Category: End of the World


So last week I was up to my neck in a discussion over at Dear Author about the lack of a multicultural presence in romance. Their rather self-serving solution was to have more white authors write multicultural characters, I guess as a sort of gateway to encourage white readers to read more multicultural characters. At least that’s the way I and several others interpreted the post. However, they subsequently claimed that they didn’t mean white authors, they meant “seasoned” authors to include best-sellers like Beverly Jenkins and Brenda Jackson. Of course that makes no goddamned sense. Why would authors who already write multicultural characters need encouragement to do so?

It was only after people pointed out the potential for cultural appropriation, and the fact that white readers have no problem reading about “others” as long as the author is white they started backpedaling like crazy. They then trotted out that old chestnut that they’d love to read more black books. Jane claimed they would review more black books, but the ones they’ve read are just crappy. They further claim that publishers are saying the same thing, because you know those Negroes can’t write. I’m amused that it never dawned on them that they are filtering these books through privilege. That they can’t connect because the women don’t look like them. J.R. Ward understands that phenomenon. That’s why the heroes of her books are black in all but melanin content. It allows white women access to big black d!@k without the loss if privilege that comes with actual you know, big black dick. Much like those people who flipped out over Rue in “The Hunger Games.” Many white people have a problem with connecting with black people on an intimate level because they struggle to see our humanity. So books with black heroines will never go over with them, and that’s their problem with multicultural romance; IT’S NOT ABOUT THEM.

You’re hearing it from me first folks, within the next year or so there’s going to be a multicultural bestseller. Written by a white woman featuring a white or biracial heroine with a black man slathering all over her. They’ll all go apeshit over it, and exclaim that it’s soooo cutting edge and original and well-written. Why aren’t there more multicultural books? Don’t waste your time telling them about the thousands of multicultural books out there. What they really want are books by white authors.

So today someone posted an article on an author loop about the dearth of black books being reviewed in the New York Times. Someone actually took the time to study this and present actual data. Of course, those of us who are authors already knew this. Most of us have repeatedly requested reviews from mainstream sites only to be met with crickets. One of the reviewers at Dear Author mentioned that they don’t get many requests for reviews of black romance books. That maybe we think they’re biased. Uh duh. We KNOW they’re biased. Of the thousands of books they review each year I doubt that more than a dozen have a non-white author. And aside for a few Asian authors I can’t think of any that have gotten above a B and most receive Cs. They even gave Sharon Cullars’s Gold Mountain a B. I don’t bother to read their reviews because I learned long ago that most of the books they rave about are utter garbage. Bottom line or me is I don’t care if most of them never read or review my books. I know from experience that I won’t get a fair shake. But I would appreciate them leaving the genre alone, and certainly stop patting themselves on the back for “rescuing” multicultural romance.

http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/top-stories/176705/why-88-of-books-reviewed-by-the-new-york-times-are-written-by-white-authors/

http://dearauthor.com/features/letters-of-opinion/cultivating-tolerance-a-multicultural-solution/#comments

Goodbye, Dear Friend

I can’t even begin to tell y’all what this woman meant to me. When I got word yesterday that she had died, my whole spirit just collapsed. When I met Monica back in 2005 I was in a bad way, really struggling in publishing’s shark infested waters. I was definitely a guppy in dire need of school. Monica was more than a mentor, she was my sherpa, literally carrying me through that tumultuous first year. Monica was a tireless advocate for multicultural romance, and mentored numerous people. Those of us who love this genre owe her much. Over the years she’d been beset with some health challenges and shut down her blog for a time. I was so excited last year when she returned and looked forward to more books and long talks. Alas, that is not to be. So with a broken heart I’m forced to say, goodbye, until we meet again.

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I really, really don’t know how to tell you this, but I have to quit you. Yes. Yes. I know our relationship goes way back. Lord knows nobody loves the ocean and copious amounts of shrimp followed by beer and oysters on the half shell more than me, but I have to go. And dude, it’s not me, it’s you. See, it’s this bit of fucknuttery your legislature passed called Stand Your Ground. Yeah, I know. I know. You’re still part of the Confederacy and from time to time you have to assert your independence like a tired toddler by trying to out-crazy the rest of  your brethren. But your state is far more dependent on tourism than the others, and I can’t imagine anybody crazy enough to return to a state where it’s legal to shoot an unarmed child and claim self defense.

See I have a son, and he’s brown. He has a grandmother who adores him and she happens to live in Florida, in a gated community. They both look forward to his annual visit. Foolish me, over the years my main concern has been detoxing him from all the sugar upon his return. Oh but for a return to those halycyon days. When he visits my mother-in-law spends roughly the equivalent of the gross national product of a small country on him. I’d guess that the Pop Tart bill alone would be enough to sustain even the largest county. Factor in laser tag, go carts, parasailing and who the hell knows what other foolywang those two get up to, and trust, it’s a considerable sum of revenue. Now multiply that by thousands of grandmothers, and well, like I said, you have a problem. And I don’t have to tell you how ugly it’s going to get down there when you have thousands of angry grandmothers on your six. Your state was hit hard by the economic crisis, I fear it’s about to be hit harder, and that’s a shame.

Yeah I know your legislature got in bed with the NRA and ALEC. All that PAC money can be alluring, but only the most negligent parent is going to stand idly by while you allow their children to be slaughtered in the street. Adult male stalking young boy, makes me wonder if NAMBLA didn’t sponsor this legislation as well. And that’s the other point, pretty much every parent tells their children to run from men following them. If caught, fight like hell and scream. But, if they get the best of their attacker, under this law he can kill them and the law has no recourse. Clearly there was not a lot of frontal lobe activity going on in the legislature during that session.

It’s time to grow a pair, (ovaries, not testes) and own up to your stupidity. Repeal this law before there’s even more blood shed. Meanwhile, I can think of at least one grandmother who’s going to be all over your ass. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I Stand With Brandon White

Shane Johnson, whom many of you know of as friend and ally of black women from What About Our Daughters has started a Facebook page to support Brandon White who was the victim of a gay bashing here in Atlanta. Many of you have seen the viral video of this heinous HATE CRIME. Please like Shane’s page and let the world know this behavior will not be tolerated.

And To What Purpose?

The life of Troy Davis is over. People took to the streets in vast numbers to protest his execution to no avail. I knew the man’s story before I even knew his name. I’ve heard it so many times I can repeat it by rote. First and foremost, I knew he was a high school drop out. How did I know this? Because every criminal I’ve ever met was a high school drop out. Because the majority of black males are high school drop outs. Let me say that again–the majority of black males–52%–are high school drop outs. 

I don’t understand how we can take to the streets in vast numbers to protest over the life of one man while leaving countless others to die. Let me be clear: When we allow a sizable percentage of our population to go uneducated we have metaphorically sentenced them to Death Row. Not only that, many of them will  go on to victimize others. And make no mistake about it, a very high percentage of high school drop outs become criminals. More than anything on earth I wish I possessed a magic wand that would prevent young people from dropping out of school. Unfortunately, I don’t possess that super power. Fortunately, rectifying this doesn’t require magic, it just takes a lot of hard work.

In a few years nobody will remember Troy Davis’s name. Right now he’s the flavor of the moment, then we go on to the next Big Deal. It’s the nature of the beast, we are so inundated with information these days nothing stays on our mind for very long. Some have stated that they’ll work to change the justice system. That’s all well and good, but to my mind that’s addressing the wrong end of the horse. More than anything it is crucial that we work to halt the tide that funnels these young people into the justice system in the first place. I can take you to any elementary school in America and show you the kids at risk of dropping out (or being pushed out). I read somewhere that black boys are lost at about the third grade. (Frankly white boys aren’t doing that great either, but that’s for another day.) If we exerted even half the energy that’s been devoted to saving this one man’s life to saving our young people from the living death of being a high school drop out there would be no fodder for an unfair justice system.

This is a call to address something that is real and doable–our education system. Systemic change is needed all across this country. Whether you have children or not you need to be talking to the schools about what they’re doing about the drop out issue. Don’t let them palm you off with a bunch of jargon and nonsense, hold them accountable for the drop out rate. Become a tutor or a mentor, not of high schoolers, by then it’s too late, but of middle school and elementary schoolers. Commit to sticking around long term. How many of you are involved in literacy programs? Look to your churches, we give them billions of dollars each year, what are they doing with that money besides enriching their pastor’s pocket? This is not a case where taking care of your own child is sufficient. Instead of wearing “I Am Troy Davis” t-shirts, I want to see masses of people wearing “I Am NOT Troy Davis” t-shirts while they work diligently to make that a fact in their own communities. That is the only way to give his death a purpose and meaning.

Mama Face

I’m not exactly sure when this happened, but apparently I have grown into my “mama face.” This is not to be confused with my “narc face,” which I’ve been told repeatedly that I have. Or my “social worker face” which the state issues the first time you have to go into a hoarder’s home. No, mama face is something that I think comes with wisdom, or at least maturity, which isn’t always the same thing. Until yesterday, I wasn’t sure I had it, at least not with any children not my own. I was in the grocery store. Having discovered that ice cream is half off I went over to obtain several cartons. I’d just realized that they were out of dulce de leche when I heard these girls using some of the most foul language ever. I turned to put the ice cream in my cart and faced the girls. They literally stopped in their tracks. I saw both of them swallow hard. Then they nodded and scurried away. It took me a moment to realize that I was probably wearing my “the negro community frowns on your shenanigans” expression, but those girls apparently recognized it right away. Obviously they’d been raised right and knew better, but were choosing not to do better until they  were reminded of their home-training.

Maybe I’m just in a particularly pissy mood, but I’ve absolutely had it with the folk who defend this fool. The way they flip the script and make this jackass the victim sets my freaking teeth on edge. Let me be clear; Rihanna is the only victim in this piece. She was victimized once by Brown, and again by the criminal justice system that somehow sees brutality toward black women as a lesser offense. Real talk, if that had been Taylor or Britney or even drunk off her ass Lindsay in that car with him that night Brown would be be doing 15 to life for attempted murder. But beating up a black woman, even an A-list celebrity like Rihanna warrants only a trash detail. And folk even complained about the length of his probation. Could you be any stupider? I know folk his age who’ve gotten three years probation for shooting a super soaker on the highway.

Further, on to the comparisons with other celebrities. People seem to think that his behavior is comparable to that of Charlie Sheen’s. I’d say, not so much. For one thing Sheen was an A-list celebrity who probably earned his studio millions of dollars per episode of his show. I doubt Brown has earned a million dollars in his entire career. As far as I know there are no pictures circulating of Charlie Sheen’s victims and presumably these women have been bought off. Is that to say that Sheen is less reprehensible than Brown? Of course not, but that is to say that Hollywood has a definite pecking order a caste system if you will. Brown has very much run afoul of that system when he had the temerity to hit someone who ranked substantially higher than he does. Apparently he doesn’t understand that the only reason anyone wants to talk to him is because he hit Rihanna. Otherwise he would have fallen off the face of the earth like so many other formerly famous B-list R&B singers.

Further, it’s not unusual or unheard of for a celebrity to be hounded by issues that occurred years ago. Will they ever stop asking Jennifer Aniston about Brad and Angelina? Nope. It sells. That happened what, five, six years ago? I just read an interview with Bridget Moynahan and they’re still asking her about Giselle and Tom Brady. And these women didn’t even do anything wrong. Robert Downey Jr. got mocked at the Oscars this year and he’s an Oscar-winning actor with TWO major money-making franchises. He’s been clean for nearly a decade now. Hell, folk are still talking about Elizabeth Taylor breaking up Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds and that was FIFTY years ago. These are all A-list money-making celebrities.

Bottom line is, when you’re a celebrity and do something stupid, folk are going to bring it up over and over again. Celebrity is not an entitlement program and just like every other career it has its pros and cons. People are not obligated to support you or spend their hard-earned money on you. I’m not even a mid-list author and folk try to muzzle me all the time by saying they won’t buy my books because they don’t like what I say. I accept that. It comes with the territory. I’ve got a product that I’m trying to sell. So does Chris Brown. In this case the product is himself. That being the case it’s past time that he starts acting like he’s got some freaking sense and either move on to another career or deal with the consequences of the choices HE made.

Folk are really making it hard for me to maintain my cool while I grow my baby. So last week Luke saw some acrobats and aerialists on television. When I heard the Universoul Circus was coming to town I thought it would be a cool way for him to see them since he seemed so fascinated. I had planned to buy my tickets yesterday, so why did I turn on the news to see this foolishness? Pimps. Strippers. Cocaine. Weed. At the mother-freaking circus? Oh, but they brought it back to Christ so that makes it all good.

Could somebody please explain to me why black folk all of a sudden can’t do a goddamned thing without involving deviant, jailhouse, crackhouse culture? How is it possible that the same people who created American popular music and literature that makes me weep at its profundity, not to mention a liberation movement that is still inspiring the world find it impossible to create art anymore? Why is it assumed that our children are so fucking depraved that they need to hear a “message” about avoiding drugs and stripping in every venue? Just for the record the only hoe my six-year-old knows about is a garden implement. He thinks Roxanne shouldn’t turn on the red light to save electricity. Yes, I told him what cocaine is, but you can best believe I don’t listen to classic rock with him in the car anymore. I know I’m not the only sane black parent out there, so why in the hell is everything directed toward the few crazies that do expose their children to the sick mockery we’ve made of black culture?

Why does everything for black children have to contain a “message?” Why do we act as though black children come out of the womb without innocence and already deviant? Everybody isn’t raising their kids in a crackhouse, why do we act as though they are? I don’t want my child exposed to your freaking “message” I want him to go to the circus to see acrobats and aerialists and girls in sparkly costumes. What’s so effing hard about that? If you’re a circus be a fucking circus and leave the “messaging” to the parents.

Normally I only allow Luke to watch PBS shows. I hate those so-called kids channels that are nothing  more than continuous commercials. Well yesterday, PBS only had adult programming on, and I wasn’t feeling so hot, so when he asked to watch “Penguins of Madagascar” I agreed. After all I was in the room and could click off any commercials, and I remembered that it was a kids movie, so how bad could the TV show be? Suffice it to say I should’ve known better.

A little background: Of late, my son has been absolutely girl crazy. He sees pretty girls on TV and starts ooohing and aaahing and sometimes even cat-calling. Well, I nipped that in the bud with a quickness. And explained how degrading and downright scary that kind of behavior can be to a young lady. It’s perfectly okay to appreciate feminine beauty, but a gentleman keeps his comments to himself. Well, imagine my surprise when this television show featured a lemur looking creature cat-calling at what looked like a Stepford Wife robot of some type. If I’d had a Nickelodeon executive at hand (isn’t Nick Cannon like the CEO of programming or something?) I would’ve beaten the all-living hell out of him. It goes without saying that they’re going to get a really ugly letter from me today.

I really am going to stop writing to you, clearly you’re ignoring me, but yesterday’s show was so amazing that I just had to comment.  The contrast to your show about black women and our beauty issues and this one is absolutely incredible. For one thing, for white women’s issues, you had, Hark! an actual white woman, Jessica Simpson, on to discuss it. There was no mocking or conclusion that white women are just crazy for starving themselves, or what have you. No. The media is at fault. You had a white woman there to put those issues in context, and even evoke a little sympathy for the beauty burden that white women labor under.

Contrast that to the black women’s hair issue where you had Chris Rock on to discuss black women. No black woman to provide a counterpoint, to explain the historical context of black women and our hair issues. No one there to say that there have actually been lawsuits over companies firing black women for not straightening their hair. No one to explain that at one point in this country’s history it was literally illegal for a black woman to show her hair. Geez, no wonder many of us think our hair is bad, hell it was actually criminal. Did you explore those issues as you did when you brought an actual Chinese woman on to talk about beauty issues in China? Lisa Ling was there to explain that these women aren’t breaking their legs and rounding their eyes because they’re crazy. Oh no. They’re doing it for promotional purposes, you know, to get ahead in the workplace. They’re not crazy like black women who put chemicals and weave on their heads…just because.

Chinese women and white women are important enough to be discussed in a considering and thoughtful way. Black women? Just fodder for a comedian who has made it clear that at the bare minimum he sees black women as a punchline. (Interesting trajectory for black male comics. When they lose the funny black women suddenly become their favorite punchlines. Remember Eddie Murphy and his “jungle bitches?” I’d be fascinated to explore the psychology behind that.)

And Oprah, I hope you had an Ah-hah moment when you compared the Chinese girl’s preference for white dolls to the infamous ‘doll study’ that we seem compelled to trot out every twenty years or so. Did you notice how quickly Ling distanced HER people from the comparison? Oh no, it’s something different entirely, you’re not going to get HER people caught all up in black folk’s craziness. And see Oprah, there’s the rub. Other groups have enough sense to know that constantly talking about how crazy their people are is not elevating or empowering. It doesn’t garner any sympathy. It just makes sane people want to stay the all living hell away from you. Unfortunately, my guess is you didn’t even notice. Mores the pity.

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