“Wakanda Forever!”

by Soleil Saint-Cyr and Ross Trudeau

[.puz][PDF][Solution]

Everything I want to write here this week has to do with the subject of today’s puzzle, as well the remarkable young woman with whom I collaborated on the grid.

Read more about the construction of “Wakanda Forever!” from burgeoning grid whiz Soleil Saint-Cyr after the jump.

From Soleil:

Hi everyone! Just a quick introduction from me: I’m Soleil Saint-Cyr, and I’m a high school senior from New Jersey. I’ve been solving crosswords since eighth grade, but, thanks to Ross’ awesomeness, this is my first ever piece of fill!

Ross has been kind enough to mentor me as to how I can start making puzzles of my own, and he sent me this grid right after hearing the news of CHADWICK BOSEMAN’s tragic death. I, and all other movie-lovers, BLACK PANTHER fans, and members of the Black community were devastated by the news last Saturday, and I loved this unique way of paying tribute to his truly inspiring life. Oh, to be young, gifted, and black.

Sitting down to fill was definitely not the easiest, and I had no idea where to start, but with a couple of pointers and discovering that KAP fit perfectly, I was off to the races! I tried my hardest to feature Black people and culture in the fill and clues (at my mother’s suggestion), and I’m really proud of how my first piece of fill turned out.

Just a special shoutout to Ross for both publishing the puzz and for encouraging me to take a leap of faith and try my hand at making something myself. Happy solving!

From Ross:

I was fully supportive of Soleil’s desire to extend the spirit of the thematic elements of this puzzle to her fill and her clues. But I certainly didn’t expect the sheer amount of Black culture (JOHN COLTRANE! ESTELLE! Etc.!) she was able to infuse into what was always going to be a challenging grid to fill.

Of course, when you start including names in a puzzle or its clues, there are certain ways to make the solve accessible to a broad swath of your audience. Take the clue for PILOT: [Kind of license that Bessie Coleman was the first African American and Native American to earn].

Now, that clue *could* omit “kind of license,” leaving the solvers who aren’t familiar with Bessie Coleman (ahem, me) with no recourse but to get a few crossings. But just that phrase “kind of license” narrows it down substantially.

Ditto the clue for ARTIST: [Basquiat or Banksy], which could have been [Basquiat, e.g.] *or* [Banksy, e.g.]. By including both names, you’re increasing the likelihood that you solver could confidently plonk down ARTIST with no crossing help.

[Update: Erik Agard recently pointed up his frustration at the impulse to add an “extra hint” for an answer *because* it references a person of color. That’s certainly worth bearing in mind as constructors/editors make decisions about perceived degree of difficulty in grid building.]

And in either of these cases–boom–your solver may well have learned something.

R.I.P., king. </3

-Ross

Among people named in this puzzle:

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