[11.21.16: J.R. Ward is racist. I haven’t seen anyone outright say it for their own weak reasons, but I have no problem saying that now. I emotionally stopped at that train wreck Lover Unbound and officially quit giving her my money at Lover Enshrined. Looking back on this piece I wrote so long ago, I feel…embarrassed at how naive I was. At how willing I was to give J.R. Ward the benefit of the doubt. For all the reasons listed here and more, white bitch is racist–end of story.]
I used to be a very avid romance reader as a child. What was I doing reading what many people would call “smut” at the age of 10? Where was my mother? Who knows! [Actually, mom really encouraged me NOT to read romance, but, you see, I found the first two romance novels I ever read in her closet… *snickers*]
One paranormal/urban fantasy romance I find myself hating for many reasons but unable to stop reading for the writer’s attempt at urban creativity is the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward. Hate/love, hate/love HATE/LOVE her shit, but its good for a lot of things that I appreciate. I was searching for people who really want to like her work but have the same problems with it as I do and can’t stop reading (even though I did return the last book to the store–almost a complete waste of money I really didn’t have in the first place to be spending at that moment).
Let me sum up the series in the way I perceive it as a woman of color:
Its a series about a pack of testosterone-laden, dangerous, territorial, chest-beating, fighting-machine white vampires of seemingly European descent with emotional problems who are at war with Lessers, their race’s mortal enemy who reek of…
They drink expensive liquor, smoke “weed” and abuse other substances at their leisure, appropriate rap music to reflect their experiences of being filthy stinkin’ rich, drag their pretty white women off to their cave–I mean, mansion, still confused about that–to keep them until the males themselves get killed in battle or until the women die in childbirth, get murdered by their race’s mortal enemy, or get turned into ghosts or immortals by their deity, the Scribe Virgin.
Most readers love it or don’t read it at all from what I can tell. J.R. Ward–I have issues with your BDB series and I finally found someone who hinted at one of my issues.
The original post can be found here, POST 51:
“[Original question: Is anyone else interestde in knowing how Trez and iAm are different from the sympaths?]
[Response: I don’t really get what they are. I just wish Ward would cease referring to them as “Moors”. Their whole portrayal is a little on the edge, IMO. I know the books are very broad in their characterization in general, but when two of the few minority characters fit so well into the “inscrutable yet devoted servant” category, I get a bit uncomfortable. Plus, in a series rife with stupid names, iAm has got to take the prize. I’m assuming it’s some sort of riff on whats-his-name from the Black Eyed Peas, but still.”]
There are little to no people of color in this series. This is why I find the use of the mixture of slang and Black vernacular out of place and heavily appropriated by J.R. Ward. The few people of color in the series are minor characters, subservient to the white vampires (the “Moors”, who are unmistakably Black in their characterization), and appear for all of about five seconds. There are absolutely NO women of color. Zero. Zilch. None. I am not even certain Ward could write a respectable one given the women we see so far.
In my honest opinion, J.R. Ward is appropriating Black culture’s most negative aspects and glamorizing them for a largely white, female middleclass audience. In essence, her series is about…
Pretty white people vampires with problems…and the human and vampire women who engage with them. Let’s not forget the homoerotic piece, so guys, too. Its a fucking frat house!
With the exception of Xhex [and let’s not forget Payne *crosses fingers on this one*], who has a different set of problems that are all her own when it comes to characterization, there are no really exceptionally respectable female characters in this series.
Without further ado in no particular order….
TOP TEN ISSUES WITH J.R.Ward’s BDB series:
- The pervasive appropriation and use of rap music and rap culture with not one single person of color present as a regular character directly tied into the plot.
- The use of the word “Moors” to refer to characters who are obviously Black. Trez and iAm are subservient to a white male vampire (Rehvenge) who just happens to be a drug-dealing, club-owning, substance-abusing (not to ignore his “handicap” but still) pimp.
- The absence of women of color and vampires of color.
- The heavy Christian overtones. Just bludgeon me already!
- The heavy references to designer labels. Capitalism and classism, people.
- The homoerotic relationships with no real homosexual couples present in the books are an affront to the queer community as the book currently stands.
- The Scribe Virgin. Period.
- Vishous is a misogynist. I understand the deal with his mom, but, jeez, its so apparent.
- Lover Enshrined. The whole thing.
- Bella, Marissa, Beth, Jane, Cormia, Mary & Rhage. The caveman-eat-from-my-hand-guard-you-with-my-knife-traps-you-in-my-mansion-for the rest of your life-for-”your safety and mine”-but-its-all-your-choice-of-course thing. That’s all I’m saying.