Keeping It Real
By the Lord’s salty balls, here’s what’s bugging me, and I swear if anybody gets indignant I will dick slap them in front of their children. It’s that serious. I walked to the bookstore yesterday filled with hope and love and charity, armed with a list of authors I was ready to be intrigued by. Some established, some up and coming. They all happened to be “folks of color.”
What I found, however—and this is what makes it sometimes the most depressing thing in the United States of America to find out is you’re black—was ‘Justify My Thug’, ‘Thug In Me’, ‘Street Chic’, ‘Hood Rats’, and ‘Girls From Da Hood: 6’. Six. I have not made any of these titles up. There was a table full of even more. Multiple copies of everything. I’m not even gonna bother with authors’ names. Let’s say Boo Boo Dee Fool and Bugs Bunny.
I was looking for Tananarive Due http://www.tananarivedue.com/
Nnedi Okorafor http://www.nnedi.com/
Carleen Brice http://www.carleenbrice.com/
Minister Faust http://ministerfaust.blogspot.com/
Bernice McFadden http://www.bernicemcfadden.com/
Percy Everett http://www.blueflowerarts.com/percival-everett
Tayari Jones http://www.tayarijones.com/
and Ru Freeman http://rufreeman.com
I’ve got Ru’s book; just wanted to see if they had any more in stock. Got works by Minister Faust too; he’s got a new book coming out in June (more on that later). Percy Everett is so good he should get to sleep with supermodels and not have to worry about the ‘Tiger Woods’ imperative. Ms. Due, Okorafor, Brice, Jones and McFadden have piqued the beejeezus out of my curiosity. A nice representation gender and genre-wise. Speculative fiction, literary, international, highbrow and comedic mashed in the mix.
Not one of these authors’ works was in that entire book store. I know all about supply and demand and I know all about giving the people what they want and I know humanity is generally about as stupid as cheese—but, dammit, come on! Yes, I know that Barnes & Noble is full of chick lit and chick lit sucks the balls of an angry Christ; I know there are a million absolutely terrible sci-fi/fantasy series written by folks completely damning the cause of geekdom; I know that crap is king all the way around for folks of all colors. But, dammit, come on! Not one book.
Not a single, flippin’, wrinkled, pissed on, neglected copy. Nowhere. Nada.
Girls From Da Hood: 6.
If all things were equal I wouldn’t have a problem, but we’re not going to insult ourselves with that pretense. Black folks can’t afford that. Period, end of discussion. We’re just going to calmly and rationally wonder why it’s disgustingly easy to walk into a major bookseller and find ‘Justify My Thug’ front and center, but books that might actually stay with you longer than a fart? No fucking way.
I’m putting this on Barnes & Noble’s head, and I’m putting this on book publishers’ heads, and I’m putting this on sheisty writers everywhere: Why?
And don’t anybody dare say nobody would buy a worthwhile author of color’s book. I’m in bookstores all the time as a writer and a reader. When I heard Carlos Ruiz Zafon
http://www.carlosruizzafon.co.uk/ had a follow up to ‘The Shadow of the Wind’ I nearly peed myself. I see black folks in book stores all the time. The young stupid girls? Yeah, they’re walking out with ‘Hood Rats’ and ‘Hood Rats’ alone. That’s what makes them stupid, that single minded pursuit of rancid cheese. But folks with a sense of adventure? They’re walking out with a lot more. Not Due, Brice, McFadden, Okorafor, Faust, Jones, Everett or Freeman. No, that will happen, as a poet might say, when a witch’s teat warms up. Maybe Christopher Moore http://www.chrismoore.com/
, Stephen King http://www.stephenking.com/index.html
, James Morrow http://www.sff.net/people/jim.morrow/
, Terry Pratchett http://www.terrypratchettbooks.com/
, Margaret Atwood http://www.margaretatwood.ca/
or Anais Nin http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=anais+nin
, the freaky bastards, but not one of those others.
I see Mexicans, Koreans, Muslims, Gays, geeks, Republicans, Democrats, hell, even Progressives in bookstores. I see blacks, whites, lesbians, psychotics, and those creepy dudes who stand in the history section and mutter prophecies at book spines. I see women, men, children and whatever the hell teenagers are. None of these people can purchase a book that is not there. None of these people will order a book they don’t know exists. Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, special orders do upset us.
Click any link in this blog, even ‘Hood Rat’ http://www.amazon.com/Hood-Triple-Crown-Publications-Presents/dp/097995178X
. Buy at least one, doesn’t matter by whom. Even fucking ‘Hood Rat’. Hell, click ‘Neon Lights’ http://www.amazon.com/Neon-Lights-ebook/dp/B004UH0ORI/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1305169025&sr=1-5
if you want. But know this: if your diet’s nothing but Burger King you will get slovenly, you will get greasy, you will die.