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Monica and I had a *ahem* a heated debate yesterday about racism, and what it was, and what it wasn’t.

As most of you know, she’s very vocal about her thoughts on the whole race issue, especially with regards to publishing.

I can’t blame her for that, because at the end of the day, these things effect her personally.

What I was objecting to, was the fact that she used the race card in a situation where it was clearly more of a personality clash than racism.

Racism in publishing is alive and well, and probably will be until Penguin employs a Rosa Parks to head up its Racial Equality department.

I think Millennia Black’s plight proves that publishing companies just don’t look at African American works the same as they do, white authors, but is that the reader’s fault? How does aiming the race card at an individual help the overall cause? It doesn’t. It really doesn’t. But anyway, Monica knows my feelings on this issue, so I wont belabour the point any further.

Monica argues that AA books shouldn’t be marketed based on colour, I totally agree with her. I’ve never seen the point in some of the shelving policies that are undertaken by certain book stores.

A romance book is a romance book is a romance book. And as such, should be shelved in the romance section, regardless the colour of the author, or the colour of the characters.

I think that segregating books based on the colour of the author is no better than the segregation of whites and blacks. I was always more about the MLK way of doing things than the Malcolm X method.

Niche marketing does work for some black authors, but how does it help to solve the problem that Monica continually rails on about?

I don’t believe that the only reason white readers wont read AA romancebooks is down to race, if that were true, then how come so many whites read Brenda Jackson books? Or do they? Has Brenda Jackson really only achieved success through mostly black people buying her work?

Is it all about the publisher, or does the authors themselves have to bear some responsibility for their own promotion?

I’d say it was mostly about the publisher, but some of the AA authors who are out there don’t help themselves any.

A few weeks ago, after reading Enchanted Heart by Felicia Mason, I went to look for her website, to see what other books she’d written. Could I find her website? Could I buggery.

Now, she either doesn’t have a website, or she updates it so rarely that even Google isn’t able to pick it up. What’s that about?

I finally had to bob over to Amazon to check out reviews of her other books, (I was actually only looking for the synopsis) and do you know how many I found? Honestly? Not many. At least not as many as I would have expected from somebody who’d published so many books.

I’ve found in recent years that this is a trend amongst a lot of AA authors. They either don’t have a website, or it’s one of those Geocities crap. God I hate them.

There only seems to be a handful of black authors who have decent websites, and actually update them frequently. I wonder why that is? Even if one doesn’t believe that websites help sell books, what cheaper way is there to market to the whole world?

It seems awfully silly to complain about lack of promotion and marketing from their publishers, when they themselves have failed to take those first crucial steps towards getting their name out there.

I suggested to Monica that instead of bleating on about the unfairness of it all to us readers, her and her fellow authors really should be trying harder to form some sort of a solidarity. Lobby the people who matter, the people who have influence. (Yes, our influence extends to buying the books, but methinks that this is where marketing comes into play.)

The problem is, how many AA authors are as brave as Millennia Black, and are willing to risk their very livelihoods for the cause? Not many. Most of them would rather pay lip service, than actually go out and do something constructive.

At least that’s how it seems to me.

I’m not saying that Monica shouldn’t speak out about the injustices that she’s experienced within her industry, far from it, but in my estimation, it needs to be aimed at the right audience.

Bitching at Joe Reader isn’t going to help the cause, it’s more likely to alienate those amongst us, who want to support you by buying your books, as well as those who only want to know what book you have out. Tell us that, and we’re happy, everything else is just a headache that we could probably do without.

Some of us are shallow that way.


  • kate
    February 7
    10:41 pm

    I think Monica has a message she tries to get across but the worst teaching tool is an accusatory tone. It never works because it puts those that you want to enlighten on defense, instantly. I think racism is a problem in this country but the answer to that is not to accuse most non-black people of being one. Most of us would say we aren’t, some can’t or won’t recognize it in themselves and some just plain aren’t. We don’t all fall under one category.


  • Monica Jackson
    February 8
    12:54 am


    I want to go on record saying it’s the defensive who say over and over I call all nonblacks racist.

    It’s a lie and a frequent tactic of some such as Rush. Repeating a lie over and over makes it true to them apparently.

    You can find me directly stating the opposite directly in numerous places on my blog.

    They just don’t want to hear my message and/or examine themselves at all so they scream loudly.


  • katieM
    February 8
    2:11 am

    Up until last summer I didn’t know that there was an AA section in the bookstores. I just thought they didn’t carry AA books in the genres that I liked so I was ordering from Amazon. When I found the AA section, some of my favorite authors books were there – but only 1 or 2 copies of each. There were two 2-sided book shelves there. They were about 4 feet high and maybe 8 feet long. That’s about 128 square feet for AA books. In Borders. The genre bookshelves were about 5 feet high and 20 feet long. For romances, there were three 2 sided cases or nearly 600 square feet alone. There’s no way a survey was ever done that asked Black readers if they wanted all books by AA authors stuffed into 128 square feet while books by non-Black authors in one genre alone were spread out over 600 square feet.

    When I shop at Borders, I never go into the AA section. If I want a book that I know will be shelved there, I just order it from Amazon.


  • Eva Gale
    February 8
    2:47 pm

    FLB- You should be over at Romance Buy the Blog at the MJD Luurve fest. I cannot believe you are withstanding the lure of MJD in non amphibian form. Ribbit. I’ll tell her you’ll be looking for her at RT. Maybe you can buy her a Blended Frog.

    And I DID purchase a Nora, Heaven and Earth. I reach over often and cascade the pages every once in a while. I just orderedNaked in Death, too. So there.

    And Karen, Mrs. Giggles mentioned you in today’s blog. And Ja(y)ne and BAM.


  • Beverly
    February 8
    5:03 pm


    I definitely don’t think it is right, no matter whose idea it is, to shelve books by authors of different races separately. I’m pretty sure I didn’t say that, either. I did ask what white readers could do about it (not rhetorically), and I notice that you didn’t address that, it was just easier to make accusations and act as though it would be okay for women’s books to be placed in a ghetto.

    And speaking of your question to Nora Roberts about whether her books would sell as well in a section just for white women’s books: well, according to our discussion here, that section would be romance, and she seems to do just fine.


  • rozlips
    February 8
    6:25 pm

    Beverly, isn’t it interesting, you didn’t answer my question either. Why was there a need for a survey, period? Why was there an assumption that somehow black books are so alien that there needs to be a special conference on where they’re placed. And yes, as far as I’m concerned your question was rhetorical. It has been answered repeatedly. Seressia answered it several posts ago. But just for you, lets say it again: Step 1: Go in a bookstore, ask for a book by a black author. Step 2:When you’re directed to the Negro section complain. Ask why they’re placed there. Step 3: Perhaps send a letter to the bookstore or even the publisher.

    Its much easier to make accusations than it is to actually read what the heck we’re saying.

    That’s not the question I asked Nora. I asked her if her books would’ve sold if they were placed in the back of the store in some obscure location that most readers don’t know about. Please note many readers have posted here that they are unaware that there is AA section in the store. The AA section, typically a few shelves in a dusty corner, is in no way similar to the several hundred feet dedicated to romance in most bookstores. I do believe at least one person in this thread has pointed out that fact.

    Of course, perhaps you’re too busy looking for non-existent accusations to have read that post too.

    Its just as Monica said, its a helluva lot easier to point fingers at us and claim we’re making accusations that we’re not, than to examine the situation as it is and try to develop a solution.


  • sallahdog
    February 8
    6:56 pm

    the pointing fingers on any side is probably the most frustrating part of this whole discussion…

    I personally hate the whole racist accusations too.. For one thing, true racists probably won’t be reading this blog (frankly I doubt they are reading any romance type blog).. I do think we are all guilty of prejudice, but thats part of the human condition (from clothes to money to class, not just race)..

    I havent read the survey questions, but from the tone, MOST black authors would say they have been a victim of prejudice at the very least, I am not sure about open racism..

    So maybe the better question would be to readers, does race have a negative effect on what you read? I personally would say no, since I do read books with black central characters. Although I will admit, that if a books tone is too ethnocentric it might put me off (ok, so I got a bit upset that the scorned woman in Waiting to Exhale seemed more pissed that her hubby had dumped her for a white woman than the fact that he was a cheating cowardly philanderer). I doubt I would enjoy a black fiction book where there was a lot of talk about crappy white folks (but then I wouldnt suppose that blacks would enjoy books talking about crappy blacks either)…
    I do most of my shopping on the web, but I intend to go into my local bookstore and see how they shelve books..

    I did have one thought, on the person who said the bookstore they worked for had a survey and the split was 50/50 so they kept the shelving seperate… I wonder about that, because it would seem to me that the thing to do would be to go the other way, since half the people wouldnt mind and half the people would probably get over it… Frankly, wrong is wrong, and I am sure at one point segregation in the south would have been the more popular choice too…


  • canton
    February 10
    5:57 pm

    Dalia said: The argument that black readers, in the majority, like to have the AA section so they don’t have to rifle through whitey’s books to get to the good stuff and so,things must remain how they are – is worthy of a shitty cum laude degree.

    I doubt bookstores went around asking their regular black female romance readers where she’d prefer to walk to to get to her books.

    That’s exactly what the large indie store here did. They surveyed, they asked people at the front desk, they hired a telephone poller. They spent months finding out people’s perceptions of their shelving (not just on this one issue). They found out their AA customers really really really wanted an AA section.

    The store management said they don’t believe in that. It turned into a local debate with ugliness on local TV and an editorial saying the store wants the AA community to assimilate and lose its “black solidarity”. The store got calls from people identifying themselves as AA saying they want an AA section. They caved and made an AA section.

    I don’t know what it all means. I’m not part of the AA community here. I don’t know if that opinion was held as widely as it seemed from the outside.

    I understand shelving nonfiction by ethnicity: people like to research their forebears. Segregating fiction never occurred to me though. I’ll read anything well written. I don’t want good authors hidden away in some section I don’t know about.


  • rozlips
    February 11
    2:10 am

    But the question goes back to exactly what were the readers asked. Were they asked if they wanted an AA section? Or, were they asked if they wanted all AA books, regardless of genre segregated into one section of the store? I think it all depends on how the question was worded.

    I think most AA, myself included, want there to be an AA section in the store. Primarily for books about BEING AA. Non-fiction books, sociological tomes, history that sort of thing. By all means, have an AA section for that. But an AA non-fiction section makes no sense.

    And, again, I have to ask. Why was there ever a poll in the first place? Why is there so much confusion as to where AA genre fiction books should be placed? Did they do a similar poll with their Jewish/Latino/AmerInd/Asian customers? Its beyond confusing to me.


  • FerfeLaBat
    February 11
    5:06 am

    Pardon me. But why is it ok to call us Whitey? Anyone? Anyone? Yeesh.


  • Barbara B.
    February 11
    12:17 pm

    I don’t think it IS okay to call white people whitey. I thought Dalia used it in a sardonic, mocking way. The way some have used Negro in this thread. I could be wrong.

    BTW, is whitey the racial epithet of choice against whites these days? How retro! I’ve only heard it in old movies, and T.V. shows. Strangely enough, I’ve also seen whites refer to themselves this way during angry racial exchanges with blacks. I’ve never heard any black person use it in real life. To be honest I’d laugh if I did. It’s so ’70s. The phrase “white folks” uttered in weary resignation, incredulity, or anger has been what I’ve most often heard. Not very dramatic but sufficient.


  • rozlips
    February 12
    12:41 am

    I’ve never heard anyone use ‘whitey’ in real life either. And if I did I’d probably collapse in hysterical laugther. Of course, I’ve never heard anyone under the age of 60 use any racial epithets for whites.


  • Ann Wesley Hardin
    February 12
    1:07 am

    Well, I’d certainly collapse in laughter too. If Whitey’s a slur, it’s a lame excuse for one. Paleface is, imho, much better though still not something that’d raise my blood pressure. After all, my face really is pale, even by white standards.

    Maybe we can come up with a better one.

    How about Cauctard?


  • FerfeLaBat
    February 12
    4:07 am

    Well. I guess I am the only one here who takes public transportation to work. Should anyone want all of the racial slurs I get to hear every day, just yip.


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