HomeReviewsInterviewsStoreABlogsOn Writing

The Bold And The Clueless…

Sunday, March 18, 2007
Posted in: Uncategorized

You know, I’m continually amazed by how tunnel-visioned some people can be.

This comment caught my attention first thing this morning, whilst I was over at Dear Author.

I thought it seemed a particularly strange reaction, seeing as the original blog post was so moderately written.

I knew something was amiss when his next post was this:

Then this assholic comment finally got me to react:

Lord, some people are truly blinkered.

Anyway, I responded, without using the word ‘fucktard’ once. I’m truly proud of that feat. Believe me, it was hugely tempting. Anyway, his comments get even more asinine than the ones prior:

How clueless can one person be? What he’s basically saying here is, that if an AA author chooses to write books about black people, they shouldn’t complain about where they are shelved.

This was one of his pearls of wisdom with regards to AA authors who weren’t happy with where they were being shelved:

Because it’s obviously as easy as that.

He also suggested that black authors should lie about what colour they are, if it bothers them so much.

Jesus. Effing. Christ.

*Head-desk, head-desk, head-desk.*


  • TheVixenne
    March 20
    7:33 pm

    Hey Roz and Jane,

    I just think it’s funny as all get-out that anyone would suggest a sort of reverse Proposition 207 for AA books when many of these same folks are against Affirmative Action in the real world. Talk about the ultimate in double-speak.

    I mean why is it soooo hard to walk into a library or bookstore and see a book that looks interesting and has a catchy back cover blurb rather than obsessing over the fact that the main characters don’t look like you? I don’t look like some young bespeckled wizard student, but there are aspects of Harry Potter’s character that resonate with me.

    I’m really astounded at how many posters have agonized over this. Wow! I guess I have to put away my Dragonriders of Pern membership card then, right?


  • Jane
    March 20
    8:01 pm

    I am the only one who suggested the Rooney Rule. If you read the comments, nearly everyone disagreed with me. I am not against Affirmative Action. I stated that previously. I believe that it is necessary in a world which has prejudice and bias and I embrace it everytime I get the chance because I know I am good enough to compete once I am in the game – it’s just getting in the game.

    And for me, consciously making an effort to read AA books is going to change my pre conceived ideas about what the books are about.


  • TheVixenne
    March 20
    9:11 pm

    Hi Jane:

    Sorry if I missed your comments on Affirmative Action and I hope you don’t feel as if I’m singling you out, but something you said in other comments actually touches on the bigger issue at hand, and that’s this idea of “otherness”.

    There’s this sense that most white readers have about the “otherness” of people of different races–that outside of skin colour, we don’t have anything that binds us together as a human race.

    So not true.

    Everyday, somewhere around the world (or even right next door) two people are falling in love, someone’s taking a crap and reading the paper, someone’s telling bedtime stories to their children, someone’s watching the news, etc. We all celebrate birth (and sometimes even passing). We all pray to a higher being or look within ourselves for guidance. Many women go through size issues and bad hair days and many men deal with financial issues and issues with whether they’re ‘masculine’ enough.

    So the thing is, why wouldn’t this translate to the literary world? Sure, there are also differences, but that’s the thing that makes it cool. Not to mention, one cannot stereotype an entire group of people based on limited knowledge or contact. I mean no one should assume that all black people are all about hip-hop and bling just because what you’ve been shown by the mass media is presented as ‘real’. Frankly I see way more white and asian kids into hip hop styles and culture. Where I work in L.A. has a large Japanese population and I’ve seen Japanese girls with cornrows and Japanese boys who have big afros. Yesterday on the bus I saw a Japanese guy with dreds (oh yeah). In Beverly Hills, there are white kids blaring Lil’ Jon out of their beemers and Escalades.

    The big danger of preconceived notions is that once they become comfortable and you don’t question them, you stop living and experiencing life.

    The Vixenne


  • theVixenne
    March 20
    9:50 pm

    Oh and by the way, I just read some lame excuse where a reader claimed she didn’t read AA romances because they had “ghetto slang” and she couldn’t relate. I guess JR Ward’s ‘Brotherhood’ books are all right then???


    To flip the script: I’m thinking of how many Scottish/Celtic romances and fantasy books I’ve read where the brogues are thicker than London fog and even though I’m neither of these groups (okay, part Scots but not enough to speak Gaelic), I not only read but enjoy these types of stories. I LOVE Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series and there are a lot of gaelic words and phrases that have never once kept me from falling head over heels with James Alexander Malcolm McKenzie Fraser.

    Now that’s not to say I’m into the ghetto prince/princess tales, but the assumption once again is that EVERY AA romance is like that (which as those of us with cooler heads and more than a modicum of intelligence will tell you) is so far from accurate.

    Sharon Cullar’s novel ‘Again’ is a paranormal romance (and an I/R) and there’s no ‘ghetto slang’ in it. Neither is there in Giselle Carmichael’s Politics of Love.


  • Camilla
    March 21
    12:40 am

    At least Jane recognizes her hesitation to read “black” romances–many,many of the people involved in the discussion don’t and refuse to probe their knee-jerk reaction because I feel they are afraid of being seen as “racist”–especially after seeing how easily Monica and Roz tend to throw it around *G*

    But denial tends to feed wrongs, and that’s why we keep having this conversation and never reaching a head. If everyone would be honest with themselves, they would admit they hold these reservations about black people because the media has served black people on platters bearing the words “inferior”, “uncivilized”,”violent”,”uneducated”,”over-sexed”, etc; or that “ebonics”(or whatever you wish to call it) is not a legitimate vernacular when compared to psuedo-Scottish brogues; that life on the streets is the sole hunting ground for blacks.

    The saddest part of this media brainwash is that they’ve succeeded not only with non-blacks, but with blacks as well. Even if “black” romances don’t deal with this, black authors must deal with the fact that the media has stripped blacks of who they are and who they can be and has told them they can only be this, they can only write about that, or star in movies about this, etc. Those gateposts non-blacks assume mean “keep out” have also boxed us in, and non-black people find it hard to understand this, especially when black people grow angry because of the cultural limitations unwillingly placed upon us.

    Monica, Roz, and other black authors have shown their books mostly feature people who are like them, like you, like your best friend, like your husband, like your nephew, etc, but the fact that many non-blacks are willing to hold on to what the media has fed you(while incidentally protesting against the War and global warming and whatnot) wearies me and makes me fight harder to carve a place for myself regardless of my ethnic background.

    I think I’m rambling, but it’s situations like these that can discourage me with the fact that publishers and readers will resist looking past my external appearance to see that I am a person writing about people.


  • Monica Jackson
    March 21
    6:11 am

    Jane, I honestly don’t think you’ve read what (or anything) I’ve written regarding the issue relating to you and DA, but are reacting from a knee-jerk hatred state because you think I called you racist.

    I wrote that nowhere, stated it nowhere, but I know that doesn’t matter to you because I had the audacity to criticize you.

    So fine. Have at the hate. There’s obviously nothing I can do about it.

    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.

    It’s irrelevant to me if they hate. I do understand the sensitivities and defensiveness, but the issue can’t be addressed without bringing up the issue. Some hate, others learn.

    Maybe some others will speak up and then they will have new targets for their hatred and forget about me.

    Camilla, Roz, Vixenne:

    Monica, Roz, and other black authors have shown their books mostly feature people who are like them, like you, like your best friend, like your husband, like your nephew, etc, but the fact that many non-blacks are willing to hold on to what the media has fed you…wearies me and makes me fight harder to carve a place for myself regardless of my ethnic background.–Camilla

    This is exactly how I felt some years ago. 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.

    I’m leaving the genre and if I had to it all over again, I would have never written a romance. Love, sex and black race have always been historically inflammatory in this country from Birth of a Nation on. I don’t know if black writers will ever be fully accepted in this genre.

    But some black readers love reading romances with people who have brown skin falling in love and reaching a happy ending. When Arabesque started I was so excited that there would be a variety of romance. I don’t think many of us realized the extent that racial segregation and apartheid would be imposed on us back then.

    I hope you have better luck over the next decade or so. I don’t think you should be afraid of the fight. Those who hate you for speaking truth to power would have never have supported you anyway, despite hopes to the contrary.

    Love and best wishes to my sisters.


  • TheVixenne
    March 21
    4:19 pm

    Monica, my sister in strength:

    You cannot let the idiots win. You remind me of the plight of Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura from Star Trek). She too had reached an impasse where she felt her character wasn’t being given anything substantive to do. To paraphrase the story, she ran into Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, whom she found out was a huge fan of the series. When she told him that she planned on leaving because she felt her character had nothing to offer, Dr. King told her that Lt. Uhura was too important simply because her very presence on the bridge of the Enterprise showed that black people had a future in the stars and were judged by their merit and intelligence. He also told her that millions of young black children who might have been watching the show saw someone who looked like them and that it would influence them to reach for the stars.

    Can we say Dr. Mae Jemison, the first black woman astronaut, whom interestingly enough appeared on an episode of Star Trek The Next Generation?

    I know you’re tired; believe me even when I don’t blog as much, this issue has never been far from my mind. One would think in this day and age people had abandoned the ignorance. With all the positive media outlets and the fact that for the most part we all work and play together (and even sometimes marry), it’s inconceivable that so many white romance readers still can’t grasp the concept that love is universal.

    Bottom line–they’re simply stupid and ignorant and no matter how many lame-ass excuses these women give, doesn’t change a thing. They’ll find any reason to maintain their status quo, even though the face of the nation is changing. It’s a tide they cannot fight.

    So…we just keep writing, keep fighting and keep getting in their faces until they finally wake up and smell the roses. You either adapt or die. It’s just that simple.


  • rozlips
    March 21
    6:51 pm

    Monica, I empathize, you know I do. Goddess knows if I’d been arguing with these people for ten years there’s little doubt I would’ve taken hostages by now. On the one hand I want you to do what’s best for you, because I love you like a play cousin. OTOH, damnit, I want to know what happened with the Chosen! Its bad enough I’ll never know what happened to Shori and the Ina, but at least Octavia Butler’s dead, and I can’t reasonably bitch at a dead woman. 😀

    So there! I’m sure that really helped shine some light on the subject. I’m delighted that you got a new book deal, but I hope you haven’t left the genre forever. This country has to grow up some damned time, and I think people like you have helped speed up the process.


  • TheVixenne
    March 21
    7:49 pm

    Roz: You too with Shori and the Ina?

    I figure the only way some folks are going to get a clue is to drag ’em screaming and kicking into the new millenium because they simply won’t behave like civilized people and walk on their own two feet.

    Like I’ve said before it’s amazing that all these complaints come from non-black readers who’ve never been

    A: Kidnapped and held as a love slave of some pirate, viking, hunky alien, vampire or shapeshifter

    B: Lived in Regency or Renaissance Europe and danced a quadrille with a dashing rake

    C: Had more than one hunky male strip them naked and do totally bad things to them (bad in a good way)

    And yet they seem to relate to these rather improbable scenarios than to read books about as Monica said people who could be friends, co-workers or people they may come across everyday who just so happen to be black. Hmm…makes me rather arrogant that I don’t have those issues and can take a book on its merits rather than the color of of the characters. Guess that makes me a better and more well-rounded person, doesn’t it?

    Thing is ladies, multicultural romances and writers are not going away so they might as well get used to seeing our faces.


  • Seressia
    March 22
    6:36 am

    Wow. I go online after a weekend at Slam Jam (Gwyneth B won bunches of Awards and I got a group nod for the paranormal anthology Vegas Bites) and find all this stuff going on.

    Hate that the Dear Author comments are closed, else I would have used James Patterson’s Alex Cross character (regular fiction) and Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins (AA section)as examples. Brandon Massey who writes horror, but is in AA. Genre writers want to see increased sales in their genre, but it’s difficult if you’re not shelved with your genre.

    Anyway, it’s late and I’m rambling. Thanks to all of you ladies who are posting about this. At least it’s no longer under the rug.


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment