dress changes color above the George Washington Bridge, the page is bordered with pieces of Ringgold’s story quilt–in which Cassie’s story originally appeared–a testament to the idea that the dream/memory is not only Cassie’s, but that of an entire community.