Thursday, October 21, 2010

Why Interracial/Multicultural Books Piss Me Off

The first thing I look for when submitting to a romance/erotic publisher is if they carry a interracial/multicultural section (even before checking GLBTQI sections!) If not, I usually do not submit to that publisher. 'Nuff said. What's even worse is that the publishers that DO have IR/M titles are sadly lacking in "diversity" if you can believe that. And that's what pisses me off about a lot of the IR/M books on the shelves right now. 

Now as you all know, I ONLY write IR/M erotica or romance. I DO NOT (and will not) write a story unless one of the major character is of color. Period. No ifs ands or buts. It's my modus operandi and I plan on sticking to it, regardless of genre. There are literally thousands of books about white people. *eye roll* People of color get left in the dust OR (which pisses me off even more) are written into books by white authors who out of ignorance (or worse) "white liberalism" end up portraying people of color in condescending or cliched roles. *cough* Secret Life of Bees, anyone? *cough*  The Help (good lord, that book makes me want to scream) or To Kill A Mockingbird? *hack, wheeze, vomit* Gimme a frickin' break! 

So to see a multicultural or interracial romance at all is a refreshing change of pace. I should be leaping for joy, right? Wrong. Most of the IR books out there I see are written by black women (w00t@ge! Represent, ladies!) lusting over white men. I don't have a problem with that necessarily, but when every single IR/M book on the shelf is about a black woman and a white man, I start to get pissed off! Where's the diversity?! I want to see books with Asian or Hispanic main characters! And why does every "interracial pairing" have to be with a white person anyway? Why not an interracial romance with all minorities? 

But no. You don't see that. Just the standard black heroine and her white male hero. OR African-American themed books, only. That's it. "Multiculturalism" my ass! 

I am in the movement to get Asian, Hispanic, Middle-Eastern, etc. authors (and characters) onto the shelves as well. We need a true "multicultural" presence here, and I have yet to see it. I have been desperate to find blogs like White Readers Meet Black Authors for other racial groups, but have yet to discover them. 

If any of you know of cool sites like that will you let me know? 



Eric W. Trant said...

Stephen King almost always has a non-white person as one of his main characters, often the mentor or wise storyteller or innocent victim.

Look at:

Shawshank Redemption (black wise storyteller)
The Stand (black wise old lady)
Duma Key (black and wise nursemaid, Hispanic best friend)
Green Mile (black hero)
Shining (black mentor)
It (black best friend in the 50s, and we don't even know he's black until halfway through the book!)
Dreamcatcher (Hero has Down's Syndrome)
Silver Bullet (Hero is handicapped)

I could go on, but here's someone who is as aware of the rift as you are, and is quietly doing something about it.

Which brings up an interesting point to the rest of us -- are our stories as multi-cultural as is our world? I'm in semiconductors, and I'm often the only American-born person in the room. That translates into Asian and Middle-Eastern and European and who-knows-what characters in my stories.

I'm in Texas, so one of my MCs in my last book is Hispanic (female), and, HEYA!, it's an interracial relationship! (I never thought of it that way, but I guess that's right.)

Anyway. Thought-provoking. Don't overlook what King is silently doing for your movement.

- Eric

Vegetarian Cannibal said...

Hey Eric, I'm in Texas too! Just a hop skip away from Plano, actually. I live in Coppell. By any chance have you heard of Dunn's Brother's Coffee House in Addison? I know a few other authors in the North Texas area who frequent that spot.

And excellent examples from King. I do not read a lot of King's work (he's not my cup of tea) but I do appreciate his involvement with diverse characters. You bring up a good point about the multicultural world we live in as a whole. It's a thought-provoking question: do our characters reflect people of the real world?

It is a question I ponder everyday. For me, diversifying my characters isn't so much about a moral responsibility but a LOGICAL solution. We live in a big big planet. How sad is it to see just one type of character over and over again when there are over 6 billion people walking around? Everybody loves to why not design characters that are accessible to EVERYBODY?

I want to see characters that aren't just "put there" for tokenism, but are actually relevant to the stories they come from. Great response.

Thanks for visiting! :D

Eric W. Trant said...

Never been to Dunn Brothers but I've heard of it. I may have to stop by sometime! If yall have a critique group, lemme know.

If you want a radically different viewpoint from a fellow blogger here in Dallas, take a look at Jai Joshi:

- Eric

Peter Varvel said...

Thank you.
As an interracial or "mixed-race" person, myself, I am especially grateful.
I am a fledgling writer, but it took a while for me to be courageous enough to write specifically about - and from - my own dual heritage identity.
I am inspired and encouraged by this post!

Kaitlyn said...

Very interesting and good post. I had been thinking about a book concept for future writing set in Japan. The heroine would be white, but I was debating about making the hero Japanese. After reading your post, I think it would be a nice change if he wasn't white. =)

Vegetarian Cannibal said...

@Eric: Thank you for showing me that blog! No, we don't have a crit group set up...but if you'd like to start one, I'm open to it.

@Peter: Hey, I was raised on grits and kimchi so although I'm not "racially" 'mixed' I was brought up by a Korean mom. Never feel like you have to hide who you are. As writers, we are supposed to spread ideas and present different perspectives to our readers! Go for it!

@Kaitlyn: I'm happy I have inspired you! We need more writers out there to do what you do! :D

Erotic Horizon said...

Thanks for writing this -..

I am the reader of all this material that is never on the shelves and when a few do pop up I make sure to snap up a Japanese interacial book or Mexican or Asian, but they are rare finds..

The black woman /white man thing is so over done and I agree with you - as a black owman myself I sometimes wonder what reseach acutally wnet into writing some of these characters..

Great point to highlight...


Thank you for the link..


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