I had an interesting conversation with a fellow author about segregation and diversity.
An an African American author; I would hope that I am being diverse in my writing. I have "black" characters but I also have characters that I have not 'colorized' and hope that people read into it what they want.
One of my favorite authors, writes an action thriller novel and I always thought his character was black. When I asked him about it, he says. "His character is whomever you want him to be. People have told me that they thought he was white. Others have said they thought he was black. But I purposefully didn't give him a distinct ethnic background. I want my readers to be diverse and telling them the color would not make me diverse."
I found that very interesting.
Talking to other African American authors, they don't seem to know the difference. They want to "write for the black readers."
That's the difference with me.
I want to write for ALL readers. I want my audience to be diverse and not segregated. Take for instance a group on FB that is called Mystery Writers of Color. They welcome all people of color. Black, Hispanic, Italian, Indian, etc.
Imagine what kind of backlash this group would get if it was called the Mystery Writers of White People. They would only welcome white authors.
Would we (people of color) be offended? Would we demand that they "include" us? Would we ban together and demand that FB delete that account? Would we begin posting that people shouldn't buy their novels because they are segregating other authors from their group?
Is this segregation or diversity? Is it diversity when we create groups for ONLY people of color. What about being called Mystery Writers of FB. How about that?
Another interesting comment was made to me. Some think that people of color should be given discounted rates for attending conferences because we are "people of color" and might not be able to afford to attend. This same person said that Thrillerfest is mostly white and I pointed out that although it is mostly attended by white authors. They pay their money just like me to attend. Well what about the white authors that attend the same conference and have to pay full price for attending. Should they get a discount as well?
I asked E. Jerome Dickey why he never attended Thrillerfest. A conference for thriller writers. His words, "they need to reach out to me to attend."
In what world! I wanted to scream. No one there is big enough to have Thrillerfest reach out to them. Mostly everyone pays for attending that conference. Only NY Times best sellers have publicists that tell them to attend this conference. They push their author out there. Even NY Times best sellers have to pay for a hotel; just like me. Unless their have a mega contract and their publisher decides to pay for their hotel.
You would be surprised in the amount of times that actually happens. Most of the time, they have to pay for their food. Just like me. Why is he different? Because he's black? Get out of here! If he paid for that conference and the people that run it, do their homework like they always do, then they would reach out to him.
He is a big name in the African American community but no where else. Why is that? I am not sure why.
I'm confused. We (people of color) want to be noticed for our writing yet some of us only write to a black audience.
The very first speaking engagement I had was to a room full of white women for the Chamber of Commerce where I was residing at the time. They were welcoming and very entertained by my novel. Although my novel had main characters that were black, the problems that they encountered were problems that everyone has. Money issues, cheating in a marriage, business issues and wayward teenagers. They didn't see the characters as just black, they saw them as people and that is what I wanted.
My next novel doesn't describe the characters as either black or white. They are simply twins, living their lives and trying to find love.
What do you think? Are authors of color trying to be diverse or are they segregating themselves by only writing and attending "people of color" events?