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It’s Only My Opinion, But You Are a Mean Girl

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This is the second part in How to Fling About Legal Insults Like a Lawyer. One of the questions last week wondered whether free speech was simply unfettered. Absolutely not and I don’t mean for this series to imply that, but I do know that over the space of a year and a half, I’ve had more than one person threaten legal action. I always take those threats seriously because they implicate not only me, but also my dear blogging partners. Further, these threats can intimidate others who are less familiar with the law into taking down posts, apologizing for perceived wrongdoing, and so forth.

The First Amendment is not intended to protect every utterance. Instead, what the court, any court, has to do is weigh the balance between the right of a person to be free of something injurious and harmful or, in other words, to be free of defamation, and the right of the press and the public to engage in critical discourse. As one legal scholar has said, hurt feelings are not to be redressed in the court of law: “Although scathing characterizations can be hurtful, the law of defamation does not provide redress whenever feelings and sensibilities are offended.” Ward v. Zelikovsky, 643 A.2d 972 (N.J. 1994) citing Harper, 2 The Law of Torts  § 5.1, at 24.

One of the more difficult concepts to grasp is the difference between opinion and fact. In the 1974 case of Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., 418 U.S. 323, 339-40 (1974), the Supreme Court held that the First Amendment protects statements of opinions.

We note that to restrict too severely the right to express such opinions, no matter how annoying or disagreeable, would be [sic] dangerous curtailment of a First Amendment right. Individuals should be able to express their views about the prejudices of others without the chilling effect of a possible lawsuit in defamation resulting from their words.

Rybas v. Wapner, 311 Pa.Super. 50, 457 A.2d 108, 110 (1983). In Rybas, the Unhappy Person was a landlord who was accused of being anti-Semitic in a letter from a tenant’s lawyer, the MeanGirl. The Pennsylvania Court found that the statement, while “offensive”, was not defamatory.

The problem of what is opinion and what is fact is one that plagues even the courts. Judge Easterbrook, in the Stevens v. Tillman case I discuss below stated the “courts have wrestled with the question . . . and have come up with buckets full of factors to consider but no useful guidance on what to do when they look in opposite directions, as they always do.” Stevens v. Tillman, 855 F.2d 394, 398 (7th Cir. 1988).

Judge Easterbrook muses philosophically in Stevens , arguing that the there can almost be no difference between opinion and fact.

Most efforts to separate "fact" from "opinion" start with the belief that a "fact" is something verifiable, while an opinion is not. The branch of philosophy known as logical positivism is built on the proposition than only what is verifiable is worth debating (more rigorously, that "there are no synthetic a priori statements except this one– ), but it has fallen on hard times not only because no one can separate the "verifiable" from the"non-verifiable" (was the statement "there are craters on the other side of the moon" an opinion that turned to fact when we gained the ability to put satellites in orbit around the moon?), but also because most philosophers believe that there are useful ways to debate even non-verifiable statements.

Whatever Judge Easterbrook wrote (in the court’s unanimous opinion), the truth is that most courts ostensibly follow the rule that an opinion is a statement that has no verifiable facts or, stated another way, is objectively incapable of proof or disproof. Courts use a multi factor test, and all the factors tend to examine whether a reasonable person (that’s the objective part) would view the statement as verifiable by facts. A statement can move from opinion to defamatory fact if the author implies that there are “facts” to support the opinion. Confused yet?

Courts often use examples to make explain their decision as to whether a statement is a fact or is an opinion and thus it is easier to use examples to explain the paradigmatic differences.

defamation

Jennifer McKenzie asked last week whether the statement “That person is racist" was defamatory. This depends on whether the statement is an invective or has factual basis that is implied. Restatement (Second) of Torts  § 566. For example, in Horowitz v. Baker, 523 N.E.2d 179 (Ill. Ct. App. 1988), the statements about Unhappy Person included "sleazy– , "cheap– , "pull a fast one– , "secret– , and "rip-off– . Alone and without corresponding facts, the statements imply that the Unhappy Person was engaged in bad, unlawful, and unethical acts. The newspaper that printed the statements, however, based those statements on truthful facts and thus the opinion statements were not defamatory.

In Como v. Riley, 731 N.Y.2d 387, 387 (N.Y. App. Div. 2001) the court found that an action could be brought on the basis that an email was sent entitled “Racism” with the statement that the Unhappy Person’ office cubicle contained a statuette of a black man hanging from a white noose. Of course, if the Unhappy Person actually had a statuette of a black man hanging from a noose like object in the cubicle, the email would have not been defamatory because it would have been true.

In Stevens v. Tillman, 855 F.2d 394 (7th Cir. 1988), the Second Circuit of Appeals, found that statements of bigotry were not actionable without corresponding factual inferences. Id. at __. An elementary principal, the Unhappy Person, sued the president of the local PTA, the MeanGirl, for calling the principal a racist. Some of the statements by the MeanGirl president included the following:

We found in our investigation that our principal must be removed…. Our principal is very insensitive to the needs of our community, which happens to be totally black. She made very racist statements during the boycott. She is a racist. She must go. We cannot have racist people around our children…. She made numbers of very racist statements, so many that I would use all of my time to explain to you some of the statements that were made.

Easterbrook writes that the term racism has been bandied about so frequently that it has become “watered down” and become “common coin in political discourse.” I know of one particular author who blogs quite frequently about individuals being racist but I’ve generally viewed her statements as name-calling and opinion rather than statements of fact, no matter how hurtful or offensive. Let me quote some more from Easterbrook:

Language is subject to levelling forces. When a word acquires a strong meaning it becomes useful in rhetoric. A single word conveys a powerful image. When plantation owners held blacks in chattel slavery, when 100 years later governors declared "segregation now, segregation forever– , everyone knew what a "racist" was. The strength of the image invites use. To obtain emotional impact, orators employed the term without the strong justification, shading its meaning just a little. So long as any part of the old meaning lingers, there is a tendency to invoke the word for its impact rather than to convey a precise meaning. We may regret that the language is losing the meaning of a word, especially when there is no ready substitute. But we serve in a court of law rather than of language and cannot insist that speakers cling to older meanings. In daily life "racist" is hurled about so indiscriminately that it is no more than a verbal slap in the face; the target can slap back (as Stevens did). It is not actionable unless it implies the existence of undisclosed, defamatory facts, and Stevens has not relied on any such implication

Is Easterbrook and the Stevens opinion binding on absolutely all actions of defamation? Of course not. It’s merely illustrative and I thought that Easterbrook’s well thought out and philosophical ruminations interesting and helpful. There are fewer and fewer successful cases of defamation, in part because rhetoric is not usually going to be found to be defamatory. A few more examples of non actionable statements:

  • a reporter accused of sloppy and irresponsible reporting. Cole v. Westinghouse Broadcasting Co., Inc. 435 N.E.2d 1021 (Mass 1982).
  • accusation of a reporter being a “fellow traveler” of “facists” susceptible to wide interpretations. Buckley v. Littell , 539 F.2d 882 (2d Cir. 1976).
  • article stating a women’s basketball coach had a tendency to “screw things up” when it came to her team was not defamatory because the statement was not so obviously false and that “‘[s]ports columnists frequently offer intemperate denunciations of coaches’ play calling or strategy.” Washington v. Smith, 80 F.3d 555, 557 (D.C. App. 1996).

On the other side of the coin, you cannot excuse defamatory statements by using the prefatory words, “in my opinion” or “I think” because “it would be destructive of the law of libel if a writer could escape liability for accusations of crime simply by using, explicitly or implicitly, the words ‘I think.'” Cianci v. New Times Publishing Co., 639 F.2d 1200 (2d. Cir. 1980).

Calling someone a mean girl, a hack, or hateful are all opinions with no concrete meaning. What one person defines as mean, another will say is dislikeable but not mean. Calling someone a writer with no discernible skills and can’t plot her way out of a paper bag is also opinion. Writing that Jane Doe is a thief and a liar are closer to the fact side of the diagram. If a person would write Jane Doe is a liar and then show examples that I had taken blog articles and republished them as my own, it is not likely defamatory since the facts are there and can be verified as truth. (I have not done this, of course. I am merely using it as an example).

As I stated at the preface of this article, I am not advocating a system by which bloggers or commenters hurl invectives without conscience. In fact, if you can bear one more Easterbrook quote, he wrote “civilized discourse should be the aspiration of us all.” Stevens, 855 F.3d at 405. But the right to passionate should not be chilled by unhealthy threats of lawsuits as it is not the civil discourse or moderate speech that is subject to condemnation. Id. at 399.

It’s a balance. If there are questions, please post and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Next week: The standards I am referring to above are standards that apply to the criticism of a public figure. By and large, if a blog article is about an author, that author is a public figure. I’ll address the differences next week in part 3 of many parts. Defamation per se v. Defamation per quod and the media defendant.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

512 Comments

  1. Kerry Allen
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 05:09:48

    I’m surprised there’s so little difference between fact and opinion. It seems so cut and dried for practical purposes, but then you take it to court…

    Consider me educated, Meangirl Jane.

  2. Jayne
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 06:36:33

    I need to sit, reread and let this percolate through my brain cells. Maybe two or three times.

  3. Lynne Connolly
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 06:40:05

    Not to mention the fact that some of us aren’t US citizens, so you’re talking about a whole different set of laws here.

  4. Jill Myles
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 08:10:11

    I think it’s important to remember that when you are trying for a career in publishing, you have to wear the author-hat in public at all times. The slightest slip-up (even meant well) can lead to an absolute poo-storm of controversy.

    I have stuff that I didn’t think twice about posting to my blog a year or so ago, and it’s still following me around today. Oy.

  5. TeddyPig
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 08:22:24

    I was just thinking I have not read Monica’s blog in ages.

  6. Sam Bayard
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 08:48:16

    I really appreciate what you’re doing here. Keep up the good work!

    I work for a project out of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society called the Citizen Media Law Project. We’re compiling a database of legal “threats” against citizen journalists and bloggers (a “threat” being a lawsuit, cease-and-desist letter, subpoena, etc.). You mention above that you’ve been threatened with legal action more than once. I’m wondering if you’d be willing to share information/documents relating to those instances with us so that we can add them to our database and publish a short description of them?

  7. Darlene Marshall
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 09:00:40

    The only law course I ever took was “Law of Mass Communications”, a requirement for my broadcast news degree. The more I read legal threats being tossed around in these blogs, the more I wish that was a required course for everyone posting online.

    Keep up the good work, you’re providing a public service in these discussions!

  8. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 09:33:21

    I suppose I’m the author who dares write the word racist.

    People decide whether something is true or not through their own filters.

    A person said they wouldn’t read any gay authors because one Asian author spoke out against race-based treatment.

    They were mad about hearing about Asian authors treated in a racial fashion because somehow it made them personally uncomfortable even though they weren’t Asian.

    So all Asian authors were off their reading list–apparently forever and they stated this publicly. Not that they’d ever been seeing reading any Asian authors before. In fact, they seemed to pointedly ignore books by Asian authors in the genre they favored.

    An Asian author this person attacked had the gall to call this person racist.

    The Asian author called this person racist BECAUSE of what the person WROTE about Asian authors. Asian authors in general agreed the written statements were quite racist.

    Other people vilified the Asian author in a veritable shitstorm for having the gall to utter the word racist.

    Since they weren’t Asian and never got to experience that particular form of racism, most declared it didn’t exist.

    The fact that this person might indeed BE racist, (as most other Asian authors readily agreed) was considered unimportant.

    The fact that person insulted Asian authors was considered unimportant.

    The fact that this person’s actions might have any negative impact on Asian authors was considered unimportant.

    The most important thing was that person’s feelings were hurt.

    Another important thing is that Asians should never defend themselves or utter the word racist. The fact that one did so was outrageous.

    The most important thing of all was not to talk about these things.

    Now, are these folks who are busy defending and not considering these important considerations publicly rather biased against Asian authors too? Some night think so. Maybe a more comfortable word could be ethnocentric.

    Or maybe their asses are just as racist? But what’s important is the semantics and of course those darn feelings. And what’s most important is that ASIANS don’t talk about it.

    While there is an entire class of authors treated in an outright racist fashion–not just by one person, but by an entire community.

    But that’s not important, Whether the word racist is used is what matters.

    How very white of you.

  9. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 09:36:11

    Please disregard the word “gay.” I first thought that was a better simile as far as bias, but unfortunately gay is not a race and homophobic doesn’t have the explosive connotations of the word Racism. I accidentally failed to delete it. Please correct the comment.

    We do know it is black people, and black people only, that some tend to have the ethnocentric problem with.

  10. sula
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 09:39:21

    Interesting post and very informative. I feel edumacated. :)

    Not to get all silly, but I do love that kitty picture. awwww!

  11. TeddyPig
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 09:47:34

    Speak of the devil!
    Well hmmmmm…

    Sounds like he would not read GAY AUTHORS not just Asian authors but maybe I missed something there. So maybe they did not call him racist because he was homophobic?

  12. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 09:50:53

    Oh dear, Teddy can’t read well either.

    Pig, you do have my condolences and give a shout out for me at your next Supremacist rally too.

  13. TeddyPig
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 09:59:34

    Oh Monica I’ll never be gay enough for you.

  14. bam
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 11:05:11

    Damn, Monica,

    I was like… wait… “Asian” is a euphemism for gay now? *snicker*

  15. Kalen Hughes
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 11:07:03

    Monica, could you at least point us to the source of your discourse? If you're going to make accusations of these sorts, you need to link to the actual offence, not just parse it out in a very confusing and accusatory manner.

  16. Lucy Christie
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 11:09:53

    Jane, I am enjoying the posts – you make learning fun!

    Monica, Wow. What a rant.

  17. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 11:17:36

    I am making accusations? Hmmmm.

    That’s your filter. I was talking about what happened. Facts

    I am sick and tired of monica's ranting I HAVE to read romances by Asian authors. I don't HAVE to do shit. So when I found myself holding uh… Big Girls something or other I put it down as soon as I figured out it was a romance by an Asian.

    Think everybody would attack me for checking this person and support them wholeheartedly? Think folks would still support them and appear on their blog?

    I have NEVER said that people HAVE to read romance by Asians. I say over and over that Asian romance authors should be treated as other romance authors are. I get a lot of flak for this.

    Oh, they weren’t talking about Asians. Since it was blacks, it was just dandy.

    And of course this person isn’t racist.

  18. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 11:27:54

    As generally the sole and lone defender, it is very important that I make no small mistakes in wording and semantics when talking about something relating to black people.

    Bringing up anything about black people makes some angry or uncomfortable and they will attack the smallest error in wording or grammar. I have a deadline, need to get back to work, and am going fast.

    I posted this immediately after my post, but apparently some are missing it and jumping on my error (instead of addressing any points raised, of course).

    Please disregard the word “gay.” I first thought that was a better simile as far as bias, but unfortunately gay is not a race and homophobic doesn't have the explosive connotations of the word Racism. I accidentally failed to delete it. Please correct the comment.

    We do know it is black people, and black people only, that some tend to have the ethnocentric problem with.

  19. TeddyPig
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 11:58:22

    Actually Monica if you had stuck with Gay you could have easily pointed out that Romantic Times and Carol Stacy debacle when she plainly stated that they would not review Gay Romance (but accept their money for advertisements and conference attendance) because “their readership” was homophobic.

    There really are some whack jobs in the Romance community.

    gay is not a race and homophobic doesn't have the explosive connotations of the word Racism

    Monica, why do I get this feeling if you were lesbian it would have EXPLOSIVE CONNOTATIONS. You go on so about how your experience is so much more authentic than others.

  20. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 12:03:22

    Actually, you have no idea what I am.

    I have spoken out against bias against gays very readily including RT’s homophobic policies–also against bias against erotica.

    But you’re right bias against blacks strikes far closer to home.

  21. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 12:05:35

    Where the HECK is that comment correcting feature? Mine disappeared too. Post redux!

    Actually, you have no idea what I am.

    I have spoken out against bias against gays, including RT's homophobic policies-I’ve also spoken out against romance bias against erotica.

    But you're right bias against blacks strikes far closer to home.

  22. Robin
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 12:08:37

    Some classic defamatory accusations are “Meangirl is an alcoholic” or “Meangirl has AIDS” or “Meangirl is an STD-ridden whore” or “Meangirl is a drug addict.” That’s why if you ever watch court TV like I do (where’s the 12-step program for court tv shows, I ask you?), the judge always treats those claims of defamation with a lot of questioning to determine whether the accusation is true. Sure it makes for salacious television, but that’s sort of a side benefit to enforcing the legal rules to which Jane referred.

    One of the things that frustrates me the most about reckless claims of defamation and baseless threats of legal action is that besides chilling legal discussion, they also make it difficult for people to have any reasonable clue about where the line is. Most of the discourse that goes on is far from defamatory, but people don’t know that. And also, they are, IMO, not really conditioned to deal with plain old opinionated hostility in a way that doesn’t chill discussion, scare people away, or blow everything up into a long parade of perfectly legal but obnoxious insults that also, in their own way, chill discussion. Defamation is an action intended to protect personal reputation and provide a check on free speech in the spirit of “civility.” But unfortunately, the way the accusation gets bandied around often ends up belittling the goal of defamation protection and of civility, because the accusation is used to stop others from saying something the accuser doesn’t like but is perfectly legal. And in the process, the accuser ends up using the accusation as a big club, taking out as much permissible (and potentially productive) discussion as possible with th e swing.

  23. Julie
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 12:13:44

    Word, Robin. Word.

  24. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 12:20:26

    I have to get back to work, but….
    Robin.

    Dang, I do like you, girl. You have smarts.

    But in discussion about race and blacks you always go back to one of two notes.

    This one is the be nice note.

    Why should I have to be nice? When folks are talking about romance bias against erotica, gays, or Lord Forbid, Asians, they don’t bother to be nice.

    They speak their minds. They tell it the way it is. They set the story straight.

    YOU speak your mind.

    Why do blacks only have to be so careful of other’s comfort in regards to racial discussions?

    No, I’m not worried about making sure everybody is chill. I’m telling the truth, speaking it to power.

    Just as if I were an erotica author.

    If you’re uncomfortable, I’m sorry.

    But that’s your problem, not mine.

    Bias is bias.

  25. TeddyPig
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 12:21:47

    Actually, you have no idea what I am.

    LOL! Your right Monica and guess what? I don’t care!

    Just like I do not read or review eBooks based on the authors color, religious preferences, prejudices or politics.

  26. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 12:29:47

    I do not read or review eBooks based on the authors color, religious preferences, prejudices or politics.

    Good for you, Teddy Pig. You know what, that’s ALL I’ve ever asked of folks.

    The rancor because of this simple request that you say you naturally comply with so easily–it’s amazing, isn’t it?

  27. TeddyPig
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 12:51:47

    Monica, Why do you even have to ask?

    Hell, half of the eBooks I have read I can not for the life of me find a picture or a Bio of the author by using Google.

    I do not rancor about your request. I dislike the way you assume and attack.

    But Robin said that much more better than I ever will.

  28. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 12:54:30

    Blacks stating truth is assuming and attacking?

    Is gays doing the same assuming and attacking?

    Black romance writers are treated differently based on race.

    We are not allowed to use the word racism to define this treatment.

    If it were gay males, what would you do, TP? Would you be a good boy and stay silent?

    Would you suck up in hope of getting that review or interview because you are a good boy?

    Or would you speak up?

  29. Heather Holland
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 12:59:33

    I read books that appeal to me, and I couldn’t care less what color the author’s skin is or what his/her sexual preference is. If a book is good, it’s good regardless of who wrote it. There will always be an unhappy person out there, and many will always try to make others just as unhappy. It’s a sad part of life; one that we may never be able to change.

    Jane, another great and very informative post. I look forward to the next lesson. I do so enjoy reading this blog. :)

  30. Jane
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 13:00:14

    Monica – I don’t know why the thread went where it did, but the point of my article was that you have every right to label people racist even if that is hurtful and offensive to the person on the receiving end. The article is about defamation and whether the term can be used with impunity. For the most part, racial epithets from Skinhead to Racist are probably not defamatory.

  31. bam
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 13:01:31

    You know, this discourse— even though it should really be about the whole “IT’S NOT SLANDER, it’s LIBEL, YOU ASSHOLE!” thing— has made me wonder something:

    How come folks don’t pick up a book by Nalini Singh, Marjorie Liu, Gennita Low, Tess Gerritsen, Sunny, and my other yellow sisters and don’t go, “ewww, an Asian author. I can’t possibly relate with the people in this book.”

    just throwing it out there.

  32. TeddyPig
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 13:01:42

    If it were gay males, what would you do, TP? Would you be a good boy and stay silent?

    No Monica, but I first ask why. Then, if I do not like the answer, I will decide to let it go or fight it.

    I spent 10 years in the Navy because I asked why then decided they would have to catch me first.

  33. Beverly
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 13:08:37

    Why do I feel like there are two separate discussions going on here?

    Monica, this is why people get irritated with you — this post, and this discussion, is about the difference between free speech and defamation, but you are trying to make it about race, and about some discussion about race that apparrently took place somewhere else at some other time. You try to make everything about race, even when it’s not, and even people who agree with your ultimate beliefs and goals get irritated with your methods.

  34. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 13:12:31

    If you’re Asian, you’re considered part of the romance community.

    I’m asking you RESPECTFULLY what you would do if Asian romance authors were treated the same way black romance authors are?

    What if their books were ignored by the greater romance community and niched because they were Asian?

    Would your main objective be white reader comfort and your traffic? So would you not mention Asians and their issues at all or do it in a very careful, veiled manner?

    Would you ignore Asian authors on the whole in order to participate in the greater romance community which ignores or reviles Asians?

    Would you make excuses Asian romance authors being treated differently because of their race (say it’s because of marketing, etc.?) or would you speak up even if you knew it would anger whites no matter how you said it?
    They don’t want to hear about Asian issues, period.

    Or would you remain silent, knowing nothing will change if your outrage is not spoken, but hoping to get a review or interview? You could be the next token accepted Asian author. (There’s never been one since they allowed Asians to be published, but you have hope).

    What would you do if Asians called you a Twinkie or whatever the equivalent is, because you spoke out?

    Would you be friends with romance folks who avoided Asian authors or minimized their issues?

    I’m genuinely curious.

  35. bam
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 13:15:57

    I’ve never been called a Twinkie. Just a banana.

    And just to steer back the thread to the topic, “banana” is not slanderous, right, Jane?

    so there will be “J’accuse!”

  36. Robin
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 13:16:04

    Monica, I actually wasn’t referring to, talking about, or in any way implicating you in my comments, lol. But I like you, too.

    To be honest, I skipped over yours and Teddy’s comments because I didn’t want to get sidetracked from the point I had been thinking about since last night when I read Jane’s draft of this post.

    But in any case, my comments weren’t actually, a plea to “be nice” — they were a remark on how people use the defamation threat to shut up conversation that offends them. So whether you believe me or not, I’m defending your right to call me or anyone else a racist. But I’m still gonna publicly disagree with you when I think you’re wrong, just like a I do with plenty of white, Asian, and Latina chicks, too.

  37. bam
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 13:17:01

    agh. damn you, lack of edit feature!

    I meant there will be no “j’accuse”

  38. Heather Holland
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 13:19:22

    Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinions. It’s is not for any one person to decide who is wrong and who is right since there can often times be more than one right way of thinking. It’s part of what makes us human and different. Words are just words–strings of letters put together to form a meaning. The message we give to others is determined by how we use our words. Some use words to hurt; others use them to educate or entertain. It’s the nature of the beast.

    I think in some cases, people need to learn to ignore things and forget the person saying them even exists rather than to react and add fuel to the flames. Threatening lawsuits without proper knowledge of how the legal system works, makes on look idiotic and more like a petulant child than a rational, logically thinking adult. To me, the post is a reminder to stop and think about what is being said and who it’s being said by before retaliating. The words being used are a slave to the wielder and cannot be held accountable for how they are used–they are after all, only words.

  39. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 13:19:51

    Beverly,

    This is what was stated in theoriginal post/

    I know of one particular author who blogs quite frequently about individuals being racist but I've generally viewed her statements as name-calling and opinion rather than statements of fact, no matter how hurtful or offensive.

    This was me and this post was about race too.

    Jane has attacked me personally for calling Sybil a racist. I define a racist is anybody who treats people differently BECAUSE of their race. Sybil stated in writing, she treats black romance writers differently because of their race.

    Seemed real plain to me.

    I put up a post 10/18 that did not call Sybil a racist, but linked to her in a humorous manner. The post was written for my peers, not this group who frequents dearauthor.com.

    Yep, I call it like it is. It’s about race and about a year’s old issue ALSO.

    And I said it like it feels, not only to me, but to a number of other blacks.

    The issues isn’t whether it’s name-calling. If you have the practice of treating people differently because of race, you’re a racist. This is a definition, not a slur.

  40. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 13:22:11

    What do you nonblack people attack us and then feel we have no right to respond?

    I know of one particular author who blogs quite frequently about individuals being racist but I've generally viewed her statements as name-calling and opinion rather than statements of fact, no matter how hurtful or offensive

    There has got to be a word for that that doesn’t begin with R

  41. Jane
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 13:32:48

    Monica – I don’t see how the above piece is a) about race and b) an attack. The above quoted paragraph was provided as an example of speech exercised by you on more than one occasion. It was an example of speech, particularly in response to a query from a commenter lat week, that I felt was not defamatory.

    The above quoted piece is support of your right to use that term, in the manner you did, regardless of the recipient’s response. If you choose to feel attacked by that, it is your prerogative but it was not the intention of my piece.

    And I really wasn’t referring to you and Sybil, but rather your blog and your many mentions of perceived racist activities, including those that have gone on here. I don’t know how more plainly that I can state it.

  42. Jane
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 13:38:06

    Let me also state that your definition of racist is simply one definition. The variation in meaning is the very reason that leveling the accusation of “racist” on a person is deemed, in many cases, to not be defamatory. Similarly with Bam’s example of “banana”. Being yellow on the outside and white on the inside is a value judgment, subject to many different interpretations and no verifiable facts.

    Your interpretation is one that Easterbrook labels an “intermediary” interpretation. It’s obviously the right interpretation for you but it is not a universal meaning.

    If I can quote Easterbrook again,

    Formerly a “racist” was a believer in the superiority of one’s own race, often a supporter of slavery or segregation, or a fomenter of hatred among the races. Stevens, the principal of a largely-black school in a large city, obviously does not believe that blacks should be enslaved or that Jim Crow should come to Illinois; no one would have inferred these things from the accusation. Politicians sometimes use the term much more loosely, as referring to anyone (not of the speaker’s race) who opposes the speaker’s political goals-on the “rationale” that the speaker espouses only what is good for the jurisdiction (or the audience), and since one’s opponents have no cause to oppose what is beneficial, their opposition must be based on race. The term used this way means only: “He is neither for me nor of our race; and I invite you to vote your race.” When Stevens called Tillman a “racist”, Stevens was accusing Tillman of playing racial politics in this way rather than of believing in segregation or racial superiority. That may be an unfortunate brand of politics, but it also drains the term of its former, decidedly opprobrious, meaning. The term has acquired intermediate meanings too. The speaker may use “she is a racist” to mean “she is condescending to me, which must be because of my race because there is no other reason to condescend”-a reaction that attaches racial connotations to what may be an inflated opinion of one’s self-or to mean “she thinks all black mothers are on welfare, which is stereotypical”. Meanings of this sort fit comfortably within the immunity for name-calling.

  43. Sybil
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 13:45:57

    Presumptions and insults that can be very damaging to reputations and have no real basis other than a comment made two years ago that she has repeatedly taken out of context.

    I will not hijack this thread more, if someone has questions I will try and address them in the link above. Otherwise really this is nothing more than someone going for negative attention. Not playing that game…

  44. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 13:53:00

    Jane,

    And I responded to your comments regarding me personally. If you addressedany other author, even Nora, you might expect they’d respond.

    I haven’t responded to the article on the whole, the issue of defamation, which I found enlightening.

    I responded to what you addressed me personally. You know and I know our main communications about the usage of the word racist have been referring to Sybil.

    On my blog, I’ve singled out probably less than five individuals as racist. As I said, I define racist as a very concrete defined, dictionary word, not only as an insult.

    According to me, a racist is a person who treats people in a specified and different manner, usually derogatory, based solely on the person’s race.

    I make a point of only referring to people as racist who have put in writing that they treat people differently based solely on that person’s race, nothing else. If a person treated gay people differently based on their sexual preferences, I have no problem referring to that person as a homophobe. It’s a definition.

    My point is Racist is not a insult. It is a definition. It is a word with a concrete meaning and usage. It makes racists uncomfortable in their heart, and so be it.

    You brought it up as possibly defamatory as the original commenter did. I refuted your point.

    My point, as always, totally lost in the emotional reaction–was that the usage of the word racism to defame is not the issue. The issue is the actual racism. Or at least it would be if you folk that dismiss me actually ever suffered from it.

    My message is the same as MLK’s. We don’t deserve to be treated differently based on our race. We are no different from you. The fact that sites treat our books differently because of our race is a base insult. There are no excuses that can cover.

    And we have the same RIGHT as anybody else to respond.

    (though most, very aware and fearful of racists against blacks and the ensuing racist backlash–won’t)

    I don’t really give a damn, so vilifying is sorta wasted on me.

  45. Gwen
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 13:57:05

    Jane – Monica posted about race on her blog and nobody reacted. Because she didn’t get the (negative) attention she seems to hunger for, she posts about race on a popular blog (that’s you, Jane), in a thread about defamation and slander. I presume she’s trying to make her point in a not-so-subtle way and get that oh-so-needed attention.

    Monica – I think YOU are the worst racist of us all. How’s that for attention? It appears you think that if a reviewer doesn’t purposefully seek out black authors, the reviewer must be racist. I think that’s one of the more moronic things you have ever said.

    The reviewer you mention said she put the book down because YOU were being such a whinging idiot over the whole race issue, because you were being such a witch that it turned her off the book. How is that a racist thing? I see it as a personal statement about you and your tactics. Why is that so hard for you to grasp?

  46. Robin
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 14:02:33

    How come folks don't pick up a book by Nalini Singh, Marjorie Liu, Gennita Low, Tess Gerritsen, Sunny, and my other yellow sisters and don't go, “ewww, an Asian author. I can't possibly relate with the people in this book.”

    How many Asian authors write identifiably Asian characters? Characters who identify explicitly with particular Asian cultures and cultural values? And who fall in love with characters who identify with the same cultural values? Whose ethnicity isn’t simply used as erotic shorthand (e.g. the Native American hero who isn’t really NA in any realistic way, or Ranger from the Stephanie Plum series, whose Cuban heritage is, again, expressed primarily in terms of his physical hotness)? I think if we’re going to pursue this line of inquiry we need to start picking out the differences and similarities across books — and across readers. For example, there are plenty of readers who don’t like the non-human element of paranormals, who can’t relate to the implied bestiality of werewolf heroes or whatever. Are these the same readers who won’t read characters of a different race from themselves? And if not, what’s the rationale for the difference?

    Sometimes I think that there are perceptions that arise about certain books or categories of books because people are unfamiliar with them. Like the people who think Romance is all about rapists or sheiks. Because AA Romance HAS been segregated, IMO it’s way, way more vulnerable to the perception that it’s different, and because that difference is marked as racial, the unfamiliarity becomes identified that way. And thus starts the whole debate as to whether white readers are racist. In many cases, I don’t think it’s an issue of racism but one in which AA Romance has been offered to readers as “separate” based on race. I think the segregation can implicate race without it being racist, which is why I tend to argue against the straight racism accusation. And what’s interesting is that I’ve read several books by an author who is AA but whose books are not marketed through an AA imprint. Nor are her characters uniformly identified as AA (some of the protags are, though). In fact, I don’t think most readers know she’s AA, and she’s selling in the mainstream. IMO AA Romance shouldn’t be a separate category or imprint or anything else — books but AA authors and/or including AA characters should be just Romance or Romantic Suspense or whatever. And until that happens, I don’t think we’ll really know whether Romance readers are avoiding or reading those books and whether race plays a role in readers’ decisions in a way that’s not already lead by publication and shelving segregation.

  47. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 14:03:38

    If you were ever treated differently because of your race…it feels rotten. It feels bad.

    It deserves a word.

    Racism is the word and it is a very simple one.

    It;s not about attention or assuming or attacking.

    It’s about what’s right and what’s wrong.

    Black romance authors are treated differently because of their race.

    The fact that YOU can’t discuss THAT is telling…and it’s awful.

    You the ones who are attacking and doing everything but addressing the big issue, what would be the ONLY issue IF it affected you, even in the slightest.

    I remember how the erotica authors and the e-book authors have gone around, spoke up, defied, banded together, and they aren’t treated as consistently awful as black romance authors.

    Are you awful?

  48. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 14:07:28

    It appears you think that if a reviewer doesn't purposefully seek out black authors, the reviewer must be racist. I think that's one of the more moronic things you have ever said.

    All I’ve ever asked that reviewers treat black authors the same way as they treat other romance authors. We write romance. We deserve to be read by romance readers. How is that hard? If you said you avoided Asian romance authors because they’re Asian, yes, I would consider you racist as hell.

  49. Jane
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 14:07:35

    Monica – sometimes, I think we talk at cross purposes. I didn’t say you were defaming anyone. In fact, I was saying the exact opposite. That your statements were not defamatory. You might say that racism/racist is not an insult, but a definition, but the majority of courts would disagree with you. To many jurists, the identification of someone based on bigotry is only an invective.

    I’m also not saying you shouldn’t respond, but I felt that your response has been far afield from the topic at hand which is what is the difference between fact and opinion. You deem racism to be a statement of fact whereas many legal scholars would disagree. The mere existence of a disagreement in the idea tends to lead to the conclusion that it is an opinion.

    Again, just to be clear, I never said that you were defaming anyone.

  50. Gwen
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 14:13:41

    No, Monica. We’re trying to talk about the post’s topic. You’re the one who is not addressing the big issue.

    You seem to forget that most of us commenting here are women. If i remember my civics class, isn’t the female gender considered a “minority” as well? I think we ALL have experience with dealing with prejudice and being kept from realizing our full potentional because of someone else’s belief system.

    Your inability to see your own racism is keeping your eyes shut to anything anyone else says.

    The big issue of this post is defamation and slander/libel. Not racism. You should at least try to stay on topic and stop hijacking this post.

    Beside, I was always taught, “Never argue with a fool. The audience may not be able to tell you apart.”

  51. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 14:16:54

    Sigh.

    I know of one particular author who blogs quite frequently about individuals being racist but I've generally viewed her statements as name-calling and opinion rather than statements of fact, no matter how hurtful or offensive

    How is responding to what YOU wrote far afield from the topic?

    According to racists, anybody black speaking about race at all, unless so gingerly to be devoid of meaning, is A BAD N*GGER. This is historical. This is what happens about any race topic that I participate in–or anybody black who isn’t willing to do a step’n’fetchit dance for white comfort and completely parse the issue.

    You think my sisters who agree with me aren’t here? They aren’t saying shit because it’s like addressing the lynch mob or the crowd at Little Rock. There is no point.

    In.

    Talking.

    To.

    Ethnocentrists.

    Biased People.

    Prejudiced People.

    Or people willing to treat us differently because of our race.

    Call it whatever you like.

    We will still think of you as RACISTS!

  52. bam
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 14:35:49

    I—

    No, there is too much.

    Um. Here’s a cool song.

  53. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 14:36:04

    Gwen, you said nobody reacted to my blog post about black authors submitting as Not Black? What do you base that on? I got very good reactions from the readers I was directed to–my peers.

    I rarely post to ethnocentric, biased against blacks or people who exclude blacks on my blog, and don’t expect or even appreciate your traffic.

    I do appreciate traffic from people of all different races, sexual orientations, etc., (and I do get it–I was referring ONLY to the ethnocentric)–most of my posts about race in publishing are directed to those who have to deal with it.

  54. Gwen
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 14:37:24

    Monica – It is interesting to me that you glossed over the fact that your audience her is, by and large, women and that we all experience the prejudice you are railing against. But that doesn’t appear to count in your reckoning.

    With regard to your word usage: You’re like the kid in the grocery store who can’t get his mom’s attention until he starts using cuss words. Why would you want to take this conversation down such an ugly path? How does it uplift your argument? How does it benefit anyone reading your comments? How do you plan to change minds by throwing around such polemic words?

    All you are managing to do is make yourself look increasingly extreme. It is my experience that that kind of behaviour will do nothing to illustrate a point, or a plight. It’s my experience that all it will do is alienate fence-sitters.

  55. Robin
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 14:43:26

    One of the things that frustrates me as a reader (and I realize we’ve strayed from the post topic, but I need to make this one last comment) is that within mainstream Romance, race is treated so lightly as to be practically non-existent much of the time or twisted in such as way as to be unrecognizable as anything realistic. In some cases it’s an erotic aid (e.g. the sexy sheik or “savage” lover) or a character accessory (an accent, for example). I’m reading an AA Romance right now where the issue of race is very much in play, as the heroine is AA and the hero white. It’s there and it’s discussed and it’s negotiated. And it sucks that a book like that is segregated from the mainstream Romance market. I wish more Romance was able to really incorporate race as a real thing, in all of its challenges and opportunities, in the strength of different cultures and traditions. Besides the fact that AA Romance should be incorporated into the mainstream because it’s Romance, there is also, IMO, the idea that Romance as a whole could benefit so much from allowing characters to be strongly identified as non-white regardless of the race of the author, to have the genre embrace race as more than an erotic aid or an accessory to the characterization.

  56. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 14:43:39

    Gwen,

    There are no such thing as fence sitters. People have made their minds up.

    Blacks appreciate some Southerners, the upfront racists. I have heard it many times.

    Why? Because they’re honest. They will come out and say what they mean. You know where you stand with them. There’s a iota of respect in that. We can keep our distance and get along.

    I truly wish you could be honest. We know what and who you are. We see you. You can maybe fool your peers, but you can’t fool us.

    You’re only preaching to the choir.

    I’m standing in the mob.

  57. Lucy
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 14:46:57

    Bam – Thanks for the song! This red-headed step-child appreciates it!

  58. Jane
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 14:48:25

    See, now, Monica, you are creeping into defamatory territory. Accusing someone of dishonesty is often considered to be defamation per se. Calling someone a liar, dishonest, impugns their reputation and can make the writer liable for defamation damages without even proof of injury.

  59. TeddyPig
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 14:54:06

    We know what and who you are. We see you.

    *scary music plays in the background*

  60. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 14:54:39

    Gwen’s blog makes a practice of excluding black romance authors except the rare token, a practice established over years.

    Wishing she was honest about this clear practice is calling her a liar?

    I don’t think so.

    There is a simple short word for the practice of excluding authors based on race. What would you call it if it were Asian authors that were excluded?

    Mob Rules don’t stand in court of law, just on blogs and message boards.

  61. Jane
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 14:58:40

    I haven’t seen any comments made by Gwen are untruthful. If you continue in this vein, you simply provide more fodder for any case she may wish to bring against you for defamation. But go ahead, dig your own hole.

    At this point, you are simply a caricature of the arguments you wish to forward. It’s pretty sad because the subjects for which you stand are important but I doubt anyone can see the points for the hyperbolic rhetoric.

  62. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 15:03:46

    Jane, I’m the only one speaking up because it is clear this is extremely hostile territory toward blacks.

    It is also very clear where your sympathies lie.

    I am sick and tired of monica's ranting I HAVE to read romances by Asian authors. I don't HAVE to do shit. So when I found myself holding uh… Big Girls something or other I put it down as soon as I figured out it was a romance by an Asian author.

    Would you be defending this person?

  63. Gwen
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 15:06:50

    Firstly, there are plenty of fence-sitters on the issue of racism. People who aren’t sure there really is such a thing, or if there is what it means to them.

    Secondly, I challenge you to find ONE THING I have ever been dishonest about. Ever. It is not my practice to do anything more or less than be truthful. Lies and half-truths have a habit of biting one on one’s ass.

    Thirdly, moronic statment #2: “You can maybe fool your peers, but you can't fool us.”

    Fourthly, it isn’t my blog. It’s Sybil’s blog. I participate at her invitation and am honored and happy to do so.

    And lastly, You appear to be losing your tenuous hold on reality if you think I am anything close to a racist. You should probably get to know me before you make judgements about me. And, frankly, that supports my earlier statement that you’re the racist in this argument. Not me. And not Sybil.

  64. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 15:12:29

    Fine, I’m racist.

    Let’s tell my Asian ex, my kid and my half white Mama that too.

    Still can’t say a thing about Sybil’s and now your practice of excluding a percentage of romance authors based on their race except rant on about how racist I am?

    Sheesh.

    This was fun, but I gotta run.

  65. Shannon C.
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 15:12:38

    Holy thread hijacking, Batman.

    I found the post informative, Jane, and Heather Holland in comment 38 gets a virtual slice of word pie for saying what I would have said if it weren’t for the fact that I’m not feeling especially articulate today.

  66. bam
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 15:16:56

    Can we stop talking about Asian people already?

    SRSLY!

    We are Asian-Americans, damn it. We WANT THE HYPHEN TOO! Except Nalini. She’s in New Zealand.

  67. bam
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 15:20:26

    btw, Monica, you know I like you—

    But did you even know WHAT FLAVOR Asian your ex was? Or did you just refer to him as “that Asian guy”?

    There are different kinds of Asians, you know. I’m Filipino-American and Jane is Korean-American.

    I’m done talking about this.

    Peace!

  68. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 15:23:58

    I can’t spell it but phonetically

    My flava of Asian is Te-o-cho. Sounds like that.

    And I tried to learn Mandarin and that damn dialect, but I couldn’t! So hard! Me so dumb ’cause he spoke like five languages including English better than I could. I can only speak English and a little Spanish :-(

    Much props.

  69. bam
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 15:25:29

    Oh and one more thing:

    Let's tell my Asian ex, my kid and my half white Mama that too.

    never been the type to point fingers, girl, but saying something like that’s akin to “Well, I can’t be racist. My best friend is black,” true?

    And… umm… Peace.

  70. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 15:27:59

    bam,

    I’m just really sick of R-people using the R-word to deflect their own R-actions and attack black folks tired of them and unafraid to call them in it.

    What the hell?! What if Sybil&Co, treated you the same as they they treat black romance authors? Sheesh.

    I bet the air would turn purple.

  71. Shannon C.
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 15:31:08

    Robin said:

    I wish more Romance was able to
    really incorporate race as a real thing, in all of its challenges and opportunities,
    in the strength of different cultures and traditions. Besides the fact that AA Romance
    should be incorporated into the mainstream because it's Romance, there is also, IMO,
    the idea that Romance as a whole could benefit so much from allowing characters to
    be strongly identified as non-white regardless of the race of the author, to have
    the genre embrace race as more than an erotic aid or an accessory to the characterization.

    This is so very true. And it’s not only race that gets this light treatment.

    Even though I have a pretty serious and obvious disability, I haven’t found much in romance that deals with disability issues in a sensitive manner. People tell me I should read a certain mainstream romance writer because her heroines usually have some kind of disability, but the descriptions of the books seem to indicate these women are barely able to make it on their own because of this. Either that or the disability is a source of cheap angst and part of the HEA will involve its cure. Well, that’s not my world. I get dressed every morning, attend my college classes, and succeed pretty well at them, and my disability doesn’t change the fact that doing so is necessary.

    My point, which is gradually running away, is that I think we can never have too many positive role models in our fiction, whether that role model is black, white, blind, deaf, overweight, or sprouts fur and fangs after the sun goes down. And that’s an opinion, and not a defamatory one.

  72. Robin
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 15:44:25

    Jane, I'm the only one speaking up because it is clear this is extremely hostile territory toward blacks.

    What? This is one of the review blogs that reviews AA Romance without calling any special or extra attention to it — just as you say you want. I’m finishing an AA Romance right now for review (and have reviewed others by a not-publicly identified AA author), and Jane herself has reviewed numerous AA Romances. And let’s not even mention the recent feature on Beverly Jenkins Jane did, or the fact that when she started Romantic Advances she included AA Romances without segregating them on the site. Also, I’m quite sure I never saw Jane defend Sybil’s comment on AA Romance.

    More importantly, I don’t think there’s anyone who can read this blog who can seriously want Romance segregated by race. But I don’t think anything would convince you that you are among allies here in regard to the proposition that all Romance authors should be treated equally.

    The segregation of AA Romance is not good for the genre as a whole. It’s not good for AA authors, AA readers, or non-AA readers and authors. Personally, I think it’s impossible to argue that you want AA Romance to be treated exactly as other Romance without addressing race as a whole within the genre, because race is such a troubled issue generally within the genre. What I fear, frankly, is that if AA Romance does become treated like all other Romance that it will lose its AA-identifiable aspects — like other race characters in general Romance have. But I still support full integration, in the hopes that the effect will be eventually be the opposite (that realistically portrayed non-white characters will become commonplace).

  73. Robin
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 15:46:33

    My point, which is gradually running away, is that I think we can never have too many positive role models in our fiction, whether that role model is black, white, blind, deaf, overweight, or sprouts fur and fangs after the sun goes down. And that's an opinion, and not a defamatory one.

    Hey, if nothing else, this discussion has been a demonstration that you can have a really contentious, potentially explosive exchange, including the word/accusation racist, without crossing into defamatory territory!

  74. Sybil
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 15:50:20

    Monica, you can stop trying to speak for me because I am more than able to speak for myself. If anything Jane is defending you not me. I don’t need to be defended.

    The only thing I did wrong was respond stupidly in anger to you bashing on llb from 96 to [at that] point Aug 2005. The date of the post you quote pieces from are from August of 2005. Don’t like my blog? Don’t go to it but I can tell you now, no matter of crying on your part will make me ask you to guest, review your book or have anything to do with you. And you know as well as I do it has nothing to do with the color of your skin. We do not exclude by race, no matter how many times you want to say it, it won’t make it true.

    I am not like you and I do not delete my blog everytime someone uses me to get an attention fix. I am not shy or quiet. Now that I have addressed you will you shut up and let the topic be about something other than Monica vs Sybil.

  75. Devon
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 15:52:44

    Robin and Shannon C.–great points. I’d love to see a greater variety of characters depicted in Romance with honesty and a bit of flavor. With all the detail devoted to alternate universes and supernatural races, a bit of detail regarding ethnic or religious or whatever background, might be nice.

  76. bam
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 15:52:46

    Hey, if nothing else, this discussion has been a demonstration that you can have a really contentious, potentially explosive exchange, including the word/accusation racist, without crossing into defamatory territory!

    Robin is BLOODY BRILLIANT. *grin*

    for serious, though, B&N and Borders would need a lot more of shelves if they started segregating authors. “This one’s by a Brazilian writer, this one’s by a Dominican writer, this one’s by a Hmong writer, this one’s by… whatever they call folks from Kathmandu…”

  77. Beverly
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 15:54:06

    Monica, the frustrating thing about talking to you is that you assume that because we don’t agree with the things you say or often just with the way you say things, that we must be racist.

    Honestly, if that’s how you approach discussions with people, why do you even bother?

    Personally, I can understand your upset with Sybil. I would not have done or said what she said. But you confuse the expression of understanding of her frustration with an agreement with her actions/statements.

    At some point, I hope you realize that all white people (or whatever, since many here aren’t white, and in most cases, none of us has any idea what race, ethnic group, etc. commenters belong to) aren’t racist just because they don’t like how YOU say things.

  78. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 15:56:05

    The Civil Rights Act came about because of this nation’s conscious.

    Somebody had to stand up and name the racism. Somebody had to stage a sit-in at the white only dinette. Somebody had to say, no, this is bad and it’s gone far enough.

    They had Harry Belafonte and Lena Horne back in the day, and lots of folk thought that was great–and enough. It wasn’t.

    Defending and excusing folk who exclude blacks (the no blacks allowed lunch counters) is nothing but Jim Crow. Romance is Jim Crow, full of black codes and no blacks allowed places and spaces.

  79. TeddyPig
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 15:56:54

    This is so very true. And it's not only race that gets this light treatment.

    Very true,

    You know how many Gay Romances just sorta gloss over the social issues of being Gay or make everyone they meet and all family members and childhood friends accepting of it?

    I have called it the In & Out or Big Eden problem. Those two well known movies show the Gay experience but forget the part of the experience where not everyone is accepting, not all families handle it well and large part of being Gay is dealing with those who will never accept you no matter what you do.

    It might just not be something that fits well in a Romance (I remember my mother telling me once she wished I had never been born. It’s things like that I am talking about.) but I think it might give characters greater depth to deal with situations that show they can not win everyones acceptance and learn to accept that without letting it eat you alive.

    Too many stories I read tie things up so nicely it just ends up feeling fake.

  80. bam
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 16:00:32

    Monica, my grandfather was one of the first black firefighters in NYC. But this ain’t about that.

    Just like this ain’t about Monica vs Sybil. Girl, this forum isn’t the platform for it, don’t you see?

  81. Karen Scott
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 16:01:10

    What would you call it if it were Asian authors that were excluded?

    Would it be considered racist and small-minded of me to admit that I probably wouldn’t notice?

    Let's tell my Asian ex, my kid and my half white Mama that too.

    That kinda smacks of the old ‘I can’t be racist, I have black friends dammit!’

    I still say that Sybil has a problem with you personally, rather than with the colour of your skin.

    Although, since my ancestors weren’t slaves, I obviously can’t understand the affects racism has on black people.

    I’m still not sure how this thread turned into a race war.

    Anyway, that’s my tuppence-worth, and that’s gonna be it for me, because we’ve had this debate many times before.

  82. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 16:03:17

    Beverly,

    I just say things. Call it like I see it. Just about like you did in the erotic romance brouhaha.

    Were you so interested in not hurting feelings of certain romance authors who wanted to exclude erotic romance authors from the genre?

    IF Sybil had said and done the same things against erotic romance authors, I really don’t think folks would be so upset about how I was saying things.

    I really don’t understand the upset with calling a thing what it is vs the evil inherent in racist practices and how they cause black romance authors to suffer unfairly.

    Folks are getting mad about HOW I said something instead of giving the slightest damn about racist practices and how they cause black romance authors to suffer unfairly.

    So its worse to cause a black person to suffer because of their race than to speak about it in plain words?

    That’s what I see some of you saying. Am I right? I hope not.

  83. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 16:06:10

    Post error!

    Vice versa–I see some of you saying it is worse to say the R-word and speak out against excluding blacks Than the effects on blacks about being excluded.

    It is ALL about you and your comfort.

    Is that what you’re saying?

    If this were the sixties, we’d be in real trouble.

  84. Sara Dennis
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 16:10:12

    Jane, I thought the original post was really interesting. Thanks for that.

    As for the rest: I really think comparing the situation with black authors to the entire Civil Rights movement is out of scale. The two things are not the same in scope or scale and doing so, in my opinion, works much like invoking Godwin’s Law.

  85. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 16:13:01

    Robin,

    I don’t see it happening within my lifetime. There are very entrenched mores about blacks and love.

    Romance is romance. There is very little difference whether a middle class black American wrote it or a middle class white American. We’re from the same culture.

    The fact that some people exclude ROMANCE because of race is plain awful. The fact that this exclusion is accepted is worse.

    There is street lit that catches the inner city, urban flavor and that’s not going anywhere.

    There can still be the AA niche, but why can’t Romance be Romance, Mystery be Mystery, etc. if race is not the theme?

    And what am I do think of the folk who attack me for saying this? What are they if not racists?

    Yet, here in egalitarian Romanceland, so many are full of attack for HOW I say black authors are treated unfairly, when that is simply how it is.

    I’m only about treating romance authors like romance authors.

  86. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 16:14:18

    A solution I posited would be for more black romance authors to submit as Not Black romance authors.

    Colorblind submissions could start to solve the problem.

  87. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 16:16:43

    (the fact that I have to submit as a Not Black person to get equal treatment makes me furious, and it is totally unfair and racist, but we could suck it up)

  88. Sybil
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 16:19:23

    OK so the problem here is you just can’t read. Once. I put a book down once. Because you are an annoying loud mouth author who was repeatedly beating on a person I liked unfairly in any given forum you could find.

    Something you seem to do often

    Same day I posted it was a stupid reaction to a stupid person and unfair. Get some new material or better yet work on your craft. Maybe if your sales increased you would stop looking for racism in every action and word. Racism is real, my point is and was your actions deem it and undermine people who really want to do something about it.

    You don’t seem to want it fixed Monica. Without racism to call on what would you talk about? Why would anyone pay attention to you? You have nothing else to say.

  89. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 16:21:18

    bam, it’s not about Sybil. It’s about the romance community members who exclude most romance authors because they are black. Sybil is only one of many and is merely a symptom, not the problem at all.

  90. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 16:27:08

    Do you notice how ethnocentrists name call?

    And other ethnocentrists will get on ME for HOW I SAY STUFF?

    Now show me where I called people stupid or such? Even at you, my dear Sybil.

    Calling people stupid, annoying, loud mouth or other subjective names is not my style. Now, stupid is a judgment call unless one is unable to string a sentence together.

    Where’s Jane with who and what is defamatory?

    Oh, I forgot, that treatment must be reserved for the Negro [chortle!]

    You crack me up, Sybil, you really do.

  91. Robin
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 16:33:55

    And what am I do think of the folk who attack me for saying this? What are they if not racists?

    I think that most of those to whom you attach the description racist don’t disagree with your message that it’s wrong for AA authors to be treated differently. I can’t remember ever seeing one person make that statement or any like it. And while I know you think that people are attacking you for saying it — for being the one to point out the elephant in the room — there may be some discomfort with that. I can’t read the minds of all those who post. But really, I think what most people get upset with is what they perceive to be an unwillingness on your part to really *discuss* these issues and to listen to others without hurling the racist label on very little to no evidence that it’s warranted. I know you’re passionate, and I know you feel that you’re speaking up where others won’t, and I know you feel attacked. Sometimes you are being attacked (and I’ve defended you on occasion and gotten attacked by you, so I’ve been on the edge of that knife blade, lol). But I also think you’ve helped create a lot of that hostility yourself, and when people try to tell you that, they get slapped with the racist label. So people either get strident with you or they stay away from the discussion altogether. And then when people stay away, you say it’s because no on will talk about the Black author issue, but when they weigh in, inevitably they say something you find unacceptable and then they get called racist. So I really think a lot of people feel it’s a no win with you. I’m not expecting you to agree with my assessment, but that’s how I see it. I think that you feel you understand these issues better than anyone else (or any of us non-black folks, anyway), but I think it’s tough for people to feel that they want to learn from someone of whom they’re afraid.

  92. BevL(QB)
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 16:44:25

    Up till now, I’ve stayed out of this for two reasons:
    1. Whatever hapened between Monica and Sybil happened before I ever knew who Sybil was (I still don’t have a clue who Monica is) and Sybil is perfectly capable of presenting her side of an argument
    2. Just like with my children, drama queen screeching is best ignored

    So why am I here now? Because Monica has now stated that Sybil’s site/Sybil&Co excludes authors based on race. You will STOP NOW, Monica. I resent the implication that those of us associated with Sybil’s site should be painted with the same brush you’ve been attempting to whitewash Sybil with. You do not know me or the others over there, and your implications of “guilt by association” will not be tolerated. Sybil has not EVER directed us to not review a book based on race. Nor has she ever referred to an author’s race when books become available for review. I cannot speak for the other reviewers there, but I would not be associated with a site that did so. Period. I don’t even know what race my fellow reviewers happen to be. So DO NOT EVER explicitly or implicitly disparage me again.

    When I walk into a bookstore, I spend most of my time in the Romance section, with occasional trips over to sci-fi/fantasy/horror. I don’t have a clue or a care whether any particular book is written by a black, white, asian, hispanic, etc. author. If it sounds interesting, I buy it. But the fact that I don’t visit the AA shelves doesn’t make me any more of a rascist than the fact that I don’t visit the religion shelves makes me an atheist.

    I find your ignorance, intolerance, and rascist attitude offensive.

  93. Bianca
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 16:46:07

    Oh dear Gods 0_0.

    Reading most of this debaucle makes me want to exclame! Get off the cross someone else needs the wood.

    Gah!!!

    Anyway, Jane great post, I’ll look through it a time or two to let it sink in.

  94. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 16:51:19

    Sybil’s getting more of her mob in. I never wanted to do this because it would degrade to even more utter crap.

    Robin (who has some smarts),

    I think what most people get upset with is what they perceive to be an unwillingness on your part to really *discuss* these issues and to listen to others without hurling the racist label on very little to no evidence that it's warranted.

    I discuss it with a lot of folks and a lot of folks, including yourself, agree black romance should not be segregated.

    I only used the label on a couple of people who actively make the practice of excluding blacks or treating them differently. You are saying the label isn’t warranted even then?

    Didn’t name call, didn’t insult. Yet you called me out not the ones name calling, ranting, frothing and insulting. Why? ‘Cause I had the nerve to say they treat black romance differently! They do treat us differently, but apparently that’s not the point.

    It Must Not Be Said!

    We can’t discuss it with you. Period. We just can’t unless we’re not really discussing it all.

    Seriously Robin, can you imagine someone speaking out on erotic romance being treated this way?

  95. emmigeek
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 16:53:22

    Good thought provoking post.

    The comments are equally thought provoking.
    Thanks for the great reading folks.

  96. Gwen
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 16:55:08

    “I think what most people get upset with is what they perceive to be an unwillingness on your part to really *discuss* these issues and to listen to others without hurling the racist label on very little to no evidence that it's warranted.” and everything else you said, Robin.

    THANK YOU. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

    Monica – Sophocles said, ““The keenest sorrow is to recognize ourselves as the sole cause of all our adversities.” In the case of your being attacked in this forum, you need to take a page out of that old Greek’s book. No matter what we say, we’re wrong. Do you HONESTLY think that is the way to conduct a discussion of the issues?

  97. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 16:59:28

    Dear Sybil henchwomen,

    I invite you to take this up on Blogging In Black with other black authors than myself.

    From what I get, you’re outraged to be called ethnocentric and deny you exclude black romance authors (‘cept for the occasional token) from your well visited and supported popular romance site.

    You also think I’m the spawn of Satan for bringing up the issue at all, so I’m probably not the one to be discussing it with.

    There are a LOT of black authors who are lawyers, engineers, all sorts of folks, who wouldn’t mind sharing their feelings and views on safer turf.

    And rest assured, they have feelings…

    Name the time and send the post.

  98. Gwen
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 17:07:06

    And my last word on this is that I’m with Bev. I am not, nor have I ever been, called a racist by anyone who knew me (or knows me). Nothing could be further from the truth, actually.

    I too take serious offense to being called a racist. I have NEVER said or implied anything disparaging about any ethnicity on any blog. EVER. Neither do I pander to any particular ethnicity, however. And perhaps that last bit is what makes Monica call me a racist.

    If this is the case, Monica, you’re more the fool than I thought you to be.

    Time to stop this ignorant argument, Monica. You’re entrenched. And we don’t agree and never will.

    That does NOT make me a racist, however.

  99. Robin
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 17:13:32

    Yet you called me out not the ones name calling, ranting, frothing and insulting. Why?

    Well, I don’t think I called you out. I did, though, answer your question, which you posed directly to me. I’ve defended you on multiple forums, Monica. I’ve agreed with you on several points in this discussion. I’ve not defended anyone else’s negative comments directed at you. I’ve disagreed with several points others have made. I’ve not criticized your points and have agreed with your main position that the segregation of AA authors is wrong and bad for Romance. I haven’t called you names.

    I only used the label on a couple of people who actively make the practice of excluding blacks or treating them differently. You are saying the label isn't warranted even then?

    If you’re talking about Sybil, I have no idea if she’s a racist or not. When that whole thing came up, I remember agreeing with Mrs. Giggles’s point that her comment sounded immature. I also think it came across as a racist comment, whether it was intended that way or not. Some of your comments have struck me as racist, too, whether you intended them that way or not. But I don’t feel comfortable calling either you or Sybil a racist person. For one thing, I think it causes exactly the kind of train wreck we’re seeing here and makes it really difficult to get back on track. As I’ve said before, to me it comes down to what’s your ultimate goal. If it’s to foster support for the integration of Romance, then IMO calling readers racist isn’t going to create a really inviting environment for that. Just like I think authors posting the private emails of readers doesn’t create an inviting environment for discussion around what’s appropriate genre critique (and in case it isn’t obvious, I’m not referring to you here, Monica). I think most people are trying their best to understand what these issues are, and just don’t want to get caught in the crossfire.

  100. TeddyPig
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 17:19:04

    There is no point.

    In.

    Talking.

    To.

    Ethnocentrists.

    Biased People.

    Prejudiced People.

    Or people willing to treat us differently because of our race.

    I keep going back to this name calling and wondering why she keeps posting? I mean if you are gonna call everyone names, stomp your feet while holding your hands over your ears and run away… Then quit threatening and please do it.

  101. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 17:21:42

    EVERYTIME we have this discussion, it’s derailed to whom I called racist.

    Who I called racist is not the point.

    It doesn’t matter. How the hell am I going to know? I go solely by the words you’ve written.

    I’m racist sometimes. So what? I think everybody is.

    If you say you’re not racist, fine. I don’t care.

    That’s not the point

    That’s not the point

    That’s not the point

    Do you get it now? I don’t know you, don’t want to know you. How the hell am I supposed to know if you’re racist as you define it?

    You’re derailing the point to the stupid, silly issue of whether I called you racist or not because you don’t want to talk about RACISM or BLACK PEOPLE.

    That’s the point.

    If you want to talk about racism, I invited you to a blog of over 30 black writers, a variety, and an abundance of black readers and other authors who comment.

    Talk about racism with black people.

    Who wants to take a bet they won’t dare?

  102. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 17:23:30

    There is no point.

    In.

    Talking.

    To.

    Ethnocentrists.

    Biased People.

    Prejudiced People.

    Or people willing to treat us differently because of our race.

    Don’t you get it Teddy Pig? It’s all about the people who take this personally. The other people KNOW I’m not talking about them.

  103. The Good, The Bad and The Unread » The definition of Intelligence
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 17:32:10

    […] The antonym can also be found here. […]

  104. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 17:35:54

    Oh, the url…http://blogginginblack.com/

    AND unlike some moderators when the topic veers to race, I promise to make sure you don’t get called names or cursed at because of your views…by anybody, even if you are alone in your views. I will also stay out of it.

    Likewise, you don’t get to call names or curse to others as you have done to me in the past.

    I will shut down anybody out of line. I will suggest that euphemisms for the word race and its derivatives be used because that’s the topic and I realize how that word upsets a few.

    I will ensure safety as far as name-calling, cursing and direct insult which is far more than anybody has ever done for me.

    Can you come and say the same things you say to me outside of your own comfy, protected forums?

  105. TeddyPig
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 17:35:57

    Don't you get it Teddy Pig? It's all about the people who take this personally. The other people KNOW I'm not talking about them.

    I don’t take it personally because I really don’t think it means anything coming from you. But if it makes you happy you can call me dick breath or faggot or something. I am sure calling everyone a racist must get boring.

  106. Robin
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 17:43:14

    Don't you get it Teddy Pig? It's all about the people who take this personally. The other people KNOW I'm not talking about them.

    I actually think you overestimate the number of people who aren’t afraid of being called racist, but in any case, you’re right that it isn’t really the point. None of us can control anything more than our own choices. I know, for example, that I can read and review AA Romance as part of my routine Romance reading and reviewing, recommending books to readers regardless of the ethnicity of the characters or the author. I’m trying to do that. Others here are doing that. Other readers at other blogs are doing that (some aren’t but I’m not gonna focus on them, because I’m looking right now on how we can encourage more inclusion). IMO that’s a collective contribution to the goal you reiterate, Monica, of having AA authors get equal play and equal treatment. I’m not asking for any pats on the back for doing what, IMO, is my job as a reader. My point is simply that not everyone is sitting on their hands saying they don’t care or whatever. I don’t think I’m making any big contribution to the goal of integration, but I’m doing the best I can, and I think a number of us feel the same way, even though, IMO, there’s very little recognition of that.

    And I’ll also say that I think we’ve still managed to avoid the defamation trap — here, at least.

  107. Professionalism « Heather’s Ramblings
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 17:46:06

    […] topic to which this is a comment can be found here at Dear Author–but be warned, the comments do not all relate the post’s […]

  108. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 17:50:14

    I invite you to post your views (guest column) at BIB, Robin.

    I truly doubt others would agree to post there and feel comfortable spouting their rather ethnocentric point-of-views without name calling being allowed.

    It would be interesting. I think we need some smart interface from the romance community. I might ask a few others from the greater romance community too, sort of a brainstorming and support session.

  109. Shannon C.
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 18:01:29

    TP said:

    You know how many Gay Romances just sorta gloss over the social issues of being Gay
    or make everyone they meet and all family members and childhood friends accepting
    of it?
    I have called it the
    In & Out
    or
    Big Eden
    problem. Those two well known movies show the Gay experience but forget the part
    of the experience where not everyone is accepting, not all families handle it well
    and large part of being Gay is dealing with those who will never accept you no matter
    what you do.
    It might just not be something that fits well in a Romance (I remember my mother
    telling me once she wished I had never been born. It's things like that I am talking
    about.) but I think it might give characters greater depth to deal with situations
    that show they can not win everyones acceptance and learn to accept that without
    letting it eat you alive.

    Yep, exactly. I have to admit that the lack of realism would be why I tend to avoid contemporary-set erotic romances featuring, say, M/M or a romance featuring multiple partners unless I know the author is going to deal with that stuff. How are the characters going to explain their relationships to everybody else? How will they deal with the fact that not everybody will accept the fact that the main characters live an alternative lifestyle?

    And back to the disability in romance thing, I have to admit I find the endings to romances where the disabled character gets miraculously cured fairly insulting. Someone could propose a cure for my blindness, but it certainly wouldn’t fix me. It’d probably cause a lot more problems than it would solve.

    Heh. Hello, this is my soapbox. I’ll try to refrain from getting back on it.

  110. Robin
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 18:01:56

    I invite you to post your views (guest column) at BIB, Robin.

    Thank you, Monica; I’m certainly willing to do that.

  111. Elly Soar
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 18:07:40

    I don’t really understand why this conversation keeps on going! I think we can all agree that we are completely off topic, and that the romance INDUSTRY is segregationist (for instance, why does Harlequin have separate book lines for black authors and characters – couldn’t a black person write or star in a Blaze or American Romance just as well as a white person or hispanic?) and that segragation along color lines is racist – so why can’t we all just concede Monica that point? It’s great if someone wants to take on the insitution, but it is still off topic. Racism only came up in the aforementioned post as an illustrative example – the post could have worked just as well with any other example.

  112. Crash Froelich
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 18:10:14

    I spent some time in Korea and Japan in the middle ‘Seventies. For the record, I’m a honky-white Northern European mutt. There’s no better way to stick out in a crowd than by being blond, fair, blue-eyed and a head taller than virtually everyone around you. People everywhere react to races different from their own. I quickly learned the wisdom of Elwood P. Dowd in such situations. To paraphrase, “One can be oh so smart or oh so nice. I spent years being smart. I recommend nice.” Taking the thoughtless or rude actions of others to heart gives them unwaranted power over you. Don’t do it. If they don’t intend to kill you or eat you, who cares? To drop another actual wise person’s name, Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Hurt feelings, indeed, are not matters for the courts. Be big. That works every time.

  113. sybil
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 18:18:43

    WOW this needs to be number one in the worst ways for an author to pimp out their blog – evah.

    And for the record I said now, as I said in Feburary and again in December as well oh you get the picture, for people to ignore you. To not defend me because I did nothing wrong. You are looking for attention you can’t get in your writing and I guess for your blog. Got cha. Whatever.

  114. Michelle
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 18:28:53

    You can’t control others behavior, but you can control your own response. People are often judged by the company they keep. This is true in real life as in blogland/internet. There appears to be a lot of history/bad feelings between many parties on this thread. I am not fully “in the loop” about all past misdeeds. However as a reader with no ties to either side I will say the pingback from 103 does that site no credit, nor does it seem to be a paving stone on the road to moral higher ground.

    Also Robin you are a calm island of courtesy and calm in this current storm.

    I do love these legal lessons, Jane please keep them coming.

    As an aside and off topic-any more legal threats from the plagerist?

  115. Lawson
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 18:41:32

    This is a very interesting post and comment section to me. I am fascinated by government and the interpretation of the constitution and amendments. As a social studies teacher dealing with these issues. Thank you Jane.

    To Monica:

    I don’t know you, but please, I ask you, just because I review with Sybil, don’t just lump us all in and call us racist. Am I a racist? I’ve never been called one before and I don’t want to be called one either. It is unfair. I don’t know you Monica, you don’t know me. I ask you to please not call someone something so off-putting without knowing them first.

    I teach my students one simple fact: we are all people, race doesn’t matter because it’s a made up thing by the government. Your ethnicity is based on the people you come from, your ancestors. Race and ethnicity do not determine WHO YOU ARE. Your actions are about who you are, nothing else. I do my best to model this behavior for them so they can be open minded, well informed adults one day.

    Broad generalizations perpetuate stereotypes which turn people against each other and made small mindedness the order of the day. I hope that one day we can truly be in a society that Martin Luther King dreamed of, one where everyone joins hands in peace and not in strife.

    Do I see the world with rose colored glasses? I’m sure I do, but I want to believe the best in people, to think the future holds better things than the present and that we will learn from the mistakes of the past. The first step is to take those stereotypes and ignore them.

    Monica, are you going to call me names now because I said all this? I hope not. I hope that it gives you something to think about and perhaps not call people a name that is unfounded.

  116. BevL(QB)
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 18:47:09

    Can you come and say the same things you say to me outside of your own comfy, protected forums?

    You know, I have been part of discussions about whether there should or should not be a separate AA section in the bookstores. But instead of just dumping my opinion in, I was cognizant of the fact that I’m a middle aged caucasion woman who has no true idea what is to be a black author. So you know what I did? I asked what the AA authors wanted. I asked how they felt about their books being in shelved in AA versus the Romance section. And what I found is that there are pros and cons to both.

    But I won’t be participating in another discussion on the site you are trying so very hard to publicize (which is all this really appears to be about). Why? Well, let me quote myself…

    I find your ignorance, intolerance, and rascist attitude offensive.

  117. anu439
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 18:48:43

    On the other side of the coin, you cannot excuse defamatory statements by using the prefatory words, “in my opinion” or “I think” because “it would be destructive of the law of libel if a writer could escape liability for accusations of crime simply by using, explicitly or implicitly, the words ‘I think.'” Cianci v. New Times Publishing Co., 639 F.2d 1200 (2d. Cir. 1980).

    Jane, I think I get what you’re saying here, but can you elaborate? I think, “imo,” “I think,” etc. are often used to cover our asses in regular speech. I’m curious how the law sees it.

    What are consequences if I said something like, “Imo, some of the passages in Author A’s book seem really similar to the ones in Author B’s. Of course, I’m not sure, and it was just a thought.”

    On the racism string: Strongly agree with Michelle, that pingback in #103 is very below the belt. Monica may be frustrating to engage with, she hasn’t crossed that line.

  118. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 18:50:05

    Ya know… I think I had something to comment about Jane’s original post, but now… oye, I lost it somewhere in the above discussion where it took a sharp left turn at Albuquerque.

    I’ve seen this mess before and nothing is ever solved. Headaches and frustration abound, but no ceasefire.

    People are entitled to their opinions and they can shout them from the rooftops-that’s their right. But sometimes, the point often gets lost in all the shouting and it’s a calm, rational voice that will be heard.

    Monica, Sybil… ladies, I like you both but seriously, I gotta wonder… why don’t you two just ignore each? For like… infinity? You won’t ever see eye to eye and you won’t ever get along. These conversations almost always seem to deteriorate to the point they turn into a train wreck, where people keep watching because they can’t seem to stop. But is morbid fascination really the desired response?

    No offense meant to anybody, seriously~this is just how I see it. Whether people agree or not is up to them.

  119. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 18:53:18

    Lawson, since that is what I say all the time, it seems we agree.

    Are you going to be the one to actually come and discuss and explain to dozens of black authors why the ROMANCE blog you review for covers so little black romance?

    I’m sure one of a number will answer any questions you might have.

    What gets me about the romance community is that these discussions are almost always with Not Black folk. The discussion gets derailed to the stupid issue of who I called racist or not.

    Why not discuss racism with a number of those who actually experience it in the everyday instead of only discussing it with each other (while yelling at me)? Karen tried to do something like this one-on-one. But this is a discussion that hasn’t taken place within the romance community yet.

    No, we are not coming to a hostile forum to do it amongst a mob. I will guarantee multiple moderators and no attacks or name calling allowing (or the word race if that suits–we will find a euphemism).

  120. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 18:57:15

    I knew the ethnocentrists would be saying this is about promoting a site. Frankly, it needs to be in a safe place, apart from the rather biased romance community, and not on my site either.

    Blogging In Black is about thirty plus columnists who are mostly black authors, their readers and commenters. It’s not about me.

    I can ask Tee if we can use RAWSISTAZ if you are interested in a real race and romance discussion and don’t want to use Blogging In Black.

  121. Jane
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 18:58:40

    Jane, I think I get what you're saying here, but can you elaborate? I think, “imo,” “I think,” etc. are often used to cover our asses in regular speech. I'm curious how the law sees it.

    What are consequences if I said something like, “Imo, some of the passages in Author A's book seem really similar to the ones in Author B's. Of course, I'm not sure, and it was just a thought.”

    This is my own opinion, of course, but your statement seem to have alot of value laden ideas. “really” and “similar” can mean a whole host of things. I think where it really crosses the line is when you would say something like: “It’s just my opinion, but Author A copies Author B in several places in books A through Z.”

    That statement seems verifiable: copying, two individuals involved, and a number of books.

    Of course, it isn’t defamatory if it is true.

    Essentially, you can’t make a defamatory statement non defamatory by simply saying “but that’s just my opinon.”

  122. Robin
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 19:10:19

    This is my own opinion, of course, but your statement seem to have alot of value laden ideas. “really” and “similar” can mean a whole host of things. I think where it really crosses the line is when you would say something like: “It's just my opinion, but Author A copies Author B in several places in books A through Z.”

    That statement seems verifiable: copying, two individuals involved, and a number of books.

    Especially because copying is the essence of copyright violation, so by saying that someone copied you’re accusing them of copyright infringement, whether you intend to or not. Although, you still have the hurdle of the “public figure” standard which I know you’re going to address later, but seems to impinge on anu’s question because it concerns authors. A lot of people may not know that the standard of proving defamation is much higher for public figures.

    In any case, I don’t think it’s defamatory to say that you see similarities between the work of two authors, or even two non-public figure individuals, do you, Jane? Assuming it’s phrased that way, and not in terms of “X copied Y”?

  123. Lawson
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 19:12:20

    Thank you for the invitation Monica, but I must respectfully decline. As I have only been reviewing with Sybil for about six months I feel that I am not the best person to speak with about that issue. I know that I have not been in the community long enough to be a good participant in any discussion of such a sensitive nature.

    But I do see and deal with racism everyday as well, in a 3000+ student multicultural high school. While I know that is nothing like the romance industry, it is society and it pains me that so little is being done to change the way we see each other.

  124. TeddyPig
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 19:12:35

    these discussions are almost always with Not Black folk

    Monica, you did not come here to discuss anything except to call everyone a racist. I have little faith you will not continue on your pointless name calling.

    The more trash you talk like some carny barker getting people to your web site, the more I find Sybil’s response to you pretty realistic.

  125. Jane
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 19:15:27

    While I hate to be the headmistress here, I am going to have to say enough with the insults and name calling. If any of you want to engage in it, there clearly seems to be a forum for it in another blog but this post was about defamation and from now on, if the post doesn’t deal with defamation, I am deleting it.

  126. Jane
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 19:19:38

    In any case, I don't think it's defamatory to say that you see similarities between the work of two authors, or even two non-public figure individuals, do you, Jane? Assuming it's phrased that way, and not in terms of “X copied Y”?

    I think that there are fewer distinctions between defamation suits involving public figures and those that involve private ones. If the subject of the statement re: similarities involve two authors, definitely the NY Times v. Sullivan standard requiring the proof of “actual malice” in the publication of defamatory material applies.

    Assuming that it is phrased in terms of “similarities”, I would agree that even between two non public figures, it’s not likely to be defamatory.

  127. Lynne
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 19:39:21

    This may be way off-topic, but I have a proposal. Why don’t we as romance readers and writers launch a subversive campaign to re-shelve African-American romances in the romance section?

    You wouldn’t need to move a huge stack of books. Let’s say you go to the AA section and find two copies of, say, Monica’s latest book. Leave one copy in the AA section and move the other to romance. Nobody’s going to call you out. (Not in my experience with doing this, anyway.)

    Another idea would be to start a letter-writing campaign to the major bookstore chains. If enough people write to them, maybe they’ll change their policies.

    Segregating AA romance sucks.

  128. Gennita Low
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 20:02:55

    Actually, Jane, “the problem of what is opinion and what is fact is one that plagues even the courts” is clearly illustrated here in the comments ;-). It’s like live classroom, with a touch of Judge Judy participants for entertainment. Thank you for this series of “How to Fling Insults Like a Lawyer.” I think your lessons are really needed.

    And uh, GO ROCKIES! (right, Jackie L.?)

  129. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 20:11:41

    It is not defamatory or inaccurate to portray a site that excludes authors solely based on race as racist. This is a fully disclosed act especially when the site owner states her intention in writing.

    rac·ism (rā’sÄ­z’É™m) Pronunciation Key
    n.

    1. The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others.
    2. Discrimination or prejudice based on race.

    Excluding black romance authors based on their race is number two. Number one is something an outside party could not ascertain, but it is generally always the basis for number two.

    Language is subject to levelling forces. When a word acquires a strong meaning it becomes useful in rhetoric. …So long as any part of the old meaning lingers, there is a tendency to invoke the word for its impact rather than to convey a precise meaning.

    How is the practice of discrimination and prejudice based on race merely an old meaning? I experience it frequently based on my race. It is not historical, it is not old. Anybody who dismisses racism as only a historical phenom has never had the opportunity to experience it.

    But we serve in a court of law rather than of language and cannot insist that speakers cling to older meanings.

    Thank goodness. They are referring to meaning common to the majority who never has to experience racism.

    In daily life “racist” is hurled about so indiscriminately that it is no more than a verbal slap in the face;

    To those who don’t live it, yes.

    the target can slap back (as Stevens did). It is not actionable unless it implies the existence of undisclosed, defamatory facts, and Stevens has not relied on any such implication.

    Now was it defamatory to call me names such as stupid and more, to insult my career and other below the belt tactics, because I noted a certain site excludes black authors and its owner stated in writing that was her practice?

    I think it’s quite defamatory, possibly even actionable, but that matters little to those who are comfortable with the fact that blacks are treated differently. They seem not to care if we are personally defamed.

    Their entire issue solely revolves around whether their sensitive spots are touched by pointing out discrimination and prejudice based on race–or using the word racism as defined.

  130. Devon
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 20:19:25

    Lynne–that re-shelving thing isn’t a bad idea. As for the letter writing campaign, I know it was suggested by several people during the last discussion of this. Blogger Tara Marie suggested something at RTB with the addresses for Borders. I know I didn’t receive a response of any kind, but I think some others got kind of a rote thing. It only takes a couple of minutes and it can’t hurt. The more questions, and concerns, the better.

    I’ve gotta say, I’m curious to see if you’re still getting bothered by that “author,” Jane. And the real topic is very interesting. And useful to know. Good job!

  131. Debra
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 20:35:22

    I dont think I have ever responded here, or anywhere for that matter, but I am a bit confused.

    As a white woman with a black daughter, living out in the country in Texas, we know all about racism.

    As an interested party in the above mentioned post, interested because sometimes my mouth gets ahead of my brain, I am not sure I see the connection Monica has made between the post and racism. It is plain even to us rednecks that Jane was only using Monica’s blog as an example of ‘the right to free speech’ even when that speech insults someone or basically sucks ass.

    This blog post was meant to be informative and a learning experience for those bloggers who post things that sometimes other do not agree with. So that said posters would know their rights when they opened their mouths and said something others didnt like.

    Never should it have turned into an attention getter for someone who has their own agenda, even if the fact of the matter is that there is racism of many kinds, even in the romance world.

    Deb

  132. Jane
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 20:39:05

    Oh, I’ve not heard anything from Lee after I posted the piece last week. Her interview is supposed to go up tomorrow and depending on what is said, I may do a responsive post. We’ll see.

  133. Gwen
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 20:40:26

    Monica – Please just stop. To continue to cast unfounded and perjorative aspersions will serve to do nothing except leave the wrong impression, both about you and us.

    It’s like you think that if you say something often enough and loud enough some people may actually think it’s true. And, I’m sorry, but it just isn’t. No matter how often you call us racist, we just aren’t.

    Is what Monica is doing the definition of defamation, Jane? If not, I challenge Monica to find anything on the blog that any of us have said that is racist. If she doesn’t find it, will it be defamation then?

  134. Bianca
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 20:40:33

    Gah. I swear..
    ============
    Are you going to be the one to actually come and discuss and explain to dozens of black authors why the ROMANCE blog you review for covers so little black romance?

    I'm sure one of a number will answer any questions you might have.

    What gets me about the romance community is that these discussions are almost always with Not Black folk. The discussion gets derailed to the stupid issue of who I called racist or not.
    =========

    Why, money. How many black people buy romances vs how many white people buy romances? I can tell you many white women I know buy romances. The black women, not so much. The one woman I know that isn’t black, but isn’t white, reads on romance author, because she likes the characters the author writes about.

    Btw, guilting, beating people over the head, and otherwise annoying the crap outta them is a very bad sales technique.

    You want black people to get reviewed. You might try sending them free books and letting them read in peace and quiet. If they don’t like it, show it to other reviewers. But kvetching because they aren’t doing what you want, just turns people off. Personally, seeing your attitude in here, has made me question whether or not I want to read any of the authors on your site. ANd if that makes me a ethnocentrist hooeyhoo, I’m ok with that too.

  135. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 20:57:11

    White slave plantation mentality. Blacks aren’t allowed to speak out on black racism as I have been doing.

    That is the toto of what you’re upset about. The entirety. All of it.

    The fact that I, nothing but a N*gger to you, has the nerve to speak out.

    Nobody has answered one of my questions about how you would react if it were Asians (except Karen) or erotic romance authors. You would NOT be getting out the nooses if such were the case.

    Unfortunately slave days are over. Deal with it.

  136. Jackie L.
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 20:58:51

    Gennita–you’re so right! Go, Rockies! Only someone who sat thru games with our old farm team like I did can appreciate a team that actually wins.

    One of my first romance writers and whose works I absolutely adored was an AA man. I knew he was a guy, the Frank was a dead giveaway, but I only recently realized he was AA. (Well, I read that on the Web, and we all know the pitfalls there.)

    I was threatened twice with a lawsuit by insurance companies for saying that a certain procedure was not a covered benefit. They said that this was defamatory. In the first case, they denied the request stating it was not a covered benefit, but said I was wrong to say so. (?)

    In the second case, the insurance company approved a totally unnecessary surgery, I guess to prove me wrong.

    I told them that they are not broccoli. (Jane, is broccoli still protected from negative comments by law?) My opinions were based on seeing a boatload of denial letters from them previously. But when I said I’m calling my doctor group (professional MD association) to rat them off, both companies backed down immediately.

    Reading Jane’s post, I remain confused. I wasn’t defaming them. So I guess they wanted to intimidate me. Nice try. Ineffective, but nice try.

    So, Monica, I live in white suburbia. My BN doesn’t even have LaNora out of the back room on release date. (Twits.) I would like to try some AA books, but I don’t know where to start. They won’t be in my BN, I’m pretty sure about that. How ’bout a suggestion? Something I can get off Amazon. I gotta try Shiloh cause I love the way that woman thinks. So if you have suggestions, I wanna give them a try.

  137. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 21:02:05

    And topics have been derailed. Most of them with heavy comments are. They digress to ridiculous costumes at romance conventions, hissy fits about or outrages against erotic romance.

    You don’t put your foot down and delete those comments, demand they stay on topic and you protect against egregious insult to individuals.

    But the topic of blacks and race have always merited different treatment.

  138. Jane
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 21:12:28

    Jackie L – hypothetically speaking if a statement is made that is negative toward a company, that doesn’t make it defamatory particularly when you have facts/proof to back up the statement. I am glad that you stood up for your rights and your patient’s rights. I hope my doctor is just like you.

  139. Jackie L.
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 21:16:57

    Hey, Monica, just sayin’–my BN disses the entire romance genre. (Twits.)

  140. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 21:24:09

    Jackie L, I know! We’re women and denigrated.

    It doubly grates on me when we do it. How CAN you (not personally, the romance community as a whole) do it to black authors? How can you?

  141. Lawson
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 21:26:00

    I find the cases that have been done about free speech issues in schools interesting. But I’m a nerdy teacher and education issues are my thing. How far does free speech go for minors, especially in a school setting? Kids say things seeking attention, or because they feel the teacher, administrator, etc, doesn’t like them and so they accuse randomly. One teacher down the hall from me had a defamation issue in her classroom last year.

    Another thing interesting to me is the limits of free speech on discussion religion in schools. Why does it offend people to say certain things in school? Even if they are the minority voice, should they have that much control over the education system?

    Not asking for answers, but it’s just interesting to think about.

  142. Jane
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 21:31:40

    First Amendment:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Religion in schools is examined in the context of the separation of church and state.

    Minors have no rights. LOL. Actually, Tinker v. Des Moines is a famous case which addressed the rights of students to engage in free speech.

  143. Samantha
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 21:32:21

    Ahhh…THAT time of year again, eh?

  144. Jane
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 21:44:52

    Apparently I misquoted Sybil and I did not mean to. As soon as I get the exact quote, I’ll put that in and revise my original statement.

    I apologize for misquoting her and wanted to do that publicly.

  145. Bianca
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 21:52:01

    White slave plantation mentality. Blacks aren't allowed to speak out on black racism as I have been doing.

    That is the toto of what you're upset about. The entirety. All of it.

    The fact that I, nothing but a N*gger to you, has the nerve to speak out.

    Nobody has answered one of my questions about how you would react if it were Asians (except Karen) or erotic romance authors. You would NOT be getting out the nooses if such were the case.

    Unfortunately slave days are over. Deal with it.

    =====================

    Wow!

    I comment on your sales technique and now I’m a white plantation owner.

    lol………..

    No, monica, this boils down to markability and money. Do you, as a black romance author, resonate with the people who buy romance.

    You can think this has to do with racism, but I personally find that to be an excuse.

    I know for myself as a romance reader, a good author will get me into the characters head. That’s why I buy romance, to live vicariously.

    The question isn’t racism, it’s Can an African American romance author appeal to white people? If so, then sell that. But if you continue to talk about racism or how white people are big meanies for not reading AA romance authors, you just make that void larger. Ie, you annoy the heck out of your potential customers.

  146. Robin
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 21:52:18

    Jackie L.: Jane has done a number of reviews of AA books. For a start, check out these reviews.

    I like Beverly Jenkins’s historicals, too, and will be reviewing another AA author soon. Karen Scott did a survey of AA authors on her blog (it’s on the sidebar and easy to find), for more recommendations. And Monica has written a number of Romances, as well. If you want to read a series with a great multicultural cast of heroines, try Shelly Laurenston’s Pack Challenge series from Samhain (the heroine of the middle book is AA).

  147. Robin
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 22:00:14

    Minors have no rights. LOL. Actually, Tinker v. Des Moines is a famous case which addressed the rights of students to engage in free speech.

    Students in primary and secondary schools have fewer free speech rights than those in higher education, although Tinker stood for the proposition that they have some rights of free expression. Tinker and Bethel v. Fraser are two of the big cases. The most recent case, Morse v. Frederick, managed to uphold both Tinker and Bethel — it’s the now famous “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” case. In higher ed, through the 1980s there were a number of speech codes in place on most college campuses, but they have been struck down by numerous courts over the years, and the current position is that they are incompatible with academic freedom and the protections of the First Amendment. The rationale for why is laid out best in Doe v. University of Michigan, a 1989 case.

  148. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 22:00:31

    Blacks write the exact same variety of romances whites do.
    If it’s romance, race is generally not the focus. Whites that read a number usually note how similar our books are to any other romance author, rather than how different. Some are good, some are bad, some are indifferent, just like any group of romances.

    We are romance authors writing romance.

    All sorts of romances.

    Note I’m talking about romance. For instance my Mr. Right Now wasn’t a romance, nor is some of the street lit tinged books.

    Now why is talking about how erotic romance is dissed vis a vis romance not offensive or upsetting and talking about how black romance treated is? That is all I’ve been doing and somewhat less forcefully than I’ve read erotic romance authors ranting.

    I’ve asked this question numerous times without a single answer.

  149. Bianca
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 22:01:42

    Religion in schools is examined in the context of the separation of church and state.

    Minors have no rights. LOL. Actually, Tinker v. Des Moines is a famous case which addressed the rights of students to engage in free speech.
    ==========

    Can you expand on that? This interests me.

  150. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 22:08:38

    Romance readers are voracious, always looking for new, fresh reads.

    You have this BIG group of ROMANCE authors you ignore. Yes, they write romance, pure unadulterated romance. They love romance. They write romance just like you read, no different. The basic storylines are the same and guess what? The romances are about middle-class professional Americans (with the occasional Brit or Islander). What’s not to explore?

    But you ignore all this new, fresh romance. These ROMANCE authors are supported by black romance readers who often read white romance too.

    You can think this has to do with racism, but I personally find that to be an excuse.

    Why else are this large group of authors writing all this romance be ignored if not becauseof their their race? Are you saying they all are inferior to anybody not black?

  151. Bianca
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 22:09:38

    Blacks write the exact same variety of romances whites do.
    ===========

    Umm no. That’s like saying rap is the same type of music as rock and country and western.

    Your ignoring the cultural differences between the races. It’s not a bad thing, it’s what makes various races different.

    Black women react differently then white women. I personally can’t find myself living vicariously through a black woman in the romance genre. I can’t get in her head. I can’t be her. I can appreciate the character, but that’s not why I buy romances. I buy romances to be the character.

    It’s all the small little twinges in how we react, think, what turns us on, what’s important to us. It’s those small differences that make a latino woman a latino, a White southern woman a white southern woman, vs a ny city woman, and an American Black woman.

    As to your other question, I have yet to see you referance the original of what your talking about. To be blunt, your not making much sense.

  152. Bianca
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 22:17:08

    Why else are this large group of authors writing all this romance be ignored if not becauseof their their race? Are you saying they all are inferior to anybody not black?
    ===========

    You know this assumption you have, annoys the hell outta me. It’s victimhood. It always torks me off.

    I have already stated why as a white woman what I want in romance. I expanded on it above. Yet your still insisting I do it out of some racist agenda.

    I can’t talk about all romance readers, just the ones I know.

    The people I know read romance to live vicariously through the character. It’s a fantasy thing. Now I can imagine being a demure british nanny, a woman faking being a cabin boy, or any other white woman fantasy thing. I can’t imagine being a black woman. Sorry that is a sticking point.

    I’m also incredibly picky about the romance books I read as well. But you don’t know that, because your too busy assuming stuff.

    Stop assuming and sell me your genre and maybe I’ll get beyond my sticking point. Tell me why I should spend my hard earned money on one of your books vs all the others that I read.

  153. Debbie S
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 22:19:46

    I'm just really sick of R-people using the R-word to deflect their own R-actions

    And at comment 70, this says it all for me. You need to take your own advice because you can’t see the woods for the trees.

    Ms Monica, I’ve read a number of your books, and couldn’t care less that your, or your characters are black, white or have purple polka dots. I only care that the author is good at their job and entertain me via their story.

    I will stop reading an author because they behave like an unmitigated ass and trash their readers, and it’s obvious you are anti white readers, so I won’t bother in the future. I’d rather support an author – black, white, asian or from timbuktu – who’s willing to embrace the human race as a whole.

    Good luck with your self segregation.

    PS – the libel/slander posts (although the comments have been eye opening to say the least) have been interesting – especially coming from a country where suing someone for bad words in uncommon.

  154. Seressia
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 22:20:40

    Well dayum.

    Jane, I would like more explanation on the “in my opinions” and “I thinks” as well. Maybe that will be part of next week’s post?

    Speaking as someone who posts on the blog Monica mentioned earlier (I actually did a post on “Author vs. Writer,” inspired by the Ms. Lee debacle) to say that you won’t read any of the authors on the site because you don’t like Monica, just flat out dumbfounds me. You do realize that you’ve just done what Sybil’s fellow reviewers got up in arms about (being painted with the same brush)?

    As for how to start reading AA romances, how about making a list of the ones that win RT awards? They review AA romances every month, and some have even received Top Pick designations (sorry to point out another review site on your blog, Jane). You can even go to their site and check them if you don’t buy the magazine.

    Then go into your local bookstore and ask for them. If they say they don’t have them, ask them why. If they point to the ghetto section, ask them why. Tell them you have a problem with it–and that you’re going to spend your $$ at a store that doesn’t segregate genres based on author color.

    I for one would love to see discussion on

  155. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 22:22:32

    Lord have mercy, Bianca, I’m speechless. Your assumptions are just so mistaken. Are you one of Sybil’s henchwomen? Just curious, I can’t keep track.

    Black women react differently then white women. I personally can't find myself living vicariously through a black woman in the romance genre.

    I hope most don’t hold your views. They are something from way, way back.

    How about one of you other black authors come out of deep lurk to deal with Bianca if you think it’s worth it (probably not)? Sheesh.

  156. Devon
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 22:26:09

    Gotta be honest with you, Bianca, I completely disagree with your comment. I am a NY, Irish-Italian, Liberal, Democrat, Catholic chick. Does that mean I can only relate to women like me? I wouldn’t reduce all white women to one type, nor would I make generalizations about black women or latinas. Hell, I certainly can’t “get in the head” of a nineteenth century English peer, but I read about them. Love is universal. If it’s well written, you should be able to get into any character’s head.

    And I don’t understand. Are you saying black romance writers can not write in a variety of subgenres and styles?

  157. Seressia
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 22:43:32

    My comment got cut off, but it’s not important. I want to address Bianca.

    You can get into the mindset of a British nanny but not your black neighbor? I’m assuming (I know, charged word there) that you haven’t read any AA romance because you can’t understand how Black women think, as if it’s an alien culture. Why would you think that? How is reading about a half-vampire/half-witch slayer easier than reading about a black woman owning her own company searching for Mr. Right?

    Black authors DO write the same type books as white authors. There are contemporaries, paranormals, historicals. My first romance way back had a black Olympic skater in it who was orphaned at 13. The book deals with loss and the walls people put up. How is that foreign or hard to understand?

    I appreciate your honesty even though it stuns me.

  158. Samantha
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 22:52:56

    If they point to the ghetto section, ask them why.

    Ghetto section? Are the books behind barbed wire? Is the lighting just one bare bulb hanging over a stack of beat-up books on a dirty concrete floor, remants of tattered carpet all around?

    Sorry, I mean no offense, but that term is just a tad over-the-top to me.
    With all due respect of course.

  159. Bianca
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 22:56:21

    Don’t know sybil, never seen her blog.

    People are different and they are the same. My view of latino, black, aisian, white, is from real life interactions. We are not all the same, raised the same, nor will we all view life the same. That isn’t biased it’s reality. My mom is different then the black moms I know. No better no worse just different. In some things they have common ground and in others they aren’t motivated the same. It’s what makes people interesting.

    I’m not going to read an author based on their skin color, nor on the awards they accumulate. I’ll read them based on whether or not I like the story. So telling me to go buy an AA author because they are AA, and have awards, doesn’t do diddly.

    ANd maybe it’s wrong, of me to dismiss authors that are affiliated with monica, but that’s how I am. It doesn’t make me racist, it makes me curmudgeony. It makes me impatient and irritable. On the other hand, I’m not that detail oriented, so if they do something other then romance and the blurb strikes my fancy, I’ll read them. I can be fickle that way. But I won’t be looking at them via her site. Her tude has turned me off and I just can’t be bothered. It has little to do with skin color and all to do with personality. If a white author acted this way, I wouldn’t look at authors affiliated with them either.

    I’ve also been very specific on why I read romance. Saying I’m a big white meany isn’t going to be me to read AA romance either. I’m sure it’s all great and anything but it doesn’t call to me.

  160. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 23:00:10

    Monica, we’re sort of at that screaming on the rooftops phase. I get that you’re frustrated. I get that you probably feel like you’re banging your head bloody against a wall.

    But you’re at the point to where you’re flinging out blanket insults~ a great many people are reading what you post and getting the general impression that any white person is a racist. It isn’t true. Yeah, there are plenty of white people that are racist. It sucks. Majorly sucks. But we can see that exclusionary behavior among any race.

    You’re making readers feel attacked and nothing will make them shy away quicker. It isn’t going to win you any readers. I’m sorry, but it’s not. You’re probably thinking they feel attacked because everything I say is true, but that’s not it. You’re lumping everybody together and every white person in the world doesn’t deserve that. They don’t like it. Anymore than you like it when people make assumptions about you.

    This US VERSUS THEM thing isn’t helping, either. I realize that you see it as an US VERSUS THEM situation, and a part of me can understand it-but not everybody sees US VERSUS THEM. Some people just see people. I see people and when somebody assumes that because I’m white that makes me some sort of racist, I don’t like it. I’m not going to get my nose twisted out of joint over it, though, because I know what I am and I know what I’m not.

    Do you have a right to be pissed? Hell, yeah. You’re getting short changed when your romance books are shelved any place other than romance. You mentioned separate shelving for Asian authors and would people just blissfully ignore it… it’s not a case of ignoring, for many people, it’s a case of not being aware. Most people are probably like me… they saw the AA section at the local bookstore and assumed it was going to be autobiographical books, cultural books, etc etc etc. Frankly, anything biographical bores me. Cultural studies just don’t hold my attention. I want fiction. I didn’t realize there was fiction in the AA and so I never looked there for romance until I was made aware romance was there.

    Would it bother me to see other authors, Asian, Hispanic, whatever, separated simply by their race? Well. Duh. Yes, it would. It irritates me when I see romances shelved separately and it has ever since I realized it was going on.

    But you’ve got this thing that when somebody either doesn’t agree with you or doesn’t see things exactly your way, you either call them a racist or you assume that whoever is only disagreeing with you because you’re black.

    Honestly, Monica… there are people who don’t give a damn about skin color. I wish the whole world was full of them.

    I’m the type of person that if you show me respect and treat me decent, I’ll do the same to you. Likewise, if you’re rude and disrespectful… eh, okay a few years ago, I would have done the same, but now I tend to ignore them. A person’s color doesn’t figure into things for me…just the person.

    I’m not trying to attack you and I’m not saying that you don’t have a right to feel how you feel, or a right to say what you want. But if you really want people to listen, you have to think about how you’re addressing them.

    Now… veering off a little, Bianca commented,

    The people I know read romance to live vicariously through the character. It's a fantasy thing.

    I can’t speak for others. But I don’t read to live vicariously. Shoot, you couldn’t pay me to live the life of a romance heroine. I like my life just fine. I read for the entertainment. I do like being able to get into the character’s heads, but I don’t have to be them.

    That said… romances by black authors aren’t any different from romances by white authors. They deal with love, they deal with relationship issues, they deal with trust. Some of the interracial romances I’ve read do deal with race issues, and they wouldn’t be very realistic if they didn’t. But they all boil down to a couple who find each other and fall in love. The need for that is universal.

    If you’re looking to give some books by black authors a read, try books by Patricia Sargeant, Ann Christopher. If you like erotic stuff, check out Stephanie Burke. I know Karen Scott raves over Sharon Cullars (hope I spelled that right).

    Yeah, there might be some cultural things in some books, but shoot, you find cultural differences if you read a book written by a British author versus an American one. Or between Americans who live in different parts of the country. Differences do exist, but the bottom line of a romance book, no matter who writes it, is a love story.

    Okay, that was one very long winded post and I kept telling myself I didn’t want to jump on this particular merry go round again, but there ya go. I had an opinion and as always, I had to voice it.

  161. Seressia
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 23:01:00

    Samantha, is that all you got out of my post?

    I refer to the section of the store where all books by Black authors are shelved, but is overrun with what is called among other things, “ghetto fiction,” street lit”, and “gansta books”. It what the writers of that genre, termed “urban fiction” by the mainstream call it.

    Google the phrase “ghetto fiction” and you’ll see what I mean.

  162. Lynne
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 23:04:49

    Seressia said: You can get into the mindset of a British nanny but not your black neighbor? […] How is reading about a half-vampire/half-witch slayer easier than reading about a black woman owning her own company searching for Mr. Right?

    Maybe it’s because the non-AA examples you gave are remote from a contemporary white woman’s experience. It could be that it’s easier for the reader to imagine herself as these much less familiar — even alien — types of characters than as someone from a race or group she already has so many opinions about.

    I’m glad you asked these questions, Seressia. You cut through to a very important point, IMO.

  163. Bianca
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 23:06:11

    You can get into the mindset of a British nanny but not your black neighbor? I'm assuming (I know, charged word there) that you haven't read any AA romance because you can't understand how Black women think, as if it's an alien culture. Why would you think that? How is reading about a half-vampire/half-witch slayer easier than reading about a black woman owning her own company searching for Mr. Right?
    ==========

    They may write the same books, but not the same. It’s those small things. For instance I really loved (using a movie analogy) waiting to exhale, but I couldn’t get in their heads. However, there are other movies that I can get deeper into. Thelma and Louise for instance. I bawled my eyes out. Sweet Magnolias really drew me in. All of those are in the chic flick genre.

    However I don’t think you can transplant one of the waiting to exhale characters into sweet magnolias and have it turn out the same. Why, because of the differences in each character. THey aren’t big glaring differences they are small and subtle.

    So no, while I could appreciate the story, of a black woman next door looking for Mr. Right. I’m not going to be able to fantasize being her. Now in paranormal it’s different, or fantasy, because I’m not reading so much to be the character. Romance it’s all about the fantasy for me.

  164. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 23:08:25

    Shiloh,

    I’m flinging out insults and people like Teddy Pig, Bev-whatever, Gwen, Bianca and others of Sybil’s buddies aren’t?

    I’m lumping people together, attacking and being rude? And other’s aren’t?

    It’s just amazing. Really amazing. Or maybe it isn’t.

    pro·jec·tion /prəˈdÊ’É›kʃən/ Pronunciation Key – Show Spelled Pronunciation[pruh-jek-shuhn]

    11. Psychology.
    a. the tendency to ascribe to another person feelings, thoughts, or attitudes present in oneself, or to regard external reality as embodying such feelings, thoughts, etc., in some way.
    b. Psychoanalysis. such an ascription relieving the ego of a sense of guilt or other intolerable feeling.

    I agree with the other stuff you said. My message is unvarying. It’s wrong to treat authors differently based on their race. That’s it in entirety. Amazing it hits so close to home and upsets so many people, isn’t it?

  165. anu439
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 23:14:33

    Bianca,

    …wow. Please read an AA romance. If you can get into the heads of werewolves, vamps, aliens, medieval princesses, whatever your bent, you can certainly find commonalities with a black romance heroine.

    Choose a book based on your likes, as you would any other romance book.

    Try it please, just for the hell of it, just to try a new book, a new author, a new storyline. It doesn’t have to be so hard or complicated or charged with meaning. It’s just a story that you might enjoy. That’s it.

  166. Bianca
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 23:16:25

    types of characters than as someone from a race or group she already has so many opinions about.
    ======================

    I have a great many opinions about a great many things.

    Ok.

    I read romance for the ummmm I can’t put this tactfully. For the romantic porn of it all. The people I know who read romance do the same.

    I was trying to not be this blunt.

    AA just doesn’t move me that way.

  167. Bianca
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 23:17:44

    I want to clarify, people in real life not blog life.

  168. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 23:18:55

    I'm flinging out insults and people like Teddy Pig, Bev-whatever, Gwen, Bianca and others of Sybil's buddies aren't?

    Oh, I never said they weren’t. But you’re in a different boat… and it has nothing to do with being black, but with being an author. You’ve got a legit complaint with romances by black authors being treated differently. You’ve got excellent points to make. But you won’t reach people with the insults. Even if they aren’t directed at people en masse. I don’t know if you realize though that so much of it feels like that.

    Sybil, Teddy, Gwen, they aren’t trying to convince people of anything. They aren’t discussing their career here. You are. There’s a difference. Not the funnest fact in the world, but authors have to handle themselves differently online. This is our career. What we say online can affect our careers, good or bad. You’re a good writer, a smart lady, you have every right to reap the benefits of both attributes. But when you beat people over the head, or use the blanket insult, you’re losing potential readers. That hurts you, the writer. It doesn’t hurt the reader.

  169. anu439
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 23:24:29

    I just read all of Bianca’s posts and others’ to her, and realized that my post is worthless as it’s all been said and dismissed. Apologies for my redundancy.

    Got to hand it to Bianca, tho. You make a blanket assumption re: about African-American romances based on the race of the h/h, and then turn around and refuse to read any romances just because they’re African American. Love how that works out.

    Well, hell, at least you’re honest about it.

  170. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 23:27:54

    anu, I don’t think Bianca is ever going to touch a romance with a Negro in it or by one in her natural life. Had no intention of ever doing it. She said we were inherently different from her.

    Neither are a lot of people that actively discriminate against black romance authors. They aren’t going to change. If they say they read a book by me or any black author, they lie. You can see who they are by their words. There is no need for me to label themor point them out.

    There are many other decent people who will go out and check out something new because they always are looking for that next, great romance read and they might pick up a romance author they haven’t tried before. They’ll widen out–they never read by race in the first place, but now they’re a little more conscious.

    Those are the readers who will make a difference. Those are the readers that matter. There ARE a lot of them out there. Most people aren’t that race-conscious, especially once they get to know someone. There is no fence folks are sitting on except perhaps the other ones.

    The other ones, the angry, accusing ones…they are nothing to us. Absolutely nothing and they will never be. They have a fundamental distaste for blacks and there is nothing any of us can do to change it but avoid them.

  171. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 23:35:04

    Shiloh, what I said before…those people up in arms were never going to read me anyway.

    If you think they’d give more than a token consideration that’s all about them (see I reviewed a nice Negro author way back…I’m not biased!) to romance authors who happen to be black–it would never happen.

    They don’t like me and they don’t like blacks in their romance. Period. It’s all and only about race with them.

    No changing, no convincing, no nothing.

    They are not what my efforts are about. It’s about the decent readers and there are a lot of them. They just need to be made aware.

  172. » Blog Archive » Sigh…
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 23:36:38

    […] of note: Dear Author’s posts on defamation, libel, and examples in the comments […]

  173. Bianca
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 23:42:01

    Your right, I’m not likely to touch a romance written by a black person about black people, because quite bluntly, I want to put down the book and be giddy and swoon and feel in love. I’m not likely to get that out of a book written by a black author. Because I can’t be the character. That isn’t to say I won’t touch a fantasy, sci fi, paranormal written by a black person. I don’t read those genres to feel in love and giddy.

    Another t.v referance. There was a series written a little while ago that you can see every now and again. It’s about 4 black women. One is a lawyer, one is a legal secretary turned self help author, another is I have no idea but she stays with the lawyer and the other is a real estate person. Now I enjoy the series, but not on the same level when I’m watching sex in the city. I can imagine being Carrie, or Miranda or even Samantha or the one I”m leaving out. I can’t imagine being part of the first one, even though it’s an enjoyable series.

  174. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 23:43:07

    No changing, no convincing, no nothing.

    They are not what my efforts are about. It's about the decent readers and there are a lot of them. They just need to be made aware.

    But they aren’t the ones I’m talking about.

    I’m talking about people just in general. The decent people. But that blanket? Those decent people are feeling it, too.

    There was a comment way up yonder from a lady who’d read your books before, enjoyed them… but she’s getting the vibe that you’re anti white. I don’t necessarily think that–you’re definitely zealous in your views, but were I in your place, I might be as well, so I can’t fault you on that. But you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Because this lady has the impression that you don’t appreciate her as a reader because she’s not black. She has no interest in buying any more of your books-I’m thinking she felt insulted and doesn’t want to waste her money on somebody who insults her simply by nature of her skin color. A reader lost, one of the ones who read anything and everything. That’s the complete opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish.

    Is that really the impression you want to give people in general?

  175. anu439
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 23:44:39

    The other ones, the angry, accusing ones…they are nothing to us. Absolutely nothing and they will never be. They have a fundamental distaste for blacks and there is nothing any of us can do to change it but avoid them.

    The problem is, I don’t think you know the difference between one group and the other as well as you think you do, Monica. And because of that, you speak to everyone with the same strident tone, trusting that the ones who “get it” will know that it’s not about them. It doesn’t work that way. People are alot more complicated than that. There’s lots of movement in and out of those groups you perceive.

    Until you really understand that, I don’t think you’ll approach this issue–this huge charged issue that so many people are so much more open to learning about than you realize–the way that it needs to be.

    I mean, are you an advocate or a provocateur? Every cause needs both. But you try to be both in the same breath, and that doesn’t work. People can’t think when they’re angry. You incite the latter more than the former. But I don’t think that’s your goal. I wish you’d see that your powerful POV needs to be backed up with a better public approach.

    That’s not selling out, either, it’s a pragmatic understanding that the carrot is better than the stick.

  176. anu439
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 23:45:22

    The other ones, the angry, accusing ones…they are nothing to us. Absolutely nothing and they will never be. They have a fundamental distaste for blacks and there is nothing any of us can do to change it but avoid them.

    The problem is, I don’t think you know the difference between one group and the other as well as you think you do, Monica. And because of that, you speak to everyone with the same strident tone, trusting that the ones who “get it” will know that it’s not about them. It doesn’t work that way. People are alot more complicated than that. There’s lots of movement in and out of those groups you perceive.

    Until you really understand that, I don’t think you’ll approach this issue–this huge charged issue that so many people are so much more open to learning about than you realize–the way that it needs to be.

    I mean, are you an advocate or a provocateur? Every cause needs both. But you try to be both in the same breath, and that doesn’t work. People can’t think when they’re angry. You incite the latter more than the former. But I don’t think that’s your goal. I wish you’d see that your powerful POV needs to be backed up with a better public approach.

    That’s not selling out, either, it’s a pragmatic understanding that the carrot is better than the stick. Quit being the goddamned stick, Monica.

  177. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 23:47:53

    If Debbie S actually read any of my books, I’ll chew on my shoes.

    I have never insulted readers because of skin color. I have readers of all skin colors and I write characters of skin color.

    What I’ve said, Shiloh, is black romance authors SHOULD NOT be treated differently because of race and if we are it’s WRONG.

    This is what folks are upset about, particularly if they feel that the charge of race-based discrimination and prejudice applies to them.

    If they are upset by that–they are not my readers and would never be.

    And we are all judged by the company we keep. I do notice which authors support the rank and obvious genre race-exclusionary sites. A lot of people do.

  178. anu439
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 23:54:53

    Aargh. Can Admin please delete the first post, I hit submit before I was ready!

  179. Bianca
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 23:56:17

    Got to hand it to Bianca, tho. You make a blanket assumption re: about African-American romances based on the race of the h/h, and then turn around and refuse to read any romances just because they're African American. Love how that works out.
    ==============
    Because I’m talking about types. I’m not attracted to black men. It’s the same reason I’m not likely to read Gay romance. I’m not a guy interested in another guy. That isn’t to say I won’t read a gay author, or a character that happens to be gay.

  180. Monica
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 23:56:44

    The people who are angry because I wrote about black romance authors being treated differently because of race…they are hopeless. We are treated differently because of race sometimes by those very same angry people. Why are they angry? Because it was stated openly.

    Most folks aren’t angry, I hope. They might be wondering, they might be curious, they might even be challenging, but they aren’t angry. They have nothing to be angry about. They aren’t that race-conscious or biased. They know blacks are treated differently because of race. They might not agree with all my conjecture, but they recognize the fact and it doesn’t simply make them mad that somebody pointed it out.

    A lot of those people wonder what they can do. Some want more info. They have a variety of reactions, but being plain mad because they think somebody called them racist (hits home) isn’t one of them.

    The angry ones are worthless, a lost case. Think about what they’re angry about.

    They are mad about that somebody SAID the fact black romance authors are treated differently because of race.

    Wow. Just wow.

  181. Bianca
    Oct 23, 2007 @ 23:58:39

    Why are you assuming that people are angry?

  182. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 00:01:06

    Oye. Okay, I’m tired and I need to get to bed. I don’t think I can add anything more to this anyway…if I added much of anything at all.

    But I did want to mention…anu439… I think I love you. :) Well said, all around.

  183. Alyssa
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 00:10:17

    From Shiloh:

    You've got excellent points to make. But you won't reach people with the insults. Even if they aren't directed at people en masse. I don't know if you realize though that so much of it feels like that.

    This pretty much sums it up for me.

    From Monica @ 102

    Don't you get it Teddy Pig? It's all about the people who take this personally. The other people KNOW I'm not talking about them.

    Really? I didn’t. But perhaps I’m also a poor reader. There’s something you should consider–if many, many people “misunderstand” you, you might want to reevaluate the way you express the message. This happens at my day job. When one or two people are confused by an announcement, the communication department chalks it up to “that’s what happens.” When a bunch of people misunderstand, then part of that rests with us. Not the message itself, but the way it was written.

    My message is unvarying. It's wrong to treat authors differently based on their race. That's it in entirety.

    You’re absolutely right, and I don’t have a problem with that message. The problem is that’s not the only message that’s coming through. Comments like this @ 12 and @ 56:

    Oh dear, Teddy can't read well either.

    Pig, you do have my condolences and give a shout out for me at your next Supremacist rally too.

    * * * * *

    There are no such thing as fence sitters. People have made their minds up. . . .

    I'm standing in the mob.

    You really can’t see that statements like this might alienate some of the very people you want to convince?

    From Robin:

    I think most people are trying their best to understand what these issues are, and just don't want to get caught in the crossfire.

    Yes. And for every one who comments about it, you can bet there are more that remain silent. Why? Because you’ve just implied that everyone who visits here is part of a mob.

    OK, I’m done.

    For AA romance recs, I love Sharon Cullars and Shelley Laurenston. Both are truly great storytellers–Cullars’ writing is haunting and beautiful. Laurenston’s stories are sassy and fun.

  184. Lynne
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 00:13:11

    I consider it a blessing to be able to become giddy and in love about a great many things. :-)

    And I enjoy the challenge of reading of experiences very different from my own. I went through a phase where I gravitated to the same characters, settings, and scenarios over and over again, but I seem to have permanently burned out on that.

  185. aggie
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 00:20:10

    I’ve been enjoying this series of posts, and I find this post on the issue of opinion versus fact fascinating.

    On a separate note, I’m a reader. I love books, all kinds of books, written by authors with all kind of ethnic backgrounds (yes, including a lot of AA authors) and with all kinds of characters (yes, including AA characters). I don’t find my different ethnical backgrounds to be a hindrance in reading and enjoying books. I read a book because of the strength of the story, the author’s ability to draw me in, the quality of writing, and not because the authors/characters are yellow, blue, green, purple, black, polka-dotted, red, white or orange. They may be Martians, cowboys, warlords, vampires, were-rabbits or average Joes/Janes, for all I care. It’s about the story.

    I’m a long-time lurker. I enjoy seeing other readers and writers engage. I agree that race and publishing are important issues. It’s just that this discussion has gotten so heated, it takes away from the actual substantive issues. And, as Ms. Walker said,

    You've got excellent points to make. But you won't reach people with the insults. Even if they aren't directed at people en masse. I don't know if you realize though that so much of it feels like that.

    The tone the discussion is taking is making it harder and harder to deal with the actual conversation of race and publishing and the accusations (from multiple sides) are overwhelming the conversation. And, I have to again agree with Ms. Walker that authors are in a more difficult position. They have to represent and sell their stories. I know that how a writer interacts with people does leave a lasting memory with me. I’ve starting reading authors based on their great interactions with people. But author behavior can also leave a different kind of feeling that does impact my reading and appreciation of that author’s work. A conversation that leaves me feel attacked reduces my likelihood to make the choice to reengage with that author. Do I qualify as someone who falls into the decent group and gets it or am I one of those who doesn’t and who doesn’t matter? Cause the continuing discussion makes me feel as just this woman:

    Because this lady has the impression that you don't appreciate her as a reader because she's not black. She has no interest in buying any more of your books-I'm thinking she felt insulted and doesn't want to waste her money on somebody who insults her simply by nature of her skin color.

    Ms. Jackson, I do enjoy your books. I just wish sincerely you wouldn’t make me feel that regardless of me not being black but instead being from ‘only’ a multiethnic background, that I was not supportive and understanding of the challenges that AA authors face. I wish I wasn’t made to feel that this is an ‘us vs. them’ place, and that I fall in the them category. As I believe anu439 said, I think this issue would be served much more with a better public approach, and that has nothing to do with not discussing the issue, but the manner of engagement. If I feel that I’m being beaten with the proverbial stick, I will tend to stay away from that kind of debate (but not the issue itself). And I don’t think what is intended.

    (Sorry for the length of the post)

  186. Monica
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 00:21:45

    Very few people on the other side are speaking out on the issue, very, very few blacks in particular.

    Know there are many black romance authors who think we authors should be treated the same as any other romance author.

    Think of all the attack I’ve taken here, right now. Your quotes are mostly in answer to full out attacks. Teddy Pig gets up in arms and insults and attacks when anything about blacks are mentioned.

    I’ve been called many names and NOT responded. It does feel like a mob sometimes. If it didn’t there would be a lot more back and forth and more black authors would participate.

    Many of us have been insulted. Few respond to that. Many attack me instead.

    Think of how few embrace the message that we all are romance authors together and instead accuse and attack me for HOW I said. Not one person answered my many questions about how a similar or stronger tone is fine when defending erotic romance but NOT black romance.

    Folks are more interested in ferreting out mistakes and trying to find out where they can say I called them racist.

    Yes, I know there are good people here, but with too many of those who post…it does feel like a mob.

  187. Bianca
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 00:21:52

    I”m happy for you. Romance happens to push that one button in me, but it’s tied in with me at least to sex, type and attraction. I can’t be the only one out there. This is what I was thinking when I was talking about appeal to audience. If it doesn’t hold the sex, attraction appeal, it doesn’t interest me.

    I don’t read Black romance, simply because I’m not attracted to Black men. I don’t know why, I’m just not.

    Any other genre, it doesn’t matter. Any other genre, the only requirement is I gotta like the main character. But romance, I gotta be able to have some self of me, be them, or else, I’m not interested and I can’t get through the book.

  188. Bianca
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 00:23:51

    Think of all the attack I've taken here, right now. Your quotes are mostly in answer to full out attacks. Teddy Pig gets up in arms and insults and attacks when anything about blacks are mentioned.
    ===============
    I’ve seen sarcasm, annoyance but no attacks. O_O

  189. Miki
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 00:24:28

    Jackie L said: I would like to try some AA books, but I don't know where to start. They won't be in my BN, I'm pretty sure about that. How 'bout a suggestion? Something I can get off Amazon.

    I was going to suggest Beverly Jenkins but somebody beat me to it. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by Deanna Lee, although most of what I’ve read from her has been in ebook format. I don’t know if they’re available at Amazon.

  190. aggie
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 00:32:11

    And while I typed up my longwinded post, Alyssa said it much better than I did. I also think there are people who are lurking because of exactly the issue of tone of the conversation versus substance of conversation, and the concern that they may be labeled as falling into the ‘them’ category.

  191. Monica
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 00:34:13

    aggie, so why get on me instead of the MANY other insulting, attacking people?

    I’m almost by myself here.

  192. Lynne
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 00:35:04

    Bianca, if you can watch Howard Rollins in A Soldier’s Story without being in danger of swooning at least once, you’re made of tougher stuff than I am. :-)

    For me, the hero’s appearance is secondary to the strength of his character. In A Soldier’s Story, Captain Davenport exudes so much honor, courage, and strength of will that he owns every scene he’s in. You just can’t take your eyes off him.

  193. Bianca
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 00:38:47

    Never heard of it. Send me a link?

  194. Robin
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 00:39:05

    Not one person answered my many questions about how a similar or stronger tone is fine when defending erotic romance but NOT black romance.

    It may be because, like me, they don’t understand the example you’re trying to present. To me, the erotic Romance debate isn’t analogous for several reasons. First, the objection to erotic Romance seems to be that it isn’t Romance at all, not that it’s segregated (at least as I understand it). I haven’t seen much objection at all to labelling erotic Romance as erotic Romance, whereas what you (and I and many others) want is for AA authors of Romance to have their books labeled and shelved as Romance, period. Also, I remember a lot of name calling and bad behavior and insulting on both sides in a number of those debates. And I also don’t see the issue of sex as analogous to that of race, in part because I think the genre is much more progressive when it comes to sex than it is to race (and I’m not talking about sexual orientation here, but the inclusion of explicit sexuality). So I haven’t responded to your question, Monica, because I don’t see the analogy at all, or at least I don’t see it in a way that strengthens your position at all.

  195. Robin
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 00:40:27

    Oh, and also, I haven’t really seen anyone arguing that AA Romance SHOULD be segregated, whereas in the erotic Romance debates, there seems to be a definite argument over where the books fit (or even if they do) in the genre.

  196. Lynne
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 00:40:48

    Gladly. :-) It’s not a romance, but I bet you enjoy it. This is one of my top ten films, ever.

    A Soldier’s Story

  197. anu439
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 00:43:07

    Monica,

    The people who are angry because I wrote about black romance authors being treated differently because of race…they are hopeless.

    No. The overwhelming number of posters have agreed with you that race in Romance is a problem (they are however stymied on the shelving issue because economics and what AA readers want blur the lines of what’s moral and ethical).

    There are a distasteful few who’ve got nothing better than name-calling, but whatev.

    Those SAME people who agree with your stance, with your passion are mad. At you. They’re mad that somebody is saying that if you don’t read AA romance, you are a racist. And for White America, being called a racist is a HUGE issue. When that word is thrown out, DIALOGUE STOPS. There are no more questions, no more curiosity, no encouraging signals to follow up on. The charge of racism becomes the issue.

    You know this. You use the knowledge to draw attention to injustice, by implication if not by using the word itself.

    You’re a shit-stirrer for all the right reasons. But you want to dialogue while you’re stirring it up. Well, who wants to have a conversation with someone who’s flinging it about? And YES, if you’re throwing out accusations of racism based on how people receive what you say–and you know you’re implying it, how can you bring up plantations for god’s sake, and think people will react the way you want them to?

    The issue is dead-on, and is absolutely important to address. Race DOES factor into why it’s not discussed as passionately as say erotic romance. YOU are also a reason why these discussions don’t go better. You do not help the cause.

    Also, I really need to read Sharon Cullars, this is the like the third time I’ve heard her name in the past week. Anyone got a rec?

  198. Bianca
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 00:45:04

    To lynne.

    I’ll try to rent it this weekend. I think I may have seen it on hbo a few years ago, but I can’t be sure. I know there was a story about a black guy investigating the death of someone in the south, after ww2 or about that time period.

    But it’s hazy.

  199. Monica
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 00:49:21

    Nobody will SAY AA romance should be segregated, SAYING it is what makes them mad. Some just practice exclusion and support the segregation.

    Robin, I have a question for you,

    There is ONE person expressing my point of view passionately–that is is unequivocally WRONG to actively discriminate against black authors–and that’s me.

    Folks agree with the premise, but always attach criticism and rationalization. Nobody will say it’s wrong to discriminate to the people who actually do so.

    I’m called names, criticized endlessly.

    I try to hold my own. I stand alone. When I do hold my own, I’m attacked more.

    Seressia posted and retreated when attacked, apparently for using the word ghetto.

    Few say anything critical against any of the other mean, bullying, constantly critical posters.

    Why?

    Why is treatment this not about race?

    It feels like a mob.

  200. Monica
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 00:55:10

    anu,

    Then somebody else needs to step up and discuss the issue.

    Somebody else needs to stand alone and talk about this issue, RACE, without saying the word.

    Somebody better able to handle it while people discriminate, scream, stop their ears, criticize, rationalize, patronize, chastise, and insult.

    Why not you? Anybody else? Anybody?

    Apparently somebody else is needed and you do seem to feel strongly about the issue.

  201. Lynne
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 01:01:10

    I’ll say it.

    It’s WRONG to discriminate against Black authors. It’s wrong to segregate AA romance in bookstores, and I make a point of re-shelving a couple of books every time I get the chance. Romance belongs with romance, mystery with mystery, SF/F with SF/F.

    The practice of segregating books hurts authors, and it needs to stop.

  202. aggie
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 01:02:14

    Ms. Jackson, honestly, I’m just doing my best to explain to you how I feel, and the sense I’m getting from the conversation. I’m not trying to attack you, I’m just trying to explain to you what feelings this form of conversation evokes in me, particularly as a lurker. You have important issues you’re trying to talk about, and I’m just trying to communicate to you that the how of the conversation does impact people (or at the very least me). The personal attacks are a different matter and don’t serve to advance the substantive issues that you’re trying to get at. I can address all that directly to those people. But it seems that there are cross-purposes in the communications, and I’m really trying to get at that part. You may not think that you’re attacking people in general, but some of the very people you’re trying to reach do feel attacked. And that reduces the audience for the matter you’re trying to actually get at.

    anu439, you really get at the issue of the ‘how’ of the conversation. It’s what makes it more likely for people to engage. I’m currently studying issues of international conflict resolution, and how you engage with various parties matters. Big time. Participants who feel attacked are far less likely to engage in constructive dialogue, and lack of successful dialogue makes peace talks very likely to break down (this is simplified, there’s more to it) than engagement. That doesn’t mean that you agree with the other group(s), but in order to make any form of progress, engage in any form of substantive communication, there has to be an atmosphere where you can talk, instead of immediately feeling that you’re on the defensive (and it doesn’t matter whether it’s real or perceived).

    And now it’s really late, and I have to be up early in the morning.

  203. Monica
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 01:04:58

    Thank you, Lynne.

    If you can keep saying it and meet at least some of the insults and outrages toward black authors that go undefended, I will GLADLY shut up.

    anu,

    You know even with my imperfections, if I said nothing, nothing would be said. The issue would be a moot point. Status quo would reign.

    If you speak up and out for black authors when we are knocked down, I will GLADLY shut up.

  204. Bianca
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 01:05:00

    To lynne.

    I’ve just spent the past 20 minutes wracking my brain to figure anyone in the movie industry I’ve found swoon worthy.

    sighs.
    I can’t really think of any.

  205. Robin
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 01:08:58

    Few say anything critical against any of the other mean, bullying, constantly critical posters.

    Why?

    Well, several of us have already answered this question, but I’ll try again.

    First of all, Jane tried to put a stop to the name calling many posts ago. But I know she hates to shut down threads, because she’d rather let people have their say, whatever that is. IMO those who have resorted to name calling at you are not representing anything but themselves. And those comments speak for themselves, IMO.

    But as Shiloh pointed out, you ARE speaking for something, as an author, as an AA author, as a Romance author. A number of us have said very positive things about you personally and about the message you are delivering about the segregation of AA authors being bad. But you’re not focused on that, either, only on what you perceive to be the attacks. You seem to think that people can differentiate whether they’re being put in the racist pile or not, but as several people have already said, that’s not the case. And speaking only for myself here, I can say it is SO FRUSTRATING to feel like the one AA author who is talking consistently about AA segregation is also routinely alienating potential readers and (as I perceive it) taking to task those of us who AGREE WITH YOU AND ARE TRYING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE. So I’m moved to engage you in debate in the hope that you will see how others are perceiving you BECAUSE I CARE ABOUT WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY. And I think that’s what’s driving some of the other comments — not the name calling — but the comments from people like Shiloh Walker and anu and Alyssa and aggie, all of whom have made it clear that they care about what you have to say, and yet feel that you’re undermining your own cause (and attacking the people who are on your side, trying to understand, trying to help in their own small ways). And it’s so ironic, because it none of us cared about the issue, everyone would just blow you off, ignore you, and not even bother with these long ass responses.

  206. Robin
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 01:11:52

    Somebody else needs to stand alone and talk about this issue, RACE, without saying the word.

    But those people also need to feel that they can talk about it without being told they’re not doing it right or aren’t focused enough on AA authors or whatever. They need to be able to follow their own conscience, as you follow yours. Because not everyone is going to come at this issue from the same place as you do, and IMO that doesn’t make what they have to say any less valuable or important.

  207. aggie
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 01:11:52

    Oh, and if it wasn’t clear from my comments: romance belongs with romance belongs with romance. Doesn’t matter if you’re striped, polka-dotted, black, white, red, green, blue or yellow. Books belong with other books because of genre, not because of race.

    And now I’m really going to bed.

  208. Bianca
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 01:17:47

    Personally, I just now got, what was upsetting her. I dont’ think I’ve seen anyone bullying her or be mean to her.

    If you want to change it. You’ll have to focus on marketing and show numbers. You might try asking independant bookstores to run the experiment and see how it goes from there.

    If it makes just as much money or more, then you can use that to argue with the book chains.

  209. anu439
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 01:17:51

    Why not you? Anybody else? Anybody?

    Apparently somebody else is needed and you do seem to feel strongly about the issue.

    I’m here with you, aren’t I? I absolutely feel strongly about the issue.

    You are not alone, as much as you may feel it, and as much as you do your damndest to drive allies away. There are lots of people who support your position, and they’ve expressed that. But they’ve also walked away because they felt silenced. Not just by the judgement of racism, but by the sense that you are not listening to them. It’s uncomfortable for alot of people to talk about this stuff, Monica, and you do not help to create the safe place that’s necessary to affect change.

    And Monica: African American romance should never be segregated from the romance section of the store. Romances by and about Black people must be treated with the same regard as books by and about other race…or lifeform.

  210. Monica
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 01:19:02

    I think I’m argumentative with the folks I perceive as biased instead of pandering and being extra careful, because I really don’t see them as potential readers.

    I honestly do see them as just plain, hostile racists. That is my filter. Some seem KKK caliber. It’s hard to understand how everybody doesn’t see them that way. It seems so obvious. There seems no point in trying to be friends or make kissy-face nice to those. To me, a few of these people seem just evil.

    OFTEN I’m surprised with others I don’t see that way (the majority) attack and say I called THEM racist. I’m like, what? Then they keep on attacking sort of like anu said, seem to go stone-crazy because of a word and it’s the RIGHT word.

    I am different from you as far as my filter–how I’m treated because of my race–and this makes my reactions to race discussions different, maybe. Sometimes you seem mean and baffling, a mob on the verge of who knows what? Maybe that’s the reason my sisters avoid these discussions and forums so fervently.

    I should stand down, but I really wish someone else would stand up.

  211. Bianca
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 01:33:29

    You shouldn’t stand down. But you should really understand the people your arguing against. And your not.

    Your emotional, which isn’t good, it makes at least for me, hard to follow your arguements. You are prone to tossing out the racist word, which is irritating. I personally find it hard to listen to you. And your perceiving attacks where there aren’t any.

    No one in this conversation has even come close to kkk mentality, which is racism. I have yet to see anyone who has disagreed with you even hint that they feel they are superior to you based on their pigment or lack of it.

  212. Robin
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 01:38:54

    I should stand down, but I really wish someone else would stand up.

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I kind of feel that you are standing ready to strike anyone down who tries to stand up in a way you don’t find acceptable according to your standards and rules. Those of us reading and reviewing AA Romance, for example, or those of us basically begging you to realize that you already have a number of people on your side and could have so many more with just a little less exercise of the “R” word. If people here didn’t think race was an important issue, we’d all be in bed right now, or, in my case, finishing the book I need to review. And with that, I think I will go to bed, so I can finish the book in the morning before work. G’night everyone.

  213. anu439
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 01:51:26

    I am different from you as far as my filter-how I'm treated because of my race-and this makes my reactions to race discussions different, maybe. Sometimes you seem mean and baffling, a mob on the verge of who knows what? Maybe that's the reason my sisters avoid these discussions and forums so fervently.

    That’s true. I haven’t been where you’ve been, and I don’t claim to understand what it looks like from where you are. I don’t presume to know how vicious and unpredictable it seems (and probably is). But as I said, I’m here, nonetheless, and so are others. I’m telling you, more agree with you, more want to agree with you than you give credit for.

    I’m not saying that everyone wants to hold hands and rush their nearest bookstores as a bonding moment or anything. But for every minute that you’re afraid of the mob, there is a poster who is afraid of what you may *lob* (in their eyes, as the *mob* is in yours) at her for trying to engage with you.

    And while you may dismiss her as a KKK member, she thinks she’s trying to have a conversation that she doesn’t how to have. Meanwhile, you’re not just talking to her. You are THE Black author at the table, which means that *everybody* is listening, potential fans, allies, or otherwise.

    If others are not seeing the situation unfold as you are, can’t you believe that you also are not seeing how it’s coming across to others?

    I think I'm argumentative with the folks I perceive as biased instead of pandering and being extra careful, because I really don't see them as potential readers.

    Oh bullshit, you’re argumentative, period;). You should NEVER stand down. I would never want you to stop. Hell, you stopped the defamation topic like five posts in! It hasn’t been the same since you opened your mouth. That is a powerful voice, one that’s worth listening to. If only you would stop and hear what others are saying as well.

    (and now, I’m off to bed as it’s 3am!)

  214. Kat
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 05:38:31

    I’m curious where the line between fact and opinion is drawn. So in Jane’s example, if you change the statement to: “Author Jones wrote a book filled with grammatical errors and a hundred inaccuracies.” which is obviously hyperbolic and yet seems to still reside towards the side of fact–would that be something you could argue as defamatory?

    Also–and I thought long and hard before posting this because of the 200+ comments before mine*–if someone states that a reviewer excludes a particular type of author or book because that particular type isn’t represented in the reviewer’s body of work, is that a statement of fact? What if there aren’t as many books or authors of that type and the reviewer just hasn’t picked one up (not necessarily on purpose but by chance)? Would the original statement be potentially defamatory?

    *This really isn’t a question specific to the segue in this thread, although my thoughts were sparked by previous comments.

  215. Angela
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 06:43:05

    I’ve been staying away from negative things for my mental sanity, but when this topic does roll around, I feel obligated to say something. Point blank, this country was founded on white supremacy. Point blank. Everything we see, every form of media is filtered through this. And then, in reaction to this, comes white guilt. A few have stated that they or others most likely keep quiet because Monica makes them feel that she’s ready to pounce if they don’t discuss this topic “her way”, and while I do feel that Monica comes across as inflammatory when arguing with you because you aren’t black, I do feel that everyone who has butt heads with her take a look at the black authors and readers who have responded. If you don’t want to hear Monica’s delivery, listen to theirs–the same way folks back in the day had a choice between MLK and Malcom X.

    Many of you have stated that you don’t care about the ethnicity of the characters or the author, but I’m sure that many readers feel the way Bianca does: she wants to be the heroine and is not attracted to black men. No one can honestly deny that the desired response to a romance novel from the average reader is “escapism” and “fantasy”, and for the most part, the average romance reader (who is middle-aged, suburban and white) does not view a black man as a valid or acceptable sexual fantasy, nor do they view the black woman the same way they view the white woman, and sometimes, the Asian or Latino woman. Like I stated before, this country was built on white supremacy, and in order to maintain the status quo, we’ve been handed down generations worth of derogatory and stereotypical images of non-Anglo Americans. And to be honest, when people of color are included in romance novels, it’s usually for the “exotic” factor.

    The main wrong that is really done to black authors is the fact that they are segregated, not because of the race of their characters, but because of THEM. Harking back to the case of Millenia Black, it is unofficially stated that black authors should write black characters. No other ethnicity in America is given this rule. But on the flip side, I would be offended if black authors began to “write white” because the generations to come need to see that love and marriage does exist for black people. I watch The Bachelor and wonder why there has never been a black Bachelor, or at least a white Bachelor who is open to getting to know that one black girl ABC always throws in each season. Did you know that the Washington Post ran an article in which little black kids in grade school stated that marriage was for white people? To me, the segregation of black romance novelists from the general romance section, and the resistance shown by readers towards reading them enforces that heartbreaking statement.

    I’m being blunt again, but every time the general populace–meaning white people–reject, ignore or look over a romantic comedy featuring a black couple, or a romance novel with black protagonists, they are buying into the current media’s portrayal of black love as being a myth. Bianca stating that she “can’t get into a black heroine’s head” enforces the assumption that maybe, just maybe, love and romance is not something normal to black people. Little black girls–and other minorities–want to be Cinderella, but how do you think it makes them feel when Cinderella is always white, and if she is black, by being pushed into a corner, it’s implied she isn’t acceptable or believable enough for her fairy tale romance to be shared with everyone?

  216. Debbie S
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 07:21:11

    Monica, choose your shoe

    A whole lotta Love, Big Girls don’t cry, Dark Thirst. Sorry, but I read a lot, I don’t remember the storylines in the living large books, but the BBW vampire in dark thirst sticks out.

    I might like to point out a few things.

    I often read AA, mainly because many AA authors write with BBW heroines, something that is lacking in my other favourite, Historicals. – go AA authors!

    I do most of my ‘shopping’ at the library, and guess what people, they don’t segregate. Ironic that isn’t it, since many many readers do still use the library. I’m one of them. I wonder how the others who use that fine resource about being told they are racist? (And that is the sentiment I get from your posts – I’m a different colour than you therefore I must be racist)

    This is an international forum, and though I do live in the USA currently I still call myself a New Zealander. To my knowledge, bookstores elsewhere in the world do not segregate- the AA section is as it should be, biographical/historical. You really need to realise your racist (yes I’m calling you racist because your arguments reek of it) arguments are hurting yourself on a world wide scale (assuming you have international releases – though in this day and age eBooks negate that). The Black American/White American debate is irrelevant elsewhere in the world. YOU as a business woman have to realise this. You, by choosing to defend a topic that IS worth defending in the wrong manner are only hurting your own business, in fact along with other AA authors business. And writing is a business at the heart of it.

    Monica, as Shiloh and others have suggested, your attitude here is only harming your cause. Next time I go to choose a book to buy, or a book to borrow if the title has your name on it I’ll put it back. I’ll choose an author – Black, white or Asian – who holds more respect for their readers.

  217. Pyre
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 07:33:39

  218. Monica
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 07:44:25

    I think I finally get it. It took time, but bear with me.

    I’m a black woman. That is the problem.

    When somebody makes a racist statement, it is nothing to many others–they don’t even notice it, but my entire paradigm shifts about that person.

    It has been very hard to understand why other nice people don’t regard them in the same way and instead attack me.

    I see people who have made biased statements against blacks as monsters. I cannot understand these people. It is too much to ask for me to do so.

    It’s like George Wallace. He might have been a decent man, but once he stood and said what he did, many blacks saw him as a monster to the day he died.

    I see some of the people as you see as nice folks, and just a little misguided maybe, as monsters. It’s that the filter of our experiences are profoundly different, not that YOU or even I are wrong.

    It is like someone states or even implies they hate women and you are to reason with them and be nice. And everybody else jumps on you because you can’t do so. That’s how it feels.

    Two authors made a comment on a popular romance site, not here. One said that they are sick of the race discussion and resent it. Another said there is no such thing as racists. These are what others consider as nice people.

    But when they wrote what they wrote, they became monsters to me. I could never look at them in the same way again. I couldn’t understand how they weren’t attacked and vilified (nobody said a thing). I cannot understand how people can still buy their books. I still consider these people monsters. I honestly do.

    What they wrote trumps their blogs or anything good about them. Everybody else considers them wonderful and if I mentioned their names, a total shitshorm would arise. It baffles me from my filter as a black woman.

    I won’t mention their names. I won’t call them racist heifers to their face. But that takes self-control. It honestly feels like dealing with an evil thing when I think of those people. I have to make a conscious effort to see them as people, not just racists.

    I’m thinking blacks really can’t deal with these sort of conversations or at least it is very difficult. That’s why we avoid them. That’s why my peers look on or don’t participate.

    What anu says is true that white Americans go crazy if the word racism is raised. It’s hard for me to understand. It doesn’t really seem reasonable.

    But maybe it’s the same thing reversed the way blacks go crazy when racist statements are made against us–statements the majority may not even notice or shrug off.

    Our filters are profoundly different. We have different experiences. And maybe it would be best if a person who identifies less with being a black person handles discussions such as these.

  219. Debbie S
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 08:07:40

    I think, Monica, that you have to realise that the knife cuts both ways.

    Why should I treat you any different because you are a black woman? That’s my rub.

    I don’t agree with black romance being segregated. That’s one issue. Even though I’m not black I totally understand your anger at this. Skin colour shouldn’t make a difference when it comes to shelving, as it shouldn’t every where else.

    But whether I buy your book is another issue again. Because frankly I don’t see why I should give you any special consideration because you are a black woman.

    You being black does not entitle you to demand I read your book. You should demand I read your book cause you’ve written a damn good story. Full Stop, end of sentence. That you’re black shouldn’t come into it, and for me, a reader, it doesn’t.

    What does come into consideration is threads like this where I can choose to not support an author who constantly berates her readers for not being black enough.

  220. Monica
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 08:16:21

    Debbie S. I have never berated anybody for not being black enough.

    You should understand we come from two completely different cultures.

    What blacks deal with in America affects how we see and perceive racial matters profoundly.

    It’s fine you don’t buy books if you’re offended by the author. That’s human nature.

    I do the same thing for people I perceive have made racist statements or support racists. It is very hard to see them as decent human beings because of my filters.

  221. Debbie S
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 08:26:49

    But you did berate me, Monica. Did you not say that if I’d actually read one of your books your chew your shoe? You made the assumption I’d chosen to lie about reading a book written by and containing AA content just so I could say “hey. I read AA books. Look at me the pc white girl.”

  222. Monica
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 08:36:16

    Debbbie S

    Yes, I did think that. Your former comments made me snap right into my filter. I saw you as a person who wouldn’t have anything to do with blacks. I saw you through the filter of my experiences and really couldn’t help it at the time. With further dialog, I’m able to see you more as an individual.

  223. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 08:49:45

    What anu says is true that white Americans go crazy if the word racism is raised.

    The reasoning is because some of us still get lumped in with the seriously racists asses in the world, Monica. Some white people were raised the way kids should be raised, to respect all people regardless of race, nationality, creed-to judge the person, not their color. Others, like me, were raised in an environment surrounded by racist attitude and they made a conscious decision to not be like that. It was a decision I made back when I was just getting old enough to realize that some of the people I knew treated blacks differently. I didn’t want to be like that~I made a conscious decision to not be like that.

    Yet we get lumped in with the jackasses that go around making racists jokes, the sick people that prey on people because of their skin color. Lumped in with people who foul everything around them with their very existence.

    Frankly, it’s insulting and it hurts. I don’t think you’re trying to insult white people in general. Seriously, I don’t. But when you make en masse remarks like the ones about Negroes, the ones about lynching, it’s a blanket insult. You’re not directing it at any one person, and if you are, you’re not being clear enough because too many are feeling insulted. That doesn’t mean they feel attacked because your comments hit too close to home. Hell, I’ve felt insulted over some of your comments in the past and it has nothing to do with what you said hitting close to home, whether you want to believe that or not.

    It boils down to your delivery, Monica. Until you can realize that your delivery needs a lot of work, until you can realize, that whether you intend it or not, you’re coming down on white people in general, you’re doing yourself and your cause more harm than good. I’m not saying you should shut up. I’m not saying that nobody else should stand up. You’ve got a powerful effect on people and that can be a good thing… if you can just try to understand why so much of what you say is taken as an insult, and try to do something about it. I know this has to be a bitch for you-it’s way personal for you, it hurts you, it affects you and all this has to make you angry. But objectivity is almost impossible when you’re angry. You have a right to be angry, but the majority of people who read this blog probably don’t deserve your anger. A great many of the lurkers are probably just sitting there, shaking their heads and wondering exactly what they did wrong. The answer is nothing, but that’s not how you’ve made people feel.

    You’ve already lost readers over this. You’ve lost potential readers over it. And not because you’re black and they are white, but because you made them feel substandard.

  224. Monica
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 08:56:30

    Shiloh, I’m the only one talking now, except Angela and she used the words white supremacist and retired.

    I honestly feel you would have a problem with the delivery from any black person who was speaking openly because we see things differently from the way we do. Racist words and statements hurt us. It is hard for us to ignore or dismiss them. Racist actions hurt us more.

    The fact that you won’t speak up and out against what insults and hurts us even on Sybil’s blog. You were on Sybil’s blog posting and supporting them instead. And you ceaselessly come and attack me for HOW I say it feels instead of the substance of my words. It says a lot.

  225. Monica
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 08:58:23

    On this forum, Shiloh, I doubt you have lost as many readers as I have. But there are blacks lurking and reading every word. I’m not lying when I say you certainly have lost readers too, maybe only a few, but they are gone.

  226. Nora Roberts
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 09:10:19

    I’m really not stepping into this, but will ease around the edges just a bit–and just regarding the last few comments.

    I can’t see Shiloh’s posts as any sort of an ‘attack’. Explaining feelings and reactions, without rancor, without harshness isn’t an attack in my book. It seemed a pretty calm and reasoned here’s how it strikes me–and how I think it may be striking others. Attack is a strong word, and implies–at the least–someone coming at you physically or verbally with the intent to do harm.

  227. Monica
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 09:12:04

    *When I say have a problem with any black person speaking openly (about race), I mean black American from this culture who deals with daily.

    There is a big reason we stay away from such discussions, a huge one. We see your statements differently, we really do.

    You’re outraged at me. Understand we can’t ignore or dismiss the same statements you can shrug off. They are a big thing to us, as big or bigger than the statements I made that outraged some of you.

    This is a comment from my blog:

    Monica is called evil, but isn’t seeing a wrong and ignoring it even more evil? It really chips away at the respect I have for the romance genre as a whole.

  228. Jan
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 09:16:43

    Thanks for the link, Pyre, I was trying to find it but could not. It’s more balanced than I thought it would be.

    Jane, thanks for the piece above. I was surprised to hear that the law sides more with the name-caller, and the person being called names is the one responsible for proving it’s not true. Or the other way of seeing it is that the law sides with the First Amendment.

    What about another internet trick that people use to create fuzziness in their arguments: Instead of stating something outright as the case, they’ll say “typically” or “often” or “usually”, so instead of something that can easily be disproven like “Person A stinks of Camembert cheese,” they say “Person A often stinks of Camembert cheese.” (a silly example, but *looks up at thread* I prefer to stick to silly examples). A single word seems to make it impossible to prove one way or the other.

  229. Ann Aguirre
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 09:16:53

    I’ve read all the responses in this thread, and I thought long and hard about saying anything. However, on reflection, I think several people let anger get the best of them. In the wake of personal outrage, they allowed emotion to overwhelm good sense and a number of folks said objectionable things.

    I’m not calling anyone out, because I suspect once the cool-down begins, they’ll know perfectly well who they are. What they choose to do about it is up to them, but I think some apologies are in order, round-robin style.

    Discussions where people get hot don’t do anything to advance the real issue. And it only deepens the divide between points of view.

    The issue is this: AA romance should be treated as romance, plain and simple. Will someone step up and argue against that. Go on. If you do, I’m afraid you’ll have to take me on. A book is a book is a book. Is a book.

    And if not, what, exactly, are we arguing about?

    Well, there’s a subtext here. If you’re white, and don’t read AA romance, you’re racist. If you’re white, and you do read / review romance, you probably do it on a “token” basis, out of white guilt. That’s an upsetting polarity.

    I read many black authors, who tell great stories. I especially liked Patricia Sargeant’s You Belong to me, and I’m not a big romantic suspense fan, but I love “second-chance” romances, seeing people who couldn’t make it work the first time, fix it up in the long run. And I’m about to glom Francis Ray and Gwyneth Bolton on my next mega-Amazon order. I enjoyed meeting Francis at RWA and Gwyneth rocks my world online.

    So why does nobody acknowledge there are white people who are just looking for good books? Do we not exist?

    I don’t buy books (or not) based on race, but if I take a real shine to an author, I will make a special effort to support her books. And likewise, if someone puts me off with his / her public persona, fuck me if that person is getting a single dime.

    Something to think about.

  230. Monica
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 09:17:16

    Nothing but respect for Nora. (’cause I like her books)

    Shiloh does come off as intelligent and level-headed, but her sympathies seem to lie with people I (and anybody black from my culture) really have a hard time with. I see Shiloh’s statements as a sort of assault, not a physical one of course, mainly in the fact she doesn’t say the same thing to others–only me.

    We see things differently.

    Again, I don’t think there is any right or wrong in this, just different filters.

    There is a reason wiser blacks avoid these sort of topics with the majority.

  231. Monica
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 09:22:01

    So why does nobody acknowledge there are white people who are just looking for good books? Do we not exist?

    I wrote a couple of posts on that, ignored apparently.

    I said I’m trying to reach the folks who are always looking for a good romance, and are willing to read a fresh new pool of romance authors if made aware of them. Most readers are not that race-conscious. I wrote this was the majority.

    It seems that people are trying so hard to look for the negative (and I don’t deny it’s there) and criticize (a better word than attack) they completely overlook the positive.

  232. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 09:24:07

    You were on Sybil's blog posting and supporting them instead

    No, I wasn’t supporting Sybil. I fussed at them. It’s a game of sticks and stones. You hurl insults at them, they hurl them back and frankly, it’s a waste of time for both of you. I told them just that. That isn’t supporting them. I told them that this trading of insults between you and Sybil/friends accomplishes nothing. That isn’t supporting them.

    As to me attacking you, Monica, I don’t see it that way. Whether you believe it or not, I’m trying to help you, lady. Seriously trying. If I’ve lost readers over the fact that I’m trying to explain why some people feel insulted, well, I’m sorry for that, but I’m not going to back down. If I’ve made somebody feel insulted, wronged or somehow less, I’m truly sorry for that but it doesn’t change the fact this is how you come off to so many people.

    I’ve tried damn hard not to insult anybody. I’m trying damn hard not to pick on anybody. I don’t see that I’ve attacked anybody. I’ve tried, as best as I can, to explain in an objective manner why this isn’t helping your cause.

    I don’t agree with everything you’ve said, I don’t agree with all your viewpoints, just as I don’t agree with everything that Sybil and others say on her blog. I don’t have to agree, though, to see both sides of this deal.

    There have been mistakes made all around on this. There have been things said that made me wince just reading them, things said that would have been better left unsaid. Some things that would have been better left unthought.

    I guess I need to include myself on the making mistakes, if I’ve unintentionally hurt or offended somebody. I can sincerely say that I’m sorry for that. But I can also say that I am trying to help. Or rather, I was. Since it doesn’t seem to be doing any good, I’m done with it.

  233. Monica
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 09:30:40

    Ann A. Much respect there too.

    Well, there's a subtext here. If you're white, and don't read AA romance, you're racist. If you're white, and you do read / review romance, you probably do it on a “token” basis, out of white guilt. That's an upsetting polarity.

    I really, really don’t think that. I just wish AA romance was treated like any other romance.

    A lot of people are unaware of this large pool of fresh new romance authors. It ISN’T marketed to them. There are a lot of books out there to read. I understand that.

    I just wish AA romance was treated like any other romance, that’s all. As far as penetrate the greater romance market it has been excluded from for so many years, I understand it will take time.

    I never said that sites such as dearauthor who DO make the effort are appreciated, at least by me.

  234. Debbie S
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 09:31:15

    The problem here is Monica, your ‘teaching’ is the equivalent to bashing someone over the head with a rock. You’re only alienating the people who already read from that pool of authors, and not doing a lot to gain new ones, because your delivery is harsh and inflammatory relying on race. Rather than saying “Look at these great stories”, your sentiment comes off as saying these authors are black and you must read them or you’re racist.

  235. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 09:37:54

    I see Shiloh's statements as a sort of assault, not a physical one of course, mainly in the fact she doesn't say the same thing to others-only me.

    The reasoning is because you’re an author, Moncia… they are readers. I don’t chide readers. I try hard not to say anything in a public forum-or elsewhere, that can come off as insulting to a reader or as attacking a reader. In private discussion, though… well, if you were on a speaking basis with Sybil, she could probably tell you that I’ve said the same things to her that I’ve said to you.

    It’s just a fact of life, Monica. Authors have to set a higher standard of behavior for themselves online or in any public forum. Anybody in the public arena does.

    her sympathies seem to lie with people I (and anybody black from my culture) really have a hard time with.

    My symapthies actually lie with you, not because I like you and I don’t like them… I like both you and Sybil just fine. And not because you’re black and they aren’t. I honestly do not care about that.

    My sympathies lie with you because this hurts YOU. It doesn’t hurt them. My sympathies are pretty much are always going to be with the person who gets hurt in any mess.

  236. Monica
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 09:39:10

    I guess I need to include myself on the making mistakes, if I've unintentionally hurt or offended somebody. I can sincerely say that I'm sorry for that. But I can also say that I am trying to help. Or rather, I was. Since it doesn't seem to be doing any good, I'm done with it.

    That was big of you. I know I’ve hurt people. It is hard to apologize to the ones I negatively responded to because I still see them through that filter and they seem like monsters.

    I’m not trying to do something constructive too, but it’s not working, I guess.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that blacks shouldn’t discuss race with the majority. I’m the only one who will stand here and take what feels like abuse from a few. Not saying it is, saying it’s what it feels like.

    I don’t want to hurt good people and I’m dismayed when it happens.

    I apologize to you good and decent people. I don’t think you’re racists and I don’t want you to feel insulted or criticized. I’ve tried to say over and over I’m not directing my comments to you, just the evil ones.

    But it must feel like that and for that I do apologize.

  237. Gennita Low
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 09:43:37

    Nobody called you evil, Monica. You’ve the one calling names: Racist, Negro, evil, monster, KKK, mob, to bring up a few. And anyone who reasons with you is attacking/criticising you. It could be that no one is speaking because you’ve silenced them by shouting that either a) they are all against you or, b) they don’t understand the world through your filters or, c) they’re defending the meanies and not you.

    You also keep asking why no one has yet brought up the all important topic at hand. When a message/platform is lost because of the messenger’s delivery, then all reasonable dialogue’s gone. Everyone’s just thinking “Monica,” “trainwreck,” “rant,” “blog kerfluffle.” Certainly not your issue, which IS important.

  238. Monica
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 09:47:16

    I've come to the conclusion that blacks shouldn't discuss race with the majority.

    I mean that. And it isn’t because all the majority is racist, it’s because there’s not a lot of understanding. And Shiloh has a point, that particularly black authors probably should not discuss race with the majority. Most black authors comply rather strictly with this (AND have tried to kindly advise me, sigh–they tell me regularly to stay away). Nothing good can come out of it.

    I hope some others step up and speak out for black authors in venues like this. A lot of insult toward us goes unaddressed.

    And there are a lot of good people who can speak up and reason where I just see red. I hope you do so.

  239. Monica
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 09:51:02

    Gennita

    a) they are all against you or, b) they don't understand the world through your filters or, c) they're defending the meanies and not you.

    Yes, I see that is true. Not all of them, but certainly you and some others. We are seeing things through different filters and I realize I don’t understand, and you certainly don’t understand me.

    My filter isn’t that different from some other blacks. They just have the sense not to say anything.

  240. blinking
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 09:53:26

    Holy haggises, Batman. Instead of I see dead people, it’s I see Racists behind every shrub. Every cliche, every handy tag, every generalized assumption was pulled out of Monica’s magic hat. Zoinkies.

    Jane, thank you for the original post, it’s excellent and informative.

  241. Seressia
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 09:55:28

    Actually I retreated because I have a day job, and needed to take my sleepy behind to bed!

    I want to encourage debate. If this thread continues, I’ll continue to pop in and add my two cents. I love to see discussion continue, and posts that can discuss it withjout going “Monica did” and “Monica said” and focus on the issue. Open and honest dialogue.

    Sort of like Biance finally throwing off her excuse that she wouldn’t read anyone from the BiB blog because of Monica’s association when in actuality she won’t read any romances with AA characters because black women are different from white women. So does that mean that we’re “separate but equal” or something else? What about IR romances–black woman with a hero of another ethnicity?

  242. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 09:55:42

    When a message/platform is lost because of the messenger's delivery, then all reasonable dialogue's gone. Everyone's just thinking “Monica,” “trainwreck,” “rant,” “blog kerfluffle.” Certainly not your issue, which IS important.

    Oh, man. Gennita, you’re making me love you again. ;)
    But I also think I’m loving Ann A. too. Does that make me fickle?

    Shiloh does come off as intelligent and level-headed

    Oh, man… I’m gonna make my husband read this. Not the intelligent part. I’ve always had more book sense than I know what to do with… but level headed almost sounds like common sense. :P Me… having common sense. Wow… ;)

    Monica, I really do hope you try to think past the filter thing to what I’m saying about the delivery and such. As I’ve said before, you’ve got a powerful voice and I think you can make a difference for yourself and other black authors-a positive one, if you can just figure out how to deliver your message in a different manner.

    :D I’m going to try not to get starry eyed that Nora Roberts actually read something I was saying and seemed to make sense of it. Really, I am.

    And now, I’m really am done… if I don’t get some writing done, I’m going to kick myself in the butt here shortly.

  243. Debbie S
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 09:59:31

    I've come to the conclusion that blacks shouldn't discuss race with the majority.

    Monica, I think you should take a step back. You are saying this. Not the black girl next door, not the black man 3 states away. You can’t come out with “I’m black therefore I am oppressed” It is no longer a viable blanket statement.

    Own your own remarks, don’t foist them off on the entire world of people with black skin. You might just find that some/many/none of them don’t feel the way you do.

  244. Debbie S
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 10:02:50

    correction: “We are black therefore We are oppressed”.

  245. Monica
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 10:10:00

    Debbie S. The I AM made it pretty clear I was saying it. I talk and deal with black Americans every day. I still say it’s wiser if blacks, particularly authors, leave these discussions alone unless an occasional comment, VERY carefully made. Most practice what I just preached.

    Seressia, I do think debate on this issue is too hard for us and a guaranteed lose-lose on such a forum. I’d like to see it on a forum where many black authors and readers could and would speak up with our views also.

  246. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 10:10:01

    Daggone… this thing is like crack. I can’t pull myself away.

    And Shiloh has a point, that particularly black authors probably should not discuss race with the majority.

    I just want to make it clear that I’m not directing my comments at you as a black author… just as an author. You’ve got viable issues and concerns, and they do need to be addressed. But the key thing is addressing them in the right manner.

    Any and all authors just have to hold themselves to a higher standard when it comes to public behavior.

    There was a blog I was reading last night… (I’m not mentioning the name, the author or anything that might draw attention to it, because frankly, this author doesn’t deserve the attention, IMO) Anyway, this author (we’ll call her Author A) started knocking and bashing another author. We’ll call the latter Author B. Author B is a big name right now. Way big.

    Author A made some comments about Author B, that while to her may have come off as witty, sly and ever so snarkily clever, they read to me like a bunch of petty, jealous BS. She was surrounded by friends on said blog and probably felt justified in saying whatever she wanted to. But when I read her statements, I just shook my head and I’ve mentally crossed her off my buy list.

    If she had been a reader, I wouldn’t have blinked twice. Might have disagreed, might not have. But it wouldn’t have made any kind of effect on me. It was an author, though, that said it and an author should know better.

    Words are everything to us. We have to be careful how we use them.

  247. Devon
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 10:19:39

    Actually I retreated because I have a day job, and needed to take my sleepy behind to bed!

    Heh, I almost posted something to that fact, then decided you probably didn’t need a random blogger defending your “retreat”

    I want to encourage debate. If this thread continues, I'll continue to pop in and add my two cents. I love to see discussion continueT , and posts that can discuss it withjout going “Monica did” and “Monica said” and focus on the issue. Open and honest dialogue.

    Please do. This discussion could use more actual discussion. Erm…except for the part where it’s supposed to be about defamation and legal stuff.

    Oh, and no mention of DA/Jane in the article. Perhaps something sunk in. I was struck by how ridiculous the story looks when put down in impertial, journalistic fashion. A woman who had a ghostwriter write the story in her head, then had it published by a POD. Why? Why? Why?

  248. Monica
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 10:19:54

    Shiloh, dammit, we gotta put the pipe down!

    I’m saying that I don’t think it is POSSIBLE for a black person of my culture and background to do what you’re saying. You have no idea how some of the statements made here felt to me as a black woman. Subjectively, at times it felt as if I were in a KKK rally. Seriously. How to respond? How to be so careful all the time? Just not possible.

    So we blacks, particularly authors, might need to avoid the discussion altogether.

  249. Monica
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 10:22:33

    Shit! I deleted KKK rally and it went through.

    I KNOW saying I felt like it was a KKK rally is a bad thing, even if it WAS how it felt. I feel as if I’m not allowed to say how I feel.

    I replaced it and it didn’t go though! Sorry to all the offended people that I used the word.

  250. Gennita Low
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 10:26:04

    Monica wrote:

    We are seeing things through different filters and I realize I don't understand, and you certainly don't understand me.

    But I do understand you. That’s the part that comes out loud and clear. The YOU this morning is actually more understanding and comprehensible than the YOU last night, when you were in full attack mode, but I understood both Monicas well enough.

    You want to start a revolution, or at least, create a passion about an injustice. You want writers and readers to stand up and applaud and say you’re right, and that this, and this, and this, is wrong, and we will do something about it, dammit! You want equal treatment because AA authors and books are segregated, which is not right because a romance should be just a romance.

    (Which suddenly made me remember, wasn’t there a Latina line created a few years back?)

    Monica, this is not an accusation/attack, but it’s me (and a few others, probably, heh) that you don’t understand/get. You confuse silence on my (our) part with total agreement with your “enemies.” You question it. You poke and try to get responses, and when you don’t you throw your hands up and say, “filters,” “cultural,” “I’m alone because I’m black.”

    I’m not saying that some responses toward your diatribe weren’t harsh. However, this being the Net, everything is connected to some past blog entry/post/historical big blow up. Readers who don’t know what’s going on end up confused and others who do just throw up their hands because they know where it’s all going…again….

    Now I have to go up on the roof and deal with another kind of filter, the male kind, in which a lot of yelling is also involved. Have a good day!

  251. Gennita Low
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 10:29:27

    Oh, man. Gennita, you're making me love you again.

    Shiloh, you slut.

    Either you’re with me or you ain’t, woman. Dump that Ann A bio-tch. She ain’t got what I have–a nailgun. ;-)

  252. Debbie S
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 10:30:53

    So we blacks, particularly authors, might need to avoid the discussion altogether.

    No, I don’t think this is a viable statement. You as a black author should perhaps avoid the discussion. Being black does not make you all equal, you do not all share the same experiences as a collective just because your black. Being black does not make you poor, oppressed and hard done by. There are plenty of upper class/rich people that happen to be black.

    I would hazard a guess that there are as many AA authors cringing in their shoes at your blanket comments as there are cheering – authors who just want to be that a damn AUTHOR.

  253. Nora Roberts
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 10:33:54

    Shannon, a year or so ago I read an interview with an author where the author not only criticized the work of another (in the same genre), a beloved and revered author, but went on about why his books were so much better than beloved and revered. He was, imo, very insulting to the other author. And, imo, made himself come across as a complete asshole.

    If the guy being interviewed hadn’t already been on my will never read list because he’d been, on a previous ocasion, snotty and smirky to me, in my face, (Romance, smirk, giggle, snort) that interview would’ve done it.

    It wasn’t defamation, to circle back to the original topic here, certainly wasn’t libel, but it was offensive to me. Snotty boasting author showed no class and no sense of professionalism.

  254. Heather Holland
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 10:34:08

    Words are everything to us. We have to be careful how we use them.

    Exactly, Shiloh. Word usage is very important. It’s not the words, but how they are used, how they are paired up with other words. It’s all in the delivery, and if the delivery is wrong, then the message gets lost. As authors, we should know how to properly lay out our words without letting emotion take control. I know, it’s sometimes easier said that done, but it IS doable.

    And on a personal note, I think an apology is owed to Jane for the hijacking of her post. The initial message was lost in the fodder that followed. Agree or disagree, it’s just my opinion.

    As for the other material being bandied about here, I refuse to get into that. It’s one of the topics I opt not to get into with my author name, and since that’s a major part of who I am–I just won’t go there.

  255. Kalen Hughes
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 10:34:49

    Nobody will SAY AA romance should be segregated, SAYING it is what makes them mad. Some just practice exclusion and support the segregation.

    The problem with the entire discussion is that it's apples and oranges. READERS (specifically non-AA readers) are being called racist based on BOOK STORE'S choices to shelve AA fiction in its own section in some stores around the country (note: in several previous discussions of the SAME TOPIC, it has been pointed out that this is hardly a universal shelving method; it is employed mostly in areas with large AA populations and is economically driven by the desire of AA readers). Do you see the problem here? It is not a problem that READERS (specifically non-AA readers) create or have ANY control over. It is also not an issue that is limited to AA writers (as has also been pointed out previously). If you live in an area with large Latino or Asian populations you're likely to have sections for those author's books as well (we certainly do here in the Bay Area).

    I don't know how to say this any more simply or clearly. Where books are shelved has NOTHING to do with the romance genre itself (RWA, romance writers, or romance readers in general) wanting “those AA books” segregated so as not to pollute our lily white shelves. In the VAST majority of stores around the country the AA romances ARE shelved right alongside all the others. If they aren't in YOUR community and it bothers you, TELL THE MANAGER that it bothers you. WRITE A LETTER to the corporate office, but for heavens' sake, QUITE BEATING UP READERS ABOUT IT.

  256. Kalen Hughes
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 10:36:24

    QUIT not QUITE. Why can’t I type?

  257. Monica
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 10:43:37

    I agree with you it is READERS who can make a change. They drive the entire book industry. READERS, not authors, not publishers. What READERS want, readers will get.

    READERS can change the romance balance far faster than anybody else could.

    Now the fact that black READERS drive the AA segregation issue also is a valid topic for discussion.

  258. Seressia
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 11:21:09

    I would like to point out a couple of things:

    1. Black romance readers read more than black romance. How do y’all think we got started reading romance in the first place? You think we automatically stopped reading Kathleen Woodiwiss, Johanna Lindsey and others once we discovered black romance authors?

    2. I’ve said before, B&N doesn’t have this policy. It IS policy in Borders/Waldenbooks. Sue Grimshaw does not buy AA romance. Sean Bentley buys all AA fiction for Borders/Waldenbooks. And yes, I’ve spoken to both of them. They aren’t going to listen to me, because I’m an author (even though I’m a reader first). They will listen to READERS, if enough readers question them on it.

    3. I certainly wasn’t asked to participate in an AA reader survey, which they claim is the basis for the segregation. I don’t know anyone who was. They could have found me back when I had the old Waldenbooks discount card and was racking up $5 coupons left and right. Heck, they could have asked me when I actually worked part time for them.

    I don’t think anyone here mentioned that it’s RWA’s fault, or romance’s fault where AA romances are shelved. But you’re damn skippy I believe READERS can have an impact, and that’s why this discussion and building awareness is important.

  259. Kalen Hughes
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 11:37:24

    Now the fact that black READERS drive the AA segregation issue also is a valid topic for discussion.

    The question is what to do about it? If anything.

    The only store I’ve ever come across with an AA section is an Oakland neighborhood that is PREDOMINATELY black (when I lived there I was the only person of any other race on my whole street). None of the stores that I frequent in San Francisco or Emeryville have AA sections (with the exception of City Lights, which has sections for every race, ethnicity, sexuality, and combo there of). So it's not as if this is a universal practice.

    Last time this topic came up I was still living there and I asked my neighbors what they thought of the issue, and to a wo/man they said they wanted “their own section” so they could find “their” books. I don't see this changing any time in the near future, and I don't quite know how to respond. I can't even come up with a way to talk about it or analyze it that doesn't set off “racist/bigoted/condescending” alarms in my own head. If I say it's a bad thing, I'm setting myself up to be slammed for telling a specific minority that wanting easy access to books they identify with is wrong (that their desire is somehow wrong, or inferior, or self-defeating). If I say it's a good thing, I'm setting myself up to be slammed for being pro-gettoization.

    What's a girl to do?

    All I can do is read the books that appeal to me, regardless of where they're shelved, and promote them to other readers. And I do. I mainly (almost exclusively) read historicals when it comes to romances (this is also what I write). I'm currently only aware of two AA authors who write these: Beverley Jenkins, who I LOVE; and TJ Bennett, who was a Golden Heart finalist with me and has two books coming out next year. If anyone knows of any others, PLEASE let me know!

  260. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 11:41:50

    Shiloh, dammit, we gotta put the pipe down!

    But… but… but… I just finished my book. I can actually not feet guilty for my current need for this insane pipe.

    I'm saying that I don't think it is POSSIBLE for a black person of my culture and background to do what you're saying.

    I can get that on some level. Certain things in my background push buttons for me and it’s hard to figure out how to respond objectively when your emotions are screaming. But today, you’re a lot more… hmmm… coherent isn’t the word, because you weren’t ever really incoherent. Maybe what I’m looking for is that you are coming off as a more open to hearing what others have to say. Maybe you should let a little time, even it’s just a few hours, pass before you respond. When your emotions run high, when you’re angry, your message gets lost.

    Either you're with me or you ain't, woman. Dump that Ann A bio-tch. She ain't got what I have-a nailgun. ;-)

    Gennita…man, I dunno. Tools scare me. ;)

    Heather, yeah, the thread did get sort of hijacked but that’s just sort of the way of blogland. Only real way to control that is to moderate it.

  261. anu439
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 11:42:29

    Dammit, I need to do some work!

    Monica,

    So we blacks, particularly authors, might need to avoid the discussion altogether.

    I think this is a huge mistake. That minorities shouldn't speak about prejudice and racism to the majority-‘self-defeating. And impossible to accomplish.

    Case in point: I've seen you do this before. You'll come into a topic like a firebrand, throw out comments, others get pissed, flamewar ensues, you're bewildered why this happened, and you end on a weary note, saying that the majority can't handle the conversation, or that Black authors are betters off banding together, etc. But here you are again.

    Why? Because it's important to you. And if you're not gonna engage with the majority, you'd be preaching to the choir, and what the hell is the point of that?

    You see those name-callers as monsters, Shiloh Walker sees both of you as fools. Me, I don't give a shit about them. I barely know who they are, and nothing they've said makes me more interested in knowing them better.

    YOU, however, interest me. Your perspective interests me because you're the only Black author who talks about this (sadly, often ineffectively) on a consistent basis. You're the only Black author who is visible in the White/Non-Black romance blogosphere on a consistent basis. You take your lumps, but you always come back, and I respect you for it, although I don't agree with the way you present your point-of-view.

    And you're right that everyone's filters are different. In this case, your filters matter more because you want something from others. Your filters prevent you from positively engaging with potential readers and allies-‘and understanding what others' filters may be. You can't change them, but you can change how you engage with them.

    But engagement never happens. This conversation ALWAYS devolves into what Monica said, who's racist and who's not, who's in what group and who's not. This is shortsighted and so self-defeating, I can't even express how discouraging it is to see a topic an issue more important than Monica herself because All About Monica. I'm not putting it all on you, plenty of people take the easy way out of the convo by putting it all on you. But as I said, the only thing you can control is how you present yourself and the issue that is important to you.

  262. anu439
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 11:50:31

    To get to the nuts-and-bolts. The issues I see:

    1) Shelving

    2) Non-Black readers of AA romance

    Related, but each is affected by factors unique to particular issue.

    To really understand No. 1, I would love to see DA or someone else interview a major bookstore representative on shelving practices. I would think shelving in bookstores works similar to that in grocery stores, things are shelved according to what the store perceives will maximize sales. The psychology of building design is fascinating, and there are factors unique to each retail sector.

    This is a READER issue because how things are shelved obviously affects what we will buy. If there are three shelves dedicated to one author, that's an economic decision that limits space for other authors. What about what's put on endcaps? How far is General Fiction and AA Fiction from the genre aisles? How is fiction by non-White, non-European authors classed in your store? Where's the ghetto in your store?

    I'm not sure that any site would be able to get such info, but we need more than speculation and and surveys none of us have seen to understand the forces that determine our choices as READERS.


    Point 2. Non-Black readers and AA romance.

    Quite a long while back, maybe more than a year ago, there was a conversation on another popular blog where white romance readers admitted that they felt uncomfortable at the thought of reading AA romance. That it would be too alien, that they couldn't relate, that they would be the White Woman Reading the Black Romance.

    I felt awful on a fundamental level to even try to engage in the conversation. How, in the 21st century, do you explain the humanity of African Americans? That to be human is to want, to experience, to be vulnerable to love? What do I even begin to say? So I kept saying over and over again: it just a freaking book, it's a romance like any other, don't put so much pressure on it. The more I said, the more shrill I got, the more off-putting I could feel myself becoming. And I finally just left.

    But in that thread, it was like the posters were confessing a sin, and it almost seemed like it was cathartic for them to be able to admit such taboos. Everybody knows you're not supposed to feel like that, right? But in that space, they felt safe enough to admit it, to acknowledge the elephant in the room.

    It took me a while to figure out that weren't reveling in it feelings, they weren't speaking with pride. They were struggling with it, trying to figure out what to do their feelings, and for somebody to please not call them a racist while they're at it.

    If they were racist, there was no point dwelling on it. If it's hard for AA authors to talk about this, it is equally so-‘for different reasons-‘on the majority side. They have their own filters, as complex and as beyond labeling as Monica's filters, as Seressia's–as mine in being a brown person in the inevitable black/white divide. In my view, more important than the label of Racist is that they were willing to talk about the issue at all.

    That is a conversation that needs to happen. Over and over and over and over again.

    This is why, once I got beyond my initial…shock at Bianca's comments, I was pretty fascinated by her. (Bianca, I apologize for singling you out, but I think you're an important part of the conversation.) As others have said, she represents an important, silent voice. Look, she bases her romance reading on racial lines, there's no getting around it. BUT, she also stuck with the conversation until late into the night. And there was a moment where she finally got Monica's point-of-view. Is it more important that you want to call her racist, or that she actually listened to you?

    She's likely part of a large and silent readership that has prejudices-‘but isn't necessarily unwilling to move beyond them (sorry, double negative). She may not herself, but engaging with her may provide an opening to talk to others this explosive issue.

    Are AA romances “separate but equal” in readers' eyes, as Seressia suggested? Can we talk about this without it exploding in our faces?

    I dunno know. I just know that we need to have this conversation with whoever will engage, however hard it is, on whatever level (except name-calling). We need DA and others reviewing books, interviewing minority authors, giving recs, treating non-White romance as just another part of romance-‘as they have done. We need more sites to do that.

    We also need opportunities as READERS, to talk about our motivations (or lack thereof) for reading AA, just as we talk about our motivations (or lack thereof) for reading erotic romance, alpha heroes, gay romance, werewolf romance, etc.

  263. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 11:52:11

    Shiloh Walker sees both of you as fools.

    Wince… that sounds so harsh. Not fools exactly. Just rather…self defeating.

  264. Bianca
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 11:52:51

    Sort of like Biance finally throwing off her excuse that she wouldn't read anyone from the BiB blog because of Monica's association when in actuality she won't read any romances with AA characters because black women are different from white women. So does that mean that we're “separate but equal” or something else?
    ================

    No it means, I’m not attracted to black men and I can’t imagine being a black woman. I just don’t have that world view and it’s a sticking point. I guess I’d be homophobic if I said I don’t read gay romance because I can’t imagine being a gay guy too.

  265. Heather Holland
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 12:04:42

    Only real way to control that is to moderate it.

    True, and where’s the fun in that? And the diversion, so to speak, is a very interesting topic. But it’s still one I refuse to get involved in. So, I shall slink back into lurkdom. I’ve got plenty of work waiting on me to pay attention to it, even if I prefer to procrastinate today. A writer’s job is never done. ;)

  266. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 12:07:07

    No it means, I'm not attracted to black men and I can't imagine being a black woman. I just don't have that world view and it's a sticking point. I guess I'd be homophobic if I said I don't read gay romance because I can't imagine being a gay guy too.

    Okay, this is probably a very lame example, but I can’t think of anything else.

    I can’t imagine being an accountant. Me and numbers? We don’t mix. I did well enough in math at school, but that was because I wanted to get it done so I go the more important stuff, like read the romance I had in my purse. Numbers are like a foreign language to me. The ladies at my bank, thank God, have a sense of humor and they like me and are patient with me when I screw up on the numbers thing.

    So I can’t imagien being an accountant. I don’t want to. I don’t want to be one.

    But that doesn’t mean I can’t read a book with an accountant in it and enjoy the book.

    Not every book by a black author deals with race. Somebody mentioned Patricia Sargaent’s You Belong To Me . This is just a good, contemporary romantic suspense. Race isn’t an issue in the book. The reunited lovers are the issue and resolving what drove them apart. Although, Patricia, sweetie… if you’re reading this… I STILL hate what you did to that secondary character…. man, you mean woman. Anyway, back on track, Bianca… it’s just a romance. Whatever cultural issues you think might be in there, they aren’t there. You’ll probably find them in interracials romances and you’d find them in most street lit, I guess, but that’s not what we’re discussing.

  267. FerfeLabat
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 12:17:22

    Jesus.H.Christ.have.mercy, Shiloh! They called Monica a whore over at Sybil’s blog and you were over there joking around with them. Are you completely insane? Do you have any clue how that looks to an impartial observer?

    I seldom agree with Monica but .. C’mere you crazy nut … *Hug* & *Shooshy Kiss* We need to get together for drinks and nuke the blog-o-sphere from space. You and me, Baby.

  268. FerfeLabat
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 12:25:53

    The above post from me references this exchange:

    You were on Sybil's blog posting and supporting them instead

    No, I wasn't supporting Sybil. I fussed at them. It's a game of sticks and stones. You hurl insults at them, they hurl them back and frankly, it's a waste of time for both of you. I told them just that. That isn't supporting them. I told them that this trading of insults between you and Sybil/friends accomplishes nothing. That isn't supporting them.

    Which referenceses this thread.

  269. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 12:27:34

    Ferfe, I really don’t want to get into a discussion with ya, lady. Frankly, I say one thing, you hear another, and vice versa. Monica does try to hear me~too often, you only see what you want to see.

    I told them that they needed to let it go. I said that repeatedly. Dunno if it will happen and I’ve got nothing to add to that discussion.

    In my honest opinion, I do think lines were crossed-by both Monica and Sybil. I don’t want to come off as harsh and critical so I kept it light on my side. I didn’t agree with them and I didn’t tell them hey… right on, keep going. I DON’T agree with how it was handled on either side and I think I’ve been fairly clear on that.

    Name calling, no matter who the party is, is juvenile and doesn’t ever accomplish much. All it did in this case, just like just about every other, was piss people off and send a discussion spiraling down into train wreck city. However, it’s also now, once more, something that I think people can get something out of.

  270. Kalen Hughes
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 12:28:39

    I guess I'd be homophobic if I said I don't read gay romance because I can't imagine being a gay guy too.

    I guess I just don’t understand or identify with the mindset being expressed (I'm not disagreeing with your right to have said mindset, I'm just baffled by it). I don't see how RACE or SEXUALITY has anything to do with being able to identify with and enjoy the romance. I can read a book (or watch a movie) set in Ancient Rome, Feudal Japan, Regency England or 1920s Haarlem and the story is what I'm there for (and I'm a Native American woman, so none of these are settings where I'm self-identifying with my own race).

    Obviously we're different kinds of readers. I read to vicariously experience and enjoy someone else's life. It sounds to me as if you're the kind of reader for whom the heroine is more of a place marker (you “inhabit” her, making the romance more actively your own). You're not alone. I've seen a lot of readers express something similar on other sites. I don't think there's anything wrong with this, it's just a VEEEEERRRRRRY difference place to approach reading from than the one that many of us are coming from.

    It does bring up, for me, the question of how you can mentally identify with someone who is historically removed from you in the extreme (such as the afore mentioned scullery maid was it?) but that the racial barrier stumps you? Culturally, as modern–I'm assuming–Americans, or at least Western Europeans we're both far more tied to say, the upper middle class heroines of Terry McMillan's books than with a governesses or ladies of the ton that Julia Quinn write about.

  271. Bianca
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 12:30:27

    Ok, your sticking on the race. It’s not the race thing. I read to be the heroine, to get the feelings. I can’t be a black heroine, because I can’t imagine being a black woman. I get stuck right there. It isn’t because she’s black, it’s because she’s a different type of woman then I am.

    Look back on my examples of sex and the city, steel magnolias vs waiting to exhale and the 4 professional women(I think this was produced by kelsey graham, but I could be wrong). Now look at how each character displays attitudes, how they find solutions to things, how they interact interpersonally with each other. Sarah Jessica Parker will not do waiting to exhale any justice. Likewise(I can’t remember the actress name) one of the acresses from that show wouldn’t do miranda or carrie bradshaw any justice either. So likewise, no matter how much I enjoy waiting to exhale, I can’t be her. I’m too much of an outsider.

    When an accountant is in a romance book, it’s a side view but not his or her sole identity. Romance focus on the interpersonal relationships and the rest is background. THis from the harlequins and sillouettes I’ve read.

    Without that interpersonal tangle, what else does the romance book have? Because if it has a strong background, strong world build and is light on romantic interpersonal it’s another genre.

    Now I could care less in the mystery, urban fantasy, paranormal(but not romance), sci fi genre. The last book I read was Barbara Hambly,s a free man of color mystery. It looked like an interesting and different story. In every other genre but romance I actually go out and look for different and new authors.

  272. Kalen Hughes
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 12:32:01

    They called Monica a whore over at Sybil's blog

    Squzzie? They what? *jaw hanging open* This I just don’t get . . .

  273. FerfeLabat
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 12:33:22

    What ever, Shiloh. You just keep preaching.

  274. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 12:35:29

    Bianca, you’ve got a right to read whatever you want and if you choose not to read romances with black characters or by black authors, that’s your call.

    But should you ever decide to give it a try, you might end up with a pleasant surprise.

  275. Robin
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 12:36:33

    Many of you have stated that you don't care about the ethnicity of the characters or the author, but I'm sure that many readers feel the way Bianca does: she wants to be the heroine and is not attracted to black men. No one can honestly deny that the desired response to a romance novel from the average reader is “escapism” and “fantasy”, and for the most part, the average romance reader (who is middle-aged, suburban and white) does not view a black man as a valid or acceptable sexual fantasy, nor do they view the black woman the same way they view the white woman, and sometimes, the Asian or Latino woman.

    I’d like to honestly deny your assumptions here, Angela, although I think the point is we’d BOTH be ASSUMING. I have no doubt that there are other readers like Bianca, but there are also other readers like those of us who read and enjoy AA Romance as part of the genre. If I were to venture a theory about race and Romance, it would be that if there’s a fantasy it’s one in which race, class, disability, etc. aren’t divisive forces and obstacles to love and happiness. But that’s an assumption, too. Just like those about the “average Romance reader” are. Hey, I’m white and suburban, although not middle aged, and I have NO PROBLEM seeing black men as sexual objects, potential partners, or perfectly wonderful fantasy objects. And what about all the non-AA women who adore Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Andre Braugher, Laurence Fishburne, Sydney Poitier, Omar Epps, Dijmon Hounsou, Will Smith and any number of other AA actors, movie stars, sex symbols? If Black men aren’t a permissible sexual fantasy, is that only in fiction? Because it seems in fiction you can do so much to tailor make the hero, whereas in film, he’s offered to you ready-made. So I’m not certain why the assumption that non-AA woman can’t find AA Romance heroes perfectly yummy, as I know I do.

    But in any case, I sense a tension underneath this discussion that perhaps is charging some of the dissonance. On the one hand, I feel like I’m hearing a sense that racism permeates America so strongly that AA Romance is doomed forever to be marginalized. Then I hear the anger at being marginalized and the call for change. As I said above, I think that when publishers are already marking AA Romance as different by segregating it, non-AA readers are being directed to see it differently (and I wonder if this causes some of the sense of hesitation in trying some of the authors). But one of the strains I hear from you and Monica is that of “white supremacy” and the implication that non-AA readers aren’t ever going to see AA Romance as fantasy-worthy for them. Is that true? Is there that assumption underlying what you’re saying? Because if it is — if you see no hope for us white folk to ever get AA Romance — then what’s the point of fighting the battle, especially when AA readers seem to support the continuation of the segregation? But if it’s not a hopeless cause, then why the assumption that non-AA readers won’t find the books swoon-worthy?

  276. Kalen Hughes
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 12:42:48

    I get stuck right there. It isn't because she's black, it's because she's a different type of woman then I am.

    And a maid in Regency England isn’t? *shakes head* I don't understand how or why you would assume that because a person is of a different race they are different “type” of person. As an urban Native American, with a graduate degree and a high level office job I certainly have more in common with Stella (HOW STELLA GOT HER GROOVE BACK) than I do with any of Julia Quinn's heroines (Aristocratic English women who lived hundreds of years ago). The human condition is a universal. A specific book or author may not appeal (THONGS ON FIRE leaves me cold) but I don't think it's because the characters or writer are inherently “different”.

  277. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 12:45:33

    And a maid in Regency England isn't?

    Yeah, that’s a sticking point for me. I’d much rather relate to a contemporary heroine than a maid. Of course, I might also just have a sticking point about cleaning, so maybe that’s why I’ve no desire to relate with a maid.

  278. Jan
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 12:47:41

    Wait a minute. Aren’t the non-AA readers here being told on the one hand that they can’t understand racism and the black experience to the point where it shouldn’t be discussed with them, but then being told they’re racist if they think they can’t identify with a heroine in an AA romance?

    Which is it folks? You can’t have it both ways.

  279. Seressia
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 12:50:06

    Bianca, I’m not picking on you, but I’m really fascinated and curious as to the whys.

    What are some of your favorite romances, may I ask? I’m trying to figure out how it is easy to slip into the mind of 12th century tavern wench but not an epidemiologist who has a permanent tan. Or a white psychologist but not a black one. And again, what about interracial romances, with a white hero? Do you read romances with a Hispanic, native American or other ethnic hero?

    Hoenstly, what do you beleive is so different about black people that, once you read the description of the character in the book, you set the book down regardless of the content? Has there been a time when you were reading a story, getting into it, then stopped when the author described the heroine as caramel or cocoa or bronze or tan? Why?

  280. Bianca
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 12:50:39

    It does bring up, for me, the question of how you can mentally identify with someone who is historically removed from you in the extreme (such as the afore mentioned scullery maid was it?) but that the racial barrier stumps you? Culturally, as modern-I'm assuming-Americans, or at least Western Europeans we're both far more tied to say, the upper middle class heroines of Terry McMillan's books than with a governesses or ladies of the ton that Julia Quinn write about.
    ======================

    The writer. Even in a historical romance, the plot is more about the interpersonal interaction. I doubt a historical romance is even anyway near accurate but I can suspend disbelief to be the heroine. Though Barbara Cartland I’ve found to writer a tighter story then some of the other authors I’ve read.

    But breaking it down, even if it’s set in a historical period, the heroine is still pretty much a modern day woman.

  281. Nora Roberts
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 12:52:18

    Hmm, it seems people were communicating again, more calmly, and good, strong points being made or discussed.

    Then someone comes in and takes a slap at Shiloh for posting on another blog. Doesn’t feel very constructive. Particularly since the posting was–now that I’ve looked–what Shiloh said it was. A light touch perhaps, but an opinion that the other posters should drop it–and that name-calling, ect, was self-defeating.

    None of what Shiloh’s posted comes off preachy to me, but as pretty level-headed, even-handed discussion.

    What’s the point, Ferfe, in taking a potshot when it’s pretty evident a cease-fire’s been called, and reasonable discourse is taking place?

  282. Elly Soar
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 12:54:16

    Wow, this thread of comments is going on WAY too long and distracting me from my lunch hour. I would just like to hope that at least we are all thinking more about race, language and the effects of our words on others. I would also like to refer everyone to the wisdom of South Park for a better perspective on racism in America, episode 1, season 11, where Stan learns about race and finally is able to say to Token “I get: I don’t get it.” I think this episode holds a very profound lesson for all of us.

    See for reference http://cms.interculturalu.com/node/243.

  283. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 12:57:57

    What are some of your favorite romances, may I ask? I'm trying to figure out how it is easy to slip into the mind of 12th century tavern wench but not an epidemiologist who has a permanent tan.

    Yeah, I’m curious, too. Seriously, I can get into the heads of contemp heroines a lot easier than I can relate to historical ones~most historicals just don’t hold my interest, unless it’s Jude Deveraux, Love her! and Nan Ryan, Love her, too! The characters just hold little appeal.

  284. Bianca
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 13:01:45

    Off the top of my head
    differances between black women and white women.

    Black women don’t tend to worry about being fat. They seem more secure in their body type and sexuality, and they don’t question themselves as much.

    Now those are all positive attributes.
    Now in sex in the city, Samantha Jones, has all those attributes, but she still questions herself, there is still vulnerability. I don’t see that as much in say stella got her groove back. I can identify with samantha more then I can stella.

  285. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 13:02:57

    Then someone comes in and takes a slap at Shiloh for posting on another blog.

    :) I handle slaps well enough. I say what I have to say and then I’m pretty much done~ I can ignore people ad infinitum if need be. I had three brothers–I learned that out of survival.

    I’m not concerned with what Ferfe says. Although I do gotta say I do hope that my comments aren’t coming off to people in general as condoning it.

  286. Kalen Hughes
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 13:08:07

    The writer . . .but breaking it down, even if it's set in a historical period, the heroine is still pretty much a modern day woman.

    Ok . . . and so are the AA heroines of contemporary romance. You've lost me again. Now it appears that you're saying that the cultural gulf between you and someone of another race is so vast you can't bridge it. I totally *get* saying that you don't identify with the protagonists of urban/ghetto/hip-hop lit. That the characters' life styles are too alien. But this is a cultural gulf, not a racial one. Not all books with AA protags are going to have a cultural gulf. Books by writers such as Terry McMillan, Wayne Jordan, and Beverley Jenkins are about middle and upper class modern Americans, who happen to be black. And not all books by writers of the same race are going to resonate either (books about life on the Rez don't resonate with me, since I've never lived on a Rez; I'm an urban “Indian”). And not all writers write books about people of their own race (once again, I write Georgian historicals about pasty white English folk, my friend TJ writes about 16th century German and Italian folk).

  287. Elly Soar
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 13:09:50

    In re: Jan’s comment 277:
    I’m not going to call Bianca a racist for not being able to relate to black characters. I do think it shows she isn’t trying very hard to relate to blacks however. It’s one thing, if you’re a white woman raised on potato farm to say it’s hard to relate to a black man raised in the inner city, but it’s quite another to say you can’t relate to blacks in general, including the black woman raised alongside you on said farm, just because of her skin color. It’s all about how far you take it – and alot of people in these comments are taking things too far in all different ways.
    Monica’s comment that it’s not even worth discussing anymore sounds more like frustration than anything else. I’d be willing to bet that if someone contacted her away from these comments she wouldn’t say no. However, try to imagine how hard it is to talk about being discriminated against to people who don’t even know if they believe racism exists! I know not all of us are making those kinds of statements but they do come up above, and it can be hard not to focus on the negative at times.
    Back to work, bye!

  288. Bianca
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 13:10:09

    Ehh, I’m not very strong in what my favorite romances are. Barbara Cartland, I know old school. But I like her stuff. Other ones I don’t remember the authors. I enjoyed one of the crimson city romances, but I doubt I’d pick up the rest of the series.

    I buy romances on impulse. So, it would depend on my mood. I enjoyed Sasha Lords, but I’m not sure I’d pick up another of her books. The story isn’t as tight, it’s a bit cheesy.

    I can’t remember the other two authors that I had, I may have given them away to someone. I believe they were silhouette.

    I have Nora Roberts, but haven’t felt drawn to read her yet.

    I guess if you have to narrow it down, I enjoy paranormal romance and historical romance.

  289. FerfeLabat
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 13:15:21

    Nora.

    You have a problem with me lending some moral support to Monica? Monica and I can agree to disagree on most things. And she’s a big girl who can hold her own. But if you read Sybil’s blog and then come back to see Shiloh blowing that off like it was nothing when Monica was clearly upset by it — well — we’ll just have to agree to disagree on who’s the bad person here and call it a day. That wasn’t a cease-fire. That was a brush off or rude dismissal.

    And nothing about this discussion was rational, even-handed or level-headed unless you live on the top of a steep incline. It wasn’t even very entertaining. It definitely was not edifying. My eyes crossed trying to figure out who was making what point and just as I got it straight, they would volt-face and head off into the hinter lands. But I got the gist of the personal swipes on both sides and followed off blog (but on topic) and in my opinion, calling Monica a whore was just over-the-line. And when she said something to Shiloh, who was in there with them bantering, and Shiloh blew Monica off? Not no, but HELL no. That’s my personal “must lend support to Monica who I consider a friend” line.

    You and Shiloh just go back to telling bad little authors how to behave since you are excellent examples yourselves and leave the rest of us dregs to our own entertainments and conversations. There surely must be more severely disabled women out there who need “diddlo” snark rained on them by a total stranger on the web to keep you occupied.

  290. Kalen Hughes
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 13:15:31

    Black women don't tend to worry about being fat. They seem more secure in their body type and sexuality, and they don't question themselves as much . . . Now in sex in the city, Samantha Jones, has all those attributes, but she still questions herself, there is still vulnerability. I don't see that as much in say stella got her groove back. I can identify with samantha more then I can stella.

    Ok, I give up. I quote Stan: “I get: I don't get it.” And The Far Side: “My brain is full.”

  291. Seressia
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 13:18:39

    Oh, and I’m not gay so I can’t tell you how your comment/thoughts about gay romances come across to someone who is gay. I can only tell you that I was taken aback (to put it mildly) about your comments regarding AA romances.

    When you went from stating that you wouldn’t read one a)if it was written by one of the authors that frequent another blog site Monica’s on; or b) because I need to sell you on the story, to finally saying you wouldn’t read an AA romance at all because you can’t imagine being a black woman–how am I, as a black female and author, supposed to take that? You said that black women react differently than white women. Yous aid that. So yes, you apparently do think we’re different, and I don’t understand that.

    And if you meant Steel Magnolias, none of the women from Waiting to Exhale would work in that movie for a variety of reasons with the big one being older southern women versus younger northern women. Carrie Bradshaw would have been chewed up by Shirley McLaine’s character, had some sense slapped into her, then been offered a sweet tea.

  292. azteclady
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 13:28:36

    I am not “white”-in the sense of US born anglosaxon. I am, in fact, a minority in the US, and have been both a minority and an outsider in the three countries I've lived in for the past twenty years. I've been on the receiving end of discrimination, based both on gender and ethnicity/native language and accent/national origin/religion. And yet I've more than once felt insulted by Monica's blanket accusations of racism/racist behaviour/dishonesty (Paraphrasing, since I'm too fed up to go hunt down the many examples: “They won't admit they are racists” etc).

    I've felt insulted by her-during this and other so-called discussions* online-to the point where I'll be damned if I buy or read a book by Monica Jackson, ever.

    Does that make me a racist? I'm sure that, in Monica's eyes, it does. Period, no need to look-or think-any further.

    In my own eyes, though, what it means is that I am, in fact, treating Monica Jackson as I would any other author-regardless of gender, ethnicity, genre they write, sexuality, cultural background, fill in the blank. Just as I decided never to read books by MJD, or Jaid Black, or Cindy Cruciger, or a few others. Just as I decided to buy and read Seressia Glass, and Shiloh Walker, and Victoria Dahl, and a couple of other authors. In all cases my reaction and decision-positive or negative-were prompted by the author's public behaviour.

    Don't like my reaction? Gee. I don't like the behaviour. *shrug*

    In the words of Debbie S (way back over at comment 153,

    I will stop reading an author because they behave like an unmitigated ass and trash their readers, and it's obvious you are anti white readers, so I won't bother in the future. I'd rather support an author – black, white, asian or from timbuktu – who's willing to embrace the human race as a whole.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll add that:
    a) I do most (90% or so) of my book buying online. More often than not I’m guided by recommendations from reader blogs I enjoy, and whose tastes have so far matched with mine.
    b) I think that segregated/”ghetto” shelving sucks, no matter which minority’s books are involved.

    Shiloh, for what it’s worth, I definitely don’t see your comments–here or elsewhere–as preaching nor lecturing. To me, you and others (anu439, bam, Seressia, Robin, Kalen Hughes, etc.) have alwasy come across to me as intelligent and well intentioned people who are trying to engage in constructive discussion over an explosive topic.

    *So-called discussions because it seems to devolve pretty quickly into “I'm being attacked” and “No one listens to my VERY IMPORTANT POINT!!!” repeated ad nauseam by Monica, while others (Seressia Glass, Robin, Shiloh Walker, etc), try very hard to inject some calm and provide perspective… with little to no result insofar as Monica is concerned.

  293. Nora Roberts
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 13:33:37

    Obviously, Ferfe, we see things differently.

    And where I questioned your post and the purpose of taking a shot when the tone had calmed, you take personal slaps. And one at me.

    ~You and Shiloh just go back to telling bad little authors how to behave since you are excellent examples yourselves and leave the rest of us dregs to our own entertainments and conversations. There surely must be more severely disabled women out there who need “diddlo” snark rained on them by a total stranger on the web to keep you occupied.~

    Gee, you seem very pissed off at me for some reason. I expressed an opinion, asked a question. I told no one how to behave.

    And bringing up yet ANOTHER issue in this thread to try to take a jab’s reaching.

    I have to view you as a troll at this point, and stop feeding you.

  294. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 13:34:47

    Shiloh, for what it's worth, I definitely don't see your comments-here or elsewhere-as preaching nor lecturing.

    It’s worth a lot, Aztec.

    And now… I gotta get. Responsibility calls and I really don’t want to answer. However…we do what we must.

  295. Bianca
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 13:39:11

    When you went from stating that you wouldn't read one a)if it was written by one of the authors that frequent another blog site Monica's on; or b) because I need to sell you on the story, to finally saying you wouldn't read an AA romance at all because you can't imagine being a black woman-how am I, as a black female and author, supposed to take that? You said that black women react differently than white women. Yous aid that. So yes, you apparently do think we're different, and I don't understand that.
    ===========
    And why did I say that? It was after many comments of being compared to a slave plantation mentality. I never said you sessia had to sell me on the story, that was directed specifically at monica. I was directing that at her, because she was throwing out the racist card over everything. It was leaving me more then cold.

    I don’t take well to being told your a kkk mentality because you won’t read my book, when I’ve been honest that it doesn’t strike my fancy because I can’t get into the heroines head. ANd historical romances are still modern women. I doubt they’d have gotten away with being so mouthy in real life back then, if they weren’t modern women. The man is still a modern man.

    I don’t fancy AA romances or gay romances. That doesn’t mean I think your less of a person, it just means it doesn’t strike my fancy.

  296. Karen Scott
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 13:46:59

    It’s not the race thing. I read to be the heroine, to get the feelings. I can’t be a black heroine, because I can’t imagine being a black woman.

    OK, out of all the comments made by the various people on this thread, this is the one that has me raising my eyebrows the most. No, seriously.

    You can’t possibly say it’s not the race thing, and then say “I can’t imagine being a black woman” in the same sentence.

    What Kalen said in response to your comment Bianca. I think it’s that kind of thinking that frustrates black romance authors, and kinda helps prove Monica’s point.

    As for not being able to imagine being a black woman, that says to me that you think that black women are vastly ‘different’ from you, which in turn leads me to think that perhaps you tend to buy into the various stereotypes of ‘The Black Woman’ that are out there.

    I’m a black British woman who, on a daily basis, reads about white people falling in love in America. For me personally, it’s all about the book, and it surprises me that not everybody judges a book by its content, rather than the colour of the characters.

    Just sayin’.

  297. anu439
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 13:54:00

    Black women don't tend to worry about being fat. They seem more secure in their body type and sexuality, and they don't question themselves as much.

    I think Black women, like women in general, have appearance issues, though they may not be ones that you’re used to seeing or they may not be talked about in the way that you’re familiar with. And because it’s women having body issues, regardless what it is and regardless of race, I relate to it on a fundamental level.

    Anyway, it’s not as alien as you may think. In “Waiting to Exhale,” there was a scene in which one of the women, Gloria, is walking away from her sexy new neighbor and thinks to herself, “I know he’s looking at my butt.” She turns around to check, and yes he was. She smiles through her teeth and just keeps walking, trying not to think of how her butt looks. Quintessential female moment. The guy is looking at you and you know he’s looking–doesn’t matter what he’s looking at–you’re just praying that it looks alright.

    And then there’s the unexpected moments of affinity. Like, a couple of years ago, I saw “Something New,” about an interracial romance. It was hyped for its upper-class black woman/white man pairing, but I related to the heroine’s and her family’s conflicted feelings about interracial relationships.

    Bianca, you just never know what will strike a chord. If you really did leave it to the author’s writing, rather than making race the deal-breaker, I think you may be surprised about what works for you.

  298. Jan
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 13:54:30

    Elly said:

    In re: Jan's comment 277:
    I'm not going to call Bianca a racist for not being able to relate to black characters. I do think it shows she isn't trying very hard to relate to blacks however.

    Yes, I think you’re correct in that. But it just seemed like, as you said:

    It's all about how far you take it – and alot of people in these comments are taking things too far in all different ways.

    And it was being taken to the point where people were contradicting themselves and shooting themselves in the foot. (and yes, it’s happening as it always does in discussions on this subject, on all sides. I could have easily said, and perhaps I should have, that the non-AA people are claiming they understand, and yet that they don’t identify with AA heroines. And the fact that I instinctively did not shows how certain points of view are inherent in our upbringing whether we realize it or not, and will influence us even when we’re trying to be fair and honest.)

    Monica's comment that it's not even worth discussing anymore sounds more like frustration than anything else. … However, try to imagine how hard it is to talk about being discriminated against to people who don't even know if they believe racism exists!

    I understand somewhat, having had similar discussions with pigheaded men who don’t believe sexism exists, and that therefore they’re not sexist. Or those who think that since they believe women should have an equal right to work that they’re not sexist, regardless of the comments they might make about her ability to do work. It is like … speaking to an alien, or maybe explaining to someone who is blind from birth what “blue” is. Sometimes there is just no common frame of reference, so there can be no real communication on the subject.

    But I think most people here understand racism exists. They just may not want to admit that there are seeds of it in all of us.

  299. FerfeLabat
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 14:04:07

    I have to view you as a troll at this point, and stop feeding you.

    Thank you. I have long felt the same about you and you may have noticed that I try very hard not to engage you in discourse anywhere on the web. Since you jumped me on Shiloh’s behalf for lending Monica moral support I felt obligated to answer you. Now that this discussion is over and you’ve declared me a troll that you will ignore, I am relieved to know I won’t be required to respond to you again.

    Whew. Life is good, again. :-)

  300. Seressia
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 14:07:17

    Black women don't tend to worry about being fat. They seem more secure in their body type and sexuality, and they don't question themselves as much . . . Now in sex in the city, Samantha Jones, has all those attributes, but she still questions herself, there is still vulnerability. I don't see that as much in say stella got her groove back. I can identify with samantha more then I can stella.

    I sit here looking at the box for the South Beach Diet entree I had for lunch, with the snack machine in the breakroom calling my name…

    Screw it. I need some damn chocolate now.

  301. Kalen Hughes
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 14:18:23

    I saw “Something New,” about an interracial romance. It was hyped for its upper-class black woman/white man pairing, but I related to the heroine's and her family's conflicted feelings about interracial relationships.

    And about class. The black woman in question is an upper-class woman, while the white love interest is a middle-class landscaper (and his competition for her is a black man of her own class). Class, sometimes more than race in my experience, can be a an interesting barrier/conflict. I know we Americans can be resistant to admitting that class even exists, but I frequently find that I have much more in common with people I share my class experience with than people I share my race with.

  302. Claudia
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 14:21:33

    For what it’s worth, The Wall Street Journal did a story on the black niche in publishing. Here’s a link to a reprint: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06340/744053-44.stm

    Such an article would have more import from a mag like Publisher’s Weekly, but the issue’s being discussed more than it used to.

  303. bam
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 14:30:19

    i say goddam… this shit blew up like a motherfucker, huh?

  304. Bianca
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 14:31:36

    n as you may think. In “Waiting to Exhale,” there was a scene in which one of the women, Gloria, is walking away from her sexy new neighbor and thinks to herself, “I know he's looking at my butt.” She turns around to check, and yes he was. She smiles through her teeth and just keeps walking, trying not to think of how her butt looks. Quintessential female moment. The guy is looking at you and you know he's looking-doesn't matter what he's looking at-you're just praying that it looks alright.
    ==============
    And that’st he thing, I never even picked up on Glorias reaction. I thought she was being giddy and wiggling her butt to effect.

  305. Bianca
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 14:33:50

    n as you may think. In “Waiting to Exhale,” there was a scene in which one of the women, Gloria, is walking away from her sexy new neighbor and thinks to herself, “I know he's looking at my butt.” She turns around to check, and yes he was. She smiles through her teeth and just keeps walking, trying not to think of how her butt looks. Quintessential female moment. The guy is looking at you and you know he's looking-doesn't matter what he's looking at-you're just praying that it looks alright.
    ================
    And that’s the thing, I never even picked up on the quintessential female moment you were talking about. I never even realised she Gloria was as uncomfortable as she was. I thought she actually wiggled for added effect, thinking he would like it.

  306. Holly
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 14:35:37

    A woman who had a ghostwriter write the story in her head, then had it published by a POD. Why? Why? Why?

    See, I don’t understand this, either. Maybe I’m just confused about what it is, exactly, a ghostwriter does, but how can a woman claim to have “written” a story, when she didn’t, in fact, write it?

    Jane,
    I’m also curious about the defamation thing. If someone calls me “unethical” for not giving them a glowing review, what is that? Her opinion? Not that I care one way or the other or would sue, just curious.

    It would also seem to me that something major would have to happen for you to have grounds for a suit. Like, if I said you were a *insert term here* and it then cost you your entire business, house, family, etc. Isn’t that right? I mean, I realize I could sue if I wanted, but the outcome probably wouldn’t be in my favor unless the above happened, right?

    As for the other issue:

    I’ve read AA romance, but like many others, I don’t generally care one way or the other who wrote it, or the color of the skin of the characters. It just doesn’t make a difference to me. Would I walk away from a book because it was written by someone I know is AA? Nope. Would I put it down once I got to the description and the hero/heroine turned out to have a different skin color than my own? Nope.

    I would, however, put it down if it wasn’t well written, or I didn’t find the story engaging. I think that just makes me a discerning reader.

    And just for the record, I have read something by Monica. It was anthology with several other authors. I bought it because another reader blog suggested it and I enjoyed some of the stories and didn’t others. I believe all the authors in the antho were AA (though I could be wrong..I didn’t bother to check), but that didn’t stop me from liking some and hating others (the stories, I mean, not the authors themselves). And you know, I just can’t bring myself to apologize for liking some and not liking others, just as I won’t apologize for liking some of Nora Roberts books and not liking others, or *insert author/genre here*.

  307. FerfeLabat
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 14:37:05

    What AztecLady Said …

    In my own eyes, though, what it means is that I am, in fact, treating Monica Jackson as I would any other author-regardless of gender, ethnicity, genre they write, sexuality, cultural background, fill in the blank. Just as I decided never to read books by MJD, or Jaid Black, or Cindy Cruciger, or a few others. Just as I decided to buy and read Seressia Glass, and Shiloh Walker, and Victoria Dahl, and a couple of other authors. In all cases my reaction and decision-positive or negative-were prompted by the author's public behaviour.

    Only for me the exact opposite. I used to think I would read an author just because they are good at the craft and I enjoy their work. But over the past year or so I have actually fed certain books purchased new at Barnes & Noble, to my Cockatoo, Cookie. She laid an egg on one. Most satisfying.

    Just as there are readers on the web who can’t stand my opinions and I offend them enough to put them off my writing, many authors who think they are “politically correct, witty and safe posting all over the blogs blythly” may be shocked to know there are back chat rooms on many corners of the web discussing THEM negatively with people saying they will never read them. It’s the downside of being a writer on the web. I don’t lose sleep over it and neither should they, but they should at least be aware of it.

    You can’t please all the people all of the time. You can’t even please most of the people some of the time. There is no real way to gauge how someone else sees you or hears you in written text on a blog. But if you think you are universally loved by all, you are kidding yourself. So. Be true to your own opinions, be willing to listen when someone is making a halfway decent case for the opposite view, and be honest. I also try not to be mean but some people just really piss me off. What can I say? I’m human.

    This is what I admire about Monica even when she goes way the hell off the deep end. That’s why I read her. That personality is in her work. That is why I respect Azteclady even though I have never agreed with her and she insults the hell out of me periodically even though I am certain I’ve never said jack to her. If she wrote a book I wouldn’t read it. If she wrote one and then insulted the shit out of me again, I might buy it and give it to cookie. At least it’s a sale, right?

  308. Robin
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 14:42:58

    I was surprised to hear that the law sides more with the name-caller, and the person being called names is the one responsible for proving it's not true. Or the other way of seeing it is that the law sides with the First Amendment.

    Jane is the expert on defamation, but I just wanted to say something from the First Amendment side. The rights articulated explicitly in the Constitution are considered “fundamental” — that is, they get the highest level of protection. Any legislation or action that infringes on these rights — even indirectly — is subject to what’s called “strict scrutiny,” which is the highest bar set for these laws to be found valid. So the right to free expression as guaranteed in the First Amendment is a fundamental right, and is therefore more protected than, say, the right of personal reputation, which is important, but not guaranteed explicitly by the Constitution. That doesn’t mean that you can simply trot on the reputation of others in the name of free speech (and people often forget that the First Amendment prohibits the government and those acting in place of the government from inhibiting or prohibiting free expression), but it does mean that the fundamental right of free speech is always hovering around and through defamation actions. Political speech, for example, is considered core speech under the First Amendment, and it’s the most difficult to censor or inhibit legally. Commercial speech (e.g. advertising) is given less protection under the First Amendment. Defamation is another limit on the First Amendment, but it’s not clear or absolute. It’s also a private action.

    One of the things that’s interesting is that First Amendment jurisprudence dates back only to the years following WWI (before that the Supreme Court had not considered a case challenging the limits of the First Amendment). In the years since, the Supreme Court has continued to carve out various limits and extensions for free expression. Defamatory speech is not considered “speech” for the purposes of the First Amendment (that is, it’s not protected under speech as it’s articulated in the First Amendment), but because First Amendment jurisprudence has favored the philosophy that “the best antidote to bad speech is more speech” what constitutes defamation is not always easily discerned because of the various factors (i.e. context, wording, truth factor, etc.) that must be proved to successfully claim defamation. In a society that values the ‘free marketplace of ideas,” it’s difficult, IMO, to put too many explicit limits on particular expressions, since being offended is often part of open discourse in a society possessed of any diversity. IMO defamation shouldn’t be a slam dunk to prove, because the fundamental value of free speech is cornerstone in our society, whether we live up to our democratic values or not.

  309. Kalen Hughes
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 14:44:43

    Like, if I said you were a *insert term here* and it then cost you your entire business, house, family, etc. Isn't that right? I mean, I realize I could sue if I wanted, but the outcome probably wouldn't be in my favor unless the above happened, right?

    The real question is are you a *insert term here*? If you are, and there’s proof to back up the person who called you on it, then you’re screwed. If you’re not you’ve got grounds to sue (like the Duke students who were vilified for something the didn’t do; arguably their lives, educations, and futures were negatively impacted by both false accusations and District Attorney Mike Nifong's actions).

  310. Jan
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 14:51:37

    Oh, that’s very interesting Robin. I suppose I knew fundamentally that the items in the Constitution had that protection, but I never thought about what that meant practically. I didn’t know there were hierarchies set up around the amendments. It does make sense to do that though. Wow Constitutional law must be really difficult to follow.

  311. bam
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 14:57:17

  312. Donna
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 15:00:06

    Ok, not to take the discussion away from race, but does anyone have a subject they don't read? Even if there is no valid point to not reading it? I don't read books with horses or about horses or have a horse on the front cover. I don't know why. I can't for the life of me read a Dick Francis book. I think the only romance I read that had a horse ranch is one of Nora's, then it was a fight and I honestly don't remember the name of the book or the story. I am just not interested in books with horses.

    Any hero in a book, no matter how the author describes them end up (in my mind) with Black/Brown hair, I am not turned on by blonde men. It's not something I even developed consciously, I just noticed that I was doing it over the years. So how do we fight programming like that? And do we?

    Should I make myself read books about horses? Even when I didn't care for a great author's book (Nora's)? I know I am probably missing a lot of great stories, but for the life of me… I'm just not interested. Should I seek consoling?

    I don't mean to over simplify the white reading AA question, but as a reader… if you aren't interested you just aren't interested. And I honestly don't like horse books…lol.

  313. anu439
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 15:04:30

    I believe all the authors in the antho were AA (though I could be wrong..I didn't bother to check), but that didn't stop me from liking some and hating others (the stories, I mean, not the authors themselves). And you know, I just can't bring myself to apologize for liking some and not liking others…

    This statement highlights another way that we all keep talking past each other. I read the statement with it’s defiant tone (as I hear it in my head), and I’m puzzled: Who asked you to apologize for not liking a story? What has given you the impression that you would need to?

    It’s part of the broader racial tensions we all experience. If I read this book by a Black author, about Black h/h…what if I don’t like it? What will people think? How much do I need to justify my dislike of the story? Will people think I’m racist if I don’t like it? That I hate the author because she’s Black? (Not saying this is you Holly, you just sparked the thoughts.)

    For some who are anxious or self-conscious about trying AA romance, I think they come to the book already thinking of what might happen if they don’t like it. And what if they DO like it? Oh my god, then they’re then White Woman Who Reads Black Romance (I’ll never forget that!). It becomes a chore, an obligation. Who needs to have their reading pleasure turned into that? So many emotions and expectations become invested in the book, it’s sometimes a miracle that we manage a string a sentence together about it.

    At the end of day, it’s just a romance. That’s all that matters. It shouldn’t have to be said, but yet it does: It’s okay to not like a Romance that happens to have Black h/h, or is written by Black authors.

    But please don’t use that experience to dismiss all Romance–or any other genre–written by AA. Your only obligations are to give the book a chance, and to give yourself a chance to enjoy the book. No more, no less.

  314. FerfeLabat
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 15:07:55

    Should I make myself read books about horses? Even when I didn't care for a great author's book (Nora's)? I know I am probably missing a lot of great stories, but for the life of me… I'm just not interested. Should I seek consoling? ~ Donna

    Was it being forced to read Equus in high school? They teach an entire class on people with reading issues later in life as a result of post traumatic stress syndrome dating back to that single, life changing, forced reading event.

  315. Kalen Hughes
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 15:17:23

    I think we all have things we avoid like the plague (for me it’s the whole “fated mates” thing, which limits my forays into paranormals, let me tell you). Here's something I'm curious about though: If you avoid books with AA protagonists because you worry that you can't identify, do you also avoid books by AA authors with white protagonists or by white authors with black protagonists? I'm not even sure I know the race of half the authors I read.

  316. Holly
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 15:17:28

    This statement highlights another way that we all keep talking past each other. I read the statement with it's defiant tone (as I hear it in my head), and I'm puzzled: Who asked you to apologize for not liking a story? What has given you the impression that you would need to?

    I might have come off as sounding defiant, but I didn’t mean to. I just meant that I like what I like, whether the author/character/publisher/etc is black, white, red, yellow or any shade in between and that I wouldn’t apologize for it. I’m sorry if that didn’t come out right.

    This however,

    It's part of the broader racial tensions we all experience. If I read this book by a Black author, about Black h/h…what if I don't like it? What will people think? How much do I need to justify my dislike of the story? Will people think I'm racist if I don't like it? That I hate the author because she's Black? (Not saying this is you Holly, you just sparked the thoughts.)

    does apply to me now and then. Because after reading the 300+ comments over here, that’s kind of how I felt. Like, well, shoot, I read that book, didn’t like some of the stories, and that makes me a bad person? No, it doesn’t, but that’s kind of how it felt.

    Your only obligations are to give the book a chance, and to give yourself a chance to enjoy the book.

    This is just how I see it. But then, after reading some of the comments here, I think…hmm, maybe I’m wrong in my thinking.

    Does that make sense?

  317. Holly
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 15:20:43

    If you're not you've got grounds to sue (like the Duke students who were vilified for something the didn't do; arguably their lives, educations, and futures were negatively impacted by both false accusations and District Attorney Mike Nifong's actions).

    That makes perfect sense. Thanks for clearing that up.

  318. Jan
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 15:37:06

    I tend to avoid certain kinds of books, but that’s more because I’ve read some and found maybe one or none that I enjoyed. Like chick-lit. I loathe any I’ve ever read. Will I ever read any more? Sure, if someone recommends some that sounds interesting and good. But it hasn’t happened yet. Should I read it, so that I understand emo twenty-something’s? Let me think… No.

    There are other kinds of books it just doesn’t cross my mind to read, much of it non-fiction. Like biographies. I couldn’t care less about Martha Stewart’s life. My own takes up enough time, thank you. And while I appreciate what, say, Isaac Newton did for physics and math, I don’t really care about his personal life, unless it was some salacious detail I can use at a party.

    Am I bad for not caring about the lives of my fellow humans? Maybe. Tough. We all have different priorities.

  319. Robin
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 15:38:22

    Holly: Jane is planning numerous installments to this series, and in one of them I’m sure she’ll discuss the elements of a defamation case. Like any torts action, there are different things the plaintiff must prove to the satisfaction of a jury in order to prevail on a defamation claim. And the likelihood of proving these elements factors in to whether or not an attorney will take the case, as well.

    Wow Constitutional law must be really difficult to follow.

    I LOVE Con Law, especially First Amendment law, but some people hate it. Jane loves tort law, which is just not my cuppa at all. But then I tend to love theory, so I think that’s one of the reasons Con Law works for me — its theory = its practice. I think it’s easiest if you think of it in terms of rights and responsibilities. We all have rights as individuals (freedoms), but in order to live in a community, we have responsibilities to each other, as well (limitations on our freedoms). That’s why liberty and equality are often in a tense stand-off. The trick is to figure out how to balance your own freedoms with the freedoms of others, especially at the places they clash or overlap.

  320. Robin
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 15:43:15

    I don't really care about his personal life, unless it was some salacious detail I can use at a party.

    LOL. In law school one of my professors would give us what he called the “cocktail party comment” — those little factoids or principles of law that would be useful at cocktail parties. Always cracks me up that he was right.

  321. Jane
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 15:44:11

    Jan – I’m hardly an expert although I’ve handled a couple of cases and had to research the law of defamation for those cases pretty thoroughly. There are experts, though, and I’m not it. My interpretation of the law is that because the right of free speech is fundamental, then limitations have to be scrutinized carefully for the reasons that Robin stated.

    The idea is that public discourse is so important that you will allow people to say hurtful and offensive things so that the minority speech, whatever it may be at the time, is not stifled. For example, there was some suggestion by President Bush a while back that to speak against the war was “unpatriotic.” If there was some limitation on speech that would not allow “unpatriotic” speech, then there could be no valid criticism permitted. In the Sullivan case, when the actual malice standard was decided, the Times argued that the case of libel against it was an attempt to prevent journalistic inquiry into the illegal segregationist activities in the South. Wikipedia notes that at the time the case was decided “US$300 million in libel actions outstanding against news organizations from the Southern states and these had caused many publications to exercise great caution when reporting on civil rights, for fear that they may be held accountable for libel”

    So the rules are made up to prevent the worst from happening which would be to “chill” the speaking out against moral or legal wrongs. On the other side, of course, people can take advantage of the loose rules. However there are restraints.

    Holly wondered whether to use the term “unethical” was merely opinion. I would argue that anything that implies dishonesty or wrongdoing is defamatory. A statement like “unethical” seems provable to me. If you look at the Easterbrook language, he was saying that the term “racist” has come to mean so many different things and not necessarily wrongdoing. I think in some states, the term “whore” which implies loose morals is still defamation per se.

    There’s a certain laundry list of things that are considered defamatory in my state (in varies from state to state) but generally speaking things that involve false accusations of dishonesty (lying, cheating, stealing) and wrongdoing (criminal acts) have the potential of getting someone in hot trouble.

    As for exposure in litigation, there’s a term that lawyers use called “Judgment proof.” Most private defendants are judgment proof because a judgment, like any other debt, cannot take away a person’s house, certain IRAs, etc. Anything that would be protected in a bankruptcy action is not available to a judgment debtor. There’s more to it, but a lawyer is generally not going to take on work for which she won’t be paid so if there is no money on the other side, i.e., insurance (although some homeowner’s policies may cover such an action), then it’s not likely any one would bring it. Who could afford to?

  322. Holly
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 15:53:21

    A statement like “unethical” seems provable to me.

    So then how would you prove it, in the context I stated above? An author says I’m “unethical” because I gave her a bad review. How would I prove I wasn’t? Or what would it take for her to prove I was?

    See, it’s cases like these that confuse me. As a business person, I could see proving, by standards I set in my office, files I’ve worked on, etc, etc, that I’m not unethical. But in the case of an online review site, the line blurs for me.

  323. Jane
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 16:00:27

    But she, the author, would have to prove the truth of the statement, not you. What could possibly be unethical about a review? IIRC Truth is an affirmative defense which means it has to be raised by the Defendant to the action and the burden of proof lies on the Defendant to prove the truth of the alleged defamatory statement.

  324. Kalen Hughes
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 16:10:41

    I don’t see how the charge of “unethical” even applies to a review. The accusation implies that there is some kind of ethical standard to which reviewers are held. We have ethical standards for doctors and lawyers, and we even have boards that review the actions of these professionals, but we also have established rules, guidelines, laws, and expectations for these professions. This is not the case with reviews, which are merely opinions.

    I'm going to guess that the author in question is overreacting to a bad review and lashing out with terminology they don't actually understand (much like the writers who've mewled on this site about being “slandered”).

  325. azteclady
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 16:10:51

    ferfelabat said (comment 307) among other things:

    That is why I respect Azteclady even though I have never agreed with her and she insults the hell out of me periodically even though I am certain I've never said jack to her.

    Huh? Out of curiosity, and acknowledging that I don’t have perfect memory, I googled my handle and yours (as well as the name Cindy Cruciger). Color me unsurprised to find out that I’ve posted in the same blogs as you something like seven times (including this one), and only twice before in the same thread, or in direct response to something you’ve said. I wonder if two times is enough to characterize anything as periodic. I also wonder if not liking a behaviour and saying so equals “insulting the hell out of” someone.

    If she wrote a book I wouldn't read it. If she wrote one and then insulted the shit out of me again, I might buy it and give it to cookie. At least it's a sale, right?

    Well, whoddathunkit? If I ever lose perspective enough to think of myself as an aspiring author, at least I would have one sale to my credit right off the bat. Cool.

  326. Kalen Hughes
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 16:13:50

    Oooo! If I to start an anonymous review site where I slag on my competition/peers, while never letting on that I too am an author (and my motivation is to hurt their sales and improve my own) that might be unethical. Or maybe it would just be bitchy?

    I think it’s just bitchy.

  327. Holly
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 16:19:39

    I don't see how the charge of “unethical” even applies to a review.

    I’m pretty sure it doesn’t. I was just using that as a hypothetical. I suppose my question should have been more along the lines of “what constitutes defamation or libel/slander when it comes to a review site”?

    I'm going to guess that the author in question is overreacting to a bad review and lashing out with terminology they don't actually understand (much like the writers who've mewled on this site about being “slandered”).

    I would say your guess is correct. As I said, not that I’d actually want to sue, but in the case of review sites, which are really just opinion sites, how does a charge of libel/slander/defamation work?

  328. Alecia
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 16:21:44

    I don’t normally mention skin color but in this case I think I should say that I’m white (not really white any more than anyone’s skin is really black). There are a lot of comments here that assume prejudice. I have a big stack of AA romances right here and the publishers are definitely promoting segregation. The covers are made that way. I know often authors don’t have any say in the cover art but I don’t understand the difference between the marketing here and if, say, there was a line of books that said they were specifically for white people. How many of you would buy a romance that said “White Romance” on it? I wouldn’t!
    If major publishers aren’t accepting AA authors, the push needs to be toward forcing their acceptance, not creating “black culture” book lines. We can’t complain when people buy into the marketing that’s being used.
    I’m hearing a lot of blame here going toward white bookstore owners and readers but the reason I took so long to get AA romances is they are marketed in a way that led me to expect racially biased writing. My friends don’t perpetuate black segregated culture, but it is certainly out there and these books look like they are part of it. I’d say as far as these books are concerned the problem is from within.
    Too many people run across prejudice and start seeing it everywhere. I got beat up by 3 black men. I was 5 ft. tall and weighed 105 lbs. If they just wanted to rob me they would have asked me to hand over the goods. They never asked for anything, they just started hitting me. It was racial.
    I could have decided to start seeing black men in a bad light after that but I knew too many black men who weren’t racist to fall into that trap. I know that I have to be extra careful not to do anything that could be twisted to look/sound racist, though, because a lot of people don’t have that wisdom. I don’t let my kids play with the kids next door. Their father wants to bring it up regularly but any answer I give, he puts down to racism. I don’t let my kids play with his kids because they have filthy mouths and they pass around condoms as tokens of affection (7 and 9 year olds!)… not because they are black. It only hurts to lump everything into the “predjudice” pile. It keeps you from examining other things that might be a real problem.

  329. Jane
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 16:24:05

    There is a “fair comment” privilege defense in defamation cases. It’s been applied to restaurant and movie reviews and thus I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t apply to book reviews. The Washington v. Smith that I cited in the original post dealt with sportswriters saying negative things about a coach and the court found those things to be rhetoric.

    There’s also a famous case in Louisianna about a restaurant review that said something like “t’aint Creole, t’aint French, t’aint good.” (I’m totally paraphrasing except for the last t’aint). The review of the restaurant was quite lengthy and the writer went on and on about how every dish was absolutely horrible. Not defamatory.

  330. Michelle
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 16:28:02

    One thing I could see unethical about reviews would be asking for payment from the author-give me $100 and I will give you a glowing review, don’t pay me and I will trash the book.

  331. Holly
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 16:29:11

    So would the difference be (in the case of a book review site) saying defamatory things about the author, rather than her book?

    For example: I say, “Author X, you *insert derogatory/inflammatory term here” (which makes it personal) as opposed to saying, “This book sucked, don’t read it”?

  332. Jane
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 16:35:00

    The whole pay for review thing really makes me uncomfortable but I know even Kirkus has that. I suppose that is a whole ‘nother topic.

    Holly – I suppose it would depend on what you said. If you said that an author is a hack, I don’t think that is defamatory. What is a hack? If you said that the author was a poor researcher, I don’t think that is defamatory.

    If you said that the author A stole material from author B, that’s probably defamatory (if untrue) or If you said something like Author A is engaged in some wrongdoing. I think a reviewer is safer sticking to talking about the book rather than making declarations about an author. But like I stated in the original post, there is no bright line test to determine what is defamatory and what is not. Alot depends upon circumstances.

  333. Kalen Hughes
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 16:35:19

    Ok, to reopen a recent kettle of fish . . . if Jane had said a certain stroke victim had plagiarized from a famous author but she’d been LYING, then she’d be open to charges of defamation. Since Jane is telling the truth, and has proof, she is safe from such charges (in a legal sense, clearly she can't stop the plagiarist from saying she's going to sue).

    As a reviewer I'm free to say author X has penned the worst novel ever written, and clearly couldn't string coherent nouns and verbs together if their life depended on it. I'm free to say the book was so bad I used it as toilet paper. I can make any OPINION based statement I damn well please. None of these things are defamatory statements. Mean, nasty, negative and maybe outright bitchy? Sure. Actionable? Nope.

  334. Holly
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 16:45:12

    Very interesting. Thank you both for clearing that up for me.

  335. Seressia
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 17:05:40

    We could go on ad nauseum about cover art. I’m not a people cover person. Never have been. I was so relieved when the Lindsey covers became step-backs, because I HATED the half-clad woman on her knees in front of Fabio, and I was in my teens reading those. Why is it that you have to hit a certain sales level before people are taken off your covers? That’s what I’d like to know, but it’s a topic for another day.

    I’m not blaming white bookstores (unless you’re saying the major chains are white bookstores as opposed to independents, who can do their stores however they want). As for the lines, basically when Terry McMillan became a hit with Disappaearing Acts (89) and Waiting to Exhale (2002) publishers realized that black people read and decided to cash in. The easiest way was to create these lines. Arabesque romances started in 94 to account for the absolute dearth of romances featuring AA characters. All the lines aggressively marketed these books “written by us for us” and assumed (there’s that word again) that a)black people only read black books/romances and b) white people only read white books/romances.

    I ask you: why aren’t James Patterson’s Alex Cross books shelved in the black section then, alongside Walter Moseley’s? Both feature black detectives.

    What this discussion is trying to do (at least, what I’m trying to do) is get people to understand a) it has gone from marketing to blind categorization based on skin color of author; b) genre writers deserve to be shelved by genre regardless of their skin color c) you as a reader can help by expanding your horizons.

  336. Angela
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 17:09:07

    Bianca’s statements that she does not get black women is the experience of a minority in America. By her continuing to explain her thoughts, it makes me feel like I’m not a human being, that I’m just someone with brown skin and the stereotypes and assumptions that go along with the color of my skin. That is what I find disheartening and entirely unfair. I think that is what Monica means by the “filter”: she’s a black woman who has to live life in a “white” world, but the “white” world never turns around and lives life in her manner. From elementary school and on, everything is taught through the eyes of our white forefathers, authors, scientists, etc with a few asides directed towards minority contributions, but nothing really in depth to make Chinese Americans, Native Americans, African Americans, Jewish Americans, etc feel as though they are “American” and not “The Other”. It’s a fine line to walk between acknowledging that we are different, but as field negro said, instead of saying “When I look at a person I honestly don’t see race.” say “When I look at you I see a black man, and I will treat you just like everyone else by not making false assumptions about you.”

    Because it seems in fiction you can do so much to tailor make the hero, whereas in film, he's offered to you ready-made. So I'm not certain why the assumption that non-AA woman can't find AA Romance heroes perfectly yummy, as I know I do.

    Robin, while there are many non-black women who will swoon over the black actors and musicians we see in the media, there are many who probably a) feel that being attracted to a black man is a shameful secret to be discussed only when inebriated or when “letting their hair down” (ref. a reply made on Bam’s blog when she had Monica and Roz as guests), or b) have no attraction to black men at all (ref. Bianca). I am assuming once again, but how comfortable would that non-black woman’s husband be if when checking her pile of romance novels, saw a bevy of covers featuring black men? You can’t deny that the media portrayal of black men (and black women) are overwhelmingly negative or stereotypical, if not harmed by the long-standing portrayals of black men as “bucks” and black women as “Jezebels”–if not thinking like Bianca’s that sees blacks as being incapable of possessing the nuances and emotions and experiences as white people. (and did you not get the memo from dear old Nobel Prize winner Dr. James Watson who clings to the scientific racism of yore?)

    You can’t ignore the history of media portrayal of minorities in America as “others” to enforce feelings of white supremacy or to dissuade people from (the horror!) mixing of races. As a student of social history, you just can’t. And to ignore or forget about it is naive because stereotypical advertising didn’t go away after the Civil Rights movement ended (just check out angry asian man or racialicious or any other blog that will point out the stereotypes used in the media towards minorities).

    But in any case, I sense a tension underneath this discussion that perhaps is charging some of the dissonance. On the one hand, I feel like I'm hearing a sense that racism permeates America so strongly that AA Romance is doomed forever to be marginalized. Then I hear the anger at being marginalized and the call for change. As I said above, I think that when publishers are already marking AA Romance as different by segregating it, non-AA readers are being directed to see it differently (and I wonder if this causes some of the sense of hesitation in trying some of the authors). But one of the strains I hear from you and Monica is that of “white supremacy” and the implication that non-AA readers aren't ever going to see AA Romance as fantasy-worthy for them. Is that true? Is there that assumption underlying what you're saying? Because if it is -‘ if you see no hope for us white folk to ever get AA Romance -‘ then what's the point of fighting the battle, especially when AA readers seem to support the continuation of the segregation? But if it's not a hopeless cause, then why the assumption that non-AA readers won't find the books swoon-worthy?

    To be honest, I’m getting the feeling that you’re frustrated by blanket statements and are turning the tables on me, as though if Monica and I come across as hopeless, then it’d be our fault if things never changed. All I’m doing (can’t speak for Monica’s entire agenda because I’m not her) is spreading awareness and raising points that are largely absent from the discussions of race. I know it’s a sensitive topic because hell, it’s sensitive to me because I never thought about race, period, until I began to involve myself in the online blogging world. Prior to this, I probably had the exact same reading patterns as a lot of you and never even had a thought about the existence of black authors at all. If dialogue can’t be opened or I don’t change anyone’s mind, then that’s on them, but I’m not going to base my platform on “white people can’t understand so boo!”, which is what I feel you are trying to place on me. It’s a two-way street and we’ve all got to meet half-way, so if this topic does crop up again, why can’t we all come to it the next time with more information or having sat back and looked at it from a new angle? Every time this does crop up again, as anu said, it frequently turns into “Monica said that, Monica did that, Monica is this” and we never move on to another discussion on race with something to build upon from our last one.

  337. TeddyPig
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 17:10:20

    I was so relieved when the Lindsey covers became step-backs, because I HATED the half-clad woman on her knees in front of Fabio, and I was in my teens reading those.

    I cherish those silly Fabio covers. They are of great awesome.

  338. Ch-Ch-Changes « Reading While Black
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 18:09:58

    […] another race kerfluffle over at Dear Author. I came late in the discussion because I haven’t really been reading my blog roll, but I do […]

  339. FerfeLabat
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 18:15:10

    Kalen Hughes
    Posted: Oct 24th, 2007 at 4:35 pm 333Ok, to reopen a recent kettle of fish . . . if Jane had said a certain stroke victim had plagiarized from a famous author but she'd been LYING, then she'd be open to charges of defamation. Since Jane is telling the truth, and has proof, she is safe from such charges (in a legal sense, clearly she can't stop the plagiarist from saying she's going to sue).

    But what about the harrasment factor? Harassment may not be the correct word. If the woman’s health were to markedly deteriorate as a direct result of the mocking, jeering and ridicule generated by this website against her … Worse, should she die as a result of the excessive stress, what then? I would think the family would have a case. Maybe not, but they could sue just because. People do.

  340. TeddyPig
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 18:20:41

    If the woman's health were to markedly deteriorate as a direct result of the mocking, jeering and ridicule…

    Then she should have thought twice about stealing someone else’s writing.
    If she stole from a store do you think they would not send her to jail because she might die from shame?

  341. FerfeLabat
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 18:28:10

    But Teddy Pig. She seemed to be genuinely clueless. And regardless, we are not her judge and jury and until proven she’s innocent. Sometimes there are circumstances surrounding it that no one but the people involved know about or understand. Relentlessly going after someone just for sheer entertainment knowing they are in ill health to that extent regardless seems like attempted murder … almost.

  342. FerfeLabat
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 18:34:48

    This confidence that we are completely safe legally is foolhardy. There is a website that has been watching the court cases because if ONE gets through, the avalanche will follow.

    Quote: Georgia: Banks v. Milum, No. _____ (Ga. Super. Ct. verdict for plaintiff Jan. 27, 2006)
    Status: $50,000 verdict for plaintiff
    NOTE: This is the first case against a blogger of which MLRC is aware that has gone to trial and resulted in a liability verdict.
    Attorney Rafe Banks III sued political activist David Milum for statements made on his website on local politics in Forsyth County, Georgia, aboutforsyth.com. Several postings on the site alleged that Banks had delivered bribes from drug dealers to a now-deceased judge. After a four-day trial and six hours of deliberation, the jury awarded Banks $50,000 in compensatory damages, but no punitive damages. Banks had sought between $400,000 and $2 million in damages. After the verdict, Milum said that someone else was taking over the web site. He also said that he may appeal.
    Link

  343. TeddyPig
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 18:37:07

    Relentlessly going after someone

    She relentlessly denied it. They did her a favor in stringently pointing it out in no uncertain terms.

    If she really wanted to go to jail or at least be damaged financially she could have gone ahead and published anyway. She put her name on it which made her responsible. Ignorance of her actions is not a shield.

  344. Jane
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 18:44:11

    Why Cindy, I had no idea that you were a lawyer and could make such legal predictions. I hope you share more of your learned insight. Let me point out the obvious, though, which I am sure you intended to point out but failed to.

    The blogger was making accusations of illegal activity. That’s quite different than maintaining an opinion and one lawsuit, even a successful one, does not an avalanche make. Further, no one suggested that there is utter safety in blogging. Only someone who failed to read the original post could have made that assumption.

  345. FerfeLabat
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 18:44:17

    They did her a favor? Dude. I hope you never get a favor like that. I read the posts and comments. That was brutal stuff.

    Whether she deserved it, is a bad person or whatever … has no bearing on the point that she was clearly in bad health and this website went after her repeatedly knowing that it was adversely affecting her condition. I’m just asking if the woman has a case. I’m not saying it’s a fair situation or for a judgement on her own culpability in the initial reason for the blog attack.

  346. FerfeLabat
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 18:45:09

    Are you a lawyer, Jane? You’ve never said.

  347. TeddyPig
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 19:03:08

    They did her a favor? Dude. I hope you never get a favor like that.

    Well, I will never be stupid enough to copy books word for word and then stick my name on it and then send it to review sites like this and ask for an opinion.

    So I figure I am pretty safe there.

    Ignorance and poor health are no excuse for criminal behaviour.

  348. azteclady
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 19:03:58

    Attempted murder?

    Color me speechless.

  349. Jan
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 19:55:42

    Well, I will never be stupid enough to copy books word for word and then stick my name on it and then send it to review sites like this and ask for an opinion.

    Dammit.

    In a hole in the ground there lived a diddo.

  350. Teddypig
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 20:11:30

    It was a dark and stormy night…

  351. Teddypig
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 20:13:08

    I always wanted someone to start a whole series of books like that. Sorta a riff.

  352. Just Lovely
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 21:01:00

    Interesting post & comments. Bianca’s comments only confirm some of the points Monica has brought up.

    Black women & White women have more in common than differences. Instead of having a “limited” way of thinking or having a “closed” mind, it seems some people should broaden their views. Of course I like to read books by AA authors with characters that look like AAs, but I’m not so closed minded that I don’t read and enjoy books by women and men of other races. A good book is a good book regardless of the race of the author or characters.

    Free your mind – broaden your thinking – you’ll be surprised at what you’ll find in the process.

    “Wow, that Black woman is just like me.”

    Okay, you might not say that, but at least you’ll come away knowing more than what you know now.

  353. Robin
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 21:43:41

    To be honest, I'm getting the feeling that you're frustrated by blanket statements and are turning the tables on me, as though if Monica and I come across as hopeless, then it'd be our fault if things never changed.

    Oh, I’m definitely frustrated by the blanket statements, but it’s not because I’m interested in assigning any fault for the state of things, but rather because I think there is so much projection in this whole discussion already that we’ve lost sight of a really important point: until AA Romance is integrated into the mainstream of the genre, we won’t really know WHAT the majority cohort of readers think of it. So when you talk about the history of American white supremacy, I can certainly agree with you that our national history is shameful when it comes to racial equality. And I can agree with you that AA men have been variously portrayed in the media as thugs, inmates, drug lords, and violent abusers. What I’m unwilling to do is to argue that non-AA readers won’t embrace AA Romance when it’s offered to them in a way that doesn’t mark it as racially different. Because I think we can agree that Arab men are portrayed terribly in the media, too, and that racial attitudes toward Arabs, especially Muslims, have been less than positive (the rise in hate crimes toward Arab Americans after 9/11 tell this sad tale). And yet sheik books are unbelievably popular. Same with the Native American Romances (and Native Americans were enslaved previous to Africans and African Americans, and have suffered other numerous crimes). I do wonder whether about the effect of “white guilt” over slavery and the effect that might have on the portrayal of AA characters in the genre. But again, I don’t know. None of us does. I’m still amazed at the popularity of sheik Romances given the fear of Arab Americans the media helps generate. And since I live in a place where interracial marriage is quickly becoming a statistical imperative, I know that taboo is not universal across the country. Yes it exists in some places, but not everywhere. And still, I don’t know if we can even use social reality as a good barometer of the acceptance of fictional relationships.

    Anyway, in terms of readers, here, for example, there is one Bianca, who doesn’t read AA Romance to maybe 20 (more?) of us who do. And I wonder if Waiting to Exhale is the extent of Bianca’s exposure to any romantic type AA fiction (or film). No one asked her, but since that was her consistent example, it was a question I had. In any case, I think there’s been this collapsing of segregated publishing and shelving practices with reader preferences. And I think they are two separate issues. To which we can add the actual portrayal of race in the genre. I think it’s been determined that it’s not white readers who created or have sustained the publishing and shelving segregation (how many readers know about the segregation?). And while I don’t think it’s the responsibility of readers to change things, many of us are actively supportive of and willing to do something about trying to change the situation. Beyond that, there is the question of whether non-AA readers will embrace AA Romance, and that’s where I think a lot of projection is going on. Sure there are readers who have said they won’t read it, don’t want to, aren’t comfortable, whatever. But what’s that — a handful of online readers who’ve said that? Do they stand for the mainstream Romance reader? I don’t know. You don’t know. None of us knows. But when the assumptions about readers being racist because they won’t read AA Romance start I do get frustrated, because my online experience has been that those of us who DO enjoy AA Romance outnumber significantly those who don’t. And IMO we won’t know about the rest of readers until we get AA Romance into the mainstream Romance, where it belongs, as Romance pure and simple. Have you seen the comments by readers who don’t even know they’re reading AA Romance when they do? I think that’s the ideal, but again, I don’t think we’re going to provide them that opportunity until those books are on the same shelves, published under the same imprints, and marketed the same way as the rest of the genre.

    So when we get back into this who’s racist discussion, I think it not only creates hostility and discourages readers from trying some of the AA Romances, but it’s also putting the cart before the horse, so to speak. Because if white readers aren’t driving the segregation, then perhaps many if not most of them don’t even know this is going on, and are therefore not even making any kind of choice not to read AA Romance. Personally, I think asking readers to support the goal of integration actively, whether that be through reading and reviewing books on their blogs, by writing bookstore executives, by talking to local bookstore managers, by writing publishers, etc. is not unreasonable as a strategy. Because IMO that’s the first step, and it’s necessary before we get to the point of even knowing how AA Romance will be received if it’s simply marketed and shelved as straight Romance. The time in which separate imprints guaranteed that AA authors would get published is past, IMO, and so the negative effects of the segregation far surpass whatever benefits accrue to AA readers who can easily find the AA Romance. The genre is suffering, AA authors are suffering, readers of all stripes are suffering, and our community is suffering because we’re here going back and forth about who’s the most racist. So I think it’s time to focus on what people are doing to help and working out ways we can work together to push for faster change. But IMO that requires a belief that things CAN change, and also, likely, the need for people to work together who may not agree on every point and detail. My own experience in educational partnerships have taught me that those challenges exist completely separate from racial differences. So if we could do it without focusing on the race of those trying to help, I think that might be good. That a number of readers are still here talking about this, wanting to help is, IMO, no small thing, especially given the explosive nature of some of the discourse.

  354. Kalen Hughes
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 22:14:23

    But what about the harrasment factor? Harassment may not be the correct word. If the woman's health were to markedly deteriorate as a direct result of the mocking, jeering and ridicule generated by this website against her … Worse, should she die as a result of the excessive stress, what then? I would think the family would have a case. Maybe not, but they could sue just because. People do.

    Um, we didn’t harass her. She came here of her own free will over and over and over. We pointed out that she was committing plagiarism. She adamantly defended the work as her own (when she knew damn well she hadn’t written it, she just thought it was the work of a “ghost writer”). If she keeled over the family wouldn’t have a leg to stand on in court. Pointing out that someone is committing a crime is not an actionable offense. Refusing to back down when they deny it is not an actionable offense. Nothing any of us did here during the scenario in question is grounds for any kind of legal action. You can’t sue someone “just because”. Litigious as we are as a society, you have to actually have some kind of legal basis to even get the thing in front of a judge.

    I guess someone could try and haul us up in front of Judge Judy because we’re big meannies . . .

  355. Kalen Hughes
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 22:15:39

    Ugh. Random unwanted wink attack!

  356. Robin
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 23:08:31

    quotation mark plus right parantheses without a space = “)

    I guess someone could try and haul us up in front of Judge Judy because we're big meannies . . .

    Have you seen Judge Judy lately? I don’t know if she’d get past the ghostwriting thing. Or the leading with one’s disabilities thing (she is SO not a fan of that). And then there’s the “clean hands” principle to contend with. Actually, Judy’s pretty impatient all the way around these days. And you know how she feels about the stupidity defense: “Beauty fades but dumb is forever.” And I’m pretty sure she wrote that one herself, lol.

  357. BlkLitReader
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 01:00:38

    There are some AA readers who only read books by and about AAs, and as Bianca claim, they can’t related to the non-AA characters, are they considered racists? I think there is a wide line between having a reading perference and not having to defend your perference, and thinking others of another race are inferior.

    I find it interesting that AAs readers can have reading preferences and not be labeled as racists but non-AAs can’t.

    We’re going down a dead-end if we won’t acknowledge or allow people to be different. Yes, we all humans, but we’re also different. And, being different isn’t always a bad thing.

    If you want others to allow you to be, then you have to allow others to be, as well.

  358. FerfeLabat
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 03:40:31

    Pointing out that someone is committing a crime is not an actionable offense.

    I think the comments went well beyond that.

    And I was sued for saying someone was “busty” online, so I happen to know different on what is “actionable” or not. Regardless of how much merrit a case has, people can and will sue for anything. Anyone who reads the news knows that. Unless you are a lawyer yourself, the expense of hiring one to handle the lawsuit is no small fee.

  359. Sarah McCarty
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 07:26:55

    Okay. I made it to the end. I hope this is the end, because everything that can be said has been addressed. Very reasonably and logically by many. Passionately and personally by others. I really don’t have anything to add because it’s all been said.

    Jane, the original past was fab and I really enjoyed it. Very educational. Thank you for putting together such a coherent essay on a very complex subject.

  360. ~asked and answered
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 07:33:41

    Jane sez: Why Cindy, I had no idea that you were a lawyer and could make such legal predictions.

    This is followed by a poster with a query on Jane’s quals. I think that’s a valid query. A law degree & license weren’t in the “about” section of this website last time I checked. One might say, “well, of course, that’s hardly relevant to the about section of a book review site,” but I think it’s become relevant if someone’s lack of a law degree/license is going to be used to mock them into silence on posts discussing the law. (Well, in an attempt to mock them into silence.)

    I have a sneaking suspicion you’re one of those paralegals who thinks she could have gone to law school, passed the bar, yadda yadda. With your never having answered the question, with no statement of quals, with no martindale listing, what else am I to think? (You’re not using a pen name to be a reviewer, are you Jane? Jane who publicized the real identities of the Trisk authors?)

    Other people keep saying you’re a lawyer. It’s time you stepped up and said the same.

  361. Devon
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 07:48:39

    I just checked the Farmer’s Almanac. It’s a full moon, and Halloween’s less than a week away. Hmmm…..

  362. ilona andrews
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 07:54:01

    Hi Jane,

    Thank you so much for such a wonderfully informative topic. It’s extremely useful and it helps to finally get a legal professional’s perspective on the subject of defamation.

    Loved the comments too, sock puppets and all :)

  363. Nora Roberts
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 08:13:42

    Socks and trolls. Pretty much the same thing.

    I haven’t read all the comments. Just too many. But I did think last night about some I had read. And substituted one of my own hot button issues to Monica’s. It gave me a better understanding of how and why she–or anyone–can be so passionate and angry–and the motivation to push so others will just SEE. I get that. And passion often trumps tact.

    I do think it’s healthier and just all around better when two people just don’t like each other, for whatever reason, to do their best to ignore each other. To resist, if possible, the temptation to engage.

    It really doesn’t solve anything, or settle anything. And it can be both satisfying and entertaining to watch the other party spout off or hurl accusations–and not rise to the bait.

  364. Gennita Low
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 08:29:17

  365. Gennita Low
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 08:31:19

    Argh! What happened to my link?

    LINK

  366. Gennita Low
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 08:35:32

    //head desk//

    I just realized the last half of my post IS the link to the site I was talking about.

    I so suck at this HTML coding.

    Here’s for those who like to cut and paste:

    http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=80354&page=6

    In case we have people wondering who Cheryl Pillsbury is, she is Lanaia Lee’s agent and witch doctor. Pay her $$$ and she will find you a vanity publisher to print your book.

  367. Jane
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 08:40:28

    So do I get the crow with butter before or after the cursing and burning? And is crow as a last meal part of the Wiccan 10 fold curse because man that really sucks. I thought when a condemned person got to ask for a last meal, it was a meal of their choice. I am not a big poultry fan.

  368. Nora Roberts
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 08:52:12

    Does the buttered crow come with potatoes or rice? Or maybe just a nice side salad?

  369. Monica
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 09:01:11

    And it can be both satisfying and entertaining to watch the other party spout off or hurl accusations-and not rise to the bait.

    I agree! But it could be more entertaining. I was called all sorts of prosaic names such as a moron and then a whore. Just a whore. Sheesh. Not even a gotdang skanky son of a butt-slit crack ho, just a whore. How boring. These folks verbal skills are lacking.

  370. Darlene Marshall
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 09:21:12

    Jane–speaking of damaging reviews, are you going to mention the Cherry Sisters in your follow up on the First Amendment? I’ve always had a fond spot for that case.

  371. Jane
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 09:26:33

    I’m not familiar with that case Darlene. What’s the caption/cite?

  372. Kalen Hughes
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 09:30:26

    And I was sued for saying someone was “busty” online, so I happen to know different on what is “actionable” or not. Regardless of how much merrit a case has, people can and will sue for anything.

    And you can get these kind of cases dismissed becasue they are groundless.

  373. Jane
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 09:37:38

    Okay I found it – 1898? I will have to check the library for the opinion.

  374. Monica
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 09:37:47

    On reviews and defamation…which is an interesting topic and I should offer up at least one comment on it.

    I can hardly think of a better way to widen the knowledge of one’s book than properly publicizing legal action over an appropriately defamatory book review.

    BUT for a book review to be appropriately defamatory, I do believe they’d have to talk about an author’s Mama, an author’s kid(s), an author’s funky character, and smelly crotch, no?

  375. Jane
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 09:52:17

    I haven’t actually found a “review” that has been considered defamatory by the courts. For one thing, a book cannot be defamed. Nor can food in a resaurant or a movie. Only a person, a natural entity or a legal one, can be defamed. There is the common law rule of product disparagement though but that requires specific proof of loss.

  376. Darlene Marshall
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 09:53:14

    Jane–IANAL, just a former journalist, but I loved studying this one: Cherry vs. Des Moines Leader, 1901. Here’s a link.

  377. Monica
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 10:12:17

    For one thing, a book cannot be defamed.

    True, but if a reviewer waxed on in a derogatory fashion about an author’s character, Mama, and state of her crotch would that not be defamatory to the author (and her Mama)?

  378. Monica
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 10:16:57

    Dang, these comments–it posted before I finished. Those were just examples, of course. But are (severe) personal attacks on an author within a review actionable?

  379. Jane
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 10:19:17

    I guess it all depends. I think that there is a place between what the law protects and what human decency demands. In the Stevens case, Judge Easterbrook was condemning of the tactics taken by Tillman and suggested that her actions, her speech was outside the bounds of civil discourse.

    If you follow the link that Darlene Marshall provided, the reviewer said of a vaudeville performance group which was held to be not defamatory.

    heir long, skinny arms, equipped with talons at the extremities, swung mechanically, and soon were waved frantically at the suffering audience. The mouths of their rancid features opened like caverns and sounds like the wailings of damned souls issued therefrom. They pranced around the stage with a motion that suggested a cross between the danse du ventre [belly dancing] and a fox trot,–strange creatures with painted faces and hideous mien. Effie is spavined, Addie is stringhalt, and Jessie, the only one who showed her stockings, has legs without calves, as classic in their outlines as the curves of a broom handle.’

  380. Monica
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 10:24:07

    Thanks. I wasn’t sure if you answered the question before. Sometimes I find it difficult to wade through the legalese (I’m a medicalese person)

    That’s a hilarious review. Funny redeems a lot with me.

  381. Darlene Marshall
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 10:29:20

    *snicker* I must admit, I’ve always winced a little on behalf of the Cherry Sisters, but dang, how many of us write reviews that are classics and cited 100+ years later?

  382. Darlene Marshall
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 10:31:40

    Oh, and here’s another fun link on the Cherry Sisters.

  383. Jane
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 10:32:32

    Not that the review isn’t wonderfully funny (I also like the Louisiana food review), but isn’t part of the immortalization due to the lawsuit?

  384. Darlene Marshall
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 10:46:51

    I suppose we have to give the lawyers some credit for making the Cherry Sisters immortal.

    Really, they’d be grateful if they knew their fame lives on.[g]

  385. TeddyPig
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 11:47:32

    The book, ‘Of Atlantis’ is on hold until my employee is finished comparing both books to make sure they are no longer identical.

    …making sure all the names are changed and he found this great thing called a Roget’s Thesaurus and we believe this could be a bestseller.

  386. Emma
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 12:13:49

    And I was sued for saying someone was “busty” online,

    I was once going to sue someone for saying I was busty online until my lawyer looked pointedly at my chest. So instead I sued him for sexual harassment. Bah da bump! (You'd think that was funny if you've ever seen my bosoms.)

    The unfortunate truth is there are some injustices in this industry. I myself have been blessed to not encounter any on a professional level but I've heard from more than one friend who's experienced it first hand.

    One side effect of being victimized is anger. For some of us, “making it” is a life long dream and when something/someone endangers it because of the color of our skin how else are we supposed to react beside anger?

    I remember a couple years back I read an awesome excerpt online, so I suggested it as the book of the month to my reading group. When everyone went to purchase the book they thought I had given them the wrong title and author name because not only was the blurb wrong but the cover did not reflect any of the paranormal elements in the book.

    Because of it the author lost out on sales. I later found out the reason the blurb and the cover didn't match the book was because the publisher thought it wouldn't appeal to their target audience.

    I'm sure this has happened to a lot of authors but how many authors beside AA authors has it happened to because of the color of their skin?

    I respect Monica for standing up for what she believes in. Her method of delivery is not going to be palatable to everyone but I bet you'll never forget the message.

    (p.s. Yes, you can come to my blog and tell me how you disagree with what I said but beware today's topic is I’ve heard of buttsecks for Jesus but masturbating with God?)

  387. Emma
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 15:29:52

    Ooh, check it out. There are multiple Emmas popping up. And here I thought I was the only one!

    I really need to come up with a more original handle.

  388. Jayne
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 16:00:20

    Asked:

    “I have a sneaking suspicion you're one of those paralegals who thinks she could have gone to law school, passed the bar, yadda yadda. With your never having answered the question, with no statement of quals, with no martindale listing, what else am I to think? (You're not using a pen name to be a reviewer, are you Jane? Jane who publicized the real identities of the Trisk authors?)

    Other people keep saying you're a lawyer. It's time you stepped up and said the same.”

    And Answered: Yes, Jane is a lawyer. Robin is a lawyer. Jan, Janine and I (Jayne) are not lawyers.

  389. Angela
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 16:25:01

    Because I think we can agree that Arab men are portrayed terribly in the media, too, and that racial attitudes toward Arabs, especially Muslims, have been less than positive (the rise in hate crimes toward Arab Americans after 9/11 tell this sad tale). And yet sheik books are unbelievably popular. Same with the Native American Romances (and Native Americans were enslaved previous to Africans and African Americans, and have suffered other numerous crimes)

    Robin…I don’t know if you’re aware of what you just did, but using the “who had it worse” is a popular diversionary tactic used to derail the conversation away from the point and make the group speaking out feel alienated and imply that they are playing the victim and are just whining.

  390. Nora Roberts
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 16:34:01

    ~Robin…I don't know if you're aware of what you just did, but using the “who had it worse” is a popular diversionary tactic used to derail the conversation away from the point and make the group speaking out feel alienated and imply that they are playing the victim and are just whining.~

    Well, this is a day. I’m coming to Robin’s defense.

    I didn’t read her examples that way, but as examples of really crappy prejudices and terrible attitude that have hurt other minorities. Not taking anything away from the issue at hand, but showing there are others, too.

    It all sucks.

  391. Monica
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 16:41:36

    Oh, Lawd, I’m picking up the pipe again. I won’t inhale so it doesn’t count.

    Nora, it does suck, but in romance, which is what we are talking about, it sucks worse for blacks. Every day and in every way.

    I like Robin, but there are two apologia notes she (among others) ALWAYS use.

    1) You’re not saying it in a nice way! Talking about race upsets people. Shut up.

    2) Other races have it as bad. Shut up.

    I must refer you to this really good post by a college professor (a white woman)

    It was written before, but it really illustrates well what happens in romance race discussions in the community.

  392. kardis
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 17:01:27

    I really have nothing much to add to this conversation, but there is something I’ve wanted to say to blogland for a long time:

    Monica,
    I’ve got the utmost respect for you. I’m sorry that I never get into these big posts to back you up (the large number of comments scare the heck outta me) but you are saying what needs to be said. I don’t have your filter, but I trust it.

    kardis

    Ok, now I’m running away again, carry on.

  393. kardis
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 17:02:34

    Not *to* blogland, to Monica in front of blogland. It was the large number of posts that made me mess up. :)

  394. aggie
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 17:14:56

    Speaking for myself, I don’t believe (and I’ve tried to make it clear) that this is not an issue worth talking about. I don’t think this is issue is about talking in a nice way means not talking about it all. This dialogue shows that there’s room between not talking and just confrontation. So I think it’s about engaging – engagement tends to make dialogue more fruitful than only confrontation. It doesn’t mean that people can’t feel anger or outrage. But communicating only through that that makes it difficult to communicate and make positive steps (again, conflict resolution). That’s what I’m trying to get at when I talk about the method of communication. Race does upset people. That is of course understandable. But if we’re only angry, it’s hard for people to listen. It makes it harder to reach out and communicate with the reader who can be made to understood how important issues such as race and segregated shelving policies are.

    As to the other races thing, I actually found Robin’s question very interesting:

    I think we can agree that Arab men are portrayed terribly in the media, too, and that racial attitudes toward Arabs, especially Muslims, have been less than positive (the rise in hate crimes toward Arab Americans after 9/11 tell this sad tale). And yet sheik books are unbelievably popular. Same with the Native American Romances (and Native Americans were enslaved previous to Africans and African Americans, and have suffered other numerous crimes).

    I didn’t see it as saying that other races have it worse – I saw it as an opportunity to look behind the arguments against reading about AA characters. Doesn’t that raise interesting questions about perceptions and how identifiable characters are? Doesn’t that run counter to comments where people say they can’t identify with black characters – after all, if you can read Sheik romances, Victorian damsels and Indian heroes/heroines, why not AA characters? Doesn’t it actually validate what AA authors have said?

    (And as to the other races comment, my international roommate was commenting on that interpretation that some races have it as bad, or that some experiences are worse than others – it seems to greatly be affected by your background, where you’re from and how you frame things. For some international reader have different frames that affect them.)

  395. Monica
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 17:16:47

    Thank you kardis. I need that sometimes. I get ragged on a lot, and sometimes get down.

    Professor Rachel put it like this (did I mention she was white?)

    Here's what frustrates me: we need to talk about white people's role in racism. We need to have a discussion about white racism that is not derailed. After all, Whites hold the vast majority of power in the US (and in the global political and economic institutions), and we have the most influence over racism.

    We need to stop pretending that Hip Hop, or Black criminals, or anyone who acknowledges racism is the problem.

    The analogy I have used for the past 10-15 years is the analogy of alcoholism. One of the basic tenets Alcoholics Anonymous is that a person has to acknowledge his or her alcoholism before he or she can get better. Well the same is true for white racism…We need to stop the distraction tactics, stop the victim mentality, stop the whining, and focus on what we can do better.

    That’s from the post I cited before.

    I have to remember those others like you standing by and … keep on truckin’ and talkin’! The topic is crucial. It will make folks it comes close to the bone to angry. It will bring out apologetics who want to derail it anything other than race philosophy. But it needs to be said, regardless, and there are other really great people than me to say the exact same thing.

  396. Robin
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 17:31:21

    Robin…I don't know if you're aware of what you just did, but using the “who had it worse” is a popular diversionary tactic used to derail the conversation away from the point and make the group speaking out feel alienated and imply that they are playing the victim and are just whining.

    I’m sorry Angela, but where, in any of my comments, did I say that anyone had it worse than African Americans? Where did I suggest that anyone is “whining” or “playing the victim”? Seriously. Show me so I know what made you think that. As to derailing the topic … I thought the topic between us was assumptions about the reception of AA Romance. That’s what I answered to. That’s what the quote you took from me referred to.

    Your argument was that the portrayal of Black men in the media, among other things, has made it such that many non AA women would not find AA Romance heroes appealing. Specifically, you said this:

    while there are many non-black women who will swoon over the black actors and musicians we see in the media, there are many who probably a) feel that being attracted to a black man is a shameful secret to be discussed only when inebriated or when “letting their hair down” (ref. a reply made on Bam's blog when she had Monica and Roz as guests), or b) have no attraction to black men at all (ref. Bianca). I am assuming once again, but how comfortable would that non-black woman's husband be if when checking her pile of romance novels, saw a bevy of covers featuring black men? You can't deny that the media portrayal of black men (and black women) are overwhelmingly negative or stereotypical, if not harmed by the long-standing portrayals of black men as “bucks” and black women as “Jezebels”-if not thinking like Bianca's that sees blacks as being incapable of possessing the nuances and emotions and experiences as white people.

    My argument is that there are two groups of popular heroes, sheiks and Native American warriors, despite the fact that Arab Americans and Native Americans haven’t exactly been portrayed in stellar terms by the media, nor have they been part of the white power structure (but, like African Americans, have been the victim of it). So, as I concluded from that observation, “I don't know if we can even use social reality as a good barometer of the acceptance of fictional relationships.” How is that saying ANYTHING about who is a greater victim? That these two groups have suffered wrongs based on race was intended to serve as a demonstration of the disconnect between historical reality and reception of fictional characters as fantasy objects (subjects?) as a way to maybe slow down the IMO rush to judgment that non-AA readers won’t embrace AA Romance in the mainstream. If you don’t agree that the cases of those other two heroes isn’t analogous, then by all means argue against that intellectual position. Isn’t that what analysis is all about?

    There are, without a doubt, relationships between race as a social construct, the history of racial inequality and racism in America, and Romance. But what those relationships are we have not been parsing through very extensively, IMO. And I’m sorry, but I don’t think you can ever talk about one racial group in isolation, because as you know, race is constructed relationally — in the context of power structures, social hierarchies, and cultural relationships. The evolution of race in America, the emergence of the concept, the rise of scientific racism, the fluid boundaries and changing definitions all exist because of these relationships. You can see it everywhere from Jefferson’s Notes on The State of Virginia (and the artificial distinctions he draws between Africans and African Americans and Native Americans) to the slave narrative of Frederick Douglass to the debate between Washington and Dubois.

    You and Monica get frustrated because you think these discussions always turn into “what Monica said” accusations, but I get frustrated because it feels to me that they always turn into an accusations of “how racially insensitive white or non-AA readers are.” And we never even get to the issue of AA ROMANCE, or even think about for one second the idea that readers are purely volunteers in the campaign to integrate AA Romance. Yet it feels sometimes that non-AA (especially white) readers are being blamed for a publishing segregation we had nothing to do with and that the majority of those of us engaged in these discussions are actively arguing against. It’s like some of us are saying “yes, we agree that AA Romance should be treated just like other Romance — and we’re treating it that way now,” and then we’re being told, “hey, that’s not good enough; if there’s one among you who makes an offensive or arguably racist comment, you’re all guilty by association and are nothing more than ignorant racists.” And it really frustrates me to be accused of trying to derail the discussion by actually talking about Romance (and not what Monica said) when this is supposed to be about Romance to begin with (and yes, I know you can’t talk about that in isolation, either, but geez, we’ve hardly talked about it AT ALL).

  397. Robin
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 17:41:02

    I like Robin, but there are two apologia notes she (among others) ALWAYS use.

    1) You're not saying it in a nice way! Talking about race upsets people. Shut up.

    2) Other races have it as bad. Shut up.

    That you actually think this Monica can’t even make me mad because IMO it’s just so very very sad.

    Well, this is a day. I'm coming to Robin's defense.

    I’m not even up to making a snarky comment here, so I’ll just say thanks.

  398. Emma
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 17:49:08

    Ooh, check it out. There are multiple Emmas popping up. And here I thought I was the only one!
    I really need to come up with a more original handle

    No worrys. You can be Emma too. Not Emma two but I mean like Emma as well.
    Le sigh. I like being Emma, in real life I have a guy's name. Which makes it hard to meet men over the internet. Umm…not that I do meet guys over the internet or anything like that but if I did, it would be hard.

    I personally don't like to play the “who has/had it” worse game because it takes away from everyone's struggle.

    And we'd be here all day as I cataloged what happened to my nana on my mom's side who was Sihasapa Lakota. Or my nana on my dad's side who lived through Trujillo's reign.

    Let's face it. Humans beings are pretty fucked up and EVERY race has suffered injustice. The color of my skin doesn't make my injustice (seriously what injustice? The time Bloomies ran out of the woven Elliott Lucca handbags before conference?) any more valid than anyone elses.

    If we as the Romance Community can't get it together, A COMMUNITY BUILT ON LOVE, what hope do we have for the rest of the world? Any injustice effects us all because we are the same.

    Emma Petersen (who's stepping off of her We Are The World soapbox so she can go read Sarah McCarty's Caine’s Reckoning. Seriously? Have you guys read this book? Am I like the last person to discover this book? Is excessive drooling while reading and fervantly wishing the hero was real and in your living room signs I should be worried about?)

  399. Lynne
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 17:53:05

    Circling back around to the original topic, I don’t know if the “whore” comments on the other blog were actionable defamation or not, but Jeezus Effin’ Christ. That thread was one of the most poisonous things I’ve read in a while.

    If I were an author planning to guest blog over there, I’d be havin’ me some serious second thoughts about associating my name/brand with a place like that.

  400. Monica
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 18:00:03

    One last reply to Robin from me because I respect your intelligence.

    I do think that the race topic makes you highly personally uncomfortable and you ALWAYS come up with one or usually both topics (in looooong posts) to deflect or defuse the topic.

    The times you referred that I got on you were always because of one or the other of your two notes in regards to racial discussions regarding blacks.

    Yes, you never suggested that other races have it worse than blacks. You never suggested anyone was “whining” or “playing the victim”?

    What you did was to attempt to derail the topic away from blacks in romance to something far more comfortable to the majority here.

    Can you not hear the sigh of relief when folks feel free to post on native American or sheik romance? Those topics get far more play with far greater comfort than blacks in the romance genre.

    My argument is that there are two groups of popular heroes, sheiks and Native American warriors, despite the fact that Arab Americans and Native Americans haven't exactly been portrayed in stellar terms by the media, nor have they been part of the white power structure (but, like African Americans, have been the victim of it). So, as I concluded from that observation, “I don't know if we can even use social reality as a good barometer of the acceptance of fictional relationships.” How is that saying ANYTHING about who is a greater victim? That these two groups have suffered wrongs based on race was intended to serve as a demonstration of the disconnect between historical reality and reception of fictional characters as fantasy objects (subjects?) as a way to maybe slow down the IMO rush to judgment that non-AA readers won't embrace AA Romance in the mainstream. If you don't agree that the cases of those other two heroes isn't analogous, then by all means argue against that intellectual position. Isn't that what analysis is all about?

    Yes, the intellectual aspects of this are fascinating. But there is the much and happily debated fact that noble native Americans, and sexy sheiks and lusty Latins (I notice they usually are mixed with some English lord blood or such) are romance fantasy objects, while black men aren’t.

    Black men are not societally accepted as sexual fantasy objects in any media. The movie and TV industry goes to great length to pair the black man with a nonwhite women, so it won’t be considered a black thing and thus not watched…but still won’t upset folks. Do they assume seeing a black man with a white woman in a sexual fashion will cause riots and television sets thrown out the window? This has got to have at least a little basis in some fact for them to go to such pains.

    And I'm sorry, but I don't think you can ever talk about one racial group in isolation, because as you know, race is constructed relationally -‘ in the context of power structures, social hierarchies, and cultural relationships. The evolution of race in America, the emergence of the concept, the rise of scientific racism, the fluid boundaries and changing definitions all exist because of these relationships. You can see it everywhere from Jefferson's Notes on The State of Virginia (and the artificial distinctions he draws between Africans and African Americans and Native Americans) to the slave narrative of Frederick Douglass to the debate between Washington and Dubois.

    Blacks are the denigrated race in the romance genre. Authors of other races are treated as merely romance authors, not categorized by race. So I don’t see where the discussion of Asian, Hispanic or native American authors or characters are relevant to the segregation of blacks in romance–other than to derail the topic to a more comfortable one.

    but I get frustrated because it feels to me that they always turn into an accusations of “how racially insensitive white or non-AA readers are.”

    It is not an accusation. It is a fact. And like Rachel said, until we can come to terms with that, no changes can be made.

    And we never even get to the issue of AA ROMANCE, or even think about for one second the idea that readers are purely volunteers in the campaign to integrate AA Romance. Yet it feels sometimes that non-AA (especially white) readers are being blamed for a publishing segregation we had nothing to do with and that the majority of those of us engaged in these discussions are actively arguing against.

    Readers totally control what publishers do. It’s all about the readers. You are the ones with the power, you are the ones you can accomplish the change. You as the humongous romance reader contingent have ENORMOUS power. If you wanted it changed and made it known, it would be changed, and quickly.

    “hey, that's not good enough; if there's one among you who makes an offensive or arguably racist comment, you're all guilty by association and are nothing more than ignorant racists.”

    And I think this is the crux of the problem. Maybe we ALL need to stand up and admit we are ignorant racists, because in some degree we all are, no matter our color. Strip the shame and blame from it.

    And it really frustrates me to be accused of trying to derail the discussion by actually talking about Romance (and not what Monica said) when this is supposed to be about Romance to begin with (and yes, I know you can't talk about that in isolation, either, but geez, we've hardly talked about it AT ALL).

    And you might like to talk about Romance. It is far more comfortable than talking about blacks and romance. There are lots of places where all aspects of Romance are talked about eagerly. But the segregation of blacks in romance is a rare topic that affects a large percentage of authors and readers. It really needs to be discussed honestly. And not derailed.

  401. Robin
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 18:04:05

    I didn't see it as saying that other races have it worse – I saw it as an opportunity to look behind the arguments against reading about AA characters. Doesn't that raise interesting questions about perceptions and how identifiable characters are? Doesn't that run counter to comments where people say they can't identify with black characters – after all, if you can read Sheik romances, Victorian damsels and Indian heroes/heroines, why not AA characters? Doesn't it actually validate what AA authors have said?

    I have to say I was more than a little surprised to be confronted for arguing that non-AA readers do, can, and will embrace AA Romance, as they have embraced sheik and NA Romance, but such seems to be the way of this discussion, of the strong feelings people have and the way all of our preconceptions shape the debate. It just doesn’t seem logical to me to argue for integration of AA Romance without believing that it will sell to non-AA readers. I mean, if you don’t believe it will sell broadly, then why argue for its integration, since many AA readers seem to prefer the separate shelving and imprints?

  402. Monica
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 18:18:54

    Robin,

    You bring up and EXCELLENT point

    I have to say I was more than a little surprised to be confronted for arguing that non-AA readers do, can, and will embrace AA Romance

    Not by me. This is my hope. I have a slight resentment because of nonblack authors writing black heroes BUT not getting niched in the AA category with me and all the rest of the black folks, but instead with all the other romances…but this is nothing but a touch of base jealousy. It is a GOOD thing. It helps readers because accustomed to characters of all races and know their humanity, their love, can be the same as theirs.

    What I want is to write characters of whatever races too and be treated just like any other other author, not singled out as a black author. That’s it. I want to be treated like any other romance author, no special treatment, no special race-based niche, just let me ride on my writing and story like anybody else.

    It just doesn't seem logical to me to argue for integration of AA Romance without believing that it will sell to non-AA readers. I mean, if you don't believe it will sell broadly, then why argue for its integration, since many AA readers seem to prefer the separate shelving and imprints?

    Now this is your kickass smart point. I argue for its integration because I want to be treated like other romance authors. I want my books available to all and sink and swim on their content, not the color of my skin. I’m not afraid of the competition (and it is considerable…sheesh, Nora alone is equal to a dozen, maybe more).

    Not all black authors feel the same. I can’t speak for them.

    This is about what I think is right and what I want. I want to write romance and it be romance. Period. Available to all people, regardless of their race.

  403. Robin
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 18:21:27

    I do think that the race topic makes you highly personally uncomfortable and you ALWAYS come up with one or usually both topics (in looooong posts) to deflect or defuse the topic.

    This is patently untrue at even the most superficial level.

    What you did was to attempt to derail the topic away from blacks in romance to something far more comfortable to the majority here.

    I’ve already responded to this multiple times.

    So I don't see where the discussion of Asian, Hispanic or native American authors or characters are relevant to the segregation of blacks in romance-other than to derail the topic to a more comfortable one.

    Well, I wasn’t talking about authors or characters. But it doesn’t matter, because the fact that I won’t say “you’re right, Monica, NO ONE had it worse than African Americans and you are so right to call readers racist indiscriminately” means that you will always see me as an apologist. Oh, well. That you can’t see where I’m coming from, my own willingness to take on AA Romance as equal to every other Romance, simply means that you’re squandering the help of an ally in what you say is your mission to integrate AA Romance. Honestly, sometimes I think you’re mission is simply to rant about how racist white America is (because all the times you’ve said you don’t think anything will change have made me think you have no faith that AA Romance WILL ever be integrated), but I’m trying to ignore all that because I agree that AA Romance needs to be integrated. I don’t agree with you that everyone you think is racist either deserves to be called that or is, indeed, racist.

    You as the humongous romance reader contingent have ENORMOUS power. If you wanted it changed and made it known, it would be changed, and quickly.

    You mean in the same way we’ve managed to get Westerns back, or historically epic historical Romance, or better copyediting? I wish.

    It really needs to be discussed honestly. And not derailed.

    Oh, I so agree with you.

  404. anu439
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 18:21:52

    Bravo, Robin for maintaining your cool. ;)

    Regarding the comparison to NA and sheik romances, it's a good comparison because the two groups represent the primary “Other” groups in the genre. I wrote a long ass post on AAR about the differences among AA romances and those groups a long time (never went anywhere).

    See, I think it's the way those groups are imported into Romance. NA and sheiks are exoticised and romanticized because there were masculine elements in both cultures that Americans (the West) liked and admired. The brave savage, the harsh and brutal masculinity of desert nomads, etc. Plus, NA and sheiks are considered distinct from America, they're discrete cultures on their own terms.

    Whereas African Americans came into America as slaves, less than the bottom of the rung. For centuries, AA were considered animals or property. They are a part of American history in a sordid, dehumanizing way. What's to exoticise or romanticize about in this scenario?

    Will be back later tonight.

  405. Holly
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 18:24:32

    I have a slight resentment because of nonblack authors writing black heroes BUT not getting niched in the AA category with me and all the rest of the black folks, but instead with all the other romances

    Monica, may I ask you a question? Because I honestly don’t know…how do publishers know which authors are black and which are white? I honestly don’t understand. I mean, if a white author submits a manuscript with a black h/h, and they get shelved in the regular romance section..is it because they say, “Hey, I’m a white author writing about black people?”

    I’m really not being facetious. I’m honestly curious. I don’t understand how publishers KNOW what race/ethnicity their authors are upon submission.

    Or are you speaking more about well established authors that do that?

  406. Michelle
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 18:42:51

    Lynne (comment 399) thank you so much for stating your observation and opinion I agree with it 100%.

    Also supporting your friends is important BUT if you are a writer or wannabe writer please consider your profession and act professional. Being petty and insulting others, especially well respected people in the same field(Nora), is career suicide. Romanceland is small and readers have long memories. Especially be careful if your buddy is a pot stirrer (cough ferfe cough). In all the mud you are slinging some will surely fly back and hit you in the face. As others have said unfortunately, and maybe not fairly, writers are placed to a higher standard and have a lot more to lose than a blogger/reader. Also defending plagerism is never a smart move or one to lend you credibility. (So do you think we will reach 500 posts?)

  407. Monica
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 18:53:59

    Robin, I actually do consider you an ally. But why can’t you take my word for it? I have a decent memory and EVERY time I’ve challenged you it was because of one of those two apologia you raised in a discussion of black race and romance.

    A lot of races have it worse than AAs in general and many arenas, a LOT of races. I will readily agree with that.

    But none has it worse in the U.S. romance genre. That’s all I’ve ever asked you to admit and let’s deal with that.

    Holly,

    if a white author submits a manuscript with a black h/h, and they get shelved in the regular romance section..is it because they say, “Hey, I'm a white author writing about black people?”

    If a white author subs a mss to her regular nonblack romance imprint, it would go to the regular romance shelves, If she were a known mainstream author such as Suzanne, Nora or Barbara (first name recognition, now that’s bank) it would go to the regular commercial fiction shelves. If they slapped a black chick on the cover and nobody knew who that author was–and she wasn’t with a regular nonblack imprint, but mainstream fiction, it might well be shelved with us Negroes, over there, in the back of the bus and only get marketed to other blacks.

    I recently wrote a blog that more black authors should submit to nonblack imprints as nonblacks and leave race out of their mainstream imprints too, submitting as nonblacks under pseudonyms.

    The deal is the separate black imprints. They troll for us and it is a siren’s call. I got a contract in front of my face from a black imprint, am I going to submit as a brand new author to a nonblack imprint. When I have time. But I always have another deadline.

    That deal is why some black authors don’t agree with me–we have a ready made market and sales arena for our books, a distinct niche that hungers for books…a lot of them. Blacks buy and read more books statistically, I’ve heard, than any other race. Black readers support our careers (Love, love, love you!)

  408. Monica
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 19:03:39

    You mean in the same way we've managed to get Westerns back, or historically epic historical Romance, or better copyediting? I wish.

    If the majority of romance readers were talking with their pocketbooks, you’d have all those things. Pubs and editors are looking at sales numbers and sales numbers or MONEY only. Westerns and historical epics must not be making the money they once did and readers must buy despite the sometimes lax copyediting. If romance numbers and MONEY fell and there was a reader outcry it was because of copyediting, NY would invest in double copyedits or something.

  409. asked~answered.com
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 19:16:05

    Ja(y)ne: Yes, Jane is a lawyer. Robin is a lawyer. Jan, Janine and I (Jayne) are not lawyers.

    Robin now needs to come along and illuminate us. As best as I recall, Robin took the July 2007 bar. States are just beginning to report their bar results. Being charitable and assuming a successful bar exam for Robin and a successful character and fitness application, she must still be sworn in. So, considering how likely you are to be incorrect at this point in time in stating Robin is a lawyer, I have no faith in your similarly easy statement of Jane being one as well.

    And if you can dignify my question with a reply, why can’t Jane?

  410. Robin
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 19:21:02

    A lot of races have it worse than AAs in general and many arenas, a LOT of races. I will readily agree with that.

    But none has it worse in the U.S. romance genre. That's all I've ever asked you to admit and let's deal with that.

    No, it isn’t, Monica. One of the last times we had this discussion you made the following assertions:

    Most people who are not black (and I say most, not all, some Mexican immigrants may have a decent idea), have no idea what racism feels like. . . .

    You really should take my word for it. In this country, being black is special. And it’s not because we want it that way, believe me.

    Look, I believe you passionately want AA Romance to be treated equally to ever other kind of Romance. I want that, as well. But I think there’s so much more at play here for you, and while I don’t blame you for your anger and frustration, I also think that there’s nothing I could say besides “yes, Monica, you’re right about everything” for you to see me as okay. And I can’t — and won’t — do that. If it’s not enough that I think you’re right to want to be treated equally to all other Romance authors then so be it. It seems to me that should be enough, especially if I’m willing to treat AA Romance equally and to make my support of integration heard.

  411. Monica
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 19:21:11

    And if you can dignify my question with a reply, why can't Jane?

    Dear Lord in Heaven, why does it matter? If they can speak legalese, cite accurate cases to support their points AND make sense, that’s good enough for me, bar exam passed or not.

  412. Robin
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 19:26:00

    Robin now needs to come along and illuminate us.

    I’ve said numerous times that I’m not yet a lawyer. But I think a lot of people think that if you have a law degree that means you’re a lawyer (and in some states you are).

    And if you can dignify my question with a reply, why can't Jane?

    I’m not trying to be rude here, but why does Jane owe you or anyone else the details of her personal or professional life? Although if you read the blog regularly, I think the question would have been answered for you already.

  413. Monica
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 19:28:24

    Hell Robin, even I don’t say I’m right about everything.

    And where are getting the quote? What were we talking about? Did it veer from blacks and romance? Must have. I must have been responding to one of your insertions of other races in the topic and was like WTF?

    You expect me to admit to stuff, such as I tend to be strident and accusatory rather than thinking things out carefully before I post, especially when emotional. Why can’t I expect you to admit to stuff such as a tendency to apologia? It doesn’t make you bad or any worse than me for that matter. Nobody is perfect.

  414. Robin
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 19:36:31

    Why can't I expect you to admit to stuff such as a tendency to apologia? It doesn't make you bad or any worse than me for that matter. Nobody is perfect.

    I’m not claiming perfection, Monica. My comments are right out there for everyone to see and judge for themselves (and the discussion took place at Sarah Frantz’s blog). But you make this “apologia” assertion like it’s fact and not just your interpretation. As for the race-Romance thing, I basically feel that if I talk about Romance, you want to nail me for not talking about race in society. If I talk about race in society, you want to ding me for refusing to talk ONLY about African Americans, or agreeing with you that almost no one else knows racism. I don’t think you’re trying to shift the ground underneath me, but like I said, I think there’s so much at stake here for you that everything is bound together for you in a way that it isn’t for me. So we end up talking at cross purposes. Hopefully someone else is getting something out of it, though.

  415. Jackie L.
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 19:40:17

    Well, it turns out I owe my local BN an apology. See, I just zoom in there on Wednesday (my day off), the day after the release date for one of my “auto-buys” because I can’t get the book until Thursday from Amazon. (I know, I know, my family wants me to find a 12-step for my reading addiction.) Plus, it’s fun to tell them that the latest LaNora is going to be NUMBER ONE on the frickin’ NYT bestseller list in a couple of weeks, and they would sell more of her books if they weren’t still in the back room on a cart. (Twits.)

    So I went in and actually scanned the Romance section of the BN. Lo and behold, there were about a dozen different AA romance authors (if one can judge a book by its cover). All were shelved in the romance section alphabetically by author. There were 5 other authors shelved with the Harlequin-Silhouette books in the far back, on the bottom shelf. Different imprint I’m guessing.

    Filed in the J’s was an anthology edited by some Monica person. (Kidding!)

    So out in white suburbia, the AA romances are shelved with all the other romances. They’re weren’t very many different authors, but there was no segregation.

    On the NEW and EXCITING stand out shelf were two books by AA authors and some other person (Sarah McCarty) who writes erotica, I think, maybe. (Kidding! Again.)

    If this can happen where I live, there is hope.

    On Bianca’s side of things, I was checking Amazon and Sharon Cullars, who wasn’t in my BN. The blurb for one of her books was about an older woman falling in love with her son’s friend.

    Now, for me, that is just yucky, yucky. Falling in love, with say, Fuzzy or Chewy or Guppy Brain (my middle son’s best friends)–ewwwww.

    Then I thought about my oldest son’s best friends–one kid tried to set fire to my house. Another one is called Fox ’cause he looks like a fox (the red furry kind, not the OMG Hottie kind).

    Doesn’t work for me. Couldn’t finish the book by LaVyrle Spencer that featured a mom falling for her son’s friend. Feels like I dunno, child abuse or incest or something. No way gonna do it for me. I don’t identify with the heroines, these girls are very interesting and I am not. But not gonna read something that feels wrong.

    As for finding AA men attractive. Denzel, WOOT! Does my husband know about this? Sure. The one time he asked why I married a short nerdy white guy when I think AA guys are hot, I asked him if he studied the blue girl in the X-men movies so closely because he admired the costumers’ skill. I’m not thinking so.

    So I kinda overlooked the AA authors out of I dunno why. So now I’m gonna correct that. But not if I don’t finish my mounds of paperwork so I can get home.

  416. Jayne
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 20:14:31

    Okay, you got me. Jane’s not a lawyer. But she did “stay at a Holiday Inn (Express)” the night before she wrote the post.

  417. Monica
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 20:26:29

    But you make this “apologia” assertion like it's fact and not just your interpretation.

    Angela said the same thing. And if there were more blacks who felt comfortable commenting, they might say the same thing too. THIS IS NOT AN INDICTMENT OR AN ACCUSATION! NOBODY IS CALLING YOU RACIST! You are more cogent and far more intelligent than most. There’s just that li’l thing you do. Usually, I can deal with it, but I do often want to say something (as Angela did). Way back in the comments, I mentioned that you had two notes, remember? Well, those were the two.

    Wow, I sorta like the all-caps thing.

    As for the race-Romance thing, I basically feel that if I talk about Romance, you want to nail me for not talking about race in society. If I talk about race in society, you want to ding me for refusing to talk ONLY about African Americans, or agreeing with you that almost no one else knows racism.

    I would never say no one but AAs know racism, not even here in the U.S and definitely not in the world. I just want to talk about race in Romance.

    I can’t take on the whole AA in society thing. Actually, I’m rather conservative on some issues. When I talk on these forums, it’s narrow, the group of AA romance authors vs Romance. That small and select group of AAs are mostly professionals, middle-class, intelligent savvy women who write. I identify with my sister authors. Now, all AAs in society is a humongous, diverse group and I won’t take that one on,

  418. Bianca
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 20:39:06

    Black men are not societally accepted as sexual fantasy objects in any media.
    ===================

    Uhhhh, wha??????

    hmmmmm..

    Luther Vandros
    Denzel Washington
    Whoever it is that plays Blade
    Whatever basketball player it is, that has crazy hair.
    Tiger Williams

    Heck, even flava flav if you go by mtv stuff.

    These are all considered sexy symbols. Just because I don’t swoon, doesn’t mean their aren’t a whole heck of lot of women of all stripes who do.

  419. Bianca
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 20:40:54

    This is just a marketing thought. You want more readership for AA romances. Get some more well known eye candy to pose for the covers.

    giggles at the image of a Black fabio, complete with hair.

  420. Monica
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 20:44:21

    Hey Bianca, I meant black dudes don’t get to actually do the nasty with the white girl onscreen…at least in mainstream venues. Steve Barnes, a SFF writer, has a lot about this on his blog

    http://darkush.blogspot.com/

  421. anu439
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 21:08:14

    Apologies for the rushed job I did in #404. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that, in regards to those for whom AA romances are not the exotic escapes that NA and sheik romances may be:. One potential reason for the disconnect is because we just have a different history with AAs as opposed to NA and even the Arab world. I think there is a distance that allows us to exoticize NAs and sheiks sort of guilt-free. But relationships with AA are so close and tangled, maybe we’re too close to fetishize it but too far–at least in our minds–to just accept it as US. Not sure if that makes sense. Anyway, I know it’s all theory, but couldn’t help myself.

    I do though think once we get past the simple unawareness that AA romances exist–which is a huge hurdle in itself– we’d still find a lot of hesitation from non-AAs about reading them. Not because everyone’s Ebil White Racists, but that, as Bianca illustrated, it seems so alien.

  422. Heather Holland
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 21:35:30

    Whoever it is that plays Blade

    Wesley Snipes
    He was also in Demolition Man and To Wong Foo among many other things.

  423. Shannon
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 21:38:25

    Shemar Moore from Criminal Minds is one of the sexiest men to ever grace my television set. Just sayin’.

  424. Monica
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 21:44:52

    They don’t let the black dudes often do the nasty onscreen with WHITE chicks in movies or TV, that’s what I meant (Asian dudes either for that matter).

    This never did break my heart, but Steve Barnes has blogged a lot about it

    http://darkush.blogspot.com

  425. Robin
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 21:46:23

    Anu: I think I know exactly what you’re trying to say. I was ruminating on some of the same ideas in post #46, and I definitely think the distinction you’re drawing is important to think about. One thing I’ve found strange, though, is how sheik heroes seem to be more popular than ever despite the post 9/11 media portrayal of Arab men. Even agreeing with so much of what you’ve said, that relationship still fascinates me, because of massive amount of media linking terrorism with the Middle East. Why is that do you think? With the Native American heroes, I think there’s sometimes a regeneration of the “noble savage” fiction, and a reversal of the historical degradation of Native American culture (ii.e. the ‘disappearing’ Indian). But the sheik thing seems something different to me, and I can’t quite figure it out, especially with the potent suspicion directed at Arab Americans these days.

    Jane reviewed that one Susan Mallery sheik book that really didn’t read as the straight exoticization of the sheik, but I started another one recently that absolutely made me crazy (by the same author, too). So there’s definitely not just one eroticized image we’re dealing with, even relative to the sheik. I think that’s one of the reasons I don’t think we can predict how more African American heroes will be received once they’re no longer marked as separate in publication and shelving. Even though the racial dynamics are different between Arabs (and Arab Americans) and African Americans, the relationship between readers and heroes isn’t clear cut to me, either. How many women would worship a guy like Sebastien Verlaine from Gaffney’s To Have and to Hold in real life? Or how about Linda Howard’s alphas? And not every reader needs to fall in love with the hero or identify with the heroine, so that makes a difference, as well.

    Also, sometimes I wonder whether the popularity of paranormals won’t actually help open the genre up to more cultural and racial diversity, but that’s another topic, I think. I know that in some ways paranormals have acted as kind of a stand-in for race, but I don’t know if that portends less racial authenticity in the genre or more.

  426. Heather Holland
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 21:46:40

    Must agree, love the guy from Criminal Minds.

  427. Monica
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 21:46:40

    Who’s that dude on The Unit and the Allstate commercials (I don’t watch much TV)

  428. Heather Holland
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 21:50:20

    Who's that dude on The Unit and the Allstate commercials (I don't watch much TV)

    Dennis Haysbert
    and the other one is Demore Barnes.

  429. Shannon
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 21:51:29

    Dennis Haysbert. Also incredibly sexy.

    I can’t, off the top of my head, think of a black man/white woman relationship in any of the shows we watch. The flirtation between Warrick and Catherine (CSI) is as close as I’ve come. I’ll have to keep thinking…

  430. Angela
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 21:56:16

    Hey Robin, about Native Americans and men of the Caucasian diaspora(real Caucasians, not white Americans)? They have never had the stigmas attached to them the way black men have. You can go back to the Victorian era where Indian princes, shieks, Aga Khans, etc were able to mingle with aristocratic society and even into Hollywood, The Sheik as portrayed by Rudolph Valentino in the 1920s was a character white women swooned over in droves. Popular Hollywood starlets like Rita Hayworth married Aly Aga Khan, Princess Diana’s last lover was Dodi Fayed, and Queen Noor of Jordan was an American. When it comes to Native Americans, capture romances were just as popular in the 18th and 19th centuries as they are today in the works of Madeline Baker and Connie Mason. And white women who chose to live with their Native American husbands were not treated with the revile a white woman with a black man was. Black men were never viewed as viable fantasies for (white) women. Up until the 1960s, black people were characterized as animals. Monkeys and Gorillas. Think you that was the stuff of romantic fantasy? You’ve also got to remember the miscegenation laws passed to keep blacks and whites from marrying right? Even though there are many, many stereotypes attached to creating Native American “savages” and sexy Sheikhs and Latin lovers and Greek billionaires, etc, history has made them acceptable romantic fantasies.

    Granted, I do feel that financial success is also tied into the acceptability of the Middle Eastern, Greek, Italian, etc hero, but you cannot, absolutely cannot bring up sheikhs and Native Americans in romance novels without knowing the history of romantic fantasies in American popular culture.

  431. Miki
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 21:56:17

    And what about Warrick Brown from CSI (Vegas, the original)? Mmmm. And even though he’s doing those silly commercials for Fruit of the Loom, I still think Cuba Gooding is a doll-baby. :wink:

  432. Rebecca
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 21:56:18

    Yes ,I think there are issues in the media regarding black men and their sexuality.

    Remember Denzel and Julia in The Pelican Brief?

    Julia insisting they could kiss and would kiss onscreen because some studio idiot-hope that’s not lawsuit worthy ;) -didn’t think a black man should kiss a white woman on screen?

    I was shocked this was an issue.

    Embarassed by it.

    Surely Denzel is eminently kissable? ( um. Yes. )

    Remember also the big fuss made when Much Ado about Nothing was cast by Kenneth Branagh and Denzel was cast as Don Pedro? Much drama and Kenneth ended up making statements like what’s the big fuss I’m casting for talent?

    Remember how gobsmacked Halle Berry was to win an Oscar for an Actress in a leading roll? It wasn’t just because she won…it was the burden of accepting the award on the backs of all the actresses before her who hadn’t won, because they were black.

    The day these types of events don’t make news BECAUSE the person involved is black is the day there isn’t a need to talk about racism.

    I’m impressed by the efforts to talk to one another on this thread and on this subject and not past one another.

  433. Miki
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 21:58:54

    Eek! Warrick Brown is the character’s name. Gary Dourdon is the actor’s name. Sheesh.

  434. Angela
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 22:08:12

    WE SERIOUSLY NEED A DISCUSSION PANEL AT RWA!

  435. Angela
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 22:18:41

    Remember Denzel and Julia in The Pelican Brief?

    Actually Heather, it was Denzel’s decision not to develop the romantic relationship that was present in the book because of the sensitive subject of interracial relationships in the black community. He saw it that he has a responsibility to the black community to not feature his characters (himself being a black man) as in romantic relationships with non-black women and never with a black woman. When you look at the media, black-black relationships don’t get the same attention as their non-black counterparts and even black-non-black relationships. Key point: NBA stars and their wives. YAAMS wrote an article about this and when I thought about it, it was true that those basketball stars married to black women don’t recieve half the media attention as say, Kobe and Vanessa Bryant(even before Kobe was involved in the rape case).

    I also don’t know if you’re aware of the minor controversy that arose over the casting of Eva Mendes in “Hitch” as Will Smith’s on-screen love interest. Here’s a good article detailing the ins and outs of Hollywood and the media in concern to black actors in romantic comedies. And it does sort of mirror the romance genre.

  436. Angela
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 22:19:32

    Rebecca, not Heather! I think I just read a post here by someone named Heather and mixed the authors up.

  437. Monica
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 22:31:21

    Angela, I don’t think the RWA is the one. Race (as far as blacks) is the elephant in the room that Must Never Be Mentioned. They have had a black Prez and black board members but I don’t think those (great people too) were able to accomplish much specifically as far as assisting black authors in the genre.

    Look at the Rita, you have one for folks who don’t even write romance anymore, just for their warm strokes (mainstream with romantic elements or something) and we can’t get blacks a major category even though we are separated and set aside MORE than any subgenre. We shouldn’t have to have a category, of course, and should be judged by the content of our books rather than race. Some speak out against an AA Rita because of this, rightfully so, but to ever get recognized for excellence, we need one. It’s such a Catch-22.

    I think any black person speaking up in a real and honest way on race there…multiply the criticism I get here by about ten. I’m supposed to accept criticism gracefully, but they can’t accept an iota. That person might not get hung high, but it might come close. I wouldn’t touch it.

  438. anu439
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 22:53:41

    Angela, in #336 said:

    Bianca's statements that she does not get black women is the experience of a minority in America. By her continuing to explain her thoughts, it makes me feel like I'm not a human being, that I'm just someone with brown skin and the stereotypes and assumptions that go along with the color of my skin. That is what I find disheartening and entirely unfair.

    I did want to say that I cannot imagine what it's like for you, Monica, Seressia or anyone else to read such things. But I think it's important that it's put out there in the open. Maybe this person or that person won't be swayed, but some person will recognize their thoughts in those posts, and seeing it in black and white (no pun!), will reconsider those beliefs. Just a maybe, but I think that if this stuff doesn't get in out into the open, it just festers.

  439. anu439
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 23:02:24

    And #357 BlkLitReader:

    There are some AA readers who only read books by and about AAs, and as Bianca claim, they can't related to the non-AA characters, are they considered racists?

    BLR, why wouldn't they be considered racists, if that's the word that's used for non-AA readers who consciously don't read AA romances?

    #312 Donna said:

    Should I make myself read books about horses? Even when I didn't care for a great author's book (Nora's)? I know I am probably missing a lot of great stories, but for the life of me… I'm just not interested. Should I seek consoling?…If you aren't interested, you just aren't interested…

    The thing about horses-‘excluding them from your reading has no meaning in our society. Context matters. We're having this discussion, books are segregated in stores because of the time and place and history in which we live. Why did this thread erupt as it did? Why have we gone around in circles on this issue time and again, and not had the same tensions over say, horses? I understand what you're attempting with the analogy, but I don't think you can separate the issue from its significance that easily.

    Because judging something on the color of skin means something in this country. It's rife with implications. The horse analogy ignores that and says black and white are just skin colors. Well, no, they're not, we're at least a few decades away from that as demonstrated by this thread.

    BLR's and Bianca's comments take the opposite route: Race is so important that it is everything. It encompasses all that is possible to feel and experience, and each color implies feelings and experiences and needs and desires so different that there's not even a bridge to connect them.

    (I'd like to know what the hell happens to us brown folk in this scenario? What are we to either of you, I wonder.)

    To not read a book because of the skin color of the characters-‘that that should be the deal-breaker. To me, it's more involved than a thoughtless preference between city vs. small town romance. That the color of skin should carry such weight that the writing style, plot, setting, dialogue, all the weird and funny idiosyncrasies each writer has to offer-‘everything we as readers spend tetrabytes of web space arguing-‘none of it matters because the skin color is not the right shade?

    And how does it work anyway? Someone explain the thought process. If you're Black, do you just hang in the AA fiction section? But you know there's Black authors in Lit Fic, in SFF, Mysteries, and in at least some Romance aisles, everywhere.

    What's the thought process from the time that you pick up a book from an unfamiliar author and put it back down? You read the back cover, flip through the first few pages. What are you looking for to indicate race? Names, settings? What are the code words? Or do you look for words that indicate skin color: “mocha,” “pale,” “olive”? Hair texture? What happens if the characters are mixed?

    What happens next? The color registers, so you immediately put the book down? What if the few pages you've read or summary on the back cover intrigues? Do you give it a thought, or does the color just shut you down to all else?

    Look, no one can make anyone read anything. Doesn't matter what I or Monica, Robin, Seressia, Angela, aggie, anybody says. Reading is our pleasure, it’s not an obligation. You shouldn't feel guilted into it or to like any book because of the author's or the characters' skin color. Nothing anyone has said should be interpreted in any other way. REALLY.

    But I would hope that in this day and age, all of the intelligent posters in this thread and the hundreds who are lurking out there– if we are making decisions to not read something because the author or the characters do not have the right shade of skin; if we'll telling ourselves, “Oh, it's just not my thing.” I mean, I hope that we then ask ourselves some questions:

    Why does color matter to me? What do I think it represents? Does color really represent what I think it does? How can I find out if what I believe is true? Does this line of thinking mesh with what kind of person I believe myself to be, with who I want to be?

    I hope we give ourselves honest answers, wherever they may lead us. And that's it. Nothing else. If you are comfortable with whatever the outcome, that's all we can hope for.

  440. anu439
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 23:20:44

    Re: Hot Black men. Please, you guys are going for the obvious. Let me show you a real man. That’s right, I’m talking about the INDIANAPOLIS COLTS’ defensive back BOB SANDERS #21! Hope this link works:

    During the televised Colts vs. Jaguars game, they had a close-up of him on the sidelines, hip cocked out, his braids around his face, drinking some water…sweat kinda dripping off…

    sorry, mind wandered. Anway, HE is a beautiful man.

  441. anu439
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 23:22:20

    Aw man, didn’t work. How bout this:

  442. anu439
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 23:26:09

    oh.

  443. Emma
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 23:27:28

    There is only one physical attribute I look for in a man and I can guarantee you it’s not the color of his skin. I won’t go into detail but if you use your imagination I’m sure you’ll figure it out.

    Yes ,I think there are issues in the media regarding black men and their sexuality.

    Not only black men. Unfortunately, it’s the same with Asian men and there are stupid stereotypes regarding both. A good friend of mine who is Mandarin dispelled the hell out of one stereotype in particular. :|

    I’ll say it again because I like the sound of my own typing. People are people and the sooner people figure that out, the better.

  444. Robin
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 23:40:28

    Angela, if you’re trying to convince me that mainstream Romance readers won’t be able to accept African American heroes and heroines, I will stubbornly refuse to accede to that argument. If you’re arguing that Black men haven’t been manipulated into culturally warped erotic/exotic objects (although Aphra Behn made an interesting attempt in Oroonoko), then, I guess I have to say . . . isn’t that a good thing?

    Since you included Native Americans in your post, I’ll use them as an example of what I mean above. Going back to the Puritans, Native Americans were viewed as dark heathens, dangerous for their lack of Christianity, terrifying for their perceived sexual licentiousness (in marked contrast to Columbus, who wrote early in his diary that the indigenous populations would “make good slaves” ). The most horrific thing for a white woman captive to undergo was ANY sexual contact with Native Americans, and she had to come before the church to make a very long confession that could not include any hint of impropriety. Women who were raped (not that this was a regular occurence, just a pernicious fear) were seen as completely degraded, and so if it happened, you sure wouldn’t want to admit it, because it made your acceptance back into the community very difficult. Cotton Mather actually praised Hannah Duston(aka Dustin) for scalping her captors (a practice originating with the French, BTW) in the process of escape, even though it goes against everything the Puritan woman of virtue should embody (the narrative is in Decennium Luctuosum).

    As we move into the early 19th century and greater Westward movement of the emigrant and immigrant populations, Native Americans (and I’m skipping over a whole bunch of stuff during the Revolutionary period, else I’d be here all night) were seen as inconvenient squatters, dirty, degraded, half-wild savages. the 1832 Supreme Court decision of Cherokee v. Georgia held that Native American nations would heretofore be designated as “domestic dependent nations,” stripping them of whatever legal and political and economic power they had, and setting the stage for Westward settlers to hurtle over them or run them down on their way across the country. Captivity narratives, by this point, had become a major tool of propaganda on the part of the feds and others to show that Native Americans were savages deserving no rights or land privileges. Native Americans in these narratives were variously portrayed as bloodthirsty savages and as degraded heathens. If you’ve ever read Mary Jemison’s captivity narrative, it’s fascinating to watch her editor, James Seaver, try to wrestle the narrative away from her, especially because she stayed with the Seneca and married (twice!) into the tribe. He so wanted to make her the domestic Victorian heroine, lol, and her narrative a story of caution.

    By the time Longfellow writes Hiawatha in 1855, he’s already participating in the nostalgic memorialization of a group of nations basically thought dead (or well on their way). Cooper, of course, helped start that trend in Last of the Mohicans. But in any case, the image of the “noble savage” begins to emerge once Native Americans are no longer seen as a threat in reality — or as a threat that can (and must) be handled by faster Westward settlement. A number of cultural and literary historians have argued that the fictional transformation of Native Americans in the 19th century and into the 20th century occurs precisely because they are seen as defeated, degraded, dead. Thus their nostalgic recreation in the American imagination (like that anti-littering ad in the 70s featuring the Indian with the tear running down his face), especially in their representation as either bloodthirsty savages or natural nobility.

    Now I’m not trying to compare the experience of Native Americans to that of African Americans. I simply used the example in my earlier post to you to suggest that the translation between real life and fiction is not word for word literal. I could have used the so-called rapist hero, but wanted to stick to the racial examples. But in terms of the hero who forces himself on the heroine, that’s not really literally translatable to real life, is it? And regarding the sheik, I talked in an earlier post about my fascination with how the post-9/11 portrayal of Arab men has not been reflected in sheik Romance. Perhaps it has something to do with making a potentially threatening figure (as portrayed in the media or in the popular imagination) into a safe lover? I certainly think this is the case with the rapist hero (the domestication of the dangerous man). I think there are different paradigms, and often it’s the conflicted real life dynamics we see present and transformed in Romance. I notice now that Asian heroes are beginning to emerge in the genre (and Asians were often explicitly included in the anti-miscegenation laws, as well as being subject to any number of exclusionary laws in the 19th century), so this strikes me as a positive change. Again, not suggesing Asians had it worse than anyone else. I’m only thinking that if readers can embrace the ruthless Takashi in Anne Stuart’s Ice Blue, can’t they embrace a non-violent, successful, suave, handsome African American Romance hero? I’m not saying that every reader will, but not every reader loves the slutty white duke, either.

  445. anu439
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 23:50:14

    can't they embrace a non-violent, successful, suave, handsome African American Romance hero?

    His name is Blair Underwood, he’s been on every chick show possible, I think, always as the perfect guy who loses out to other guy.

  446. Angela
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 23:59:27

    Robin, I am not “trying to convince me that mainstream Romance readers won't be able to accept African American heroes and heroines”! I am merely presenting the context through which the media has filtered non-Anglo Americans and has shaped the way we view one another. You cannot fight something without knowing where it came from. There is no way you can talk about the segregation of AA romances, the stereotypes of Asians, Native Americans, Italians, Irish peoples, Middle Easterners,etc in romance novels (or lack of their presence) without knowing why this stuff exists. If the history of race, gender and sexuality in media is imperative to Ethnic Studies, Film Studies, Women’s Studies, US History, and so on, why should it be absent in the context of romance novels?

  447. Robin
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 00:02:32

    His name is Blair Underwood, he's been on every chick show possible, I think, always as the perfect guy who loses out to other guy.

    Yes, well I’ve always been more of a Laurence Fishburne fan, I must admit.

  448. Angela
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 00:17:02

    BtW Robin, reading your responses to me more closely, you’ve been finding some context to my words to me that don’t exist. The same thing you accuse Monica of, you’ve been doing to me.

  449. Robin
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 00:23:32

    If the history of race, gender and sexuality in media is imperative to Ethnic Studies, Film Studies, Women's Studies, US History, and so on, why should it be absent in the context of romance novels?

    I think my long ass discussion of Native Americans as literary icons makes it’s clear that that wasn’t my point. But your insistence that African American men “Black men were never viewed as viable fantasies for (white) women” is so absolutist as to imply IMO that white readers will not accept Black Romance heroes. I will certainly agree with you that there has been a strong taboo historically around interracial relationships, but I don’t think it’s completely determinative, or that it has not been challenged and even subverted in some contexts (as an aside, have you noticed how many Black entertainers and athletes are married to white women?). So I don’t think the statement is valid in its absolutist form (even if Oroonoko were the only piece of literature standing in opposition), but even more, I think it makes it difficult to envision white readers embracing AA Romance heroes except perhaps as a guilty pleasure. And since some of us have said we do embrace AA heroes (without shame or fear our boyfriends or husbands will be scandalized), well, I think is less straightforward than you are asserting. Class, educational background, geographical region all play a role in these dynamics, as well, IMO, and also IMO, we’ve seen a lot of change socially in the past twenty or so years (following the convergence of the Civil Rights and Women’s movements in the 60s and 70s).

  450. Robin
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 00:39:08

    BtW Robin, reading your responses to me more closely, you've been finding some context to my words to me that don't exist. The same thing you accuse Monica of, you've been doing to me.

    So are you telling me I shouldn’t take personally that “When you go into Battle” post from your blog, the one that (now removed) talked about knowing your enemy and had as its source link one of my comments from this thread?

  451. Angela
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 01:01:15

    I was not referring to you as my enemy! That is why I took it down because I realized that it would be taken in that manner. What I meant by that blog was what I said in comment # 445. But anyways, so you’re justifying seeing your own context to my words because you feel I was talking about you?

  452. Robin
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 01:12:14

    But anyways, so you're justifying seeing your own context to my words because you feel I was talking about you?

    Actually, I was just trying to understand what that was about, Angela, since it linked right to my response, not to your post. But I believe you, or at least I really want to. You didn’t provide any examples of your assertion that I was misinterpreting your points, though, so I had nothing to respond to there. Show me where I was reading in so I know where the miscommunication is. Since I feel you’ve misintepreted me, I know it’s entirely possible I’ve done the same to you.

  453. Angela
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 01:19:09

    But your insistence that African American men “Black men were never viewed as viable fantasies for (white) women” is so absolutist as to imply IMO that white readers will not accept Black Romance heroes. I will certainly agree with you that there has been a strong taboo historically around interracial relationships, but I don't think it's completely determinative, or that it has not been challenged and even subverted in some contexts (as an aside, have you noticed how many Black entertainers and athletes are married to white women?).

    There you go finding a meaning to my words that isn’t there. When did I say that no white woman will not accept black romance heroes? Never As I KEEP SAYING: you can’t talk about a topic without knowing the history behind it. You cannot sit there and say that the segregation of black-authored romance with black heroes and heroines is not entwined with the sensitive racial history of this country. You cannot. But am I implying, by bringing that up, that things will never change? No. If any black person ever in their life thought that, there would not have been a Civil Rights Movement. As for black men and white wives in Hollywood and sports, did you not see the link I gave for YAAMS and how the media likes to place an emphasis on black male/white women pairings over black male/black women pairings? ([or even black woman/white male pairing] outside of the black gossip blogs–you rarely even see Pauletta Washington unless she’s with Denzel at a premiere, yet I see Coco and Ice-T on every celebrity blog and in those tabloid magazines and TV shows).

    I don’t know what your agenda is in all of this, but all of your responses seem to me come across as someone who is fed up with the discussion and as a result, wants to make me seem wrong and close-minded so I’ll go away and you can return to your life feeling vindicated in your opinions.

  454. Angela
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 01:22:07

    And I must add Robin that you keep bringing up your life experiences to refute my statements, but if I bring in mine, you dismiss it as close-minded and hopeless.

  455. Rebecca
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 01:26:57

    While filming the 1995 film, Virtuosity, Washington refused to kiss his white female co-star, Kelly Lynch, during a romantic scene between their characters. During an interview, Lynch stated that while she wanted to, “Denzel felt very strongly about it. I felt there is no problem with interracial romance. But Denzel felt strongly that the white males, who were the target audience of this movie, would not want to see him kiss a white woman.” Lynch further stated, “That's a shame. I feel badly about it. I keep thinking that the world has changed, but it hasn't changed quick enough”. A similar situation also occurred during the filming of The Pelican Brief when Julia Roberts expressed in an interview her desire to have her character in the film engaged in a romantic relationship with Washington's character. And an additional occurrence was in the 1989 film The Mighty Quinn where Washington's Quinn character did not kiss Mimi Rogers' alluring Hadley character. However, in 1998, Washington starred in a scene of a sexual nature with actress Milla Jovovich, in Spike Lee's He's got Game.
    The above is from the dailytrust. com Have no idea if it’s a good source for anything..never heard of it. Popped up on google search.

    Different story from the Hollywood Reporter as cited below

    Washington Nixed Roberts Kiss

    Newsweek vet Allison Samuels reveals in her new book Off the Record why Denzel Washington refused to kiss Julia Roberts in The Pelican Brief. (It nearly ruined the movie.)

    Denzel Washington once turned down a love scene with Julia Roberts out of loyalty to his female African-American fans, Allison Samuels reveals in her new book, “Off the Record” (Amistad).
    Washington nixed the steamy segment even though Roberts insisted that he be cast as her co-star in “The Pelican Brief,” writes Samuels, a respected Newsweek reporter.

    Washington explained: “Black women are not often seen as objects of desire on film. And they have always been my core audience.”

    The info I cited previously was from an interview with Julia Roberts and she may not have known all of Denzels thoughts on the matter.

    As a Bulls fan, maybe I noticed Michael and Juanita Jordan more, but when they were together they had serious press.

    What about Will Smith and Jada? Any woman with her own rock band has to be seriously cool….of course she’s amazingly talented too..that always helps. :)

  456. Robin
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 01:49:47

    I don't know what your agenda is in all of this, but all of your responses seem to me come across as someone who is fed up with the discussion and as a result, wants to make me seem wrong and close-minded so I'll go away and you can return to your life feeling vindicated in your opinions.

    I’m sorry you feel this way, Angela. But honestly, it has seemed to me that since your comment #389 you’ve been trying to bait me and dig at me, especially given that “know your enemy” blog post (and the fact that Nora Roberts actually stepped in to defend me was an EXTREME gesture, lol), so obviously we’re both feeling oversensitive. I’ve not been trying to belittle your life experience or accuse you of closed-mindedness. I apologize for anything I’ve said that made you feel that way. Many of your statements have struck me as so absolutist (those like “Black men have never . . ., “No one can deny . . .” ) that it does feel to me that you’re implying a rather hopeless situation. So I go to the exceptions, because I don’t think history is about “always” and “never.” For example, I think we could write a thousand page book on the image of the Black male body in slavery, the unbelievably complex dynamics there, which head in every direction all at the same time. And believe it or not, I’m trying not to go point by point and take issue with all of the statements you made about history with which I disagree, for which I have a different historical view and perspective, informed by my own years of research, because I don’t think that will do us any good. So instead I tend go to the places where I see opportunity and subversion and challenge to the dominant view, because to me this whole issue of integrating AA Romance is about moving into those places. Again, I’m sorry if what I’ve seen as a response of “yes I know, but” has been insulting to you, because it’s really that I just have another perspective, one I think is relevant and not apologist or derailing or dismissive of African Americans or your experience in particular. I apologize if it doesn’t come across that way to you.

  457. anu439
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 06:52:42

    Damn, gotta hand to both Robin and Angela, excellent posts from both you. Difficult too, as they demonstrate how much active trust we have to have in each other’s intentions to even keep going.

    Angela,

    Given the historical lack of positive images of Black people in love (or not all, really, but specifically romantic images of Black characters), do you see the emergence in the last few years of just those kinds of images on TV as a positive sign?

    The fact that people know who Denzel is, Will Smith, Shemar Moore, the dude from CSI. I wonder if it has to do with the emergence of the Black middle class that we’ve heard about in the media. If it’s increasing as much as people say, that means more interactions between Black and White middle class people–more potential readers who are familiar with and comfortable with images of non-AA romantic characters.

  458. Devon
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 07:51:23

    Just throwing this out there, but the only tv place where I can readily think of Black man/ White Woman pairings is soap operas. Does anyone watch them? I rarely do these days, but I can remember several.

    Also, just wanted to bring this guy to everyone’s attention. I think he belongs in Sharon Cullars’ Black Black Dagger Brotherhood.

  459. Nora Roberts
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 07:51:52

    I can’t, just can’t read all the really, really long posts–though I’m sure they’re very smart.

    But this comment, Monica, stopped me in my tracks.

    ~Black men are not societally accepted as sexual fantasy objects in any media. ~

    It’s so, well, black and white, and so inaccurate from my perspective–and the society of people I know.

    Will Smith? Are you listening? You should call me.

    I think there are very important issues here, and mostly now they’re being discussed intelligently. That’s great. But a claim like this tosses me out.

    Suggesting Robin attempted to derail the discussion of the issues doesn’t strike me as accurate either. Esp if you’ve ever followed Robin’s comments in the past. Her style simply is to take the discussion or the issue into other levels–whatever the discussion or issue. It’s not derailment, it’s personal thought process.

    Let me say this, which I hope is on track:

    I don’t believe AA Romances should be segregated. I don’t believe AA writers should be required to write only AA characters. They fact that they are, ever, is wrong. What can I do about it, on a personal level? Well, I read what I want to read–and don’t consider the author’s race, creed or sex when I do. I either like the book or I don’t. My husband’s bookstore doesn’t segregate–never has, never considered it.

    I believe Monica and others in her position are entitled to their passion and their anger on this issue. I know what it’s like to have an issue that’s both personal and professional that fires me up from the guts. But I also know that accusations of racism will alienate rather than unite. It’s the reason I tend to stay out of these discussions, frankly.

    And now I’ve written a really long post.

  460. [email protected]
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 08:12:46

    Yes, Nora, but you put paragraphs in it, which makes it easier to read.

    I’m sorry, Robin, long blocks of text just totally lose me. :(

  461. Nora Roberts
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 08:30:57

    On interracial relationships on TV.

    Rose and Bernard from Lost.

    The couple (forget the names) on Heros. In fact, Heros strikes me as incredibly diverse in characters and relationships.

    Didn’t Ross (during one of his breaks from Rachel) have a thing going with a hot black girl?

    In the early days of ER–the Brit woman doc and the hot black surgeon. (Whose character I never liked because he was an arrogant prick.)

    And Six Feet Under–not only interracial, but interracial gay relationship.

    These are top of my head, mostly because it’s about character dynamics for me, not color. But I’ll admit to being surprised when Rose’s presumed dead husband turned out to be a white guy. And I thought it was smart that the writers surprised me.

  462. Monica
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 08:35:56

    When chided by LaNora, I tend to keep it, LOL!

    Suggesting Robin attempted to derail the discussion of the issues doesn’t strike me as accurate either. Esp if you’ve ever followed Robin’s comments in the past. Her style simply is to take the discussion or the issue into other levels–whatever the discussion or issue. It’s not derailment, it’s personal thought process.

    I will buy that it’s her thought process. Lord knows when I rush off a comment it’s often my thought process also. I made a point (in all caps too!) that I WAS NOT accusing her of racism, but rather saying what she has said to me, many times and far more strongly, about the tone of my comments. It’s a different issue than stridency–but it’s how the substance of some of her comments come across to me (and Angela). Constructive criticism.

    It’s all right, her good points outweigh it and I deal with the frustration. So can Angela and others. We are strong! :-)

    What concerns me overall is that while I’m expected to take very severe “constructive” criticism and it seems that VERY FEW, if any, can take the same.

    The black men as sexual objects statement was to the majority and I appreciate you all proving me wrong on that.

  463. Ann Aguirre
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 08:51:00

    This is just a personal preference, but I’d actually have to say I tend toward being attracted to black men. Not because they’re alien or exotic or the forbidden “other”. I forget what else has been said in that vein. But because I really like the aesthetic look of dusky skin.

    That goes for women too, to be honest. I don’t have any self-hate because I lack that malanin myself, mind you; that’s just how I am. And I am aware my ideas of beauty do not confirm to the norm. Because women I think are flat-out smokin’ hot are usually at least 30 pounds overweight by societal standards.

  464. Donna
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 09:04:09

    After giving it some thought I guess my problem with an international couple (black man with white woman) is that I feel it is a betrayal of black women. I'm not a writer so I can't really express my reasons for this “feeling” and do it justice. I'm fine with white men/black women. I just feel that the black woman's struggle to be something more than just the stereotype gets derailed when the movie or show pairs up a white woman with a black male. But then does it always need to be one way or the other… no. I'm just expressing why I get uncomfortable. Skin color is not a problem with me, stereotypes are.

    I know this is illogical of me and believe me… Denzel is HOT!! But I agree with his not making the relationship in Pelican Brief about romance and sex. It was so much more than that, this movie broke a mold. Since, IMO, everyone expected a romance, not having one set it apart.

    I hope this post makes sense. Expressing myself through the written word is not one of my strengths.

    Books handle situations so much better than movies or TV shows, I know this. And now after reading these posts I am going to have to go out and buy some AA romances. I want to see if they go beyond stereotypes. I had a bad assumption that they didn't. MY BAD. This has been an education for me.

  465. Nora Roberts
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 09:16:51

    Halle Barry. If I went for women, I’d be ALL over her. Is she not perhaps the most perfectly perfect woman every created?

    Monica, I never thought you suggested Robin was racist. I should’ve made that clear. I guess I didn’t see her comments as criticism, constructive or otherwise either. Though, okay, I fully admit I didn’t read them all, word for word. Or yours, or Angela’s.

    I skimmed for gist–which may be why I see it otherwise. The gist I got was here are some of my thoughts, and other points. Not that yours were wrong, just she had other things to say that took the discussion into another area.

    But you and I have–as you’ve said–different filters. I get that, too.

    I agree with many of your points. I don’t agree with all of them. But I do know this thread is approaching 500 comments, and much of the discussion has involved the issues or race, prejudice, AA Romances and people’s thoughts and feelings about all of it.

    That’s important.

    I’m not criticising you, I’m commenting. I expect if I could drag myself back and read through this entire thread, I’d have other comments–agreeing and disagreeing with others. But I ain’t gonna do it. It’s too looong. I have to work.

    But I do support your stand that AA Romances should be bought, edited, published and shelved as are any other spokes on the genre wheel. That particular issue is black and white for me, too. That it’s otherwise, anywhere, any time, is an inarguable injustice in my view.

  466. Donna
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 09:21:16

    “Books handle situations so much better than movies or TV shows, I know this. And now after reading these posts I am going to have to go out and buy some AA romances. I want to see if they go beyond stereotypes. I had a bad assumption that they didn't. MY BAD. This has been an education for me.”

    Just realized I stereotyped AA books… geezzz! Now double BAD on my part. This has been an eye opener!

  467. Monica
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 09:43:30

    Thank you, Nora.

    Thank you, Robin too for getting it and not getting angry. Anu, Donna, and so many others I don’t have space or time to list, I appreciate your good and solid points.

    Some of you that I disagreed with gave me something to think about, and I thank you for that too.

  468. Bianca
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 10:08:35

    Been thinking….

    1. The whole issue on whether or not non AA people who do not buy AA Romances are predudice. Probably not. There is a assumption being made that its overt or subconscious racism. I don’t think so.

    and heres why
    1. I find it highly illogical to think that theres is a cabal of backroom people rubbing their hands and going muahahaha trying to find a way to keep ethnicities down.
    2. Communication is often a very messy affair. It may not be predjudice but simple not understanding. ie, people may not get “it”. You can alleviate that on many levels.
    1. Don’t expect others to reach out, take the ball in your court and do it yourself.
    2. Don’t assume your world filter is correct, stop hearing racism, predjudice and hear, I don’t get it, ask and try to explain.
    3. Learn patience, this will take time. Try mixing things up, try romantic comedy where you explain stuff. example, try writing in a character like turk from scrubs. He was my favorite, and he did explain things. You can do it as an interacial thing. Using race as the issue the characters need to get over before they do the I lub you, really I lub you too.

    2. The whole non AA people aren’t buying my books. It’s not racism, they may not be drawn. Well, try different ways of marketing. Known hot AA men on the covers. Try going with the whole fabio joke, and use Say sinbad with a blonde wig on the cover. Try oprah and get one of your books on the oprah book club. Try putting some of what you wrote up for mailing on the paperbackbookswap. Then talk about your favorite AA authors in the forum. It’s grassroots, but…. There are a lot of romance readers there.

  469. Shannon Stacey
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 10:19:41

    On interracial relationships on TV.

    Rose and Bernard from Lost.

    I hadn’t thought of them, but I have been since you brought them up.

    With our familiarity with Rose and her assertions her husband wasn’t dead, if—when we met the Others—there had been a black man of the same age in that group, many viewers would have immediately thought “Oh, that’s Rose’s husband!”.

    The surprise—which I think added to the romantic poignancy—came in his being white and therefore an unlikely candidate for being the missing husband. While it was a brilliant bit of planning on the part of the writers, I suppose it’s based on the assumption the majority of viewers wouldn’t mentally pair them up before the big reveal.

    Interesting. I’m not sure it’s truly relevant to anything, but I’m finding it food for thought, anyway.

  470. still~answered
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 11:04:51

    Robin, referencing your inquiry as to what gave me the right to inquire into Jane’s professional/personal life, I would question whether I’m inquiring into her personal life at all. I have asked two things, is she a currently licensed attorney and then, indirectly, whether she is using a pen name in her role as a semi-professional reviewer. As to what gave me the right, I’d counter with WHO gave me that right, and say it was Jane. Jane has mocked at least two people with the “oh, I didn’t realize you were a lawyer bit,” but I’ve never seen her affirmatively state she is. As you’ve noted, people tend to assume certain things, and people have assumed she is a lawyer. If she is mocking people for not being lawyers, I think she needs to affirmatively state that she is, rather than relying on questionably formed assumptions. On the subject of using a review pen name, Jane publicized the real identities of Triskelion authors with her little (or is that “litte”) Pacer download. I have not asked her real identity, only posited that Jane Litte isn’t it.

  471. ferfelabat
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 12:04:27

    testing

  472. Heather Holland
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 13:09:07

    In reference to black male leads in a movie with white female leads. Bone Collector. Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. I love that movie, and yes, they were involved in it, or at least it was heavily implied.

    I think it’s there, maybe more so in television than in movies, but we don’t really realize it’s there. I couldn’t think of any instances of this happening at first, because it’s not an issue to me, so I never gave it a conscious thought. It’s normal…it’s acceptable…so I didn’t waste time trying to analyze the situation. Just like when you know Spanish and you watch a film in Spanish. It just seems like there isn’t that much dialogue, but that’s because the brain is automatically translating it for you. It’s the words you can’t translate that you actually hear. Or so my Spanish teacher once claimed. My point is, all I see are two people together and to me that’s all that matters.

    And I said that I wouldn’t get into this, but this dang thread is addictive. I just feel that sometimes we over think things. There are people out there that no matter what you say to them, how you present your case, how well thought out the plan is, they simply will not hear a word you say and their minds cannot be changed. But we have to remember that it’s not all black and white. There is middle ground. Shades of gray all around.

    In a perfect world, we would all just be people, but sadly, we don’t live in a perfect world. Change is hard and slow in coming. Perhaps one day, we can reach a point where we are all just…people.

  473. anu439
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 13:10:31

    Just realized I stereotyped AA books… geezzz! Now double BAD on my part. This has been an eye opener!

    Heh, this reminds me of my hang-up about categories. I've read less than a handful of categories, but still I’d developed a firmly negative opinion of them. After the DA post on categories, I checked out a couple and found to my surprise that I actually enjoyed them. Felt like an idiot. So now I'm making more of an effort to read them, and it's pulling me out of a small reading slump.

    And yeah, there are AA romances that are plain bad, or preachy, or whatever your preconceptions. But there are also ones that aren't. As readers, we endure the bad to get to the good. That is our lot;)

    Speaking of, I checked out the reviews for Sharon Cullars' Again the other day. The plot seems really fascinating. And it looks like it might elevate my opinion of another genre that I'm pretty negative about: erotic romance.

  474. Shannon Stacey
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 13:16:25

    In reference to black male leads in a movie with white female leads. Bone Collector. Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. I love that movie, and yes, they were involved in it, or at least it was heavily implied.

    If I’m remembering back that far correctly, I think it was The Bone Collector in which there was a Tom Cruise reference with regard to Lincoln Rhyme. So if that is the series I’m thinking of, he’s white in the books and black in the movies. (And I loved DW in that movie—I wish they’d adapt more of that series.)

  475. Emma
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 13:17:05

    And it looks like it might elevate my opinion of another genre that I'm pretty negative about: erotic romance.

    Seriously? How can anyone be negative about erotic romance? You do know it has sex in it right? How can anyone be negative about sex?

    Sex rocks.

  476. Robin
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 13:32:37

    Just throwing this out there, but the only tv place where I can readily think of Black man/ White Woman pairings is soap operas.

    How many of these shows do you think are written by women? I have watched The Guiding Light since 7th grade (it’s weird how you can randomly pick up the storyline a million years later, lol, and can’t ever really quit the thing, either), and there have been several black/white pairings on the show in the past few years, and I think the head writer is a woman. Also, in Rebecca’s example, it was the women actresses who were pushing for the romantic connection with Denzel Washington’s character, which is interesting, too, I think.

    Thank you, Robin too for getting it and not getting angry.

    Thank you, Monica, for keeping at it.

    I think there are very important issues here, and mostly now they're being discussed intelligently. That's great. But a claim like this tosses me out.

    After my exchange with Angela last night I realized that there is a certain fear, I think, that looking at the places where things have changed can be seen as a denial of other places they haven’t and of the many historical issues related to current racial attitudes and prejudices. Which then, perhaps, results in a more emphatic insistence intended to ensure we’re not overlooking those things. I know I need to remember that for the future so that it doesn’t appear I’m ignoring the problematic issues by trying to point out the places things have changed or by challenging a particular historical assertion.

    Also, the history of race in America is so incredibly complex. In the 19th century alone you have slavery, the demonization of African American men, the hyper-sexualization of the Black male body, the impact of white women on the abolitionist movement (and all the complexities of that), the Civil War and Reconstruction, the Edenic vision of the intact Black family in sentimental fiction (e.g. Uncle Tom’s Cabin) and the various issues with that, the intermarriage patterns between African Americans and Native Americans (e.g. the Cherokee and the Lumbee), and on and on. So the question becomes one of how to achieve a coherent vision that yields clear conclusions (my answer: you can’t, but obviously not everyone agrees).

    Then there’s the way that Romance portrays different images of race, gender, sexuality, etc. There’s the strange and circuitous ways that the genre translates troubled social relationships, the way some of the genre seems geared toward escapist fantasy while other aspects of it seems more about exemplifying love relationships in an idealized but not necessarily mythologized way.

    There seems to be some tension around whether Romance featuring AA couples is indistinguishable from Romance featuring white or Chinese American or Mexican American or British or Scottish characters, or whether historical patterns are such that it will not be read that way. Or whether interracial Romances are read differently than AA hero/heroine Romances.

    There’s the issue of the “average” Romance reader and what she will or won’t read (and am I the only one who thinks this average reader is a fiction?). And then there’s the books that are being published in the mainstream featuring Black/white pairings and their reception (and not all of these are written by white authors, but some of them are). Is it about the race of the author, then, or the characters?

    And most frustrating to me is that we just won’t know until Romance by and about AA characters is published and shelved as “the same” instead of different.

  477. Shannon Stacey
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 13:38:24

    Seriously? How can anyone be negative about erotic romance?

    When I was at Borders last weekend with my 12-year-old son and we found ourselves eye-level with the cover-out display of BIG SPANKABLE ASSES, I wasn’t a big fan of erotic romance, either. It was as uncomfortable for me as I imagine our being in the curtained-off room at the back of the video store would be. We left the romance section immediately, and I ain’t going back. If my Walmart doesn’t carry it, I won’t buy it. As for our family trips to Borders, I’ll be catching up on the sci-fi world, I imagine. And I’ve got erotic romance on my backlist, so it’s not like I’m anti-ER as a rule.

    On a more positive note, books aren’t segregated at my Borders.

  478. Heather Holland
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 13:54:02

    Kids in the romance section of the store. See, I have no issues with this. It doesn’t bother me for my children to see the covers. I won’t allow them to read the books or watch dirty movies or anything, but I have no issues with allowing them some freedom where seeing these things are concerned. I’d rather them be informed than in the dark like I was growing up. My point is, they have limits and they know where they are. I don’t try to protect them from seeing body parts or violence in games and movies. So long as they know what’s acceptable behavior and what’s not, I think my job is done.

    My embarrassment in the romance section comes from my twelve year old and her big mouth. She exclaims and quite loudly, “Mom, where’s your book? You know, the one you wrote. Is it here?” Then she picks it up (if there is one) and ohs and ahs over it while flashing it at anyone who might be close by while talking about her mother writing the thing. I know I turn beet red in the process.

    They each have a copy, but aren’t allow to actually have it or read it until they are 18. The oldest teases the youngest (who is two years younger) about getting to read it first. Kids.

  479. BlkLitReader
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 14:03:06

    I’m rather perplexed by those who are trying to reason and dialogue on this subject. It’s obvious, to me at least, that the non AA (read white) romance reader is in a damned if they do, damned if they don’t position. And, unfortunately and conveniently made the scapegoats.

    If a white reader is racist, and buys and reads a AA romance book, and they talk badly about it, whether the complaints are raced based or not, then it’ll be said, the reader is a racist, so their opinion doesn't matter.

    If a white reader isn’t racist, and buys and reads a AA romance book, and they talk badly about it, whether the complaints are race based or not, then it’ll be said, the reader is racist, so their opinion doesn’t matter.

    If a white reader don’t care one way or anther, or won’t co-sign the notion, that all books should be shelved together, then they’re a racist, but if a AA reader want a separate section, to have books shelved together, then that’s okay. Wonder if the AA authors are as vocal on AA book sites, nearly demanding that the AA readers agree that shelving books by race is racist. And, if not, do they deem and broad-brush nearly all the AA readers as racists?

    Another thing I find interesting is the AA authors were not published widely by publishers, years ago, then when the AA imprints were created, the AA writers didn’t scream, this is racist. Nope instead they gladly accepted the book deals, signed the contracts, cashed the checks, and had books published and sold. They also never complained that their books were marketed at their (admittedly) targeted audience — AA readers. Never called out their publisher on such racist practices.

    When the AA imprints were created, then was the time, to say, no, we don’t want our own separate AA imprint, we want to be marketed, shelved and sold, with all the other non AA writers. Now the AA writers are calling the same practice, of which they embraced years, as racist. If it is wrong now, it was wrong back then. If you going to stand on principle, stand on it, ALL the time.

    It’s like wanting to be treated special, but then when that special treatment doesn’t offer you the advantages, any more, or to the extend you wished or thought, then the special treatment suddenly becomes wrong.

  480. Heather Holland
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 14:03:24

    I guess I should have pointed out that I’m not embarrassed about what I write. I’m not ashamed of it. I love what I do. Everyone who knows me, knows what I write. I really couldn’t care less if they approve of it or not. I don’t make my career choices to please anyone but myself.

    My embarrassment in that situation came from having attention called to me. I’m not a people person. I do not speak to people I do not know. I’m much more comfortable in a world of text instead of spoken words. In fact, the phone is my enemy because it forces me to speak, which is why I generally don’t answer it.

  481. Robin
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 14:05:07

    When I was at Borders last weekend with my 12-year-old son and we found ourselves eye-level with the cover-out display of BIG SPANKABLE ASSES

    Does anyone know how that book is selling, because all three novellas feature interracial Romances? I’m ambivalent about the cover and title. Part of the me loves the erotic dimension of the bit butt thing (speaking as someone with my own big butt), and part of me hates the fact that it’s value in the title is reflected in its spankability. Yeah, I know it’s supposed to be fun and flirty, but . . . . Anyway, I do wonder how it’s doing sales-wise.

  482. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 14:30:02

    When I was at Borders last weekend with my 12-year-old son and we found ourselves eye-level with the cover-out display of BIG SPANKABLE ASSES, I wasn't a big fan of erotic romance, either.

    Shannon, I’m with ya on this one… and just like you, I write it as well as read it. But the title, combined with the cover, makes it a book I can’t have in my house. Not with a six year old who reads better than a lot of 9 and 10 year olds and an eight year that’s already ready at a middle school level.

    Last thing I need is the monster coming up to me and asking, Mama, what’s a big, spankable ass?

    am I the only one who thinks this average reader is a fiction?

    I’ve suspected that average, normal, typical were nothing but fiction a long time ago. ;)

    most frustrating to me is that we just won't know until Romance by and about AA characters is published and shelved as “the same” instead of different.

    You can that again.

    BlkLitReader, you ask some very thought-provoking questions. I don’t necessarily like it, but there’s probably some serious truth to some of your comments. I just hate to think that a book can’t just be judged, liked or disliked on the quality of the story alone.

  483. Robin
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 14:45:58

    Another thing I find interesting is the AA authors were not published widely by publishers, years ago, then when the AA imprints were created, the AA writers didn't scream, this is racist. Nope instead they gladly accepted the book deals, signed the contracts, cashed the checks, and had books published and sold. They also never complained that their books were marketed at their (admittedly) targeted audience -‘ AA readers. Never called out their publisher on such racist practices.

    Are you sure? It’s my understanding that AA imprints were the most viable (and in some cases only viable) way for many AA authors to be published, so I cannot find it in me to blame them in any way to taking the opportunity, although I have no doubt that it was seen as separate and unequal at the time, too.

    Also, from what I understand, many authors have no choice as to how they’re published; the publisher decides on the imprint, cover, title in many cases, and marketing. I don’t begrudge AA authors at all the opportunity to be published, and while I don’t think publishers were trying to marginalize AA authors with separate imprints (after all, publishers worship the color green above all others), the effect has been discriminatory.

    And I suspect that many AA authors would argue that they shouldn’t have to cry racism, that their books should be sold as strictly Romance, not as AA Romance, separate and apart. I think it’s heartening to know that the market of AA readers is strong enough to support a few imprints, but they still only represent part of an enormous market.

  484. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 14:47:55

    Sigh…. and cranky teething infants don’t make it easy for me to read my post thru. Most of the comments I quoted above from Robin or Shannon Stacey, but I didn’t quote the one that Blklitreader had posted, the one that I was referring it. It was post 479 and since it’s rather lengthy, I’m not going to repost it. But still, as I mentioned, you ask some very good questions.

  485. anu439
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 15:11:46

    I'm rather perplexed by those who are trying to reason and dialogue on this subject. It's obvious, to me at least, that the non AA (read white) romance reader is in a damned if they do, damned if they don't position. And, unfortunately and conveniently made the scapegoats.

    If a white reader is racist, and buys and reads a AA romance book, and they talk badly about it, whether the complaints are raced based or not, then it'll be said, the reader is a racist, so their opinion doesn't matter.

    If a white reader isn't racist, and buys and reads a AA romance book, and they talk badly about it, whether the complaints are race based or not, then it'll be said, the reader is racist, so their opinion doesn't matter.

    How do you come to this conclusion?

    In a 5-minute search, I found the following negative reviews:

    AAR/Leanne Banks

    MrsGiggles/Donna Hill&Francis Ray anthology

    DA/Monica Jackson

    I don’t recall any outcries about these reviews based on race. I know that you voice an important fear, and that it drives at least some of the hesitation about reading AA romance. I get the fear of being in a rock and a hard place. I can’t say that there’s no truth to it because I plain don’t know. But from what I’ve seen, I think the fear is much bigger than the reality.

    Your other points about AAs and publishing. As I said way earlier, I honestly don’t understand the shelving situation. I know that I believe that books shouldn’t be shelved based on race. Beyond that, I don’t have a clue. I want some numbers, I want some stats, I want facts. All I’ve heard so far is speculation about polls/surveys, anecdotal evidence of what people want, etc. Nothing that gives me a full picture.

    But if you’ve got a reason for believing that AA romance should be shelved differently, let’s hear it.

  486. Robin
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 15:23:37

    I just feel that the black woman's struggle to be something more than just the stereotype gets derailed when the movie or show pairs up a white woman with a black male.

    If you haven’t seen it, Donna, I recommend Spike Lee’s movie Jungle Fever, which contains a number of conversations among African American women, some of which focus on the difficulties of interracial dynamics, including the topic you brought up in this post.

  487. Bianca
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 16:00:08

    Well, just came back from the grocery store. And I saw an AA romance, I think it’s called seducing the mercenary, right next to all the other romances. Read the blurb, and it’s another version of noble savage, though modern day.

    but heh, I found they combined my favs. I picked up a historical paranormal. teehee.

  488. Nora Roberts
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 16:00:53

    Gosh, just can’t read all of these. Work. Life.

    Did want to say to Bianca that I don’t think Sinbad in a blond wig is the sort of image ANY Romance writer wants on her book.

    And try Oprah? Get your book in her book club? HAHAHAHAHA!

    Sorry, really, I can only think you just don’t know how that works. Why should you? First, you don’t try Oprah, and you can’t GET your book in her bookclub. She’s in charge–and she doesn’t like or select Romance. She’s said she doesn’t care for it.

    I do realize you’re trying to offer sincere suggestions. And I do think you’re right that much of this is a grassroots thing.

    And here I am in tandem with Robin yet again re the AA imprints. I’m not an AA author, but I can say with certainly, that if I were, and this had been offered to me, I’d’ve grabbed it like a lover. It’s a way in. And I’d hope, maybe, to be able to change things from the inside.

  489. Bianca
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 16:14:51

    I actually didn’t know she didn’t like romance. Then again, I don’t watch her all that often. But I figured if presented with a really good one, she would think about it to promote good will or something.

    But as for sinbad in a blonde wig. I’d buy it, just for the giggle factor. And comedy breaks down barriers. But I was mainly using that as a joke. I was hoping to get someone to splurt on the computer.

  490. Emma
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 16:40:21

    When I was at Borders last weekend with my 12-year-old son and we found ourselves eye-level with the cover-out display of BIG SPANKABLE ASSES, I wasn't a big fan of erotic romance, either. It was as uncomfortable for me as I imagine our being in the curtained-off room at the back of the video store would be. We left the romance section immediately, and I ain't going back. If my Walmart doesn't carry it, I won't buy it. As for our family trips to Borders, I'll be catching up on the sci-fi world, I imagine. And I've got erotic romance on my backlist, so it's not like I'm anti-ER as a rule.

    Yeah my 2 year old godchild saw the cover too. She said, QUITE LOUDLY, tia tia look a boom boom. And I said, yes baby it is a boom boom and we went on our merry way. I understand everyone doesn't want their children exposed to things of a sexual nature at certain ages but unfortunately in this world it's not as easy to shield them as it once was.

    Anywho BPA @ B&N is at 24911 and on Amazon its at 11115 as of about 30 minutes ago.

    After giving it some thought I guess my problem with an international couple (black man with white woman) is that I feel it is a betrayal of black women. I'm not a writer so I can't really express my reasons for this “feeling” and do it justice. I'm fine with white men/black women.

    The first part of this confuses me. It's okay for the goose but not for the gander? Isn't that a double standard? You love who you love and who gives a hoot what race, religion etc they are.

    Skin color is not a problem with me, stereotypes are.

    There are always going to be stereotypes but you know a lot of the stereotypes are our (AA) own fault. Look at Shanaynay. I loathe that character. Seriously. It embodies EVERY negative stereotype about black women. And when people see those types of things in entertainment (Movies, TV, etc) they figure all black women are like that and we're not. Far from it.

    And comedy breaks down barriers.

    Not always. Some comedies and comedians are irresponsible and continue to perpetuate stereotypes that are extremely harmful. This is the main reason why Dave Chapell quit the way he did.

  491. Seressia
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 16:41:57

    Regarding Ross’ relationship with Aisha Tyler on Friends. I think it’s sad that they could find a lost monkey in NYC in 22 minutes, but it took 10 years to have a recurring black character, not to mention as a love interest.

  492. Seressia
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 16:46:13

    Robin, I’ll admit, when I read post 353, my first thought was, “Here we go, someone pointing out that other ethnic groups have it bad too” when we were talking about AA romance. It wasn’t until further in your exchange with Angela that I got that you were trying to show that if non-AA readers could read those, they could read AA roamnce. Actually you just flat out said it, and with less test, so I thank you for that. :)

  493. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 16:49:03

    I actually didn't know she didn't like romance. Then again, I don't watch her all that often. But I figured if presented with a really good one, she would think about it to promote good will or something.

    Eh, I don’t see Oprah ever doing anything to promote romance, regardless of who wrote it, whether the book was targeted at the black community, at women in general, or green skinned aliens from the planet Flatajah.

    Oprah pretty much does the ‘literary’ thing. I could be wrong, but aren’t there quotes out there where she was pretty much down on romance books in general?

  494. Shiloh Walker
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 16:52:11

    Yeah my 2 year old godchild saw the cover too. She said, QUITE LOUDLY, tia tia look a boom boom. And I said, yes baby it is a boom boom and we went on our merry way

    Snicker. A boom boom. ;) Cute. I’m just going to have to make my book store runs either alone, or with the DH for a few weeks because I can guarantree my six year old son would see it… and very loudly ask what a big spankable ass is.

  495. Emma
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 17:06:25

    Snicker. A boom boom. Cute. I'm just going to have to make my book store runs either alone, or with the DH for a few weeks because I can guarantree my six year old son would see it… and very loudly ask what a big spankable ass is.

    Shilo, I think kids do it on purpose. It's like the time my other godbaby pulled down my shirt and yelled, Your sou sou (breasts) is showing. LMAO. Umm yes, Lana it's showing because you just pulled my shirt down thank you very much!


    Eh, I don't see Oprah ever doing anything to promote romance, regardless of who wrote it, whether the book was targeted at the black community, at women in general, or green skinned aliens from the planet Flatajah.


    LMAO. Flatajah. I don't know why they cracked me up.

  496. Emma
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 17:08:58

    Regarding Ross' relationship with Aisha Tyler on Friends. I think it's sad that they could find a lost monkey in NYC in 22 minutes, but it took 10 years to have a recurring black character, not to mention as a love interest.

    Please don't hate me, but I never understood why Friends needed to have a recurring black character.

  497. Emma
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 17:15:03

    A friend pointed out that I involved myself in this when technically it doesn’t involve/effect me. I don’t have a problem with sales. I write about black women, black men, black wolves, black etc and people still buy my work. But in my opinion eBooks are REALLY different than print. Why? I wish I knew. But I’m sure the people who buy my work come from all types of backgrounds and since by buying my book they help to support my near debilitating purse and shoe habit I appreciate beyond appreciate them.

    I personally think something positive will come from this whole thing but then again I just got a UPS delivery so I'm riding on a serious purse high. (Yes, I know I'm a dork.) And you know what, it doesnt effect me now and it may never effect me personally but as long as it effects anyone, anyone (black, white, purple) it is something we all need to be concerned about.

  498. Robin
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 17:26:50

    Actually you just flat out said it, and with less test, so I thank you for that.

    Seressia, I actually started that line of argument in the double digits, lol, and said it explicitly at 275, but as several people said, I write long-ass posts and often am too lazy to make a lot of paragraphs. So thanks for hanging in there. ‘)

  499. Gennita Low
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 18:21:55

    Holy 500 posts Batman!

    Do we get a prize? :D

    Regarding Big Spankable Asses: I’ve been on several forums, some of them not romance book-related, that have made fun of that cover. Not sure whether the buzz of that title and cover meant more sales.

    Oprah: I think her words, when she was questioned by one of the women in the audience about not recommending romances, were, “Honey, that’s not real life.” Like Frey’s book was real. Uh-huh.

    Report: I went to two Walmarts today. I found it very interesting that one Walmart, in white surburbia, has its AA books mixed with the regular romance books while the other Walmart, which was close to the black college and community in town, had its own AA section. In my forty-five minutes or so shopping in the latter Walmart, quite a number of AA readers went by to browse.

    I’ve no idea what that means exactly, but still, interesting. Sorry, no big spankable asses allowed in any Walmarts, of course. Ha.

  500. Gennita Low
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 18:24:47

    I