Gigi Young said this on the previous thread and I thought it was so brilliant it deserved it’s own thread:
I think many black women did not grow up in the “romance genre” culture because the genre is dominated by white women and white women’s stories. Time and time again I hear of white women saying they were introduced to romance novels (usually Harlequin category romances) by their grandmothers, or mothers, or aunts, or older sisters. How many black women were introduced to romance in this manner?
Oddly enough, even though the RWA was co-founded by a powerful black female editor (Vivian Stephens) who spearheaded the beloved and influential Candlelight Ecstasy line, the representation of black women in the industry remains appallingly low. I also can’t help but feel that “romance” (look at the first comment on this post!) may be seen as a “white” thing, not because black people don’t believe in candlelight dinners, or huge romantic gestures, but because the images we hold of romantic things are done by white people via movies and television. And if the genre is generally seen as trashy and for desperate women by the general public, why wouldn’t upwardly mobile black folks turn up their noses?
I’ve discussed this issue numerous times with other authors, but not as often with readers (which was rather remiss of me). It’s not something I would’ve thought of because I was introduced to romance through my mother’s love of Harlequin’s. But I’m probably at least one generation older than most of you, and my mother was of an older generation as well. Most of you probably have mothers in their forties and fifties who probably wouldn’t have read romances because they were overwhelmingly white, and if most black women weren’t introduced to romance that way they probably don’t read them. That would explain the (relatively) low readership.
Of course, that leave the question begging, how do we turn more black women on to romance? How do we let them know that there are (non street lit) romances out there? I was shocked to discover that many black women don’t even realize Kimani exists, let alone black romances at other houses. How do we promote the genre in such a way that upwardly mobile black women won’t be embarrassed to read it?
In my opinion the first thing we need are review sites and lots of them. Our books aren’t out there front and center. From time to time a new reviewer comes along, they’ll review a few books then disappear. We need a regular steady presence with social media and the whole nine yards. I’ve suggested it many times and I’m frustrated because I can’t do it because I’m a writer. Does anyone here have interest in starting a review blog? Maybe several of you together could do one. That’s all I have for now. What do y’all think? Any ideas or suggestions? I’m going to post this on Goodreads and the Sweetest Taboo, if you know anywhere else we could be having this conversation let me know.