The New Year feels Old

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It’s strange that as a woman of color in today’s world, I’m not allowed to be angry, passionate and truthful about what’s happening around me without being labeled ‘an angry black woman’. Whether it’s on politics on a global scale or what’s happening in the romance writing industry—her writing groups and organizations, to her publishers and leaders.

Like so many people I watched Oprah’s speech and as it built momentum, as she gave a history lesson while inspiring, while firing up, while being unapologetically a black woman…I wondered,  is that what’s required of all women of color around the world, in their industries? Do we all have to be an Oprah? While our counterparts are what? Becky with the good hair? Who, with not even half my qualifications and a single woman, still gets a bank loan to buy a house in an area my parents had to pool both their incomes to be able to buy in?  (Btw if you have to look up what ‘Becky with the good hair’ means, than you know nothing of black womanhood.)

Yes I went there. In South Africa, like so many other countries human capital favors the colonizer not the colonized. But I digress.

Then after Oprah’s speech, Ivanka Trump happened. My kneejerk reaction was a laugh of derision, like Chrissy Teigen I found her tweet disgusting. I was also ready to say “go away”, you’re not part of the movement, the conversation, so don’t insinuate yourself here.

But was her behavior surprising to me? No. I’ve seen it and experienced it too many times through the Ivanka Trumps of the world to be surprised. What is surprising however is that the Ivanka Trumps don’t even know they are Ivanka Trumps? Call it being blind to privilege—the privilege of being able to express yourself without being labeled—or centuries of systems built to validate, either way it’s glaringly obvious that in 2018 we are still far from eroding this level of ignorance and reasoning.

Last year The Ripped Bodice bookstore did a study on how many romance books were written by nonwhite authors. The study gained attention from numerous news outlets even the New York Times. But no one in my local (SA) writing groups/organizations mentioned it. Of course the study was done in the US, but since the racial issues and tensions in the US parallel so much of what happened and is happening in SA, I find the lack of attention and discussion interesting.

Like the New York Times article’s title stated, “[I’m] in love with Romance Novels, but not their lack of diversity.” I read them and I buy them by the truck load.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a bashing post. Definitely not written as a ‘Storming of the Bastille’. Though since I’ve entered the publishing world, I have taken note of ‘the royals’ of industry no one’s allowed to speak against. And no I’m not going into specifics this is not an exposé, I actually want a writing career *wink*

The New Year feels old.

At thirty-three (in February I turn thirty-four), I’m fed-up with old issues becoming ‘new’ resolutions. Call it what you want, but 2018 isn’t going to be much different than 2017. I even heard Seth Meyers repeat a joke British actor Hugh Laurie made at the 2017 Golden Globes in his victory speech. And yep, much of Meyers opening at the Golden Globes wasn’t fresh either…seriously, they could’ve asked Trevor Noah to do it. At least his perspective would’ve been fresh and his jokes not a repeat of what someone with a more posh accent said.

And therein lies the problem, the Golden Globes (like so many other award shows, institutions and corporations) unapologetically, like the rest of the ‘royals of industry’, flaunts who they are, what they believe and stand for, in our faces. It’s an indication of how ingrained and insidious everything is. Am I a bit jaded? Yes. I’m excited for what I have planned for this year. But unlike years before, I’m not looking at the industry with wide-eyed-wonder. I’m not assuming the playing field is level for me in South Africa or abroad, because it’s not. I’m not going to look for fairness because this industry (publishing) doesn’t operate that way. None of them seem to.

And no, I’m not okay with things.

“I wished I believed you when you told me this is my home….” ~ Lorde, Hard Feelings.

 

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