Monday Musings: I Don’t Relate To Black Characters and Other Bullshit Excuses

I recently read a post on an author’s (who happens to be black) blog where she talked about why she writes diverse  poc characters and how she was told by more than one “mainstream” blog that their readers (in so many words) couldn’t relate to black characters (Ain’t enough gifs on the planet to show you how I feel about this asinine remark). I was a little disappointed at the end of the post because my takeaway was that her argument  wasn’t so much in defense of a need for readers of all ethnicities to read about different cultures and experiences, but it was one that spoke (in a roundabout way) to the monetary implications of why some authors of color don’t write characters of color, and…

Somebody finally said it without actually saying it :/ Some authors of colors exclusively write white characters because they know their chances of being bought and read are practically guaranteed — or at least considered (And writing with a non-ethnic sounding author name will almost certainly get you extra consideration.)

Why is it in 2017 we’re still dealing with this shit? (It’s a rhetorical question, by the way.) For a better part of my life, I’ve read nothing but mainstream (white) stories, and never once did I walk away believing their experiences (not saying all) were unlike mine.

The bottom line is we all experience the same shit — just differently. No, I don’t know what it’s like to have to wash my hair every, single day or season my chicken with just salt and pepper, but you know what? I do wash my damn hair, and I do season my chicken with about eleven herbs and spices. The point? I like clean hair and chicken. Just like Susie. So, because we do these two things differently, I’m unrelatable?



22 thoughts on “Monday Musings: I Don’t Relate To Black Characters and Other Bullshit Excuses

  1. This burns me TF up!!
    With all the appropriation of our culture going on apparently “they” relate in some ways.

  2. LOL @ stares in Maxine Waters! OMG, I am laughing so hard.

    I have thoughts on this topic, but my takeaway is this: People who are voracious readers will read damn near anything. Unless it’s something that seriously upsets their soul, most readers will dive into a story head first without thought to the ethnicity/sexuality/religion, etc. of the characters. A good story is a good story. If people want something different, they will look high and low until they find books that speak to them. As a reader, I definitely do this. I want to shake up the Kindle carousel!

    With that said, authors have to ask themselves who are they writing for? What do they want out of their careers? If the answer is notoriety from a wider audience, they figure the best way to do that is by writing white characters. To those authors, I say, do you. It’s upsetting, but folks are doing what seems to work best for them. I had this same discussion with an author friend a few weeks back. I can’t think of one contemporary romance author who is a woman of color who has a highly successful series (by mainstream standards) where the characters are all people of color.

    I champion diversity, but I feel that the only way the industry will change is if people be the change they wish to see. We can’t complain if we’re not trying to shake things up.

    And this is exactly why I write. Just my thoughts. 😉

  3. “We all experience the same things, just differently”

    I say this shit all the time. I got a heart just like Suzy does and it wants to be loved just like Suzie’s. So yeah, black girls/women need loving romances too. FOH with all that mess.

    Great post btw 😉

  4. I have many thoughts on this because it’s a much bigger issue that extends way beyond the book world. …but THIS–>
    ‘For a better part of my life, I’ve read nothing but mainstream (white) stories, and never once did I walk away believing their experiences (not saying all) were unlike mine.’
    —> Is a damn fact!

  5. BS BS BS

    If it were true then how does paranormal exist? I haven’t met any vampires werewolves or shapeshifters.

  6. I truly enjoy this article. The public who read romance novels do not want to read anything by black writers dealing with romance. When I work for Borders back in 2008 a fellow co-worker wanted to read one of my Beverly Jenkins novel, but of course she did not want to buy a copy. Her reasoning for not buying she could not related to the author. I called her on her rubbish, and I will not mention the cultural appropriation of black characters in romance. I believed is had been discuss already.

    1. Thanks for chiming in. Like I said, we gon talk about cultural appropriation in a whole nother post. I know of one very popular mainstream author who writes it like a badge of honor 😑

  7. Logically, I understand why black authors write white characters. They feel it’s the only way to have a real chance at commercial success. However, although I can understand how they came to that conclusion, I cannot condone it in my own writing.

    The reason I began crafting my stories in the first place was that I wanted to see myself on the page. I wanted to see heroines that reflected me. I’m sorry, but, I’ll be damned if I’m going to contribute to the systematic erasure of black women in romance.

    Ultimately, you have to do, what you have to do. However, I can’t strategically do something like that and still be able to look at myself in the mirror.

    That’s not to say I would never write a mainstream heroine. I write the stories that come to me. If a white female protagonist came to me, I would have no problem putting pen to paper and crafting a wonderful story for her. However, I will never intentionally remove women of color from my repertoire. The industry has shown us they don’t give our romances the same care and concern as our mainstream counterparts. Why would I help them completely eliminate me (us) from the page?

    Nope, not today, Satan.

    1. 🙆🙆🙆. You had me at “I’ll be damned if I’m going to contribute to the systematic erasure of black women in romance.” Sweet Jesus, that was soul-soothing ❤️

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