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!