The 1950’s were a deadly time for women, lesbian, and gay writers in the United States. Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar (1963) suggests the narrow boundaries of young womanhood in this era, and the suicide of F. O. Matthiessen at the beginning of the decade demonstrates the horrible consequences of McCarthyism. Zami portrays a young, African American lesbian growing up during this claustrophobic period, escaping to Mexico, and coming back a stronger woman. Zami has become a touchstone for all people who have to struggle against oppression, whether racial or sexual.