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View Full Version : Blacks don't read White Books and Whites don't read Blacks! -- Moved from R&D



Vedren
01-17-2012, 07:49 AM
Now this isn't fact... but it's definitely something to think of when it comes to marketing your work.

Let's be honest!

I believe many of us don't read outside of what we know, can relate to, and feel at home with. When you feel like something totally doesn't pertain to you or anyone you know, unless you're one of those people who likes stepping outside your comfort to find interest in other areas, then you kinda.........don't care?

I feel as though many whites may feel black books are "Hood Books" when that is merely a genre in the black book market.

I feel as though many blacks may feel that white books are "Corny Fantasy Books" when Fantasy is merely a genre. And I use the expression "Corny" as in: Unrealistic/Fake/Phony, etc...

I think we should give each other a chance and stop being so closed minded when it comes to art. Art is beautiful and expressed in so many different ways.

If you can sit and watch a Science Fiction movie, why not try picking up a Science Fiction book?
I used that example because that is me. I'll watch Science Fiction, but my best friend writes it and each time he'd ask me to read for editing purposes, I used to drown in boredom before even picking it up. I didn't even give it a chance before assuming it'd dry my interest. Then I did one day... and it was okay! I was impressed.

Just something to think of.

Drachen Jager
01-17-2012, 10:16 AM
I don't think things are so black and white (ooh, yeah, I deserve to get hit for that one).

I don't have the perspective you do, coming from Canada where I think colour is not as divisive as it is in the US, but I don't think there's this hard divide. Sadly there is probably a tendency among blacks to prefer 'white' books because it is human nature to always be interested in the dominant group in a society, just as most black girls used to prefer playing with white dolls (that's old research, I'm not sure if it's changed or not).

I'm not sure what sample group you're using, if it's your friends, then perhaps they are just more polarized that way?

I know my agent is black, and I'm pretty sure her assistant (who loved my book) is too. I really don't care though, they seem to like what I write, even though my exposure to black culture is about as minimal as one can have growing up in North America.

blacbird
01-17-2012, 11:49 AM
Bullshit. I'm about as white as you can get without being an albino. My parents were from Denmark, and at my age I've become severely blond (and bearded and hairy) and if I had muscles and macho could be a right good pillaging Viking.

And I've read Richard Wright and Ishmael Reed and George Cain and Eldredge Cleaver and James Baldwin and Edwidge Danticat and Charles Chesnutt and Paul Laurence Dunbar and Zora Neale Hurston, among others.

Unsupportable assumptions are . . . unsupportable.

caw

Literateparakeet
01-17-2012, 12:35 PM
I'm not sure what you mean by "Hood Books". Do you have any suggestions of titles I should read?

In historical fiction, "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry" is one of my favorites! I also love classics, and count "Cry the Beloved Country" in my top ten. As for more modern stuff...I love The Ladies #1 Detective Agency.

I'm open to other suggestions...

Anne Lyle
01-17-2012, 04:29 PM
In fantasy, it's certainly not the case. Three out of this year's six World Fantasy Award nominees were black women*, and I somehow doubt that the majority of their readers are black...

* including the eventual winner, Nnedi Okorafor

KTC
01-17-2012, 04:49 PM
This thread is offensive.

KTC
01-17-2012, 04:50 PM
Bullshit.

YEP.

backslashbaby
01-17-2012, 05:53 PM
Maybe this thread can be ported to our new PoC forum, where discussing this sort of thing is what we do there :)

Calla Lily
01-17-2012, 06:03 PM
Agreed.

*waves magic wand*

There we go. Bet y'all didn't notice a thing. :)

Chris1981
01-17-2012, 06:41 PM
What process are you using to label "white books" versus "black books"?

If I write a novel in which the main character is black, have I written a "black book"? (I'm white, in case anybody was wondering.)

If I read a Toni Morrison novel, does that make it a "white book"?

What about Kathryn Stockett's "The Help"? Is that a "black book" or a "white book"? Why?

lilmizflashythang
01-17-2012, 06:56 PM
Probably the same process that got the man who designed Mt. Rushmore considered racist. He didn't have many black people working for him. Of course, it was also early '40's Dakota.

Diana_Rajchel
01-17-2012, 06:58 PM
I think who reads what depends on marketing. I actively seek the unfamiliar, and a book about African American/black experience wouldn't put me off. But if they don't cross my path often, that may be because of bookstore managerial decisions and authors having to market themselves more these days.

veinglory
01-17-2012, 07:12 PM
Do and have done. I think OP might start by reading the other discussions in the archives?

Kitty Pryde
01-17-2012, 07:22 PM
Many "black books" are marketed to the african american community in such a way that they don't get read by white readers (especially when they are hiding in the AA section and most people don't know they exist!). But beyond that I have to disagree with OP. I don't feel at all that sci fi and fantasy are solely "white genres". Check out the Carl Brandon Society website ( carlbrandon.org )for a good primer on past and present writers of color in fantasy and sci-fi. Octavia Butler! Samuel R Delaney! Nnedi Okorafor! Nalo Hopkinson! Tananarive Due! Steven Barnes! Toby Buckell! Dia Reeves! SF/F genres would be greatly diminished without them. And how about a book about black people written by a white author? How about a book about white people written by a black author? And what about the many SF/F fans of color? You can't pretend they don't exist. (And I won't even delve into SFF written by other PoC!)

virtue_summer
01-17-2012, 07:30 PM
What's a "black book"? I'm white, and two of my favorite writers are Tananarive Due and Octavia Butler, and last time I checked they were both black women. Honestly, I wasn't aware I wasn't supposed to like them, that I was incapable of relating to a black protagonist or to words written by a black author. Whoops.

SPMiller
01-17-2012, 07:37 PM
Kitty Pryde beat me to it, but I was going to mention Butler and Delany in particular, both being not just sf writers, and not just black, but also not straight.

nighttimer
01-17-2012, 10:32 PM
With all due respect to the original poster's premise, I could not disagree more.

There is no such thing as "Black books and White books." There are books that are written for and appeal to different groups, but really what it comes down to is this:

There are only good books and bad books.

That's it. :Shrug:

BunnyMaz
01-17-2012, 11:11 PM
When I pick up a book by an author I don't already know, I go by the cover, the blurb on the back and the first couple of pages inside. I'm not sure how I would even find out the colour of the writer without actively seeking out the author's portrait, which isn't something found in every book. And as characters on covers rarely look like the character as envisioned by the writer, I know not to make any preconceptions about the race of the protagonist, either.

I buy a lot more anthologies these days and seek out full novels by authors I liked in them. I choose those authors because their work is good, because the writing is tight, because the story opens my mind or exposes me to something new, and because I feel reading their work will make me a better writer.

Vedren
01-18-2012, 02:14 AM
Bullshit. I'm about as white as you can get without being an albino. My parents were from Denmark, and at my age I've become severely blond (and bearded and hairy) and if I had muscles and macho could be a right good pillaging Viking.

And I've read Richard Wright and Ishmael Reed and George Cain and Eldredge Cleaver and James Baldwin and Edwidge Danticat and Charles Chesnutt and Paul Laurence Dunbar and Zora Neale Hurston, among others.

Unsupportable assumptions are . . . unsupportable.

caw

Ok?

Vedren
01-18-2012, 02:18 AM
I think many people are just in denial about the fact of what I am trying to say.

If you read a black book, great... but many whites don't as well as many blacks, is all I'm saying. This isn't to be racist, just real and wanted to know what you thought about this topic.

Medievalist
01-18-2012, 02:26 AM
If you read a black book, great... but many whites don't as well as many blacks, is all I'm saying. This isn't to be racist, just real and wanted to know what you thought about this topic.
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Actually, I think it's partly that you haven't defined what a "black book" means for you.

Is it Langston Hughes? Alice Walker? Samuel Delany? Nnedi Okorafor ? Ralph Ellison? Octavia Butler? Audre Lord? Chinua Achebe?

Books with main characters who are black?

Or are you talking about books and lines from things like Kimani Press?

Vedren
01-18-2012, 02:28 AM
Actually, I think it's partly that you haven't defined what a "black book" means for you.

Is it Langston Hughes? Alice Walker? Samuel Delany? Nnedi Okorafor ? Ralph Ellison? Octavia Butler? Audre Lord? Chinua Achebe?

Books with main characters who are black?

Or are you talking about books and lines from things like Kimani Press?


I think more of books with predominately black characters... mainly ALL!

Eternal
01-18-2012, 02:31 AM
Hi. I do understand what you are saying, I was unaware that it existed until you mentioned it though.

I'm white, my wife is black and grew up in the UK, her father is black and grew up in Jamaica. I see no patterns in what we read that relate to skin colour. We all enjoy a variety of books, her dad doesn't read as much, but when he does it is widely varied.
Whilst the point is valid as your opinion, it is not something I have ever noticed. Although, as previously mentioned, I notice a lot more divisive stuff from the USA than the UK.

Vedren
01-18-2012, 02:32 AM
Hi. I do understand what you are saying, I was unaware that it existed until you mentioned it though.

I'm white, my wife is black and grew up in the UK, her father is black and grew up in Jamaica. I see no patterns in what we read that relate to skin colour. We all enjoy a variety of books, her dad doesn't read as much, but when he does it is widely varied.
Whilst the point is valid as your opinion, it is not something I have ever noticed. Although, as previously mentioned, I notice a lot more divisive stuff from the USA than the UK.

Maybe that's what it is!

Eternal
01-18-2012, 02:45 AM
Maybe that's what it is!

Maybe. I expect it comes down more to your family background etc. If you are fiercely aware and proud of yourself in any way, whether it be colour, career, nationality etc. then I suspect a large portion of your reading matter will relate to this.

I'm from a family that was laid back and acceptance was normal to me, to accept people for who they are, and to judge by their actions and words rather than any pre-concieved ideas I may hold. So I blissfully plod through life largely unaware of such things, and judging books etc. purely on the merit of the writing within.

Unimportant
01-18-2012, 02:53 AM
I think many people are just in denial about the fact of what I am trying to say.
Have you considered the possibility that your choice of words is not effectively conveying your ideas?

To me, it's not clear if you are saying,
a) Nobody reads books in which the characters are not the same race as the reader
or
b) I, Vedren, only read books with characters who are of the same race as me. Therefore, I am sure that all other readers do the same
or
c) My books are not selling well and I am sure it's because white readers refuse to purchase my books as they have black characters
or
d) I have no idea whether the majority of readers read books in which the characters do not reflect the readers' own race/gender/sexuality/whatever, and I am interested in conducting a small poll here on AW to find out how broad people's reading interests are.

Unimportant
01-18-2012, 02:54 AM
Octavia Butler! Samuel R Delaney! Nnedi Okorafor! Nalo Hopkinson! Tananarive Due! Steven Barnes! Toby Buckell! Dia Reeves!
NK Jemisin!

Vedren
01-18-2012, 02:56 AM
Have you considered the possibility that your choice of words is not effectively conveying your ideas?

To me, it's not clear if you are saying,
a) Nobody reads books in which the characters are not the same race as the reader
or
b) I, Vedren, only read books with characters who are of the same race as me. Therefore, I am sure that all other readers do the same
or
c) My books are not selling well and I am sure it's because white readers refuse to purchase my books as they have black characters
or
d) I have no idea whether the majority of readers read books in which the characters do not reflect the readers' own race/gender/sexuality/whatever, and I am interested in conducting a small poll here on AW to find out how broad people's reading interests are.

No, what I meant to say is what I said! But thanks, you're too kind!

Unimportant
01-18-2012, 03:03 AM
No, what I meant to say is what I said! But thanks, you're too kind!

What you said was "This isn't fact"; "I believe many don't read outside what we know"; "I feel whites may feel black books are 'Hood books'"; and "I think we should give each other a chance." So, you believe something that is not based on fact, and you are asking us to change our reading choices based on your nonfactual belief.

It's certainly something to think about. Quite illuminating, in fact.

Vedren
01-18-2012, 03:09 AM
What you said was "This isn't fact"; "I believe many don't read outside what we know"; "I feel whites may feel black books are 'Hood books'"; and "I think we should give each other a chance." So, you believe something that is not based on fact, and you are asking us to change our reading choices based on your nonfactual belief.

It's certainly something to think about. Quite illuminating, in fact.

Not asking anyone to do anything. I asked for your feedback on this topic. I also mentioned for those who may feel this way to open up some. I guess I'm having trouble comprehending the fact you're trying to prove.

Ya see, I guess because I'm, pretty forward with everything, I expect everyone else to. So pour it out. Don't use quotes and things to voice your point, just say what you gotta say... I'm actually interested.

iRock
01-18-2012, 03:10 AM
I think many people are just in denial about the fact of what I am trying to say.



I'm confused, because at the beginning of your original post you write: "Now this isn't fact."

So if it's not a fact, then why are you trying to debate something false? I don't get it. It's like saying, "This isn't true, but dogs are made of cheese. So what are your thoughts on this scandalous revelation about dogs being made of cheese?"

I'll read what you call a "black" book if the premise interests me. It gets the same consideration any other book on the shelf gets. All I'm looking for is a good story.

As for my skin color: My father is a Purple People Eater and my mother is the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Now try finding fiction on the shelves that represents my racial mix.

Eternal
01-18-2012, 03:14 AM
As for my skin color: My father is a Purple People Eater and my mother is the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Now try finding fiction on the shelves that represents my racial mix.

Your mother is the Flying Spaghetti Monster! Could you put in a good word for me, I have been hoping for a touch from her noodly appendage for some time.

iRock
01-18-2012, 03:15 AM
Your mother is the Flying Spaghetti Monster! Could you put in a good word for me, I have been hoping for a touch from her noodly appendage for some time.

Absolutely.

Unimportant
01-18-2012, 03:17 AM
Don't use quotes and things to voice your point, just say what you gotta say... I'm actually interested.

Okay.

1. I do not understand what you are asking/saying in your original post. Please clarify.

2. An awful lot of people are, like me, saying that they do not understand what you are saying. I would strongly suggest that you re-consider my point, which you previously dismissed, that your writing is failing to convey your thoughts. You are in fact not saying what you mean to say. Your meaning is in your head but it is not translating to the words on the page.

Unimportant
01-18-2012, 03:19 AM
As for my skin color: My father is a Purple People Eater and my mother is the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Now try finding fiction on the shelves that represents my racial mix.
Surely there's a "Chthulu and the Eggplant Princess" romance out there somewhere?

Eternal
01-18-2012, 03:20 AM
Absolutely.

Thanks, I will get my pirate gear on immediately in anticipation. Whilst doing so i will go away and stop posting irrelevant stuff to this thread.

Vedren
01-18-2012, 03:21 AM
I'm confused, because at the beginning of your original post you write: "Now this isn't fact."

So if it's not a fact, then why are you trying to debate something false? I don't get it. It's like saying, "This isn't true, but dogs are made of cheese. So what are your thoughts on this scandalous revelation about dogs being made of cheese?"

I'll read what you call a "black" book if the premise interests me. It gets the same consideration any other book on the shelf gets. All I'm looking for is a good story.

As for my skin color: My father is a Purple People Eater and my mother is the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Now try finding fiction on the shelves that represents my racial mix.

When I say this isn't fact, I mean my word isn't law. This is my take and my opinion and this is what I feel. So what do you feel? Basically.

It's really that difficult of a project (Smirks). If you find yourself so confused, then this doesn't pertain to you. :)

Vedren
01-18-2012, 03:23 AM
Okay.

1. I do not understand what you are asking/saying in your original post. Please clarify.

2. An awful lot of people are, like me, saying that they do not understand what you are saying. I would strongly suggest that you re-consider my point, which you previously dismissed, that your writing is failing to convey your thoughts. You are in fact not saying what you mean to say. Your meaning is in your head but it is not translating to the words on the page.

Oh, I haven't found that an awful lot of people were confused. They just gave feedback on what they got out of the post. There is no question. I was interested in knowing what people felt about my take. But you may not have any feeling on so, I guess we just kinda move along? Good day!

Perks
01-18-2012, 03:27 AM
Well, there's a surprise. Goodness.

backslashbaby
01-18-2012, 03:35 AM
It was a two-fer, too. I don't think I've ever seen that before!

Medievalist
01-18-2012, 03:39 AM
We are EVERYWHERE!

Perks
01-18-2012, 03:41 AM
It was probably a kindness. I don't think she was really having that much fun anyway.

thothguard51
01-18-2012, 03:45 AM
Verden,

Just my personal view on MY reading preferences...

I don't care about the color, gender, political choice, or religion of the author. What I do care about is that the book interest me.

If someone introduces me to a new author who is black and he wrote this really fantastic novel about a fictional rap artist rise and fall. I would not read it. Not because he/she is black because the subject matter is not something I would find interesting. I am sure my son would though...

Now, take the same author and tell me he/she wrote this fantastic SF series and I will go actively search it out to see if it interest me. My son would not... sighhhh

When I started reading SF&F, I fell in love with the works of Andre Norton. I did not know the author was a woman and when I found out I did not stop reading her books.

Salmon Rushdie, while I am not a Muslim, it did not stop me from reading several of his books. Very interesting stuff.

To me, color, gender, and all that other stuff only matters if the person them self has a closed mind. I am sure there are a large percent of people out there that do, but the reality is, you are asking a question of fellow writers who are a bit more open minded and perhaps did not take into consideration.

thothguard51
01-18-2012, 03:47 AM
Damn,

Wasted my reply on a banned member...

CChampeau
01-18-2012, 03:49 AM
I'm white, and Ralph Ellison's The Invisible Man is one of my very favorite books. It's effin' brilliant. For those who haven't read it - check it out.

CChampeau
01-18-2012, 03:54 AM
There are only good books and bad books.

That's it. :Shrug:

Seconded.

I mean...seriously. nighttimer said it.

Perks
01-18-2012, 03:56 AM
To be fair, some books are just okay and don't make it all the way to good without flopping face-down into bad.

CChampeau
01-18-2012, 04:02 AM
To be fair, some books are just okay and don't make it all the way to good without flopping face-down into bad.

True, nitpicker :tongue
There are always shades of gray.

Eternal
01-18-2012, 04:06 AM
True, nitpicker :tongue
There are always shades of gray.

Don't get bringing colour into it, you racist bar steward. :-)

Perks
01-18-2012, 04:12 AM
True, nitpicker :tongue
There are always shades of gray.
I shall henceforth be known as the nutty nitpicker.