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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.

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

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

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

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  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?

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  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!

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  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.

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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!

    ReplyReply

  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?

    ReplyReply

  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.

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

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

    ReplyReply

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

    Damn, Monica,

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

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

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

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

    Monica, Wow. What a rant.

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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.

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

    Word, Robin. Word.

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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?

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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?

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  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. :)

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

    ReplyReply

  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!”

    ReplyReply

  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.

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

    agh. damn you, lack of edit feature!

    I meant there will be no “j’accuse”

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  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.

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  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.

    ReplyReply

  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

    ReplyReply

  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.

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  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.

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  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…

    ReplyReply

  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.

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  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?

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  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.

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  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?

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.”

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  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!

    ReplyReply

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

    I—

    No, there is too much.

    Um. Here’s a cool song.

    ReplyReply

  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

    ReplyReply

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

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

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

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

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

    *scary music plays in the background*

    ReplyReply

  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.

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  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.

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  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?

    ReplyReply

  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.

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  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.

    ReplyReply

  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.

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  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.

    ReplyReply

  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!

    ReplyReply

  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.

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  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.

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  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.

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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).

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  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!

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  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.

    ReplyReply

  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.

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  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…”

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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?

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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)

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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?

    ReplyReply

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

    Good thought provoking post.

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

    ReplyReply

  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?

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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?

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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?

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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?

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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.

    ReplyReply

  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).

    ReplyReply

  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.

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  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.”

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  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”?

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.?)

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  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.

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  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!

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  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

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  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.

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  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?

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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

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

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  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?

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  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.

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  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.

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

    Ahhh…THAT time of year again, eh?

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  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.

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  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.

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  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).

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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?

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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

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  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.

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  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?

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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?

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  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.

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  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.

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

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

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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?

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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

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

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  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.

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  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.

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

    Why are you assuming that people are angry?

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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)

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  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.

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  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.

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  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

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  193. Bianca
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 00:38:47

    Never heard of it. Send me a link?

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  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.

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  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.

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  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

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  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?

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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