Issued: Lord of the Rings pt. I

I haven’t finished writing everything I have to say about Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, which I have both read and seen the movie for, but this is half of it. Once the entire commentary is finished, I’ll will post it together under the drop-down menu of ISSUED, but for right now, it shall be in post format only under Part One and Part Two. ~MsQ

 

Since I typically don’t read them and yet they dominate the fields of horror and fantasy, I am glad to add the first male writer, JRR Tolkien, to the Issued series.

Don’t get it twisted—I really liked Lord of the Rings and its expansiveness. But I also liked Harry Potter and the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series and it didn’t stop me from criticizing them.

  1. A mountain-load of research: Not to give this Eurocentric piece of literature too much credit but what must be appreciated about Lord of the Rings and all its related readings is the sheer amount of work, imagination, and willpower that must have went into it. I couldn’t fathom how to create languages other than the ones I speak at random when I’m feeling out how the character speaks or says things.
  2. Whiteness and blondeness as light, power, purity, beauty, and goodness: As typical of most (white) writers in fantasy fiction, there’s this obsession with light and whiteness as good, power, and beauty and light (inherently all these things at once) that is presented in Lord of the Rings. Why did Gandolf the Grey have to become Gandolf the White. What’s up with Shadowfax (a white horse) being the lord of all horses. Why is the most spirited and badass hero(ine) of the story pale as milk and blond (Eowene). Why’s the most powerful elf-lady blonde as the palest blade of hair and white as Wonder Bread. Don’t deny it, you know its true. Keep in mind that the flour used in many things, if not all of them, that are baked are bleached so that they are white. I think this is interesting when looking at symbolic and metaphorical representations and imagery of whiteness, blue eyes, and blondeness in the LotR movies and literature, etc.
  3. Darkness as ill-favored, grotesque, and evil: There are, of course, no people of color in the LotR triology. There’s a sharp contrast between white folks and inhuman dark things. Well, unless you count the men in scarves and turbans with their faces covered in the Oliphant scene, I think that’s about as close as we got to seeing people of color in the movie. Oh and those guys were evil and working for Sauron.
  4. West vs. East: Maybe I don’t know enough to say too much on what bothers me about this theme in the movie, but I know that the Eurocentric West is always antagonizing and exotifying ‘the East’ in many American and European modes of discourse, especially literature and film. So I find it interesting that all the white folks in the “West” are portrayed as the heroes and all the creepy, violent, dark-skinned, evil stuff comes from the “East”.
  5. Ladies of Lords: Why is it that all of the powerful women in the story are the daughters of powerful men? Where are the common folk in this?
  6. The Wealthy Hobbit Saves the Day: In the same vein as the brief but poignant ‘Ladies of Lords’ section of this article, the attempted hero is not to just any hobbit, he’s a wealthy hobbit living comfortably with his wealthy uncle. NOTE: Let us not forget that Frodo is an orphan and his story isn’t all peaches and roses, and that he is portrayed as being exceptionally kind, spirited, and intelligent. But—yet and still.
  7. Rings and Staffs as Ties to Power: There’s a lot of commentary here, which I think is also evident in Rowling’s Harry Potter, about material things like rings and wands and staffs tying people to and representing power. I find this both interesting and vexing. Why does power lie in material objects? If someone has a certain natural powerful, wands and staffs and rings and such should be unnecessary. Yet the object gives us something tangible to see and ground us in the story as we contemplate the necessity of the object and its meaning and symbolism.

~MsQ

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the god of abvh is white

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

ABVH Tight Bod Superiority Complex

Laurell K. Hamilton focuses a lot on exotified/exoticized bodies. I may have touched on the topic on several occasions at Elia’s Diamonds, but here’s the real deal. By making them normative, Hamilton hypes up the hype and fetishizing surrounding certain body types. For example, several of the polyamorous Anita’s guyfriends and/or significant others and sex partners are “exotic dancers” (I don’t know how PC that is, so the quotations), strippers, have been prostitutes, cops/ex-military/mercenaries, or trained dancers. Most of the men surrounding her are either totally survival-of-the-fittest-tight-bod or decorative beauties. Normal yet intelligent guys (Zerbrowski? Maybe? Though he is a cop….) with just enough fighting skill to get them out of a tough situation are few and far between. Women for that matter, too. Most of the women are either weaker than her or some kind of challenge to her. I understand that normal people will most likely die around her, sure, but that doesn’t cover the fact that Anita looks down on people who are, er, “preternaturally challenged” (meaning that they are human), or who are survivors of physical and sexual abuse and torture at the same time that she champions them.

It’s like taking all the beauty and the brutality of the world’s most prominently exotified animals, mixing them with human beings, and putting them in strip clubs and other places where people sell sex, and saying this is the world, deal with it. This isn’t to ignore the kitchen-bedroom-restaurant-life scenes; its just to draw more attention to the exoticizing. The most problematic thing for me is that if lycans really existed, this is probably how it would be. Although, Hamilton claims that being made a vampire doesn’t make you any sexier or rather it doesn’t change your appearance. But does lycanthropy change your appearance (since it changes your metabolism and eating habits)??? The unanswered question, yah! If I’m not mistaken.

The further you get along in the series, the less “normal” people you see as main characters. And primarily by “normal”, I mean usual body types or ostracized body types. Its all six-packs, broad shoulders, breasts-that-need-bras or cute small high tight breasts, muscles-in-extra-places-that people-can’t-see-and-that-mere-humans-don’t-have, sexy but petite lingerie, curls and waves and long hair, brushed silk drawers, kinky corsets, pale white this and pale white that, blonde hair-blue winter-spring sky eyes, the ardeur made me do this and the ardeur made me do that. And Hamilton seems to think that adding in some scars here and some folds there makes that big of a difference. Just like she seems to think that giving Anita curly hair and dark eyes makes her appearance less than that of a white girl.

Anita tries hard not to boo-hoo about being half-Latina in her blonde family. Reality check, honey, you’re white to most eyes….

A character like Jamil is portrayed as “dark-skinned ‘muscle'”, of course. And, of course, his body is probably very tight.

I’m not going to lie: I’ve been socialized to think that tight bodies and thinness are sexy. That defined curves and hollows reign supreme. In some part of my mind, I’m always questioning what I think is beautiful or sexy because I know its social conditioning from a society that has taught me not only to hate myself but to disregard and harshly criticize body types that aren’t of the type of molds Hamilton depicts. Those bodies that everybody secretly thinks of as sexy and slutty and beautiful.

The disclaimer here is that the tight bod, hypersexualized bodies in these books are kind of an embedded motif. That is to say, the exoticism is part of the package.

Ever more on point,

 

Ms. Queenly

Toying with Whitness and ‘darkness’

Elia's Diamonds

One of the few books I ever pick up anymore is Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series–and that’s saying something. As I get older, my tastes become more specific. I am less amused by the things that occupied me as a child and as a young adult, percieving them as a semi-exciting maze that has no other paths and leads eventually, always, to the same damn dead end produced by the publishing market.

This being said, I have yet to write about in detail Laurell K. Hamilton’s fixation, like most racist fetishist participating in racialized fetishism on the page, with paleness and whiteness as opposed to brownness and the so-called ‘darkness’. Hamilton’s Anita Blake is caught up in the racialized dualism of ‘darkness; and whiteness with little to no middle ground. I will suspend my belief in the concept of the willful muse to go so far as to say that Laurell K. Hamilton herself is trapped in the same dualism, seeing as how Anita comes out of her head: Anita is a reflection of the author’s own psyche.

Through Anita, Hamilton toys with the idea of brownness through summer tans and suggestions of “darker heritage’, but couches the entire story from the prospective of a woman who is half white and middleclass, with an angelic deceased Latina mother, a mean strict Catholic Latina grandmother, surrounded by her white lovers–a score of men telling her how beautful she is mostly because the women around her are either victims, “meat” for abuse and weak, tarts that just wanna start something with Anita, resources for Anita to learn for and therefore do not appear often (and nor are they called upon by Anita as allies regularly), or more evil, sadistic, and scary than Anita is and, therefore, must be killed. Examples are Vivian, Raina, the Mother of All Darkness, Jade, Belle Morte, Cherry, and so on and so forth. Infrequent characters like Sylvie (victimized by Hamilton as well) and Claudia being the exception (and still white and blond at that).

Hamilton spends all this time, all sixteen or so books, establishing Anita as a woman whose beauty lies merely in the suggestion of her ‘darker heritage’, when she herself is pasty pale, petite, and curly-haired and might as well be white. She toys with the idea of ‘darkness’ while never really presenting anybody besides minor characters like Raphael and Jamil as truly “dark” or ethnic, whatever that may mean. What is the (political) point of even building and portraying Anita as half Latina when she’s just going to play with the idea of her being Latina? You could easily swap her out for a white girl and there wouldn’t be that much of a difference. There’s no point in emphasizing her Latina heritage if all her worth is couched in her pale white skin. Her Latina blood is just something to eroticize and exotify.

Shoot, the only thing that’s Latina about Anita, as my friend who is Mexican would say, is her hair. Believe it.

I am sick of writers and the media couching racial commentary in multiracial and biracial terms, as if this is the only perspective valid enough to be represented because whites are more accepting of someone who is half white. Of course, not everyone who is multiracial or biracial is half white, that’s a given, but that’s the most common “combination” that gets recognized and fetishized.

Laurell K. Hamilton uses biraciality as a spring board to toy with color and brownness when in reality there are no main characters who are people of color. Everything and everyone is seamlessly and technically white. Everybody is white, even Anita, at the very least physically. And I think its because LKH knows that a person, particularly a woman, who is truly ethnically brown, or dare I say, Black even, would stick out like a sore thumb with all those pretty, pale, white Europeans that she’s crowded this story with.

Ever more real,

Ms. Queenly

J. R. Ward’s latest, Lover Mine: A Critique

Elia's Diamonds

This critique has been a long time coming.

As a dedicated supporter of the good that the romance genre does offer despite all its issues, I bought J. R. Ward’s latest book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, Lover Mine in an act of faith.

J.R. Ward's Lover Mine
J.R. Ward's Lover Mine

This book is primarily about John Matthew (aka Tehrror) and Xhex. As a womanist and Black feminist, I tend to focus on what’s going on with the heroin in relation to the men in the story instead of the other way around. I admired Xhex a lot because she was different from all the other heroins in the series, by her very demeanor and life experiences; most of all, she could fight for herself, she didn’t need to be protected by a male and could, for the most part, look out for herself. Eventually, I was disappointed in the way Xhex came out over the course of the book.

Xhex’s breakdown after being captured by Lash and fighting against his torture and rape for months didn’t lead to her becoming a stronger character. It seems it only led to her becoming a more docile version of her former self in order for her to become suitable for being mated to John Matthew. I was looking for her to open herself to what she was feeling, but this isn’t what I wanted, expected, or anticipated. In her eagerness to deliver what on her message forums for the series is called an HEA (“Happily Ever After”), she perpetuates stereotypes, cliches, and archetypes of what its means to be in a “happy” romantic relationship…for white heteronormative audiences.

I read Payne’s scenes with Wrath and all that. As for most of the rest of the book, it wasn’t something I wanted to open myself up to. I’m just trying to forget it right now.

I bought the book to read and returned it to get my damn money back. It wasn’t worth it.

At first I was very amused by Ward’s attempt at writing an urban fantasy with white vampires. Some of it is really funny and it resonates with me. At this point though, I think Ward needs to stick to writing what she knows, not what she fantasizes about.

Author Message Boards in General

This post pertains to events that occurred on November 24 2009.

4 of my threads on J.R.Ward’s message board have pulled by moderators in less than a couple of hours. The threads were “Race Issues in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series”, “Homoeroticism in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series”, “A Little Respect: The Ladies in BDB”, and “Rap and Rap Culture in BDB”. I rubbed the mods and admins the wrong way with my radical activist and Black feminist views.

Most of all, I rubbed the hardcore, die-hard fans and the lazy escapist readers the wrong way!

100+ views for two of the threads, I think. I don’t know how many they really got because they were pulled so fast! Over 600+ views (720+ for one of them) for two of the those threads. 600+ views! For people who didn’t want to listen to what I had to say, they sure did look…A LOT! And read a lot of it, too, apparently.

Ha.

Message boards for authors are a joke. At least in my experience. Ward’s BDB message board, in particular, a place for hardcore white, middleclass, feminist-wannabes to vent about much they LUV machismo, being oppressed, and reading about other white women who are internally oppressed and like being oppressed just like them. Its sad. Then you have women of color, poor, and/or working class women who read this romantic redressing of old anti-feminist and first and second wave white feminist archetypes and are sucked in by it. It is also a place for escapism and a extension of the marginalization and exotization of minority people including Hispanic/Latinos, Black and African peoples, Muslims, and the queer community.

I had much of a similar problem with moderators on Laurel K. Hamilton’s boards. My previous account was suspended maybe once or twice and I received plenty of warnings from mods who pulled my threads. But it was the snarky white members that were really causing all the problems. That’s why I voluntarily left the boards there.

The mods and admins are angry and they are the gods of BDB Boardom! I hath been judged and warned!

But seriously.

I really am tired of not having a flame-free environment online at the very least to discuss the issues I find in the series that I read with reasonable people who are open to understanding the social implications of the books they read. I am sick to death of lazy ass mods and capitalist white-minded site admins who want to satisfy their white readers at the expense of minorities.

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.

Why Historical Fiction?

Elia's Diamonds

There are many American writers who make a conscious choice to write historical fiction. My area of expertise or experience is historical romance so I can’t really speak to all genres. But the question remains.

Why is that? Why do they choose to do this?

It is just so interesting to me how some artists wish to remain confined to antiquity. In the worlds that these writers build, I would ask who is excluded, alienated, and marginalized by them? For example, who is backdrop scenery in romance novels that take place on plantations? Usually, its the Black and African and Afro-Caribbean peoples. My ancestors are the backdrop, the trim, the exotic locale of some European-descended person’s romance and happily ever after or drama. You too often in many circumstances see the same thing with many minorities or marginalized peoples.

This dates back to early writings in America and before it was even America, with European explorers like Christopher Columbus and John Smith, both of whom were responsible for countless atrocities against the humanity of Native peoples.

One reader’s literary escape is another reader’s marginalized hell. I’m sure that the Native peoples did not view “America” as the “New World”. They were already here, living their lives with their own sets of cultural ways.

So much of what we know about history is distorted. So much of what we do know about history is written by the victors of wars fought to instate and maintain oppression and commit genocide and to promote the agendas of the few in power.

What is this obsession with the socially alienating past? Why aren’t there more writers trying to write about these things but with a more focused social commentary?

Why is it that historical romance writers choose to write about women in patriarchal societies? Why is it that they choose to write about women who are practically, by their own societal laws, under men’s feet? Why is that they choose to write about women who were often coerced into sexual relations with their husbands and sometimes men who weren’t their husbands? Furthermore, why would they choose to make it sensual? What is sexy about that? Why is it that they choose to write about a time when women were considered property in their societies? Why do they choose to glamorize the institution of marriage? Why is it that they choose over and over and over again to continue to support a market built on the backs of oppressed women? Who would choose to give something like this to the world of the arts?

Is the past just safer and easier to write about, for white writers in particular?

Literary Fiction v. Other Genre Fiction

Elia's Diamonds

So I was reflecting after being attacked by some of J.R. Ward’s fans, admins, and moderators on her message boards about the difference in readers’ minds between literary fiction and other types of genre fiction. Actually, I’ve been thinking about this for quite some time, since when I decided I wanted to write for a living someday when I was a child.

Since my experiences on J.R. Ward’s message boards are the most recent, she is the author I will use as an example.

One of the arguments launched at me when I seriously critiqued Ward’s race, class, and gender issues in her Black Dagger Brotherhood series was the idea that this paranormal romance/”urban fantasy” (questionable) series was not meant for literary criticism on the academic level. They claim that it is FICTION and NOT LITERARY FICTION, and that constitutes the difference between the two. Is there really a difference?

I would disagree with that.

Seeing as how this white author is crossing into dangerous racial territory with her characterization and portrals of “The Moors”, her appropriation of rap culture and by extension Black culture, and her own admission that she “enjoys” rap, I think this very much needs to be discussed on the academic level. Ward has been defended by her fans and message board staff for partaking of her 1 st Amendment rights and engaging in fictional/creative and artistic license.

As a white, supposedly privileged woman who “work[ed] in healthcare in Boston and spent many years as Chief of Staff of one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation” (quote taken from www.jrward.com, author profile), what responsibility does she have to her readers of color, particularly her Black readers? Doesn’t she have the responsibilty of not appropriating their culture and stereotyping them under the guise of “artistic license”?

Most people would ask why I’m taking a romance novel so seriously. Its not “literary fiction”, Ward’s fans say. To that I would ask them to consider the stereotypes being propagated about Black people in Ward’s portrals of Trez and iAm. Then I would ask them to ask themselves two questions: Is it okay to marginalize and stereotype Black people in the white imagination then put it on the page? What really gives an artist, especially a white writer in my opinion, the “right” to do that and who gave them that right?

Because Ward’s series falls under paranormal fiction and not “literary fiction”, I should ignore her racist/racialized portrayal of Black people and appropriation of Black culture through rap culture?

I would argue that all forms of writing are important and if we want to move towards a more socially just society and towards an idea of global justice, then we need to stop discounting one form of literature or one form of art as more important and worthy of criticism, consideration, and praise than the next. In our communities, then we, as a nation, need to make a move towards an understanding that no one person’s “right” to “fictional”, “creative”, and “artistic” “license” should propagate racism and sexism and the maginalization and oppression of a peoples in any arena of literature and in American society as whole and beyond.