It’s 2019 and most books are still white. Don’t believe me? Well, check out this study in The 2018 State of Diversity in Romance Publishing study: only 7.7% of Romance Authors are people of colour. To make it worse,% 79 of the overall publishing industry is white. And don’t get me started on the state of LGBTQ representation vs. Cis heteronormativity in books! Not to mention, that it took until 2018 for a black author to win an RITA award. In the words of Bustle writer Kerri Jarema:
[Tweet “”But it is also undeniable that non-white communities have not traditionally had books marketed to them, written for them, or written by them in the traditional publishing structure.””]
The thing is Jarema hit the nail right on the head. Why should we as minorities consume content that is not marketed towards us and in which the industry tells us in every way that we do not manner? I have personally read more than one book this year where every character in it was white. In mainstream romances, publishers seem to think only gay and lesbians only exist and that queerness is not a spectrum. In their narrow little world, a heroine or hero can’t be queer and still be in a heterosexual relationship. This way of thought automatically excludes bisexual and pansexual people. This when I started to think about my book and how I what mark I want my burgeoning career as an Author to leave behind. I was inspired by Beyonce of all people. How she has forgone trying to making content for white people and instead built a brand on marketing towards black people. With everything she does, it’s all about uplifting black people of all shades, and representing where she comes from. I very much want to emulate that same energy. When I started plotting out my book ‘Full Circle’, I originally made my main character Dion Kincade black to piss off Kevin Sorbo. Sorbo has always been racist, and I thought what better way to piss him off then to have a black man take his place.
[Tweet “When I started plotting out my book ‘Full Circle’, I originally made my main character Dion Kincade black to piss off Kevin Sorbo. Sorbo has always been racist, and I thought what better way to piss him off then to have a black man take his place.”]
Yet, as I fleshed out Dion’s character and the overall plot, I realized that my pettiness couldn’t be the foundation of this book. It had to be about something bigger. Then I started to look for other black leads in the M/M Romance or Gay Romance genres. I was shocked to find that the number I found was so minuscule. Where was the representation for my fellow Black LGBT community? Didn’t anyone else see what a huge problem this was? It bothered me then, and it continues to bother me. I decided from that point on I would never write a white main character. Some of you would call this “Reverse Racism” and yes, I am rolling my eyes so hard right now! Listen, white people got the most representation in this genre. So, I feel no guilt at shoving as much Black LGBTQ+ representation in this genre even if it kills me. And it’s not just that, I’m going to always promote and read books by racial minorities foremost. I will put my money where my mouth is. I also decided that% 99 of my books will take place in Texas because much like Beyonce I am proud of being a Texan, and Texas needs all the positive representation that we can get. Now, true allies will get this. True allies won’t get into their feelings and give me: “Not all whites” bullshit. Black LGBT people more than anyone else (especially with the high suicide and murder rate) deserve to see their own happy endings. And as Shirley Chisholm said:
[Tweet “‘If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.'”]