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RIP Monica Jackson, Author, Warrior...Friend

The one thing that I’ve long since taken for granted here in Romance Land is that the people who I ‘meet’ and talk to, argue with, and discuss common interests with, will always be around.

Imagine my shock when I discovered that one of the stalwarts of our little world had passed. My heart goes out to Monica’s family, especially her daughter.

I’m still in shock now. I feel like my heart is breaking because I know that this great friend that I’d never even met, will no longer be part of our little corner of the world. And this world is a little less luminous because of her absence from it.

Monica Jackson was one of the most fearless woman I’ve ever known. She was bold, and brash and wonderfully honest. She spoke her mind, and I loved her for that.

Long after Romance Land had tired of the Racism in Romance discussion, she was always there, ready to bring this conversation that many readers and authors alike found uncomfortable, to the fore. She loved this discomfort, because it was proof to her that at last the issue was in the psyche of those readers, who subconsciously avoided those otherly books.

She was passionate about the Racism in Romance issue, and her tenacity and willingness to fight the long and good fight was inspiring. My long-forgotten Racism In Romance posts were actually inspired by Monica. For a while there, it was the hot topic in Romance Land. I think there may have even been a couple of At The Back Fence posts over at All About Romance. Progress indeed!

I worried constantly that she was making herself a target for haters, and told her so on many occasions. This was her response when I tried telling her off, yet again, for painting an arrow on her own back:

“Karen, I know you voiced concern over me making myself such a target for hatred, but I can do nothing about that but be silent like most other black authors are if I can’t decry it, note it, or protest it.”

That was just so typical of her. It really wasn’t in her nature to remain silent in the face of blatant prejudice.

The other thing I loved about Monica was that no matter how much we disagreed, (and we disagreed a lot), she never held a grudge. We had a mutual respect for each other, and this allowed us to have those inflammatory, call-a-spade-a-spade heated conversations, without feelings getting hurt on either side.

We argued back and forth about different issues for years. To me, those debates are still one of the main highlights of my time here in Romance Land..

Back in March 2007, Monica wrote the following on my blog:

“When I first got published, I was excited and naive. I thought I was an romance author. It took two or three years to realize that I couldn’t participate in mainstream romance because I’m black. This made me angry and I decided to fight.

I have fought this evil for over a decade with no essential changes except the issue is now recently being discussed with anger, insult and hatred toward blacks, but there are flashes of light in the darkness.
I get a lot of personal hatred from those who dismiss blacks, our feelings and opinions, and some respect from those who appreciate being enlightened about something they were unaware about…

Most of the black race discussions in romance blogs and boards are devoid of black participation. With what’s being said by many nonblack posters, please don’t blame us. It would be like strolling through a minefield.
It seems as if the civil discussions about blacks and romance rarely can include blacks giving our experiences, viewpoints and opinions.

And that’s just wrong.

Any mention of racism by a black person is taken personally by somebody and then it’s open season for attack. But we are talking about racism. It is what it is and if it didn’t exist, the discussion would be moot.”

I know that things haven’t changed much since then, but as always, I live in hope that African American or black authors, will one day, be just authors.

If I had known that Monica wouldn’t be around forever, I’d have made a much bigger effort to meet her. I am so sorry that we never got to drink a glass of wine or two together, whilst discussing how we could take over the world and make everybody read books featuring black characters.

I’m going to miss my friend. She was a warrior who wanted to change the landscape of romance so that it contained more people who looked like her and me, and I will be forever grateful that she rose for battle each day, even when the most ardent of us, tired of the fight.

Rest in peace Monica Jackson, you were what I strive to be every day.

17 Comments »

  • This is a terrific memorial. I hope she knew how much of an impact she had.

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  • Shiloh
    May 17
    10:34 pm

    Well said. Monica, you’ll be missed

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  • You brought tears to my eyes. I discovered this blog because of one of those heated debates on racism in romance that Monica so fearlessly championed, despite the flack she took. She was braver than many black authors out there who felt the same way, but were too uncomfortable or coward to stand up and say it. She was the voice of many, and she will be greatly missed.

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  • Ms Jackson’s voice will be missed, by many. She wasn’t fearless, for she knew the consequences of speaking her mind–which she did, forcefully. She was brave and determined, and generous, willing to take the flak herself in hopes that future black authors wouldn’t have to.

    Thank you, Ms Jackson. Godspeed.

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  • Maili
    May 17
    11:11 pm

    I’m ashamed and increasingly bitter that I’d never directly thanked her for giving us a wake-up call when we were so used to it that we didn’t see.

    When she knocked AAR and a few others for failing to review AA / multicultural romances and publishers for separating AA Romance from mainstream Romance? It really rocked Romancelandia. :D Either way, her determined willingness to stand and debate with seemingly hundreds of naysayers had shamed/inspired me into speaking up against prejudice, bigotry and racism in Romance whenever I can since then. Like you, I thought she would be around for as long as I could breathe. Her passing is a huge loss to the community.

    “I know that things haven’t changed much since then, but as always, I live in hope that African American or black authors, will one day, be just authors.”

    Yes. That’s all she wanted, too.

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  • “Monica Jackson was one of the most fearless woman I’ve ever known. She was bold, and brash and wonderfully honest. She spoke her mind, and I loved her for that.”

    Karen, thanks for putting into words what I felt about Monica. She was special.

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  • Wendy
    May 18
    12:18 am

    What I adored about Monica was that she owned everything she said. No BS. No back-pedaling. No tap-dancing around…well…anything. God bless, I’m going to miss the hell out of her.

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  • I will always remember Monica as a woman who fought for what she believed in. I worked with her on a project so I know firsthand how devoted she was to her craft. I’m also a fan of her work. If you haven’t read her stories, treat yourself to them.

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  • Sharon Cullars
    May 18
    3:44 am

    I am reeling from this loss. Monica was so encouraging to me and I just can’t wrap my mind around the thought that she’s no longer on this earth. I send my thoughts to her family and will always remember her as a friend and as you say a fearless warrior against racism in publishing.

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  • Las
    May 18
    6:20 pm

    Oh, damn. This is the first I’m reading about Monica’s passing. I’m really going to miss her presence. The online Romance community is much poorer without her.

    Lovely tribute, Karen.

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  • sallah
    May 19
    12:39 am

    I remember once having a fight with her on her old blog, she made a stereotypical remark about a white heroine in a book and when I disagreed and pointed out that if the same thing had been said about a black heroine she would have rightfully been pissed..

    We had a rousing back and forth, but it never delved into the personal… I loved watching her debate, even if I disagreed with her, I dont mind saying she changed my mind a time or two.. not sure that I changed hers, but thats ok too..

    I missed her blog when she took it down, and there were a few times she would put it back up, I cheered.. I finally got lost after a few times of this, does she have a blog up now?

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  • Here, sallah.

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  • She was not only a great writer but a very nice lady. I haven’t spoken to her in a long time and I wish we hadn’t lost contact but she was a very nice lady and championed the cause of publishing equality. The romance world lost a really special person.

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  • rubyswan
    May 20
    11:42 am

    I’m a fan of Ms. Moncia Jackson.. I’am truly sadden by her passing. May the Good Lord B with her family as well as take them through this difficult time…God bless…!

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  • […] the end what we need is what Monica wanted. What Karen said so beautifully in her own tribute post: “I know that things haven’t changed much since […]


  • […] I remember Jackson from some passionate comment threads at Dear Author around race and diversity in romance, back before I started this blog. I didn’t know her  well, but I do remember reading a comment she wrote, which completely changed how I read those comment threads. I can’t remember her exact words—I think it was to do with tone and why it’s okay for commenters to be angry and passionate—but she made me think about my own behaviour, and it was a turning point for me as a blogger and as a participant in the romance community. You can read Karen’s tribute post here. […]


  • Oh my God.

    How did I miss this?

    I exchanged a lovely set of emails with Monica back in December, about race and racism in urban fantasy. We were talking about doing some posts about it on her blog using our emails as the basis; I got busy with the holidays (and was still recovering from surgery) and it just slipped my mind, but I was just thinking a while back that I needed to contact her about it and get it scheduled and had been waiting for a break in my schedule.

    I can’t believe I missed this.

    Monica was a lovely, fantastic, intelligent woman. I loved our conversations. I was proud to have them with her.

    This is a great loss.

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