Saturday, July 23, 2016

To My Fellow Women of Color, I Love You

A few days ago I wrote about what it's like growing up black in America.  I wanted to provide perspective into why the words, black lives matter, are being uttered, why they were used to form a social movement, why they mattered.  However today I want to write a post strictly to women of color.  Women of color I love you, you are beautiful.  Just because the media doesn't represent us.  Just because literature doesn't depict us.  Just because many people surrounding you don't look anything like you, doesn't mean you are not gorgeous.

I grew up on the West cost and the Southwest so my experience with prejudice is not as horrible as it could have been had my parent's lived somewhere else.  Where I grew up meant that there weren't many black people in my state.  When I was in school I could count on one hand, maybe two (but never more), how many black girls were enrolled.  In high school I never got asked out, I didn't have a boyfriend.  After graduation I was told, "you were hot but I'd never been with a black girl."  Sound familiar?  It's quite similar to the "you're hot, for a black girl."  Or even the "I just don't like black girls."

What each of these derogatory statements have in common is that, they imply that there is a difference between dating a black girl or a white girl strictly based on the color of their skin.  If you date a woman that has more melanin in their skin based on someone that has less will there be a difference?  Yes, yes there will be.  There will be a difference because they are two different people with different experiences.  Just like there would be a difference if you dated two black women.  The nuance, the intrigue, the subtleties, those come from individuals not skin color.

In the past black women have been labeled as easy, as having no virtue.  This comes out of slavery where white men would rape black woman, some were even encouraged to do so, to practice before they married their pure bride.  This fallacy that black woman are for practice is vile.  We are women as in equal to a man, as in a human being.  We are not a stereotype.  

Not only did I not get asked out but I also never felt comfortable in my own skin.  My hair didn't look like everyone else's.  I didn't frequent tanning beds, I knew this seems small and trivial but it wasn't.  It was this underlined understanding that I wasn't like everyone else.  I remembered my mom braiding my hair and a boy on the school bus sat behind me and yelled, "Ahh a squid," while he pulled at my hair, mimicking tentacles.  I was too embarrassed to tell my parents about it, or worse how my friends just laughed.  None of my friends wore braids, they all had straight obedient hair.  None of the prime time shows had women wearing braids like mine.  They didn't have hair or skin that looked like mine.  I started to straighten my hair in eighth grade.  Finally gone were my kinky curls that I was too embarrassed to wear down.  The curls that were compared to pubic hair at a sleepover.  

Skin care products, makeup, undergarments and braziers come in these "skin tone" shades.  Guess whose skin tone they don't have?  I read Brooklyn by Colm Toibin a few months ago, and there is an entire scene dedicated to when pantyhose arrive at their store for black women.  The book takes place in the 1950's, yet even now I think about last week how I had to go to three different beauty stores to find hair products for my texture of hair.  Hey America, there are women of color that would like to buy beauty products, we aren't going anywhere so make them available around the country.  

Just when I would start to fit in or forget that I didn't look like everyone else, I would get asked a question that would remind me that I didn't belong.  Like, "how come the insides of your hands are white, are all black people's hands like that?" or "Do black people sing at their church?"  "Why are black people so loud?"  "Why don't you talk black?"  "Can I touch your hair, (after they've already touched it)."  "Do black people have an extra bone in their foot that makes them run fast?"  "You're black, are you going to try out for track?"  When you're the only black person around, you get really good at being the speaker for blacks everywhere.  You are treated as a stereotype that is expected to represent these stereotypes.  You learn to tell yourself things like, my friends aren't prejudice they are just sheltered, it's not their fault.  Eventually you grow up and realize this is not your job.

Your job is to love yourself.  Your job is to fill your social media with images of women of color so that you are reminded that just because no one in your office, classroom, group of friends, or maybe even your family look like you, you still matter.  You represent a different kind of beauty, one that is hidden, one that isn't depicted on the big screen or magazines but I see you.  You're flawless.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Allegiant Sequel Ascendant Going Straight to TV

I've got to take a moment to talk about Allegiant. In case you haven't heard this article breaks it down. Basically Lionsgate wants to release Ascendant, the conclusion to Allegiant, straight to television. Therefore serving as a pilot of sorts for the spin-off TV series. Apparently Shailene Woodley had no idea.   

Woodley was under the impression, like most of us, that
Ascendant would be in theaters March 2017.
This could be a money thing, apparently Hollywood feels like YA books adapted into films aren't bringing in as much money as they once did.  For instance The Mockingjay Part 2 and Allegiant both made less money in the box office than their predecessors.  However my argument is, Allegiant was by far the weakest link in the trilogy.  The characters didn't act like themselves, the story took a wild turn from all the groundwork that was laid in the previous two novels.  Basically it comes across as written in a hurry.

So I'm not surprised that readers may have avoided going to the theater to see it, not to mention the initial trailer had a lot of us going, what book is this even based upon? 

Not to mention, no one wants a movie to be divided in two when there was only one book.  It makes readers and viewers feel as though this was less  of a creative choice and more of financial one.  After all two movies, mean twice as much money for movie execs, right? With the exception of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, which would have been a six hour film, there is no reason for The Mockingjay or Allegiant to be broken into two parts. This may be another reason why the box office revenue wasn't as high.  

It's not as simple as, YA no longer does well in theaters. The truth is, when YA books are turned into films poorly box office turn-out isn't as alluring to movie producers. 

People want a conclusion.  They want continuity between the books and the film.  When that doesn't happen people just avoid hitting the lines and the stale popcorn.

How will a made-for-TV Ascendant film work? Will we all have to sit in front of a TV one Thursday night in order to see what happens to Tris and Four? Will our DVR's be the only way that we can watch it again? Will it ever be available on Blu-ray or do my dreams of a box set of all the films go unanswered?  Lionsgate why so cold?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Writers Love to Read

Readers all have their favorite books. They each hold a place in our hearts for different reasons. Shannon and I came up with eight categories of books that we love, some we love to hate, and others that just got under our skin. Here's mine, for a list of both me and Shannons, check out our new site SXSW Books.


The Night Circus! Oh my gawd! It is one of  those creative tales that takes place in another era that still connects with you in every way. This book is pure magic.  It's the paramour you never thought you would end up with but all the stars aligned and somehow you found each other. That's how I feel about this book,butterflies.


I grew up thinking I was tough, a tomboy, the Elaine of my group of guy friends. That's a lot of years pretending to loathe all things "girly." Now as a feminist who believes gender norms are a waste of outdated time, I still have a hard time admitting that sometimes I just wanna read a sappy love story and cry. One weekend, when I found myself alone I succumbed and watched Stay on Hulu. Then I did what every normal person does and looked it up online to see if the book ended the same way. Then I found out there was a sequel. I immediately ordered it and upon its arrival, read it in a few hours. I then wrote my own book over that weekend. This book really inspired me, and it opened up a part of me that I am usually too embarrassed to show. This book earned this spot on the list.


I love Instagram and when a book keeps popping up in my feed I, like a mindless robot, purchase it from Amazon. That was the case with Jennifer Niven's  All the Bright Places. There was a lot I liked about this book but if you read my previous post you will see what I didn't like, really outweighed the good. Please don't limit character descriptions to race.  It's 2016 for f's sake.


Courtney Summers' This is Not A Test was like The Breakfast Club meets TWD. But in all the best ways. A group of high-schoolers find refuge in their school's gymnasium as the outside world is being eaten by zombies. But because it's Courtney Summers it's much more evolved. It is a character driven story that showed me, no matter the circumstances readers want to fall in love with the characters. I could read this book a thousand times and still get goosebumps from that last page.


I bought this book back when I purchased Where She Went and thought the premise sounded intriguing but I'm afraid to open it. I don't know if I think it's going to be scary or if the mood it will evoke will just be too much for a summer off. Either way it sits in my tbr pile.


I  never would have picked up this book. No offense Leo but this just isn't something I would naturally gravitate towards but then everyone around me read it and the first page had my birthday so I dove in. A historical revenge story told by a man that is alone for most of the book and it was still as engaging as Mark Watney on Mars. Not an easy feat and the author killed it.


The Help was a book that knocks it out of the park in so many ways. You have the protagonist that you admire but still relate to. A woman who sees the world like no one else around her and she sees that as the gift it is rather than trying to ignore it and fit in. It calls our attention to injustice, it makes us laugh. So to see all of that depicted in the film was jaw-dropping. Hollywood rarely capture what was in our heads when we were reading but this time they succeeded.  The stellar cast helped of course.


I know it's written by a comedian so it's supposed to be funny but there were no dull points.  I have two small children so I related to a lot of the experiences in this book.    

Keep scrolling for Shannon's Top Eight.
What are some of your favorite reads? Sound off in the comments.  

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

I Fear for my Sons, Please Give Me a Reason Not To

For those of you that believe there is no race issue in America I want you to be patient with me and ask yourself a few questions. Have you ever inherited something from your family? Perhaps it was money? A house?  A piece of land?  It could be the name of the city where your great grandmother was born.  Maybe your last name?  Or the knowledge of the country where your ancestors came from. As a person of African descent living in the United States these are things I did not inherit.

It's not that my family isn't proud of who they are, it's that we were brought to this country as livestock. Like many others, my family's name was chosen arbitrarily. It could be the surname of a slave owner that once owned of my kin.  It could have been assigned by a city official or hospital worker.   Like many people who share my skin tone, their family may have multiple birthdates and surnames in county records. Black people weren't allowed to pass things onto future generations.  Any record of who they were was also against the law to record.  Any clue as to where we came from was purposefully erased.  Imagine growing up knowing you weren't supposed to be here but having nowhere else to go.

My parents grew up during the Civil Rights movement.  Seeing people that looked like them being lynched, denied basic human services, killed with no consequence, sprayed with firehoses, their churches bombed.  They raised me to be aware that because of the color of my skin, I should expect to be treated differently. I would have to work harder for people to get to know me rather than the stereotype that they were familiar with. There were times in school, like when I was eight, where my teacher assumed I wasn't very bright.  I woke up with stomach aches every morning before school. The thing is, even today I don't know if she was racist. That's the thing about it, racists rarely come out and say it. She may have not even known. Was it a different reason entirely that she treated me differently than everyone else? When no one in your class looks anything like you and you're singled out, you ask yourself why. A child shouldn't be concerned with the motivations and personal perceptions of an adult.

As an adult my kids get called "mixed race." I usually correct the speaker by saying no they are just one, the human race. I didn't get impregnated by an alien afterall. Yet will I have to revert back to what so many previous generations have had to tell their children?

I didn't want to do that to my kids. Make them afraid to travel to southern states, expect them to be arrested for "driving while black," receive dirty looks from people due to the hue of their skin. But in 2016 with a presidential candidate spewing hate and giving the voice of radical racist leaders a platform, I fear for my son's.
What America will they face? The America that is culturally diverse and aware of its dark past but willing to face it so we all can heal? Or the America that denies there is a problem in the first place?
Race scientifically has been refuted as a legitimate category. But the fact that we still rely on it as a signifier, used to profile others, means it's not going anywhere.

After the horrific events of WWII, Germany built museums, they labeled the sites of death camps. They did this so they would never forget and never repeat. In America black cemeteries, left over from a time when whites and blacks couldn't be buried in the same land, are overgrown. Sites where human beings were once sold are long destroyed. There is no trace of what happened. It's painful but necessary that we remember our shared history. We can't keep erasing and therefore minimizing what an entire country and people experienced.

I understand it's uncomfortable but it could save lives. It could eradicate the voice in so many people of colors minds. The voice that says, you're getting pulled over, is this because of what you did or the way you look? That women glared at you, is it because she has resting B face or because of your complexion?

Racism, like sexism, was literally written into our Constitution - yet there is no reason for black people to feel they need to state that our lives matter?

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Mom Approved

When I write I try not to put myself in my work.  I let the characters run the show so it never occurred to me to apply my "mom hat" to Threshold.

Threshold is a science fiction alien invasion novel with no sex or cursing but there is violence because it's an invasion.

If your kids like fast paced Sci-Fi novels, with some fight science that end in death, then quit thinking about it and buy them their favorite book for the summer.

Threshold is available in paperback or digital copy on Amazon.