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Three Troubling Thoughts

Times have changed or so people keep professing. You would think with these changing times acceptance of differences would have grown as a norm. Instead the opposite is true.

Okay, I'm still blogging from A-Z and "T" has caused me to think hard. Over the airwaves, I saw three things yesterday that really bugged me.

1. Racism in publishing and writing. The hardest thing in the world is to have a book published. To make it even harder, throw in skin color. I can speak of other nationalities having the same problems, but think about it....if race is brought up, it's always a Black/White thing. The truth is (and I don't want to venture into why) African Americans are still getting flogged. Sure many things have changed, but discrimination is slapping us in the face in the bookstores and the publishing arena. Why the big separation? No matter what 'we' write it ends up under the label of a color.  The characters on the covers are more often than not white-washed because the belief is no one would want to read books published by one of us. And our beauty does not sale books.

How many people of different races venture down the African American rows? It puts a block on whether or not a writer become a successful author. Truth be said, Americans (Black) authors writing about Black characters whether they are American or not do not get front placement as Americans (White)authors writing about Black characters. One of the best sites I have run across is White Readers Meet Black Authors. Carleen Brice does a wonderful job of highlighting awesome books by Americans of different nationalities and this particular highlighted author hits right on the point.  Desegregation has not made an impact on the publishing world. I write and I read in color. I am not a label.

2. Traditional & Self-Publication. I don't know a writer worth their weight who wouldn't want to have their words traditionally published. The process is hard, nerve wrecking, and totally frustrating. Not to mention the querying process for a coveted agent. You have to have the self-esteem of a brick and the skin of leather. To make it worse, when one gets tired of the routine and decides to self-publish they (and their works) are treated as if they are a preschooler without the ability to string together words and put together a professional package. I think its sad when this ability is rated as the lowest form of writing and disregarded as trash. We may miss out on some great literary works because of another labeling stigma.

3.Homeschooling & Unschooling.This topic can also tie in with the others because its worthiness is garnered from it's label. As a person who home & unschooled three daughters into college, and these girls run their own businesses, I feel irritated when people spout off about children educated in this manner becoming hindrances to fellow citizens. The process of sharing knowledge comes from all aspects of society and I really don't think one is waaaay better than the other. Failures come from public, private as well as the home educated. The method nor the process to educate matter as much as the attention given to the one being educated. In this day and age with the vast amount of abilities to get information failure is not an option it is a choice.

Anyway, as I said times have changed. Its time for the people to change.


arlee bird said...

Is there an African-American section in the book stores? I've never noticed. Not because of any prejudice, but firstly because I don't spend a great amount of time in bookstore and when I do go I am used there book-specific to get something I've read about and not to browse. If I browse, then it's usually through the Sale sections.

I probably wouldn't know what color an author was if they didn't say so or there wasn't a picture on the dust jacket. If it's a book about the "black experience" I probably wouldn't read it unless something else specifically attracted me to it. Not prejudice, just I would not be drawn to the "black experience" any more than I would the "Japanese-American Experience", or for that matter, if it were advertised as such, the "white experience". I am not usually looking for sociological books based on experiences, I'm looking for stories or non-fiction on a topic that intersts me.

I think I can relate it to movies better. If it is a "black urban experience" movie about thug life, rappers, or something like that. If it is a Tyler Perry movie I'm a big fan and I'll watch them because it's more of a "good values experience" movie and that's what I would prefer to see because I can relate better to that.

So I can't really say too much about prejudice and racism in the publishing arena since I don't know much, but I think people are drawn to what interests them the most or whatever has been hyped the most.

By the way, I added the link for this site to the A to Z Blogroll since I've discovered that you are posting here as well.

A to Z Challenge Reflections Mega Post

Anonymous said...

I generally feel a bit timid about being seen choosing "black" books -- as if black people would think I shouldn't be interested in them, because maybe they'd think I think they're a hobby or special interest or something. But I loved the one African American Lit class I took in college (despite the prof reinforcing my timidity)...

The Voice said...

arlee bird. Yep, the section is there. Even if the stories are mainstream, history, whatever. If the book is written by an AA its there. I guess the bookstores thinks its just easier to lump everything together.

prochaskas-I can understand the feelings you have, but its a shame when we still have to feel our actions have to be hidden because of who we are or what we're perceived to be. Whether we're of the opposite race in the Black section or seen as 'acting White' in the Black community. Thank you for reading our books.

Anonymous said...

It is a shame. Sometimes it feels like any attitude I could possibly have toward black people is racist, because I shouldn't be thinking in categories like that at all. So whether I feel intimidated or interested or uninterested, it "must" be wrong. But how not to think in race categories? How to make black friends without thinking about the fact that they're black? Don't think about pink elephants.

Anyway, yes, it's also a shame that the white folks get the whole bookstore and the black folks get their one section.

On the other hand, when you want to find something specifically written by a black author, having that section makes it easier.

Categories have negatives and positives... and we can't have categories and not have categories at the same time.

On the other other hand, I suppose the very idea of specifically wanting to find a black author could be disparaged.

Thanks for listening.

The Voice said...

One thing I have come to realize in life is this, once you know a person's name and they become your friend you forget what color they are. You refer to them by their name and until someone outside of the relationship mentions their race, the person is just your friend.

I remember when my eldest daughter entered public school. Before then people had a name to her after the first week of school she just started using sentences like 'this White girl' or 'this White boy' and I had to stop her. I told her that child's mother give them a name and until she knew their name don't talk to me about them. Even now, if I want to point someone out to them in the stores, I chose to describe their outfit and/or their surroundings. I refuse to be stuck on a color because then we forget we are all people.

All of my life the majority of my friends and acquaintances have been of another race. Maybe because I was an Army Brat, who knows. I see the same thing with my daughters. One is so deep into the Korean/Asian race she's speaking and watching the movies and music.

I see the special section in the bookstore as a plus if you're in a hurry and as a slap in the face when it comes to inclusion. Its a bit like sitting at the little kid's table at family holidays. You're a part of the family, but not really.

Anonymous said...

Good and encouraging point -- to remember that I don't have to be stuck at the first impressions stage.