‘The Hit List’: Laila Karlton–LKH, are you fking serious!!!

DISCLAIMER: I was reading this over at wikispaces and I had to there. I said I would never BUY another Laurell K. Hamilton book. I never said I wouldn’t glance through it if my mom brought it home from the library even after I told her I wasn’t reading the stuff anymore….

So we finally get a real Black female character, Laila Karlton, who isn’t some completely exotified kind of Black, like Vivian the lightskinneded and Irish. She is in fact a federal marshal (or is at the time she introduced) though she’s not real at all–as in 3-dimensional. I knew LKH couldn’t pull it off.

Laurell K. Hamilton, let me tell where you went wrong, AGAIN:

  1. Your description of Laila Karlton is so minimum it’s insulting. I see her muscles but I don’t see the rest of her.
  2. Why does she have to be 5-foot-whatever pounds of muscle? Thinking of how people stereotype Black women, like Michelle Obama, for example, as muscled he-women Amazons, I can say I don’t appreciate this description at all.
  3. We didn’t know she was Black (with a capital B, not a lowercase ‘b’, LKH) until she said it herself. Scared much because you knew you were doing a shit job with this character from the beginning, like with all your other Black characters?
  4. Why is it that the first thing Anita and Laila talk about is how petite, big-breasted, and big-assed Anita is because she’s part-Latina? As I’ve said before, Anita is for all intents and purposes white–stop hyper-emphasizing and hypersexualizing what you view as her “ethnic” features. Which are basically her hair, her ass, her “dark” eyes, and her breasts.
  5. Why is Laila presented as jealous of Anita’s petite white body?
  6. Furthermore, why is it we spend so much time talking about Anita’s shining, hardass reputation again? What’s with the flattery for both her track record and her body?
  7. I’m thinking of Laila’s father and brothers: Of course, there are big, strong Black men, but of all the body types you could write about, why are you choosing to write about the most stereotyped and racialized ones you can think of?
  8. Anita has to be the guru on hunting and executing and Laila gets to listen to her condescenion as the rookie-type? Great.
  9. Why do you have to continue to beat down every female character who comes along with Anita’s reputation, physical appearance, misogyny, and cred in the field?
  10. And Laila’s a racist because the guys in her family taught her to be like that?
  11. Laila is weepy in the hospital and needs peptalk from the white-skinned wise one who doesn’t even shift at the full moon though she possesses/is infected with mutiple strains of lycanthropy?
  12. Did I mention how fucked up it is that, once again, Black people like Laila can be made into werewolves, animals, but are never, like, swans or “good” vampires (with even unchalky skin, of course. Ashy skin does not look good living Black people, it doesn’t look good on any one actually)?

This is why I refuse to buy anymore of your books. Laurell K. Hamilton, you’ve lost me.

Really,

Ms. Queenly

 

Read all my other posts on LKH and Anita Blake here.

Capitalizing the ‘B’ in Black

Elia's Diamonds

Let’s get down to the words on the page.

We are a racial AND ethnic group in the United States and internationally around the world.

So why do people not capitalize the ‘B’ in Black when writing about Black characters in their books or whatever else?

I’m not really much of a grammar whiz but I wonder….

Words that are capitalized as opposed to words that are lowercase have a certain effect on many people when they see them on a page. Why is Black, as the race AND ethnicity of millions of people, treated like an adjective?

For the reason above, I see it as a slight against Black people that many writers, no matter what field, do not think to capitalize the ‘B’ in Black. In this instance, when talking about a group of people…Black is a pronoun, not an adjective, folks.

Evermore real,

MsQ

Cathartic Reflections: On Beverly Diehl

I hate it when I run into white folks who seem like they’re all about equality and totally get where you’re coming from, despite being white, but who then turn out just to be smooth talkers like car salesmen and those cell phone people at kiosks in the mall with scripts like a teleprompter?

I admit, Beverly Diehl almost had me won over, because I’m gullible like that. But something just kept asking me every time I e-mailed with her at the back of my head, “What’s she really doing here?”

I met Beverly Diehl through the Romantic Friday Writers, a weekly blog fest that I participate in. I was alarmed at her well-crafted but still rather racist excerpt from a book she’s working on. We both commented about it on her blog a little, I even consented to reading a chapter from the book she wants to publish and gave up time to offering her my personal thoughts on it—the one about the same interracial couple she posted for the weekly blog fest group. I tried to enter an acquaintance with her on a positive, helpful, and constructive note though cautiously.

I thought, “I’ve had some bad experience and she doesn’t seem THAT bad. Give her a chance”. With this allowance on my part, Beverly Diehl and I corresponded then planned to do interviews concerning racism in writing and the so-called “post-racial” America and cross-post them on our respective blogs.

But after the e-mailing with her a few times, I realized the whole thing might have been benefitting her more than me, especially when her answers to questions of mine started reading a little bit like “I don’t think we really live in a post-racial society but in my mind we do and I’d like to write books based on the fact that we don’t”. Eventually I got frustrated, so she suggested we take a little break from interviewing. I knew it was over and wasn’t going to e-mail her back except to tell her it wasn’t going to work and to thank her for her time.

This is my read of Beverly Diehl after interacting with her:

  1. Yet another white woman/person looking for lessons on how not to be a racist [writer] from a mammy (that would be me in this case).
  2. One of those white folks who says, “I totally understand where you’re coming from, Black person”, who all the while really wants to say and is probably thinking, “Why can’t Black people get over it, so I can watch and read ‘The Help’ and publish my multiculturalist, Blaxploitation erotica in peace—OMG, GOSH!”. I’ve seen it before and this was eerily similar, only milder and thought to be more well-intentioned than usual.
  3. “Let me tell what you should be doing, as a Black person with half-a-brain, to improve your community because I know your situation better than you do, naturally.” Politely offered yet condescending unsolicited advice is truly one of my pet peeves.
  4. Skill as a writer trumps racist writing and other forms of bigotry—the good old argument of bigots and bigots alike over the centuries.

My friend, who is white and understood that while she might have been well-intentioned she was testing my patience, pretty much told me to leave Beverly Diehl alone from the beginning. Then…her response to my expression of frustration with the very concept of a published work like ‘The Help’ at Ms. Queenly’s Blog was about it for me. She and only one other person dropped by and/or e-mailed to convey displeased opinions about what I had to say about it (the other being Tosh Fomby from totsymae.com, who I had another negative run-in with previously at SheWrites). My friend back home in GA suggested I write about it, after asking me what happened with the whole thing, knowing that I have a tendecy to blame myself for the shortcomings of others. And here I am, a cathartic reflection.

I’ll probably edit this post later to include some of our correspondence, but right now I’m just trying to put the weight of yet another experience with polite bigotry behind me and focus on the here and now of another strenuous chapter in my life.

evermore,

MsQ

To White Writers

It would be less insulting if white writers, academics, and producers would just say, Its beyond the realm of my capabilities and experience to portray 3-dimensional characters of color who aren’t foils, gags, typecasted to the maximum, or supporting characters. It would much less insulting to just admit this rather than:

1. pretending that they can and failing,

2. supposing that they can and not trying,

3. and/or appropriating aspects of other cultures and misrepresenting them to entertain largely white audiences.

Just say you can’t do it. Put us all out of our misery. I’m not saying they all suck at this…just that most of them probably do.

Ever more real,

Ms. Queenly

Brown People = Sex: The Matrix Reloaded & Hypersexualizing Brownness

Brown People = Sex: The Matrix Reloaded & Hypersexualizing Brownness

I’m pretty sure that I’m not the first person to say this. When I first saw The Matrix, it became the standard of film and story for me. I thought it was awesome, like so many other fans of the film. I could deal with the fact that Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) or Captain Naomi (Jada Pinkett Smith) are technically just supporting character instead of The One himself/herself. To this day I still have a problem with the fact that Morpheus, in particular, had the potential to be The One and got pushed to the left for Neo (Keanu Reeves). But overall, I thought it

Once I saw The Matrix Reloaded, the second film in the trilogy, my perspective shifted a little bit. Even today, I cannot watch the movie from beginning to end and do not own it in my movie collection. The reason is because of that big orgy scene in the movie when Neo and Trinity (Carrie Ann Moss) are having sex.

There is this stereotypically tribal-like music drummed out during the scene. Neo and Trinity are off in their own private space and there are cuts between them having sex and the crazy party where everyone else is grinding on each other, jumping into the air, dancing, maybe even having sex, and just plain carrying on in this crowded, sweaty, semi-dark torch lit cave. A lot of the people in the cave seem to be brown skinned.

As an erotic romance writer, I do feel as if it is kind of contradictory for me to be saying this in a way, but even when I write and in real life, I have standards of intimacy that I uphold. So I wonder, is this scene in The Matrix Reloaded a celebration of life, intimacy, and “unity”, or just a reaffirmation of how white dominated society—film, music video, and all “departments” of Hollywood itself in particular—hypersexualize Black people/Brown folks as the epitome of savagery and primordial sexuality?

Is this just another demonstration of how white people, white filmmakers and photographers, pathologize Black people/Brown people or brownness as the earthy, animalistic, unrestrained, wild, and sexual?

Bear with me until the end, the language is about to get a little high and academic, please excuse me.

It reminds me of why many white people tan: to them it’s not just about “getting a little color”. White people tan because they have pathologized brownness to such a level that they don’t even think about it anymore, particularly Blackness—meaning that in their own heads, Black/brown skinnededness equals savage, dark sexuality. But by being people that only have tan/”browned” skin temporarily in most cases, they maintain their position as dominant whites  dressed in browned/tanned skin, “trying on Blackness/brownness” to be fad and hypersexualized for the moment. It’s the closest to being Black that they can get in reality in the absence of the option of temporarily becoming Black and they enjoy and are thrilled that they can momentarily be what they believe simultaneously to be the lowest or most base sexuality and the height of the sexually primordial in popular media—brown.

In Reloaded, Neo and Trinity don’t have to tan or become Black somehow. The “orgy scene” inside of the cave which is revealed in a montage of cuts and flashes while Neo and Trinity are having sex symbolizes a degree of savage “brown” sexuality that their white skin cannot completely embody by itself. It doesn’t matter that the people inside of the cave aren’t actually having sex. The fact they are in a separate area away from the “party” and at the same time Neo and Trinity having sex is still put next to the sexualized action of the brown people in the cave only makes it more clear that—again—savage, sensuous, primordially base sexuality in the movie is embodied in brown-skinned people and not in the white skinned heroes of the movies.

Point in case again (if this makes it any simpler):

The sexuality of the two “white-skinned” people (Keanu Reeves is Hawaiian/Chinese–generally multiracial-part white) engaging in sex is further personified by flashes to a cave full of brown people (though not exclusively brown) grinding and slithering sensuously on each other and acting wild to the beat of drums. Both main characters in the film, Neo and Trinity go on to be the “white-skinned” heroes in action, their repressed/latent sexuality contained in their fitted black clothes while at the same time it still remains that you see the most Black/brown people out of the whole damn film and the whole damn trilogy jammed in that cave engaged in sexualized action.

Personally, I’m offended by it and somewhat disappointed and uncomfortable but not surprised.

I’m done!

Ms. Queenly