rambling about selling AA romance

I changed the title. I keep changing the contents because I keep changing my mind. Sue me.

Karen is doing a interesting bunch of interviews and discussion about AA Romance at her blog. I keep weighing in, though it's clear to me that I should keep my mouth shut.

I was blathering along about how I don't judge by genre, and I look for books by writers I like or that have good reviews when I suddenly realized that I haven't read that many reviews for AA books.

hmmm

Is that because they're there and I just skip over them? Where are those reviews? Well, well. Could I be a closet racist after all? (I'm always looking for signs. Got to stay on top of this sort of thing.)

I know some people see AAs like inspirationals, which has its audience built into its genre**. I can't help it, I see a kind of "keep out" sign with inspies. [edited to remove small rant about inspies that has nothing to do with my point] I see it as a club for Christians and there's no point if you're not part of the culture. Thing is, this kind of club atmosphere exists, no denying it, but there are a whole lot of Christian readers so it works for that genre probably more than AA books, right?

And this is going to be about getting more readers. I know Monica and others write about this all the time. but I haven't seen any clueless white writers go for it. . ..so

If I were an undiscovered AA writer, I'd want to make myself open to as many readers as possible, while at the same time, make sure my readers who ONLY read AA books knew I was there. I'd want a Somebody To Love cover for my book. Okay maybe not that picture (which I think is pretty but meh), but one that doesn't show the exact genre. The back copy has absolutely NOTHING about the fact that it's a historical. (I'd go find a copy of the book and write it, but I'm lazy)

The only sign at all that it takes place in another century is the word "historical" on the spine.

I'd want to mostly belong to groups that celebrated universal romance themes and no subgenres mentioned.

Sure, for support and love, I'd want other AA groups. But publicity? I wouldn't avoid them--God that's too craven--but I'd look primarily for others. Yeah, I guess I'd want to go mostly underground. (shuddering at that particular reference) Not because I would be ashamed but because by golly, I'd want to sell as many books as possible.

Once I got established, hooked enough readers to get some good contracts, I'd insist on Gorgeous AA male torsos blazing across my covers. Heh.

Is it fair to my community? Nope. But I bet that's what I'd want because I'd want to reach beyond my community. I'd tell myself that a beautifully written love story featuring AA hero/heroine hitting the bestseller lists does more for race relations than all sorts of pious speeches. (And once I got buckets of money, I'd be sure to give some to these people. and maybe to be local, these guys.)

Weigh in, AA writers. Please don't bother point out that I'm a racist (even though I have an AA sister). I might be, but I'm working on it. **** And anyway I declare the conversation to be about How To Reach A Wider Audience--as it usually is with writers.

________________________________________

**I KNOW that's not what AA books are about, but that feels the way they're being marketed. It doesn't really matter if that's not the plan or the intention of the publishers. If that's how the market perceives the message, then that's the message that counts. Anything else doesn't sell books.

**** Think of it as a sort of "innocent racism" rising from not having a similar life experience and not knowing how different the world is from another POV. I have had some experience with this, actually. I spent most of my life a normal size. Then a few years back I hit 210 pounds. Talk about changed interactions. Not the same as racism, but I think I got a taste of discrimination.

Okay, I've changed my mind. If I am racist, tell me, but explain exactly what I'm missing. (Be warned that I might explain what I think you're missing). If Karen pops by, I promise not to latch onto only key words, okay?

Comments

  1. ::Pulling up analysis couch::

    You are white and are, by virtue of being white, a racist. That you are conflicted by this, tells me that deep down you would be happier had you been born black (of african slave descent - there is a difference). Trans-racial cosmetic surgery is on the horizon. Soon, for a price, you will be able to reflect your inner self externaly and live guilt free.

    That will be a nickle, please.

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  2. I think your marketing plan is pretty much how I would go about doing the marketing too. I don't know that I'd worry as much about the cover, because that does seem a little deceptive to me, but joining the big promo groups and doing chats where a wide audience attends *as well as* groups and chats focused on a specific reader segment? Heck yeah.

    Give me excerpts and book covers and blurbs. Come and talk to me and let me, as a reader, get to know you.

    The point is to get people to read the book and realize that they're well-written, good stories and not different from anyone else's stories, right? So I'd try to get the word out to everyone.

    That, however, according to what's being said over there, would apparently make me (the hypothetical new AA author)an Uncle Tom and a sellout. It gets worse if I happen to be black and "write white". Then I become just a woman with a good tan.

    For the record, Kate, if you don't feel that you as a white woman are somehow superior to blacks, asians, hispanics, or -insert your race of choice-, you're not racist. You may be biased, as we all are, but you having white skin does not automatically make you a racist.

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  3. tchah, Ferfe, Doesn't matter how much I agree or disagree with you, you always make me laugh my ass off. That's a big net you cast.

    Sara, that's why I think we need a new word. innocent racism. I see it happening over at Karen's blog with me and with roz. she doesn't see how the word white affects me because I don't see it as a Symbol of oppression the way she does.

    I don't see how she's flipping sick of the discussion being all onesided. Well, yes, I do, but I might NOT if I didn't wander into the discussion.

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  4. I don't think we need a new word. I think it needs to be clearer what's meant. She wrote racism. If she meant institutionalized racism, then that's what she should have written.

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  5. I'm sick of the You're racist, NO YOU are conversation. (yeah, yeah, I indulged in it, too)

    See if we had a word that meant ignorant or racist that wasn't loaded with horrible connotations, we could just get past that part of the discussion.

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  6. Have you heard the "Avenue Q" soundtrack? "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist" is one of my favorite songs from that show.

    Anyway, what you're writing about sounds in some ways not dissimilar from debates I've read among lesbian writers (Dorothy Allison, for example, got criticized pretty harshly for publishing "Bastard out of Carolina" with a big mainstream press though no one could accuse her of going underground or soft-pedaling her sexual identity).

    This isn't wildly original or anything, but it seems to me there's always a balance between being loyal to your community base (which makes good marketing sense as well as being a Good Thing to Do) and reaching out to a wider audience.

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  7. For the record, Kate, if you don't feel that you as a white woman are somehow superior to blacks, asians, hispanics, or -insert your race of choice-, you're not racist. You may be biased, as we all are, but you having white skin does not automatically make you a racist.

    It doesn't matter how we feel about anything. Many of the people posting over at Karen's see White = Racist. It's not just limited to Karen Scott's discussion. It's everywhere, though not everyONE and pointless to pretend otherwise.

    There are blacks who demonize whites by virtue of their race for the actions of a subset of the population. There's no fighting it, because if we do it just makes things worse. It is much easier to simply say, "Why yes. I am whatever you see me as - in your head." To say anything different requires you to apologize for every word you say in advance in case it is offensive and to take abuse for every wrong ever perpetrated by a white person in the history of Africa.

    The reverse is also true. And. As long as that is so, no progress will ever be made on this issue.

    On nights when I walk to the train station after dark there is a drunk, homeless,black man who screams "White Bitch" at me as I walk by. To him - that's what I am. I seriously doubt I'm going to change his mind by stopping to argue with him.

    I flat refuse to use the "I have black friends!" get-out-of-being-seen-as-white card, or the Heinz-57-heritage-so-hey!-I'm-ethnic-too card in order to mitigate passing for white-anglo-saxon. I didn't grow up black so I will inevitably say ignorant things that will offend blacks just as someone who grew up black will say things about whites that shove my eyeballs into the back of my skull because my brains shrank back in horror. That's just the way it is.

    You can't make people see you a certain way and it's impossible to ignore your own lifetime of experience when dealing with the day. All we can hope to achieve as human beings is to show respect where respect is due, make allowances when it's not, and keep a sense of humor about everything. The alternative is ulcers and stroking out and life is just too damned short for that.

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  8. I think true racism has its basis in ignorance, hatred, and fear, in any of its many guises.
    Based on this, I don't really get the impression you're a racist, Kate.
    But if you've never 'walked the walk', as they say, you'd naturally have no idea what it involved, or evidence of the many forms it can take. More like 'clueless' than anything else, I suppose, and I believe that's part of what Karen was trying to address.
    Suggest you schedule another appointment with Ferfe. (lmao!).

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  9. Editing after: Change ...
    On nights when I walk to the train station after dark there is a drunk, homeless,black man who screams "White Bitch" at me as I walk by. To him - that's what I am. I seriously doubt I'm going to change his mind by stopping to argue with him.

    To

    On nights when I walk to the train station after dark there is a drunk, homeless,black man who screams "White Bitch" at me as I walk by. To him - that's what I am. I seriously doubt I'm going to change his mind by stopping to argue with him ... because he is drunk

    Husband was distracting me crabbing about how my longwinded, pointless post was sucking away bandwidth for hie World of Warcraft nonsense.

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  10. World of Warcraft nonsense? That's an oxymoron!

    Friend of mine in college, fellow Tribe, used to claim he was part black. He really, really wanted to believe it. I think it's something about being a liberal Jew -- your slave roots are so distant (and so dubious, when you get right down to the archaeological evidence), you feel you lack street cred.

    As for that book cover: I love your books, Kate, but those covers are so Retirement Home.

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  11. Raine, I said I got that point, okay? Shoes, miles, etc. I know it.

    I'm trying to open the dialogue. I don't particularly want my part critted (unless there's something SPECIFIC I missed).

    And not that anyone gives a damn, but I've had plenty of racist incidents. When I was a kid growing up in DC, my librul parents sent me to an almost all black summer camp. I got called cracker and honky by a couple of the girls there. I hated that place because of them, though I did make a couple of pals and learned to do the sidestroke.

    I never thought those two? three? girls represented the prevailing attitude of a whole culture or race or whatever. I got the fact that they were buttheads in their own right. Maybe because they were major buttheads in other ways as well.

    My pal Katherine S and I were also sort of assaulted by a group of black guys on a DC transit bus who called me a white cunt(that shows how old I am) when I was about 13. It didn't get past verbal abuse and an arm grab. We just got off the bus. I can't let go of that fear entirely but I hope it doesn't affect my behavior (except on near-deserted streets).

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  12. Edited:

    the DC transit part shows how old I am. Not the white cunt part. (I was such an innocent lil thing though, I don't think I'd heard the C word spoken aloud before)

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  13. and I don't know why I put those anecdotes in the response to Raine, it doesn't fit the point. My racist shit doesn't equal Oppressive Cultural Bushwa and I know it's not a contest dammit.

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  14. Yeah, Ferfe, I'm aware of the fact that some people see white = racist. Just like I'm aware of the fact that some people see black = ghetto.

    I haven't argued nearly as much as usual over there because, no, minds are not going to be changed when those ideas are being flung around.

    But I always speak up because I personally believe that those sorts of statements should be challenged.

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  15. or the Heinz-57-heritage-so-hey!-I'm-ethnic-too card in order to mitigate passing for white-anglo-saxon.

    Hey now. I said that to make everyone realize that their comments also hurt others who didn't draw such strict lines. There is a whole generation like me coming up, and they're going to give all sides the finger.

    A house divided cannot stand? AA/Black authors want to move forward in publishing, but then you have this whole, "I'm Blacker than you are. You're not really black because you're not AA." thing going on.

    The new generation is going to just want to BE.

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  16. You are brave and wise Sara. I stopped posting there because Karen starts an issue and then sits back quietly letting her guests get hammered. Kate otoh always actively joins the discussion. That's the difference between a discussion blog and a flame fest. Took me awhile to figure that out.

    World of Warcraft is a cult Doug. Have you seen this clip? http://www.destructoid.com/world-of-warcraft-raid-leader-goes-totally-apeshit

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  17. Heh. Eva. I was talking about INSTIT-TU-TIONAL Heinze-57.

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  18. yah, well, Kate's a moron about keeping her mouth shut.

    I think the writers over there are making a bunch of valid points. I get the cultural racism thing, heck I believe it, too--I don't buy that it's conscious conspiracy to keep people down. Unconscious maybe.

    Hey, that whole Millenia Black thing was horrifying.

    It's just that the whole thing is kneejerk nonsense that sends everyone spinning off into useless circles. I shall henceforth stop putting my own useless spinning on Poor Karen's site and stick to my own.

    Bah. I'm too simplistic anyway. I like skimming life. My next post will be about my kid droning on about something.

    Still I wish the discussion could be useful and interesting. I'm glad Karen's doing it.

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  19. Doug? Retirement home? You're so wrong. STL is graveyard.

    I like the picture, but to me it speaks of gentle going into that good night.

    And my kids like the WOW link, ferfe.

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  20. I don't particularly want my part critted (unless there's something SPECIFIC I missed).

    Wasn't offering a crit, Kate, nor was it meant to imply that you, or anyone else, has never tasted racism. If that's what I meant, I would've said it clearly. I don't know anybody who HASN'T experienced it.
    You introduced the expression 'innocent racism'. I simply proposed the word 'clueless' instead. A simple footnote, slightly tongue-in-cheek.
    Interesting first visit to your blog.

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  21. oops, sorry, raine.
    my damn knee is tarred, tarred, tarred.

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  22. I stopped posting there because Karen starts an issue and then sits back quietly letting her guests get hammered. Kate otoh always actively joins the discussion. That's the difference between a discussion blog and a flame fest. Took me awhile to figure that out.

    My heart bleeds.

    FLB, if I gave in to my compulsion of ear-swatting the people who post on my blog, every time they say something that's bound to get the other posters up in arms, you're ears in particular, would be ringing constantly.

    I post, then I get on with the rest of my life. That's what I've always done, and that's pretty much what I'll always do. If you don't like it, stop coming around.

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  23. It's all about the comment count right Karen? You stir shit but never smell it. You don't moderate or join the discussion you start. Those are human beings posting there on your blog some of them genuinely trying to understand and to be understood. As hostess you have a responsibility to your guests, even the rude ones.

    And yeah - this last go around you have slam dancing unattended now over there pretty much ended my interest in anything you might have to say in the future. You are absolutely right. I don't like it and I won't be checking back again. No loss to you so it's all good.

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  24. Are blog owners supposed to weigh in all the time? I never thought that was the point, ferfe.

    Okay, so if I'm supposed to be the grown up, I think you're both being goobers.

    Karen--You could at least talk about the topic and not make that your only remark in my blog for months.
    Ferfe--see above.

    There.

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  25. I actually considered just shutting down the comments because we were veering off the subject, but I've never done that before, so why start now?

    You stir shit but never smell it. You don't moderate or join the discussion you start.

    FLB, my blog has been running the same way for over 2 years, I post, I read the comments. If I have time to respond to the posts, I do, if I don't, I don't.

    What would you have liked me to do? Admonish one person because you didn't like what she had to say? I think not.

    You know why?

    Because she was the only person expressing those particular views. The general consensus as far as I'm concerned was that everybody else was being pretty reasonable.

    I've disagreed with you many times, on many issues, but I've always pretty much let you go comment-crazy on my blog. Believe me, I've had to suppress the temptation to delete the umpteen assholic comments you usually insist on posting on my blog, many a time.

    If I was in the habit of moderating my blog, I would have banned your ass ages ago.

    I don't like it and I won't be checking back again.

    It's not all bad news then.

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  26. Kate, I love the fact that you're even talking about this issue on your blog. I wasn't going to comment, because I had nothing new to say, and I generally don't comment on other blogs (with the exception of DA and Sybil's blog) unless I have something useful to add.

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  27. Kate - I have been surfing boards and blogs since 1998 so, almost ten years. I've watched AOL boards melt down, seen critique groups implode, it realy has taken me this long to get a handle on why some boards and blogs are civil and others are shit holes. The critical element is whether or not the people moderating the board or hosting the blog genuinely respect and appreciate the guest participants - regardless of their personal like or dislike of them. One of the ways they demonstrate that is by keeping somewhat abreast of the discussion. They post periodically to steer discussions into saner waters when they go off course.

    So. Yes. You should take an active interest in what is being posted on your blog. I don't believe you need to go so far as to delete posts or ban people but if you are going to introduce hot topics online in a public forum you have some responsibility to your guests and you should check in and keep things civilized.

    People will disagree with me. There are people who enjoy handing out abuse and people who live to take it. For them, there are sites they can go to where they can bash the hell out of each other to their hearts content. It's pointless, but probably fun and safer than beating on people they know off line. I'm just done with visiting those sites. There's nothing entertaining about it to me anyore.

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  28. Yeah, I guess I agree with you ferfe. On the other hand I don't think the discussion at Karen's place is particularly horrid...well, not the last time I checked.

    I suddenly realized that I was not adding to it or advancing it and knew the only way to stop that was to stop reading.

    It did make me think a lot about what is the nature of personal racism, is it in the intent or the perception?

    I say it's *not* in the intent UNTIL someone points it out to you ("some people don't like that word, hon.") and explains why it hurts. At which point yeah, racism is there all right--in the intent. White, white, white, white, white, white, white, white.

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  29. GOD make me STOP going to Karen's blog.

    It's so STUPID. I basically agree with a lot of what Roz says that's the sad part. If she can't hear my teeny tiny little point (itty bitty) I can't talk with her any more.

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  30. No. Karen's wasn't any worse than usual and some people posting there are genuinely trying to understand, make a difference and be supportive of the actual issue, which makes the abuse portions of the posts doubly depressing to me. If you're up for it and know what's coming going in then there's nothing wrong in braving the free-for-all abuse blogs and boards. I just can't anymore and I can't even bring myself to lurk either.

    I debated this with myself for days a few weeks ago because there are sites I still love lurking on, the SB's and BAMM's for example. And I couldn't pinpoint what the squick factor was with one blog over no squick on another and it finally hit me. The SB's take all comers and they actively engage in the debate. So does Bamm. They have a sense of humor that I can apreciate because their first victims are themselves ... one of the first tenents of true snark.

    I wondered why I enjoy going to blogs like yours where I KNOW we aren't even speaking the same political language most of the time vs others where I feel my skin crawl just reading one or two posts. They may be discussing the same subjects you bring up but the way they handle the discussion - if they handle it at all is just scary. I enjoy it because you can disagree without being abusive. You can debate without being condescending. You may not agree with my views but you give me an honest hearing and seem to respect my opinion enough to adress what I've said and not resorting to personal judgements on unrelated insults. That's rare, you know and I apreciate it.

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  31. awwww ferfe, thank you. that's lovely.

    btw, did you notice that Karen waded into the fray at her blog?

    And in ever better news, I have successfully cut my self off there. No more. I can avoid those chocolate chip cookies, I can avoid making comments.

    I love the fact that she's doing that series in the blog.

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  32. Not looking in there anymore.

    It is a good series and very educational. It just comes with too much else.

    So. Anyway. I've completely revamped FerfeLaBat.com over to WrodPress. Very fun. hate PHP but ... what can ya do. It's loaded with ubber support and plugins. Geek toys. How can I resist?

    Did your kids understand even half the WOW thing? Took me forever to understand the terms. More Dots!!!

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  33. I LIED..
    I LIED
    In the end, I didn't cut myself off AND what's worse is I ate the cookies.

    sobbing,
    K

    And the kids got everything. Every last word. Starting tomorrow, their computer time is limited.

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  34. Kinda like a train wreck, innit, Kate?

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  35. I just noticed the latest entry that began "you blacks" from my least favorite poster "anonymous" I got the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach but didn't do anything even though my name was mentioned in there. Ugh.

    Heck it's my bedtime and I was done hours ago.

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  36. Where da black authors at?

    Kate, for the record I don't think you're racist, never have, nor do I think your comments are offensive compared to some others I've read on the topic. I try not to link to those folk and I've always maintained a link to you.

    Kate, your marketing idea is interesting, but honestly it would never work for an openly, known-as-black author. Maybe an author willing to deny their blackness could do it, but an author such as that couldn't get many black readers.

    Black romance readers support black romance authors. That's just the way it is. I think blacks define racism differently from many nonblacks, but the way y'all define it, I have to agree blacks and any other race can be racist. And yep, unfortunately black readers can be racist as hell.

    Believe me, some author pandering to white folks isn't going to go over with black readers. They will notice. Millenia Black gets hate, I tell you hate from black readers, because she wrote white characters and says openly she wants white readers.

    Do you realize how much flak I get from blacks for even talking to you all? And then I hear how racist I am from some of y'all. Sheesh.

    So your marketing plan only would work if the black author is willing to walk away from black readers. The problem in that is those are the readers who buy our books, not whites.

    Also, a huge problem is we can't pick our covers and even if we could, would it get us white readers?

    I know many black authors who sell better than me who've begged for racially neutral covers and been denied by their publishers.

    I've asked about neutral covers many times. I was told by an editor we sell better with blacks with identifiable black covers and black authors with racial neutral covers have an inordinate amount of returns.

    Personally, I could never walk away from my black readers who have supported me for so many years. It has nothing to do with being blacker than thou--more with basic loyalty to those people who shell out their money for me. It's black readers who do so, not white ones.

    Monica Jackson needs to shut up about race and tend to her readers.

    But maybe Monica will be reborn in another incarnation, multiracial maybe, and then maybe I could try your idea, Kate. I'd love to see if I could compete in the wider market. I do believe that we are perceived and received differently. Only if we downplay our race, can we then compete in romance, be fairly reviewed or reviewed at all and all that hooha.

    Face2face romance writers groups while black? Online ones may work, but face2face, probably not if we look too black. I've done many and we really are treated differently in many subtle instances. One has to grit one's teeth, bear it and ignore it while grinning. This is not good for one's mental health over the long term.

    The fact that I'd have to deny my blackness to make in majority romance pisses me the hell off. It really makes me angry and I don't know how well I could function squelching that while grinning and tap-dancing. I'd get an ulcer at the very least.

    Why should I have to deny my blackness to have a shot at acceptance in romance? Grrrr. See I can feel my blood pressure going up just contemplating the Monica who denies/ignores/dismisses being black to sell books. I'm multi-racial, I got soooooo much white blood lookeehere. I got a white fiance, whoooeee. My hair isn't even kinky, these are curls honey. I ain't black, I'm mixed, yesireee. Some people are cool going that route, but not me.

    Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Fuck that.

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  37. I understand both points of view. Why in hell should anyone of color make any conciliatory moves--such as not talk about racism in a culture where it still exists? I'd be more than pissed off if someone told me it would be better to softpedal my outrage. (heh. well, yeah, already been told that.)

    Why should she hide her identity to sell books? It's insulting and as stupid as the time when women had to pretend to be men to sell (always hated that phrase "women authors") I THINK I didn't exactly mean hide with my advice. More like not make it the major point of the book. No way you shouldn't make it the point of your personal identity.
    .
    On the other side of the issue, it's romance and that's supposed to be escapism. Fun fiction. People are annoyed by any kind of topic they see as preaching. The extremists there, the people who would never buy one of THOSE books. They're not worth bothering with.

    I guess it's like being a politician in a diverse district. The only way to be honest and not lose the votes is to talk about universal issues, the things everyone can agree upon and appreciate.

    If someone confronts a good politician, she doesn't change her mind to appease 'em. (Oh, shit, I sound like I'm defending Lieberman) And she learns to listen to the extremist fringes of the left and right without telling them to go to hell, but at the same time, not doing more than being polite.

    Hard to keep your core intact when your basic idenity is always such an issue. I appreciate being invisible the more I read about this. (there is NOTHING more invisible than a middle-aged white woman. NOTHING)

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  38. Hey now. I said that to make everyone realize that their comments also hurt others who didn't draw such strict lines. There is a whole generation like me coming up, and they're going to give all sides the finger.

    Eva praise the Lord and pass the fucking peas thank you Jesus and Hallelujah. I have a blog post coming on this, but I have to get permission to use something out of a personal email first =)

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  39. I don't know about the younger generation. I hope things have changed with them, I really do, because that's the only hope for the future.


    But I do know what we have to deal with here and now and being an unmistakably black author (with no multiracial, black dodging heehawing) has ramifications.

    I do think it's less productive to point fingers why (white folks done this and that) than to brainstorm possible solutions (how to get white readers the opportunity treat black-authored romances like any other romances).

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  40. Amie, I'd love to read that post when you get it up. I'll be watching for it.

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  41. with no multiracial, black dodging heehawing

    See, this is where I get stuck in this argument every time. Because apparently, you have no concept that someone could be proud of *everything* they are and make it work, Monica.

    Someone can be black, *look* "black" and still be proud of the fact that they've also go native or white or asian or hispanic blood. Why is admitting that "heehawing"? If someone is not 100% black, why should they pretend they are? To sell to the black community?

    Why is that desirable but selling out and pretending to be white is not? It doesn't make any sense.

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  42. Sara,
    Have you read The Color of Water? It's an interesting memoir--all about a black man's Jewish white mom.

    I read it during a really bizarre family event so that's my main memory of it. Reading about this guy's family, whilst dealing with my own, put some real spin on it.

    My mother was Jewish and was completely NOT into pride of her racial identity. In fact she rather disdained people who used their ancestry or forebearers as some way to define themselves. She also refused to believe in collective guilt.

    Apparently made for some heated arguments with her Zionist very religious mother right after WWII.

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  43. I haven't read it, no, Kate. Sounds like it'd be interesting to read, though.

    If your mother's belief was being suggested, though, wouldn't that mean that people of a particular racial backround would be encouraged not to say anything about what race they are? No marketing to a particular audience because they'd be encouraged not to use it to identify themselves?

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  44. I'm just remembering (this is my blog so I get to blather) that my mom's "you are defined by your own actions not those of your ancestors" thing didn't fly when it came to African Americans.

    For instance about the summer camp she explained the honky/cracker stuff to me (definitions, reasons for anger, etc) but didn't try to get those kids in trouble. At the time it burned my ass.

    On the other hand, maybe it was that era's racial nonsense that gave her that dose of librul guilt that wouldn't let her allow me to smack the bitches--and not the girls' heritage. God, I hated that crap. She was supposed to defend ME, her baby, not my persecutors. But I still ended up a bleeding heart liberrrrrral.

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  45. I think you weren't allowed to use it as an excuse. I just remember her explaining her philosophy, I don't recall specific incidents. Well, except the exceptions like the ones above. Heh.

    She was an existentialist. You are defined by your own actions in this life.

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  46. And I bet if I tried to sell books as a Jew she'd say it would unworthy of my writing to allow anything but the words themselves to sell or some such bushwa.

    The author of fiction shouldn't be there, explaining herself or her work. Definitely.I remember her saying something stories standing on their own two feet and then cracking up at the image.

    Oh and she'd have pointed out I am most definitely not Jewish (I am technically but not culturally)

    I think it's pretty clear she would never have made it in marketing or advertising.

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  47. are you still talking?

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  48. And actually, back to the Sara, I really get your point.

    Allowing ANYONE to define who you and how you represent yourself to the world is an odious form of oppression. Whether it's a publisher or fans or your parents (after the age of say, 16, says the mother nervously. Or maybe 30.).

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  49. eric, god, when do I ever stop????

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  50. not even when you eat katie

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  51. Ahhha. Yeah. I (as should be painfully obvious given my comments) have a big issue with double standards. And a lot of that is due to *my* mother, I'm sure.

    She was very involved in the Civil Rights movement. She never let a discriminatory or racist comment pass uncontested. (She doesn't let sexist or ageist or classist comments go either.)

    She had to convince her own family that adopting a kid outside her race was not only okay, but that they could handle being related to said kid.

    She explained why people reacted to me the way they did, too, but I guess the difference is that she never accepted excuses as the answer. The color of someone's skin never gave them (or me for that matter) permission to be cruel or rude or expect different treatment.

    She also taught me to never be ashamed of any part of me and fed my curiosity, got me information or to people who *had* information when she couldn't do it herself, and encouraged me to dig more.

    So you know, here I am, pissing people off.

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  52. See, this is where I get stuck in this argument every time. Because apparently, you have no concept that someone could be proud of *everything* they are and make it work, Monica.

    OMG, Sarah, I could kiss you. That is it. I've been trying to put my finger on why nothing ever set right with me in these agruements and that is it. Man, I am going to sleep tonight a happy person.

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  53. The one celebrity who raises the issue of refusing to be defined by the race of only one of his forebearers is Tiger Woods. I think that take a fair chunk of strength/chutzpah/whatever these days. Not for long though, I'm betting. Or hoping.

    I think my consciousness is raised a whole heck of a lot lately. The whole discussion going on at dearauthor looks appalling and a few days ago, it would have been meh, dumb stuff.

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  54. and I don't mean the teddy pig silliness, I mean more AnneD sort of response

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  55. Someone can be black, *look* "black" and still be proud of the fact that they've also go native or white or asian or hispanic blood. Why is admitting that "heehawing"? If someone is not 100% black, why should they pretend they are? To sell to the black community? Why is that desirable but selling out and pretending to be white is not? It doesn't make any sense.

    Actually, I am familiar with this, Sara. My mother is as much white as she is black.

    The deal is society defines her as black. If she (or any of her six brothers or sisters) wanted to be acknowledged as white, there would be disbelief and consternation and basically she wouldn't be allowed to do so.

    I have know my mother all my life and I know this is true.

    It's like that they reject their mother's race, it's that their mother's race rejects them.

    I have cousins that are 1/4th black, same thing. If they have black features, they are black. If they go on about how white they really are, they will get the eye roll.

    Some of their children are 1/8th black, and they don't have this issue and aren't considered black, but that's because they truly don't have any black features.

    I'm proud of everything I am, I think. I have admixtures, significant native American on my father's side too. Most black American people do.

    But our identity is firmly black American because that is all we're allowed to be. Maybe in the younger generation this is changing.

    So denying my blackness and saying I'm not black, I'm this and that, no matter how true, just to be able to get ahead, pisses me off completely. I've been black since birth, with no choice to it.

    It feels like a sell-out to me to do that and I resent it. A caveat is that this is just me. If somebody else wants to say they aren't *really* black, and acknowledge their native American relatives, their white ones, etc, I feel it's their business.

    A side note: A relative, frizzy brown hair, light cafe au lait skin, freckles, green eyes was in a car accident and she was griping it seemed the hospital spent more time fretting over what race she was than anything else. They were afraid to put her down as black and she wasn't (would folks sue over that, LOL?) or put her down as white and Lawd forbid she had black blood. Irritated, she refused to help them, but her folks showed up, including her black (biracial) father and she got put in the black box. I guess she could have fussed, but she's been treated as black her entire life and that's her identity too.

    P.S. I'm sure my white grandmother would understand

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  56. I suspect that I'm not that much younger than you, Monica, if I am at all. So I don't know, maybe it's just life experiences.

    So denying my blackness and saying I'm not black, I'm this and that, no matter how true, just to be able to get ahead, pisses me off completely.

    But what if it's not "just to be able to get ahead"? What if it's simply a statement of their personal belief? Or do you not believe that people would claim to be multiracial for any reason other than some sort of step up?

    If somebody else wants to say they aren't *really* black, and acknowledge their native American relatives, their white ones, etc, I feel it's their business.

    Again, what if they're not saying "I'm not really black", but are instead saying "I'm black *and* native" or "I'm black *and* white"? Do you still consider that a sellout?

    A sidenote of my own: When I transferred high schools once, in Virginia, I was told to pick a race. My mother, who is white, was with me. When I asked the guidance counselor if I could check more than one box, he told me to put white, despite the fact that I have features that are not-white.

    When I pointed out that my father was black and native, he changed his mind and told me that I had to check black.

    So I know that stuff happens, unfortunately.

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  57. Sweet dreams, Eva. :)

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  58. Sara, I think it's just our separate life experiences that have shaped our views. Everybody's different.

    If somebody wants to acknowledge their multiracial background, as I said before, their business.

    But this country hasn't allowed many folks with obvious black blood to be multiracial.

    Do I think it would be an improvement if my mother could be white AND black instead of just black?

    I sure do.

    But I think the character of the country needs to change before it could really fly. Otherwise why does everybody keep referring to Halle Berry as a black actress? She was raised by her Jewish mother! Jewish people are matriarchal, right, so doesn't that make her Jewish?

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  59. heh.

    I just remembered a woman who moved here from Somalia who was puzzled that people didn't believe she was purely African American. She really was. First generation--really, truly African American.

    She had deep brown skin but looked rather Arabic or perhaps Indian? People would sometimes ask her who in her family was white.

    Kind of reminds me of the Barack Obama crap. Another whole culture.

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  60. and that was apropos of nothing in particular, except I'm beginning to think the more confusing it gets, the better for the whole country.

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  61. Kate, we are becoming the melting pot in truth. My husband's assistant is Indian. He is raising his son as an American, the Christmas trees, Peter Rabbit and all that, hook line and sinker. BUT he's adamant that his son will marry an Indian, and move into the familial house. I laugh at him.

    We're a young nation and we've yet to blend because of our youth. The Civil war was only 142 years ago (3.5 generations), and the Civil Rights Movement only started in 1955. This is only the beginning of the blending. At least that's whay I hope.

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