Good Morning Loves!!!
Today we have a guest post from Keridbear, one of the first friends I made as an author, and a lover of all things romance! When I first had the idea for this blog she was the first person that said…”YES! Do it!” Well here it is girl! WE GOT THIS!
I cannot THANK YOU enough for your input and feedback. The only way to create the change is to have the discussion.
So, without further ado…here is Ms. Keridbear in her own words.
I’ve been a reader all of my life.
My mother is a reader and I thought that she hung the moon so naturally, I wanted to do EVERYTHING she did. And so we read.
In addition to allowing me to read whatever I could get my hands on, Mom refused to dumb down the world for me and challenged me academically in as many real world situations as possible. She started teaching me to cook and bake when I was about 6 because there’s no better way to teach a kid fractions. When I asked her why our food was so much different than my other American friends, she bombarded me with literature about how soul food was a delicacy made from the table scraps allotted to the slaves. A lesson that culminated in a trip to her home state of Louisiana and visits to actual plantations with the slave quarters preserved. I was 8.
By the time that I got to middle school, I felt as though I had read EVERYTHING in the most irritating, insufferable know-it-all teenaged voice possible because… yeah I was THAT kid in the children’s and YA sections of my local library and was a bit bored. My mother had just finished reading Disappearing Acts by Terry McMillan and was blabbing to someone, probably my aunt, on the phone about it so I grabbed it off of her desk and dove in (this was not taboo, as I mentioned, I read everything that I could get my hands on, including my mom’s Danielle Steele collection which I was not a huge fan of because I found the lavish lifestyles ostentatious… but I digress).
I was immediately drawn in by the brash language and the authenticity of the characters, which sounded much more like what I saw and heard in real life. So I threw it into my bag for Silent Sustained Reading at school. My 7th grade Language Arts teachers eyes caught the cover of my book and she asked if my mother knew what I was reading and I said, “Yes, of course… this is her copy.” Being a responsible educator, she of course called home to verify.
When I got home, Mama laughed her ass off, helped me make a book cover… then called my aunts and laughed some more.
My mother understood very early on that I needed to read about people that looked like me even if it meant that she had to answer some uncomfortable questions about our history and/or sexuality.
As I got older, I found myself alternating between “black books” and “white books” and sometimes merging the characters in my head if the settings were similar. It took me a number of years to realize that I was trying to mimic my own surroundings.
This in and of itself is my issue with the modern state of romance literature. Here in 2018, it’s still lacking DIVERSITY. There are black books and white books and Latinx books but integration is difficult to come by.
I grew up in a diversity bubble known as the Silicon Valley, which is one of the most MULTI environments you’ll ever come across. Multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-racial, multi-colored, multi-religion, multi-millions (but that’s a whole different story)... It’s a place where you can get a bowl of pho next door to tandoori chicken with a taco truck in the parking lot. Where you can spend an hour at the mall and not hear a word of English. Where you can encounter six different groups of black people speaking six different languages in ONE DAY!! this actually happened to me once Our diversity has diversity!! And don’t even get me started on the many shades of multi-ethnic children!
I want the characters in my literature to reflect my multi-environment. Where interracial relationships exist without disclaimers (you know the ones… BWWM ROMANCE emblazoned across the cover, cover models with such stark differences in skin color/hair texture that no one is surprised that the heroine is gasp biracial…), where white characters don’t say/think shit like “I had never been attracted to a black man/woman before” (you may think that this is an exaggeration but I have DNF’d at two books that did just that), where ethnic characters aren’t stuck in stereotypical tropes (nerdy Asians, spicy Latinx, ghetto black), where love between characters transcends but doesn’t pretend to be colorblind.
The world that we live in goes far beyond the 50 shades of blond that were getting in Romancelandia. Let’s put an end to monochromatic romance!!
What are your thoughts???