Sunday, April 29, 2007

Making Waves

I just left the Romantic Times Convention, where I suppose I saw about two thousand white female readers and published authors, and sizeable number of males(including the Mr. Romance contestants--biceps on display) and perhaps fifty African American sistahs, maybe a few more. On the Saturday, several hundred published authors sat in alphabetical order at long tables signing their books. Along with every one else, the sistahs came through, visiting with authors and buying their books. It amazed me the number of black women won spent so much time talking with white authors and buying their books and ignoring black authors. I signed my share of books for both black and white women, but I've been published for twelve years and have over thrity fiction titles to my credit. It pained me to see some good writers sitting with a stack of books in front of them while a sistah bought a book from the white writer on either side of her. It blew my mind.
Of course, I believe in freedom of just about everything that's legal, and people have a right to spend their money as they please. I do. Still, I've seen that behavior every time I participate in that kind of book fair. Maybe it wouldn't bother me if the white readers didn't treat most black writers as if they were a part of the decoration. I confess I hadn't attended that particular annual convention in eight years and that I went only to receive an award for career achievement.
I read books without regard to the color or gender of the writer ( I buy selectively), althought my prejudices won't let me buy a book written by a reactionary Republican. O. K., the title of this piece is "Making Waves," so what did you expect? Gwynne Forster


At 10:15 PM, Blogger ImageNouveau said...

What do you expect? We still, unfortunately, still live in a world where not only do white folk think we have a helluva lot of nerve taking up space, but we have our own who have become so brainwashed with the notion that if its white its right, that we continue to shun and look down upon ourselves. And of course that's not everyone....but those who know, know who they are. Then again they probably don't. sigh

At 10:24 PM, Blogger CafeAuNay said...

I comment hesitantly because I know there are folks who won't understand what I'm about to say ... I choose the books that I buy solely on the color of the author. (Okay, so now folks can call me racist or prejudiced or whatever, it's okay with me, I'm comfortable with my choice.)

But I feel you on this one, Gwynne. I see it happen all the time, and it's not just with books. We tend to feel a strange obligation to include and patronize everyone except each other. SMDH

BTW ... I also won't go to see a movie that doesn't have an African-American in it. Go figure. LOL


At 5:36 AM, Blogger Ramblings...acVernon Menchan said...

That is conditioning, we feel we have 'arrived' when we support the majority culture to the exclusion of the minority...doesnt make a great deal of sense but is sad but true...


At 7:07 AM, Blogger Juateen said...

Well Gwynne I can't say I will not read a white author's book again because I'm sure some where along the lines it will happen. Growing up that was all I read and looking at my child now that is what she was introduced too reading and I have taking great pleasure in giving her the AA books I can find for her age level and for me 1994 was my discovery of the AA romance books and it been on since with over 2000 books in my collection. My attitude is I never read a bad book some authors work I prefer over others but that doesn't stop me from giving support to any AA author because some where down the road my least favorite author writes one of the stories I have read in a while and without our support or negativity that I see so much on the boards that person might would have gave up so I will always buy and support the AA author and the occassional white author if I'm reading a series. I just wish others would support their own and stop the bashing that is growing in the literary world and we as black people should know that well by now because we still have to fight for what we want and it's no picnic in doing so why not fight for our own together okay that's my two cents worth. I just finished reading One Night with You, Reid and Kendra just had me up and down with their relationship but I could understand where she was coming from at that mature age of 39 and her job. Can't wait for the next story.

At 10:46 AM, Blogger Movie Maven said...

I am not surprised, but am a bit sad that this happens. Sadly, we are often disdainful of our own. I am an avid reader and for the most part purchased books by whites because that's what was available at the time. Later I discovered that we too wrote books and was delighted. However, it was not until 1995 that I truly discovered the richness of black authors. I still buy more white authors than black because I love mystery and romantic mystery novels. Fortunately that is changing fast. I have reached a point where I seldom buy white romance novels.

Years ago, I made a conscious effort to seek out black authors who write contemporary fiction. When I attend a book fair, I make it my business to visit and buy from authors of color as well as white authors.

At 11:02 AM, Blogger Sylvia Hubbard said...

i love a good story and if i'm a fan of that authors work, hell, i'll buy just because i don't care if it was osama.

i understand about the "decoration" thing, G and I've been part of decoration at times and wondered a lot about when people bought books by other authors and not mine - knowing that my book was waaaaay bettah, but because that person was white, they bought theres.

I don't know and i understand the making waves things. sometimes you have to rock the boat, G.

Rock it Gurl, don't be skured.

Growing up around the old books of shakespere, sylvia platt, jr tolkein and such, and not even reading black books until I was in middle school, I am color blind to who wrote the book, but the story itself.

unfortunately I know some of these associates of color who only buy white writers because in their mindset, us black folks couldn't make a good story up if their lives depeneded on it. (their words not mine.)

I've enjoyed some great books by current AA authors, yrs included along with Donna, Brenda J, and so forth, and when I've suggested some of these authors to my associates, they look at me like why are you trying me Sylvia.

I shake my head in pity because they are missing out on a great experience (probably why they can't get a good man of sorts because they don't go read about all the bad ones, LOL.)

I loved this piece G. Keep the faith, keep strong and keep it up!

Sending hugs and love from Motown!!

At 1:19 PM, Blogger gemini said...

I have to admit that I am prejudice to a point. I have to work with white people. Everywhere I turn, they are there. But I try to avoid giving them my money. I only buy books by black authors. I shop at the Hispanic grocery store and if they don't have what I am looking for, they will order it. All of my doctor's are black. I try to support my people any way possible. I encourage my peers to do the same. If we could come together and unite as a race, instead of giving in to our ignorance and jealousy, it would be a beautiful thing.

At 5:36 PM, Blogger LaShaunda said...


I noticed this when I attended my first RT signing here in St. Louis. I met a lot of ladies who had never heard of many of the authors who were there. They hadn’t heard of SORMAG and we’ve been online four years. Most of the women weren’t online, if that makes a difference. They were also loyal readers who attended RT faithfully.

I thought it was interesting, because they read romance but they didn’t read black romance. Reminded me of those who thought romances weren’t real books, its sad but I feel its their lost. They don’t know what they're missing.

At 6:17 PM, Blogger Vanessa A. Johnson said...

Gwynne, I'm neither shocked nor surprised by what you witnessed. It's a sad day that our folks still have the mentality that by supporting us, we might advance one step further/ahead of them, and by not supporting us they can keep us in our place. How dare we attempt to better ourselves by hard work and determination. I bet if I was selling drugs, they'd be in line to buy it.

At my very first signing, I had many more white buyers than my own people. Oh, they'd come by and pick up the book, say they'd be back and never did and I'm talking people I know including relatives...Our folks are a trip.

At 8:02 PM, Blogger bettye griffin said...

I've often wondered how black authors fared at these large conventions, and I decided early on not to go out of my way to attend. I may have white women purchase my books at book signings where it's just me, but I don't think I'd stand much of a chance in a room full of white authors.

Speaking of mass book signings, I must mention a past Slam Jam. The invitation stated something along the lines of, (and I'm paraphrasing here; after all this time I can't remember the exact words) "Only lead authors are guaranteed space at the book signing on Saturday." At the time I was not yet a lead author, and I found an irony in these words that would have been duly noted even if I had a loftier status: It was as if the organizers were saying, "We're the white people, and you little folks can be the ni**ers."

I suppose it's a good thing that black authors do appear at these events. I do believe that there needs to be awareness, even though I'm not inspired to attend myself. I wish all who do much recognition.

Bettye Griffin

At 4:44 PM, Blogger Dee Savoy said...


I definitely know how you feel. My only experience with a mass signing like this was one where my books didn't show up. I happened to have a copy of my book and had folks write their names down to win this book free. Do you know folks wouldn't even stop over for that!

It's still a sad, sad, day.

All the best,

At 12:58 PM, Blogger D said...

I definitely feel where you are coming from and can only shake my head. I buy romance from authors of all races but trust I will only stand on a line for a few people and most of those are black authors but that is just me. I like a good romance but my time is precious and if I am going to support in that kind of venue I will support my own first.


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