A Question

Let’s talk.

But first, let’s breathe.

It’s been a . . . week. A month. A life.

On the outside, it’s the exhaustion from having to relive and reexperience the desecration of black bodies in America. The United States has spent nearly her entire existence with a full face, only exposing herself to the rest of the globe once her blemishes have been safely tucked under concealer and highlight. However, more and more, the cameras have been infiltrating her bedroom before she has had a chance to get dolled up.

nj.com/opinion

As you guys are probably aware, I’m not big on social media activism. It is, however, a good avenue to facilitate solidarity as the first face of change. I prefer to have intimate conversations about gender, sexuality, and race. Our computer firewalls can be somewhat representative of people’s need to wall themselves off, stew in the filth of their own ignorance. Face to face, people are more inclined to challenge their convictions and perceptions. I also prefer to hold spaces in different communities, especially with children, because it’s a chance to help them love themselves in a world that won’t always love them back.

However, there is an unknown variable I’m curious about—how do you feel reading books about interracial/mixed race couples in this increasingly aggressive social climate?

I stumbled into IR by writing The Game of Love without knowing it was a genre. I was simply watching a football game and, based on the social response to a character in one of the Hunger Games films, started wondering how the general populace would feel if a beloved sports player was dating a black woman. Like if Tom Brady and Giselle suddenly divorced, and he rolled up with a brown girl and had the nerve to look happy.

My next book will be the second installment of the Myths, Legends, and Monsters anthology series—Elias The Wicked. It’s 60% done, and our main male character is Latino. I plan to have stories centering on an African king, a female detective in a bwwm paranormal, and for Sommer’s brother to be the main character in the last Game of Love series novel.

In The Shadow, Mike’s Chinese.

So, tell me . . . can you still find escapism in multicultural literature?

Published by K. Alex Walker

I'm a romance-loving writing junkie whose primary aspiration is to craft stories full-time on my laptop while people-watching at Starbucks, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, and the beach.

11 thoughts on “A Question

  1. This is a really insightful question and I appreciate you asking it now, in this climate. I love the romance genre in general, but I have noticed that many of my favorite authors tend to write predominantly IR couples. Right now, I have struggled to lose myself in these same stories that I’ve loved for years and that is because I am also having to take a deep look within myself at why this genre has dominated my reading lists for so long. 
    I am a first-gen black woman in my late twenties, and my parents are Ghanaian and Nigerian-British, respectively. I have always identified as a black American, but I grew up in communities that were either predominantly multi-cultural or white (nope, this did not include African communities either). I didn’t have much access to all-black spaces, so I often didn’t relate to the black leads of the few black books that I had access to (as good as the books were). I noticed as the years went by, that I was relating more and more to the black women in IR romances because I was seeing a wider spectrum of the black experience as I related to it. From nerdy girls to popular girls, ones who spoke like me or didn’t, ones who had varied and interesting backgrounds and interests, I felt seen. Now, let me be clear that I am fully acknowledging the classist and problematic undertones to what I’ve written, and I am not saying that black American women are not capable or don’t embody all the things I just described. Black American women are beautiful, varied, and all-encompassing! And… I recognize that I had to do some difficult work to unlearn that the American “black” experience wasn’t limited to the books I had access to in predominantly white libraries, bookstores, and other literary spaces. 
    So, to bring it all back to your question. I struggle to read IR romance right now because I have seen many white and non-black poc who just don’t seem to have a clue that black people have had (and continue to have) such violent and traumatic experiences at best and are outright violent and/or dismissive in response at worst. I can’t escape into books where the non-black leads seem to exist in a post-racial world and don’t have a clue that the black leads don’t. Again, this is not all IR books. Some touch on or actively delve into race as part of the story, and I’m not saying that needs to be the case for all IR books. It’s just that right now, in this moment, the lack of awareness feels grating to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My experience has been a lot like yours, an “other” kind of feeling that I think speaks to the diversity of the Diaspora that wasn’t mainstream for a long time because it didn’t fit a certain narrative. There is also the issue, as the following comment addresses, of fetishism that is modeling itself as IR and burying quality novels in the genre to the point that it’s defining the genre. There’s a book written by a white author with a black lead in the Victorian era that essentially brushes over race when slavery still existed in the U.S. during the time period in which it was written, and another perpetuating the stereotype of the oversexed black woman and innocent white boy with a multitude of positive reviews. Ick. On my end, I’ll do my best to continue to add varying degrees of cultures, opinions, and attitudes in future works in a way that is respectful to the current climate and the pain cratered inside black rage, and I hope to create more characters who we both can continue to identify with.
      Love your comments, Dini.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, the “otherness” that I experienced when I was younger had to do with the labels that others felt a need to put on me because I didn’t fully mesh with their idea of what “blackness” looked like. I am glad to see that it has become a lot more common and/or openly discussed amongst the Diaspora these days for black people to carry a multitude of diverse identities and still have our black identity recognized and affirmed.

        Yeah, the ick factor is sky high in too many books written by white people with black leads. Also, random point, but I’ve noticed in the past an interesting phenomenon of a few authors (intentionally?) attempting to be racially ambiguous in photos when writing books to appeal to “black people”… I personally steer clear as best I can, and try to predominantly read books written by black women and other people of color at this point in my life. (Reading books by white authors dominated my formative years…) 
        Thank you for being a writer and sharing your stories. You are one of my favorite authors because not only is your writing evocative, but there is depth to your characters and the worlds and lives they inhabit. Thank you for creating work that helps me set a standard for what I consider good storytelling. I always look forward to your books for a good reason.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great question Ms. Walker. My answer is I sure can. My melaninated self love does not impede my respect for other ethnities. I support IR authors whose characters reflect that. Attraction is attraction no matter the wrapping! I however, won’t spend my money or time on fetishism. You don’t produce that. So keep doing what you do and I know I will keep buying and reading. Blessings 2 U.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good day,

    It is still my world 🌎. I love it and I know I can’t change any of what is but I do believe love is just that love. I prefer interracial couples. So if it’s up to me right it up and I’m buying.

    Thanks 😊

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I read Black love and IR equally. I read books that feature black women leads who are the love interest as I felt TV shows and Movies weren’t featuring Black Women as love interests. To answer your question specifically I have no problem continuing to read IR in the current climate as long as they are quality stories. I read for escapism.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes, I love interracial romance. I love thinking we can love each other, that Black women are worthy of the love of men from all races. We are not inferior to women of other races. In fact we are a people mixed with all the peoples of the world.

    Please keep writing your wonderful books.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I was never into romance, at least, not outside of classics. Not huge on some aspects of the genre but when I started reading, a couple years ago, I believe the first book I read was an IR. Romance is fantasy and if I were to be honest, it’s easier to suspend reality if the couple is IR. That’s the crux of it for me. It’s not real, so it’s easier. However, at the same time, it’s been a learning experience.
    I’ve always believed that BW need to know love, find love and be loved, period. That means BW have to feel worthy like any other woman. To see themselves as a woman first. Being Black shouldn’t limit or stunt or cause resistance. It’s something the majority of us have to combat daily in big and small ways but it’s essential to true joy.
    I have my hang ups about BWWM relationships but romance novels have helped me confront those prejudices and aversions. I still struggle, I still ask myself questions and find it very hard to understand in reality but what wins out every time is my strong conviction that my issues are based in prejudice and therefore my opinion means nothing in the light of what is true.
    I will be happy when this isn’t a question. When this isn’t something that BW have to even entertain. When this isn’t a “genre” or “sect” but just men and women being loved, having adventures and becoming family. Until then, we need it, even if we don’t want to admit it. I thank you for asking this question. It’s a hard one to answer genuinely, with transparency but one that needs to be asked and pondered.
    Also, thank you for writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I think it’s especially important now to showcase interracial love where black women receive genuine, nurturing protective love from non black men. It has to be normalized. I think we unconsciously accept it if anyone but a black woman is loved outside their race and that has to change. Story telling is powerful and perspectives can change as a result, so I think there couldn’t be a better time to show that black women are worthy of love. They can love and be loved and desired by men outside their race.

    Liked by 1 person

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