Where the Black Women At?

I feel like I should rename Elia’s Diamonds, this blog, “Where the Black Women At?”.

Because that’s pretty much what it comes down to for me even if I like the concept of a book/movie/game/television show. And if they’re there, how are they being portrayed?

I feel that images of us should largely be portrayed by us for us. By us, I do mean Black women. My sincere desire is to see Black women thrive on the page and off. With a little unity, togetherness, if that’s not too much to ask. Nothing less will satisfy me.

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A Reminder of Why I’ve Mostly Given Up on the Mainstream Romance Industry

I finished reading two romance novels last night in ebook format and I was tired and sad to say that it’s work like this that makes me so eternally sick of the romance and erotic romance genre and publishing industry.

I read The Pleasures of Sin by Jessica Trapp and Rent-A-Studd by Lynn LaFleur. Eck, I gave in to Ellora’s Cave.

I fasted from Ellora’s Cave and broke myself of that filthy habit two years ago but I still long to read about intimacy, the best attempts I’ve ever read being constrained within the limitations of time pieces like those written by Robin Schone, the realism of Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, and the urban snippets of intimacy in Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series.

I feel somewhat ashamed to admit I’ve been reading this kinds of books again, mostly because of the way people look down on intimacy and erotic romance, and the ways in which women are socialized from the cradle to chase after romance and the love of a at all costs. But I like, enjoy, and relish in intimacy, depth, and intensity and plots that have these elements as an integral parts.

However, the romance, erotica, and erotic romance market, particularly the historical, urban, and paranormal romance is just full of shit.

Rent-A Studd was weak and shallow in several places, relying heavily on Fabio-esque era and woodsman/earthy male archetypes and uppermiddle class white fantasy and detachment but was much better in my opinion for several reasons than The Pleasures of Sin by Jessica Trapp, granted that they belong to two different genres of romance.

Both books were horrid in their own right, though the LaFleur was more digestable and even cute at times.

Maybe I’ll give both books separate reviews later, but for right now I need to get the poison of disappointment, disgust, and outrage out.

The Pleasures of Sin by Jessica Trapp was HORRIBLE. The heroine, a white European young woman named Brenna, over the course of the novel, is

  1. stripped of her only passion which is painting,
  2. betrayed by the family she tried to protect endlessy,
  3. her sisters are in constant danger of being raped by the men that her “husband” brought to their keep with him or by men they will be forced to marry,
  4. psychologically abused,
  5. kidnapped,
  6. she is married to a man who claps her in shackles, manacles, and a collar and makes her hobble in public in them,
  7. forced to marry a man in her sister’s stead,
  8. nearly has her head cut off by her unwanted husband,
  9. unwanted husband leaves her to stew in her own filth for a month while shackled up, taking the key to her bounds with him,
  10. publically whipped by the man she is forced to marry after being duped into attempting to kill him by her sisters and father,
  11. coerced into a sexual relationship with this man to save her messed up family.

This was worse than Angel in the Red Dress by Judith Ivory, which is what made me go cold turkey on romance in the first place.

As a Black woman, whose descendants were enslaved and suffered every manner of abuse and brutalization imaginable, there was little to nothing amusing to me about this woman’s situation, let alone romantic.

Why do so many heterosexual white female romance writers feel the need to write about this shit like its cute and indoctrinate and pacify women into a culture of socially-induced Stockholm Syndrome? I just don’t understand.

Is there any such thing as quality romance/romantica in the world??? Because most of it appears to be a bunch of shit.

If this is the future of romance and it related genres, I give up. I just give up.

evermore real,

Queens

Kishimoto’s Naruto [the anime], Commentary Part I, Pros

Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto, Part I, Pros 

I will elaborate on what I view as the pros and cons of Naruto, starting with the pros.

++Naruto Pros++ 

1. Themes:

I enjoy several themes presented in Naruto–

  • love versus might
  • roads of peace and roads of vengeance
  • hard work versus natural talent
  • militant shinobi villages in lands that generally aren’t populated with them
  • philosophy of death
  • underdogs and perseverance
  • philosophies of pain
  • horrors of war and politics
  • proving and questioning one’s own existence
  • generational retention
  • following the rules and sticking by your comrades
  • bonds of love and friendship

2. Excellent opening and closing themes. My favorites:

Part I:

++Opening Themes++

  • E01: “Rise” by Jeremy Sweet and Ian Nickus (eps 1-52)
  • E02: “Haruka Kanata (遥か彼方)” by Asian Kung-Fu Generation (eps 53-77)
  • E03: “GO!!!” by FLOW (eps 78-103)
  • E04: “Seishun Kyosokyoku” by Sambomaster (eps 104-128)
  • E06: “Namikaze Satellite (波風サテライト)” by Snowkel (eps 154-178)

++Ending Themes++

  • #01: “Wind” by Akeboshi (eps 1-25)
  • #05: “Ima made Nando mo (今まで何度も)” by the Mass Missile (eps 78-89)
  • #06: “Ryusei (流星)” by Tia (eps 90-103)
  • #07: “Mountain A Go Go Too (マウンテン・ア・ゴーゴー・ツー)” by Captain Stridum (eps 104-115)
  • #09: “Nakushita Kotoba (失くした言葉)” by No Regret Life (eps 129-141)
  • #11: “Soba ni Iru Kara (そばにいるから)” by Amadori (eps 154-165)
  • #13: “Yellow Moon” by Akeboshi (eps 179-191)
  • #15: “Scenario” by SABOTEN (eps 203-220)

Part II:

++Opening Themes++

  • #01: “Hero’s Come Back!!” by nobodyknows+ (eps 1-30)
  • #02: “distance” by LONG SHOT PARTY (eps 31-53)
  • #03: “BLUE BIRD” by Ikimono-Gakari (eps 54-77)
  • #05: “Hotaru no Hikari” by Ikimono-Gakari (eps 103-128)
  • #06: “Sign” by FLOW (eps 129-)
  • #07: “Toumei Datta Sekai (透明だった世界) ” by Motohira Hata (eps 154-179)

++Ending Themes++

  • #01: “Nagare Boshi ~Shooting Star~” by HOME MADE Kazoku (eps 1-18)
  • #08: “BACCHIKOI!!!” by DEV PARADE (eps 91-102)
  • #09: “Shinkokyuu” by SUPER BEAVER (eps 103-115)
  • #12: “For You” by AZU (eps 142-152)
  • #13: “Jitensha” (自転車 Bicycle) by Oreskaband (eps 153-166)
  • #14: “Utakata Hanabi” by Supercell (eps 167-179)
  • #15: “U Can Do It” by Domino (eps 180-192)

3. Music by Toshio Masuda—too beautiful and well suited to the series! The music in Part II is mostly very militant and hometowny but I like some of it.

4. Good characters. My favorites are:

  • Rock Lee
  • Gaara
  • Might Guy
  • Anko
  • Lady Chiyo
  • Tsunade
  • Tenten
  • Hinata Hyuga
  • Shino Aburame
  • Naruto Uzumaki
  • Choji Akimichi
  • Shikamaru Nara
  • Zabuza Momochi+Haku
  • Neji Hyuga (*to Rock Lee* “Forget it!”)
  • Kankuro
  • Shizune
  • Pain

5. Character Foils–Naruto has good character foils. My few of my favorites:

  • Gaara++Naruto
  • Sasuke Uchiha++Itachi Uchiha
  • Iruka++Mizuki
  • Ino++Sakura
  • Might Guy++Kakashi Hatake (the best!, lol)
  • Rock Lee++Neji Hyuga

6. Shinobi battle arts and fighting techniques

7. Sensei and student relationships. My all time favorite is Rock Lee and Might Guy, followed by Hotaru and Utakata.

8. [SPOILER?] Last but definitely, definitely not least at all, the symmetry, the drama, and the poetic beauty of many of the relationships (in accompanied by Toshio Masuda’s music). Like when Sakura cut her hair or when Naruto and Sasuke fought at the end of Part I, and when Lady Chiyo sacrificed her life to bring Gaara back and left behind the legacy (though the potential symbolism behind her dying as one of the strongest female shinobi in the series is kind of troubling).

 See Also:

Anime, A Precursor

Anime: A Precursor

A lot of people in America think Japanese animation, known as anime, is just kids’ cartoons. Maybe in Japan, they view it the same way, but to many fans of anime in America, such as myself, believe differently. For every person who disparges anime and dismisses it, there are just as many who love it (sometimes labeled as otaku), giving rise to manga (“comic”/”graphic novel”) and anime DVD sales, anime conventions such as Washington state’s Sakura-Con and Atlanta, Georgia’s Momo Con and Anime Weekend Atlanta (AWA).

Personally, I watch anime forseveral reasons:

 The music

  • opening and closing animation songs that rock, OST (original soundtrack) music that I’ve just got to have
  •  music associated with the feeling/mood, battles, and drama of the show
  • at least 30%-40% of the music in my iTunes library is anime-related

The story:

  • I’m always interested what story the mangaka (manga artist) or animators and writers are trying to portray
  • I prefer a unique blend of several or more of these elements: drama, romance, fighting, strong heroines (which is rare), magic, slice of life, magical girl, certain school life types, shinobi (ninja) themed, supernatural, vampire, yaoi (boys love), comedy, and even mobile suit stuff sometimes. Haven’t seen any good yuri….
  • I generally enjoy anime’s with strong stories and developed characters that the artists and animators have given a lot of care to.

The artwork:

  • I’m not going to lie, I have certain tastes in artwork and there are some that really turn me off. For example, I enjoy Miyazaki films but the way his characters are drawn isn’t my usual style.
  • I like beautiful and defined characters with some sharpness as necessary, in particular I enjoy many of the beautiful and strong men I see in yaoi, even more “delicate-looking” ones sometimes.
  • I love the eyes. Beautifully expressive eyes are often the mark of a good anime or manga.
  • I’m not an expert at drawing so I can’t really delve too much into the topic without giving examples. For those who are familiar with anime, maybe the list of anime I have seen will help with an understanding of the style I enjoy…?
  •  Sometimes, an artist’s style will grow on me though even if I’m not fond of it initially.

Like field of literature, there is just as much to love as criticize about anime and manga. This post is a precursor to my adding anime to my list of things to talk about.

Read also:

Interracial Couples in Literature & Pop Media

Elia's Diamonds

To put it broadly, the interracial couple has always been a controversial figure in American society. During slavery white men had access to the sexual privilege that allowed them to more times than not rape Black and African women or coerce them into sexual relationships by using their position of power over the women or by threatening them and the people they loved with violence. These are my earliest memories in life of examples of what scholars have termed “interracial intimacies” .

This being the truth, I myself have always found the white-Black interracial couple questionable. As a child, I thought of it a fetish kind of thing, what is called “jungle fever” to be outright insulting, not PC, and put it bluntly. Still then and even now, I write about the Black-white interracial couple as well as other kinds of interracial couples with social commentary laden intentions with the hope that I can portray them as people who are genuinely in love and care for another. They are not characters who exist on this cloud of racial “colored blindness”, usually in my stories race and class and other social issues is something they have to face and I try to make it as realistic and nuanced as possible.

What is the hype around interracial couples in America with regards to the entrance of Barack Obama as president?

Without getting too much into the geneology, I’ll say this: Barack Obama’s father is Kenyan and his mother is white. He grew up in Hawaii with his white grandparents. That said, its interesting that people, especially white people, put so much emphasis on his “mixedness”, his whiteness, even though he himself has openly said that he identifies as Black. Many people in this country have treated President Obama as if he is Jesus Christ and is bringing the Second Coming, as if he, though his “mixedness”, has become a bridge for white and Black people to meet each other in the middle.

Uh-unh.

I don’t think so.

As a matter of fact, I think having a President who identifies as Black but actually has a white parent has further complicated white Americans’ ideas of the Black-white interracial couple. Consider the following:

  1. What kinds of interracial couples are in the media (commecials, ads, movies, television, magazines, etc.)?
  2. When you see a interracial couple, is one of the people involved white by any chance?
  3. What has the white-Black interracial couple come to symbolize?
  4. What has this emphasis of white people on the white-Black interracial couple done to the image of the Black family and to the idea of other kinds of interracial couples?

In some cases and definitely in the media, I think that the Black-white interracial couple has become a means for white people to ease their white guilt and further integrate themselves into and appropriate Black culture and social life.  Most of the time in images of the media, you never see a interracial couple without a white person somewhere close by to be involved in it, “approve” of it, or sanction it in some way; it is a constant reminder that white people are here and their privilege gives them the right to be a part of your “little ‘colored’ life”. Since the President Obama entered office, I think more so than ever that through the media, more specially literature, the Black-white interracial couple has become yet another symbol and means for white colonization and devaluation of the Black family and other families of color.

Plenty of erotica, erotic romance, and romance writers trepass into the territory of interracial relationships–namely the Black-white interracial couple. They elevate this “interracial intimacy” to a level of fetishdom that is disgusting; one scholar says this is because they view the relationship between master and slave during slavery (think Sally and former white ass President Thomas Jefferson who owned over 257 slaves by the way) as tragically romantic and misunderstood and warped by an oppressive society. White writers in these genres in particular, regardless of the fact that most Black and African slave women were raped or coerced into sexual relations with white men (and with Black men too because they were expected to increase the white master’s slave population) are obsessed with this “interracial intimacy” because they have the privilege of stupidly (sorry, that’s me being pissed off) imagining it as romantic through “artistic license” and willful “creativity”.

The interracial couple has become a fetish and a commodity for writers in particular. There are many fans begging “urban fantasy” (arguable)/paranormal romance writer J.R. Ward to pretty-please-on-their-knees put a “ethnic female character” in her white dominated Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Even if she did, at this point, this woman would be a minority along with Trez and iAm (“the Moors”, obviously Black males who are bouncers and nurses for a drug-dealing, substance-abusing, club-owning, white male pimp vampire). Then J.R. Ward would have a whole other load of an issue in her books to add to my list: 1) appropriation of Black culture and rap and rap culture, 2) ONE ethnic female minority, 3) stereotyping Black males, 4) promoting consumer culture in our crazy ass capitalist nation, etc, etc…. She excuses the lack of people of color by saying, loosely quoted, that she “writes what the Brothers tell her to”; when asked if there will be a ethnic female character, her answer is “you’ll never know who might pop up in the Brothers’ world”. And more than likely, should she even appear, this imagined woman of color, this “ethnic female character, would mostly likely be with a white male vampire. Which leads me right back to interracial couples in writing and media in general.

What these white writers in particular fail to realize is that–despite what white European history and thought, scientific racism, and American culture through ads and commercials and academic and non-academic writing like the afore mentioned genres tell us–there is nothing sexy or loving or romantic about slavery, rape and coercion, oppression, white sexual privilege, and the dehumanization of people of color through systems of oppression. No matter how much they’d like to believe that there is.

I’d like to end this by saying 1) this is in no way an attack on healthy BDSM relationships, 2) I have faith in the potential of interracial relationships of all kinds to be genuine…but I believe in questioning the ones that are created and propagated for the purpose of easing white guilt and normalizing and integrating whiteness into the lives and culture of people of color in the past, the present Age of Obama, and the future.

New Blog

I’ve created Elia’s Diamonds in order to facilitate critical discussions about authors that I read. Its another topic that my original blog Ms. Queenly should not have the burden of bearing because I created that blog for a different purpose, but do feel free to visit msqueenly.wordpress.com for the blogs here and to read on other more cultural topics.

Shortly, I will be moving all the topics pertaining to this blog from Ms. Queenly’s.