A few weeks ago, a popular IR author posted a negative review on her Facebook page. Negative reviews are common, and not to be unexpected when you put your writing out there for others to read. What made this review particularly negative is that the reviewer admitted to not reading the book. Yup. You read that correctly the reviewer didn’t even read the book, but instead chose to leave a one star review as a “warning” to other prospective romance readers that the heroine in the story was…wait for it…a black woman. The reviewer identified herself as a Hispanic woman, who just couldn’t “relate” to stories about black women and therefore felt it her duty to caution others who may come across this book.
I wish incidents like this were isolated, but they are not. Just the other day on my Facebook page there was a discussion of some authors who write IR, leaving out the physical descriptions of the female heroine, but not the white male hero.
I highly doubt it.
For years, Black authors have discussed how large publishing companies will try to persuade them to either write white characters or downplay the physical characteristics if they must write black or non-white characters. It seems the mainstream audience has trouble relating to non-white characters.
Now, can we think about this?
In the literary world, books featuring wizards, talking animals, witches and aliens are easily put on book shelves, made into movies and sell millions, but stories featuring black people, in particular, romance featuring black women is just too much to relate to? Does that make sense to you? Says a lot about our society when black women being loved and protected is where people throw up their hands because it’s just too absurd a concept.
This is why I write romance featuring black women.
When I first discovered the world of Black romance, I was shocked to discover a genre in which black women were prominently featured as being loved and protected. Today, with digital books allow more black authors to break into the genre and be discovered by their targeted audience. This has created the opportunity for a host of more dynamic and diverse stories featuring black women to be told.
In a world where black women are often told we are too strong, too independent, too masculine, too much of this and not enough of that, and that is why we’re single, unloved and uncared for, romance featuring Black women being loved is my safe space. I enjoy reading and writing about black women who’ve overcome whatever trials they may have gone through, and are able to find love that is worthy of their greatness. These stories allow me to take a few hours out of my day and escape to a world in which a woman being black does not take away from her beauty or humanity. It allows me to read about women with café au lait, caramel or dark chocolate colored skin (excuse the food references), with full lips, thick thighs, wide noses and kinky to relaxed hair not only being the recipient of mind-blowing orgasms but love.
I write romance featuring black women because even as I write this post there is a video circulating social media of a young black girl being tossed from her chair and dragged like an animal from a classroom by a school police officer. In that video not only were the actions of the school officer abhorrent, but the non-reactions of everyone else in the classroom is just as telling. Unfortunately, not even the teacher in that classroom saw that young girl worthy of a “Be careful!” or “Not so rough!” directed at the officer.
I write black women in romance to remind ourselves that we are not the problem.
I write black women in romance as a reminder that our black is beautiful.
I write to remind ourselves that we are worthy of love and protection because the world so often tells us the opposite.
I write black women in romance as a reminder to myself that my worthiness of being loved is not dependent on my proximity to whiteness, but simply because I exist (and you are too 😉 ).
Why do you read romance featuring black women?