I promise, I’m getting to the end of my rope talking about Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake stuff, as far as overall commentary goes. There’s a lot to talk about, its a long series, but I’m getting tired of it and am taking a break from reading the series and buying it.

People love to portray gods, angels, goddesses, and Jesus Christ as white people and this explains why some of them believe white folks are god’s chosen people and everybody else is scum. I don’t believe for a second for that ancient Egyptians all look like white Europeans, no offense to all the white people who have ever played Egyptians in movies. I think that kind of religious idealism only works in literature and is contrived in film.

Practically everyone in the Anita Blake series is white because Laurell K. Hamilton is white and interacts probably mostly with white people. Therefore, in the ABVH universe, if the god/creator is white then it only stands to reason that the majority of the people in her created world are white. The characters are created in the likeness of their god, which would be Laurell K. Hamilton.

Every now and again, somebody like Bernado, Jamil, Shang Da, Jade and Vivian (*rolls eyes*), Yasmeen, and Raphael pop up, but only at Hamilton’s whim. There are neither consistent nor regularly appearing characters. That’s if they’re aren’t already dead, raped, tortured, or mutilated as sufficient to Hamilton’s liking.

Of course, by the reckoning and conception of the god of ABVH, Black people do not typically become vampires. Perhaps we should be happy. Who wants to see pasty, ashy, bloodless Black people? Only white folks look good that way apparently. We’re not called ‘people of color’ for nothing. Still, what I find lamentable is that Hamilton, as the god of ABVH, couldn’t figure out a better way to portray Black vampires, as opposed to almost scrapping them from the story all together. Examples of solutions: They have a gene that protects them from the worst of vampirism, like the discoloration when they haven’t fed. They’re usually a different kind of vampire than the typical European brand (which is the explanation that I go with in my writing, tying them in more culturally with Black history as I understand and sense it). The pale ashiness just doesn’t show up on them the same way. I don’t know! Any of these explanations would have worked for me but she just decided to make it so Black people don’t seem to catch vampirism, period. On the other hand, she had no problem making it easy for them to be infected with lycanthropy. So she can see them as animals, but not as something so classically reserved for the European as vampires, huh?

That is just quintessentially ignorant and white racist right there.

There is a constant reinforcement of white middleclass American and (romantic) European motifs, primarily French and British, in Hamilton’s universe. Maybe it is not so much that she can’t write Black characters or that Anita just seems white, but more that she has built a world in which people of color are excluded and made fodder by default.

Writers are the gods of their own literarily crafted worlds. They are limited only by the reach of their own minds and imaginations and experiences, and sometimes by the demands of the market for those who are published. Obviously, some people imaginations can’t reach that far. And then again its not so much an issue of the imagination as it is white people just not “knowing how to write” people of color in a genuine, not-so-racist way. And maybe they just shouldn’t. That is why they are the gods of their own world and in that world representations of people of color reflect their own pathologies about people of color rather than presenting real persons who inhabit and exist within these worlds.

I’m pretty sure she’d shrug and give some insensitive answer to this line of thinking, but, hey, what can you do. She writes what she writes and I think what I think about it.

 

ever more critical,

Ms. Queenly

Advertisements

9 thoughts on “the god of abvh is white

  1. “I don’t believe for a second for that ancient Egyptians all look like white Europeans, no offense to all the white people who have ever played Egyptians in movies.”

    I watched a program that said evidence points to Egyptian’s society being mulit racal.
    Unfortunately, that’s all I remember about the program.

  2. Though I object to many of the religious teachings I was presented as a child, I do appreciate that the church I attended did not have any artistic renderings of anyone in the bible. I was taught that since there is no way of knowing about the physical attributes of Jesus, Mary, Moses, etc., rendering an image is essentially a presumptuous lie. Then again, everyone in our church was literate (as far as I know) except the very young children, so there was no need to tell the stories through dramatic visual arts. Right now, I do not recall what happened in Sunday school besides memorizing prayers and scripture. We also colored a lot of pictures of nature because “the beauty of nature is a gift from God,” as we were constantly told.

    When I visit other churches littered with “traditional” images throughout the structure, I often feel claustrophobic and, to a certain extent, left out of the narrative as I am accosted with image after image of holy whiteness. Though I can respect the talent and tenacity needed to create the visual spectacle, invariably, I feel an overwhelming sense of relief when I leave.

    The focus on the appearance of eternal whiteness for a traditional vampire juxtaposed against their supposed evil nature is intriguing to me, especially within the religious context I just described. However, I have never gotten the impression that Hamilton was thinking of that duality when she chose her characters for the books or her lovers for Anita. Sexual fantasy/eye candy seems to be the driving force for her, in my opinion. But, as you stated, she is “teh god of the abvh universe” (my quotes).

    I just went to her blog to find the post where she describes her personal preferences and how that influences the physical attributes of her male characters. Take a look at “Are My Male Characters the Men I’d Want to Date.” There is so much to pick at in that post that I cannot say more than, “Wow, after all that, you still feel confident to say that the men in your books are not really your preferences. Just, WOW!”

    One last thought. On the fifth of July, I visited “Mateo Teepee,” better known as “Devil’s Tower.” Beautiful is such a tired word for what I witnessed. For what it’s worth, here is my preference: Big terrible stormy sky, arid grasslands, blankets of stars blinking in the inky night, rushing wind through the trees mimicking the sound of water, and the sweet smell of the air when there is more land than stinky cars and coal burning plants. That is much purer and holier than any god, angel, goddess, or Christ depicted in arts and letters whether black, white, or anything in-between.

    1. Jan, your experience at Mateo Teepee sounds so beautiful. I am and identify as a very spiritual person (although I was raised Black Christian) and this communication with god and the spiritual and divine is so ideal to me. I’ll also be stealing your provocative description to use in a book, someday, lol ^_^, very well-worded.

      I think I did grow up in an environment where religious depictions were at least filtered although I do remember everybody in my family and the community saying that Jesus was Black (hair like wool and all that) and therefore God is Black. I wish I had a little of more of your religious experience growing up, though it still means a lot to me to have folks identify the divine and spiritual with brownness/brown skin/Blackness; it makes me feel included. I went to a predominantly white Jesuit Catholic university for my undergrad and trust me when I say I understand what you mean about the claustophobia in those kinds of spaces. I’ve learned to appreaciate Eurocentric (religious) art but by no means wish to be contained by it or have it shoved down my throat.

      I also don’t think Hamilton was thinking of that particular juxtaposition either, but its funny how the theme keeps coming up for me at least. As they say, the truth will out. I think white people have so many pathologies about their precious glorified whiteness that it just spills off the pages whether they intended it to or not.

      I’m a little hesitant to read her post on her preferences, but I might check it out just to see how much there is to pick at because you say so.

  3. Ms. Queenly!! I just read your article on LKH and her “blacks can’t be vampires” explanation and I feel vindicated!!! I thought it was me …as I read each book (just got into the series) thinking I was just being too sensitive as a black reader. I found it odd (the unsettling kind) that LKH thought it made sense to explain that blacks could contract lycanthropy, but not vampirism. I thought it even stranger that the only black characters she seems to have in her books Jamil (um…can we say LKH was reaching for the most stereotypical name for a black man!!! Lawd… and who the hell wears beads in this day and age…. this is not the 80s…she should have given him a jheri curl for all the sense it made) and the “exotic” bi-racial female werewolf (can’t remember her name). You know…I recently flew to MIssouri for business and I didn’t see too many people of color…but hello… St. Louis is not like the rest of Missouri! LKH has enough diversity in that city to write about it accurately!!! And she’s a writer…do your research when writing!! If you don’t have a diversity…then go where it is and watch!!!

    I am convinced (after reading several KH books in the Anita Blake series) that LKH is soooooooooooo vanilla despite the large amounts of sex she heaps onto each page that she is useless when it comes to anything that smacks of diversity. Oh…I’m sorry… she knows all about “diverse sex” (how many ways can one get it on…LKH knows), but not about diverse people. That woman shan’t get a penny more of my money. I love vampire/werewolf stories, but can do without an ignorant writer. What a limited author she is!!!

    And by the way…your article made my day.

    FiFi

    from D.C.

  4. I thought it was just me! Thank goodness. All the male characters are huge tall big gargantuan mountains of muscle men with super duper curly hair and drop jaw/dead awesome eyes. The women are either bitchy and respected or hated (all bitchy females that are hated are tall with straight hair),. The nice woman are either weak (tend to be tall) or sweet (short) and not work more than a paragraph every 4th book. You get where I’m going with this, LKH definitively has some height issues, which is interesting because she’s slightly above average 5’6 (5’4 is avg I know that’s my height). She must have gotten picked on before a growth spurt and it scarred her for life…or something!? She’s 125lbs too….hmm does she resent not being made smaller? Does she hate herself? Interesting?maybe but her books are like daniel steele, read one read them all. I understand it’s all Anitas viewpoint…solely…period…no look into the minds of other…GOD FORBID! Yes that frustrates me, a little, but it’s hard to stay in one persons outlook for 24 books when that person only notices a narrow range of subjects…has there been an asian yet? I’m only on book 8 and just might stop anyway. I read #24 and then #1 and see a change in her so I’m interested in how that occurs, I just didn’t know from book 6 to 8 the changes would take a sudden leap (not that I’m complaining 1-5 were sooooo sloooooww.) Is this series even worth continuing? Seems you can’t squeeze much more juice out of these dry books than what the summaries have to offer. Sigh such a waste of time.

    1. By Asian, you might be referring to overlooked, underplayed characters like Meng Die, Shang Da, and one other female character who came around when I stopped reading and who Hamilton alienates completely.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s