Monday Musings: Diversity Dischmersity

Monday Musings II

I know what I’m about to say may be an unpopular opinion, but when has that ever stopped me from speaking my truth?

#OscarsSoWhite? How about #RomanceSoWhite?

When #WeNeedDiverseBooks and similar campaigns became a “thing” a few months ago, I admittedly was so on board and so gung-ho about this whole “Diversity In Romance” movement. It trended, it sparked conversation, and it even opened a few closed minds. So what made me hop off the diversity train? Real simple: Ain’t shit really change.

How many times can authors of color who write about characters of color (Let’s make that distinction very clear because there are many authors of color who do not write about characters of color. That’s another post for another day.) literally beg for a seat at the “big table”? I say “Fuck that”! Create your own big tables. Congregate and network with like-minded authors and readers who believe in and advocate for your stories. Reach out to the bloggers who actively blog, promote, and spotlight authors who write about characters of color (See this post) and not just the ones with thousands of followers and/or promises of (often one-time) diversity campaigns. Having your book or your profile spotlighted during Black History, Asian Heritage and National Hispanic Heritage months is great, but what about the other eleven months out of the year?

There are too many damn good authors and books out here that don’t get read simply because the main characters are not white, and you cannot tell me that I am exaggerating or embellishing the truth because authors themselves have expressed this sentiment. Readers and other bloggers have expressed this sentiment. This is one of the main reasons this very blog exists because a black romance author can’t get a decent shot of exposure at a mainstream blog.

Let me also add that big publishing companies (and you know who they are) help perpetuate this lack of inclusion (Excellent commentary here). “No one will read about a black woman in love.” GTFOH! Tell that to the millions of black, brown, yellow, and red women in this country. Tell that to all the indie authors who write about black women in love. And sell! All with no advertising budget, no big time editors (I’m working on it), and no hotshot literary agents.

So while I am no longer tweeting, retweeting, and hashtagging about how we need more diversity in romance, I will continue to soldier on for those authors who write about heroes and heroines of color and call bullshit when I see it. The evidence is right here on this blog, and I’m challenging you-whether you’re a reader or a blogger who has never read a romance featuring a hero or heroine of color to read one today, this week, this month, and to make it a part of your active library. Different folks. Same strokes.

NOTE: Before jumping in the comments asking what about LGBTQ or characters with disabilities, or even characters who aren’t of an “ideal” size or weight, please know that  I fully understand that “Diversity” means many things to many people. This post is speaking solely from the perspective of a cis, black, able-bodied female who enjoys reading about characters who look like me, and that is in NO way saying that I wouldn’t enjoy reading about a queer, fat, Korean chick in a wheelchair who falls in love with her Queen of Zamunda, cause honestly, I would LOVE THAT!

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27 thoughts on “Monday Musings: Diversity Dischmersity

  1. This was an excellent post! And your last line has me cackling in this first lobby!!!

    ” that is in NO way saying that I wouldn’t enjoy reading about a queer, fat, Korean chick in a wheelchair who falls in love with her Queen of Zamunda, cause honestly, I would LOVE THAT!”

  2. When I wrote my first book back in 2002 it never occurred to me that it wouldn’t be published or that people would refuse to read (or review) it because the lead was black. It goes without saying I got my Kodak moment because color does matter. I spent several years banging my head against that wall. You can probably find old threads of me arguing with folks about this issue. One of the best women I know, Monica Jackson, God rest her soul, fought the good fight on this issue. But for me, those days are gone. A very popular blogger regularly makes posts about why there are no diverse books and when I pointed out that there are plenty, it was finally revealed that they mean diverse books written by white authors. She further stated that publishers don’t buy books by black authors and they don’t review them because the books are just bad.

    We don’t need diverse books, we have diverse books by the truckload. White people are not going to buy books by black authors, period. Oh, they’ll get their diversity points reading about black women being raped and brutalized, but a black woman being loved and adored? Not so much. That’s why I get so pissed off by Genesis Press. They had an opportunity to create something great. Something awesome. They had some of the best black authors on the planet. The authors were incredibly loyal because they knew they couldn’t get published elsewhere, and what did they do? They robbed them blind. I haven’t received a royalty check or even a statement for Rock Star since 2010. We could’ve had our own and it pisses me off that they destroyed it.

    But again, I’ve moved on. I don’t re-tweet #WeNeedDiverseBooks because we HAVE diverse books. I probably have several thousand diverse books of every iteration on my iPad right now. More books than I’ll ever have the time to write. I’m not arguing with white people about this issue anymore. I write for black women, period. They’re the ones who’ve supported me from Day One and that’s who I write for.

  3. Welp. I think I made it clear how I felt about the hand waving of diversity. lmao Don’t tell me you are or will, I need to see receipts. I would like to see inclusion from bloggers, readers, publishers and authors.

    Lastly, I would read the hell out of that book you described. Please let someone chime in with I wrote one.

  4. Just today I saw reference to an article about a survey that indicated that the publishing industry is overwhelmingly run by straight, white women. 78% overall with 84% at the executive level.

    When i saw that statistic, I immediately thought “Well no wonder black women writers who write about black heroines can’t get traction in publishing.”

    The modern romance genre is lauded as feminist because it is a genre that is written by women for women. Women drive this billion dollar industry, one of the most lucrative in publishing. but like the political feminist movement, it has a real issue with intersectionality. It makes total sense now.

    White feminism never had time for inclusiveness because they were too busy presuming that everything was a one size fits all and if it was important to white women then of course it followed that it was important to all women. Except no. So that model is being followed strictly in the world of publishing.

    i do agree that, as in everything else, POC have made spaces for themselves where no one would make a space for them. That is the resiliency of our folks. But while the availability of more works by POC is an upside, the downside is that there is a lack being felt in the area of experience and knowledge of how books should be edited, marketed and sold. Like Roslyn says above, too bad Genesis went the way it did. It could have been a great place for newer writers to get the editorial support and learn the business. It had to potential to be a lucrative press given the current market demands.

  5. Thank you, Patrice! I blogged about the same thing in Oct. 2015. The post got A LOT of views but I am sure not a bit of it sunk in to White readers’ brains. I am so over these book drives. To where? More like nowhere. These earnest efforts. The tap dancing. The BS. After the latest bombshell dropped last week (the reviewer who took on reviewing “diverse” books but has no time to read them. Yeah that one and the rocket scientist who when reviewing “diverse” books only reads street lit and then complains about it.) I just cringe .Personally, I’ve seen the types of “diverse” books White readers read or deign to buy. The ones written by White authors with thinly “ethnic” characters. Or worse, if written by a non-White author, the storyline has to be so WTF crazy like that junk they can relate to that the book is truly bizarre. (I saw the book last year that was the “darling diverse read of choice” by a non-White author and it read like a Harlequin Presents on acid Only thing missing was the Greek tycoon. But kudos to the author because she tapped into that vein of crazy they love to read. Funny thing was her follow up was a “disappointment” to the masses because it was a normal book.) The ugly, plain truth is the average White reader is NOT interested in reading romance written by non-White people with non-White leads! They do not want to. If they did they’d find it like they find anything else they want so badly to read. They love their m/m finds but a non-White chick getting the happy ending? No. The only ones they might read are ones by Beverly Jenkins (bless her) because SmartBitches or Dear Author suggested them and her name is good for an answer on a “diverse” reading test.. Other then that, the rest of us authors are NOT on the minds of the ladies in a bridge club in Peoria. Give ’em Travis and Trey but not Travis and Whitney.

    I am over it. I write the books I want and I do not write White heroines to please Miss Ann.

    BOTTOM LINE? THEY ARE NOT INTERESTED BECAUSE IT’s NOT ABOUT THEM!

  6. Back again. Just wanted to add that an article I read said that 84 percent of the positions in publishing are held by WHITE women. If trying to get pubbed traditionally no wonder our manuscripts are turned down en masse.

  7. Great Post! At this stage of life I fully support black women writers, especially the ones that have been vetted with research. I will not go out my way begging main stream publishers to include black women writers. As for SmartBitches and her clone Dear Author they are not worth my time or energy.

  8. Back again, When I work at Borders in 2003 white customers would only buy urban street novels for a dollar.

  9. How many ways can one say, “KUDOS!!!” This article was so on point, and served as that conversation that I needed to have with someone today. So, I thank you for being who you are, being brave enough to have a voice that roars, and for the passion that comes out with your words. This article is phenomenal and I LOVE the correlation between the Oscars and what is happening in the literary world. BRAVO, sis. BRAVO! I got up today knowing that there was something different that I needed to do and didn’t know what that thing was and was led to your blog. Definitely served as a very appreciated awakening for me. I can’t thank you enough for what you represent.

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