It's the little things.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

There’s been a lot of talk on a number of blogs regarding the subject of how AA romances (and writers) are treated differently than other romance writers/books – i.e. AA romances/novels being segregated into a different section in bookstores (a situation I don’t agree with). So here I am, skimming through the latest newsletter to hit my in box, and notice the blurb/review for a new paranormal release (all bolds are mine):

"A campy supernatural twist on sexy urban black businessmen."

As individuals, Rice, Geffen and Coach are each handsome, hardworking and ambitious. But working together in a real estate investment deal that could make them multi- millionaires, these gorgeous black men are a force to be reckoned with, and nothing on this earth can stand in their way. An introspective writer, Rice is also the author of bestselling novels that have black women around the country clamoring to meet him, greet him and more. He tries not to let it bother him, though, that in the bedroom his fans scream the name of his charming leading character instead of his own. Geffen is the mastermind of their plans, determined to get big money and make good on his mother's deathbed wish. Coach is sidelined with injuries this season from the NFL, and besides pushing his leg to heal in workouts, he has plenty of free time for this big project. [/snip]

I'm not taking aim at anyone here, but why beat us over the head with 'black'? I can see the validation in that some people may be specifically looking for an AA romance, while others may want to avoid them--and that is absolutely their prerogative. There are storylines, character types, whatever, that I have no interest in reading, either. To each his/her own (reasons/justifications). But two mentions within the first paragraph, plus one mention in the leading quote is two too much, imo. Three mentions start to feel more like a 'warning' than information. If you peruse the reviews on AMAZON (click on the book cover), there's no mention of the characters' race. And that's counting Harriet Klausen's-- spoiler queen--review. (I know, I was shocked(!!) to see her review listed. [/sarcasm] )

One mention of the heroes being black would have been enough. Or they could have been referred to as 'brothers' (although that could have led to confusion in assuming they were siblings). And specifying 'black woman', was ridiculous. That's like saying only black women lust after Tyson, Will Smith, Gary Dourdan, and Denzel, to name just a few fine, fine, FOINE, chocolatta yummy gentlemen.

Yeah. Right.

It's little things like this, as well as bigger issues--like bookstore segregation--that keep that mental block up re AA romances. To be honest, if it hadn't been for the months of discussion on various blogs re this issue, I wouldn't have note of this particular review, but like all unconscious/subliminal messages, once you know they're there, you really start noticing them and their affects.

btw, I want to state again, I'm not beating up on anyone. I'm sure the newsletter writer didn't give it--the 3 mentions--a moments thought in crafting the synopsis/review. No more thought or notice than I would've given it if I'd read this review a year ago, before all the buzz. :-P
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Amie Stuart said...

I'm so totally shallow all I can say is "oh you posted my man"

Sasha White said...

YUmmm Warrick! *drool*

I agree, one mention should be enought to interest those specifically wanting AA romance, or those wanting to avoid it. Three is overkill.

Jaye said...

Cece, I'm just as shallow. There was no real reason to post those pics, was there. heh.

Sash, I just love the way Warrick moves. Just 30 secs of the camera following him down the hall on CSI as he does that little 'stroll' thing he does... *drool*

raine said...

Definitely nothing wrong with the scenery posted here...yeaahhh...

Agree. The need to mention it again & again is a bit telling.
And damn, it's the year 2005. We should be beyond all this crap by now.

Kat said...

First off, whoa! them some fine boys!

Second, (and this might be 'telling' on how often I get to a bookstore) but I had ABSOLUTELY no idea they 'segregated' books.

Um, hello?

Jaye said...

"...damn, it's the year 2005. We should be beyond all this crap by now."

You'd think.

Kat, I never really gave it a moments thought, either, since I'm all over the bookstore, anyway. I'm a notorious browser.

I did notice, however, that AA romances here in Canada are either grouped all together 'within', or right beside, the general romance section, the way the category books are; or they're shelved with other AA books if there is such a section, or they're in regular lit/mainstream with everyone else. A lot of times they're in two or all three of those sections. (Which is good). Shelving policy seems to go by the individual bookstore.

The thing is, I've *never* seen the books shelved *in with* the regular romance book selection by author last name. That's the problem; because their target market is (or should be) romance readers, not the niche segment of: 'black romance readers'.

Medievael romances can be called niche, in that they don't have wide spread appeal, yet they're in with the other romances. *Contemporary Romances*, that happen to feature AA characters and/or are written by AA authors, deserve the same treament.

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