02 Dec State of the Black Romance Novel
I recently ran across a forum thread on Goodreads that left me feeling rather disappointed.
The gist of it was there was no interest in the black romance novel. That people would much rather read interracial, or even white romance. They seemed to be of the opinion that all black romance does is perpetuate negative stereotypes of black people.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen the “hood novels”, none of which I will name, but I get it. A lot of people (me included) don’t want to read about drug lords, and shootings, hood rivalries, etc. That may be someone’s cup of tea, but it’s not mine.
The other complaint was that the heroes and heroines were all the same. A rich man-whore hero and a snobby, sexually repressed, man-hating heroine. I’ve seen a bit of this as well.
But, overwhelmingly (and I’ve read a LOT of black romance) I’ve seen diverse characters, in looks, occupation, personality, drive, etc. I’ve read some absolutely wonderful books about everyday people, that were definitely not “stereotypically black”. Of course, there are nuances that bring in the “flavor”, but not in a way that interferes with the enjoyment of the reading. This really make me worry that people are ignoring African American romance because of preconceived notions that aren’t even correct.
Am I reading the same Brenda Jackson, Rochelle Allers, Donna Hill that they’re reading? Are we reading the same FABULOUS indie authors? Because I’m really hard pressed to remember a single incidence of negative stereotyping there. Maybe a bit of repetition, but pretty much all romance follows a basic template, and the personalities, backgrounds, and quirks of the characters are what makes the difference.
It feels so unfair! I’m just now getting my start in writing. And, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, I enjoy writing black romance. About regular, non-movie star, non thug mafia people. Just, people. Starting careers, managing new love, finding themselves in the process. The same stuff white people do. And write about. And get on bestseller lists for. So I don’t understand!
I’m still a baby in this. Being published by a major publishing house is a distant dream at best, so maybe I’m just making too much of something that will in all likelihood never even affect me. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a bit disheartening though.
Tell me, do you read romance novels? What’s your flavor? Why? Have you given up on black romance?