Reasons for Inclusion: Protagonist is Himba (a people from southern Africa) and she faces prejudice.
Binti is the first of the Himba people to be offered a place at a prestigious intergalactic university. So she leaves her homeland to attend, traveling into the unknown.
People in space, educated as they are, aren’t always friendly. Some dismiss her as too foreign and others mess with her hair, unfamiliar with the otjize clay she wears in her hair and skin. I found this image of the future both hopeful and disappointing- a Himba girl can save the world, but there’s still casual racism, ignorance, and prejudice that should have been overcome by the time people go to the stars.
Binti’s determination and perspective on prejudice lead directly to her heroism. Her experiences help her communicate with the enemy aliens who attack her ship, making her the first person to try to understand the conflict and do something about it.
Though short, this story is full of imagination and thought, putting the importance of cross-cultural respect and communication front and center.