Sunday, November 23, 2014

You're Accusing Me of What?

by Leann

I don't pay much attention to negative Amazon reviews anymore. People often have a bone to pick and I accept that as part of the business of writing books that might not appeal to everyone. And we all have different taste and may read a book and love it when someone else might hate it. But the most recent 2 star review really took me by surprise.

In a perfect world, we wouldn't have to identify the race of our characters. They would just be people and that's that. But when you write a series set in the deep South, where racism is still going strong in some places, I wanted to show that my little fictional world is all inclusive. And if I didn't mention that some characters were black or Asian or Muslim or Hispanic, most readers would assume they are Caucasian. That's just how it goes.

But I have been taken to task by a reader because I identified the ethnicity of certain characters--in a book that has a subplot about how racism was hardly spoken of less than half a century ago in many small towns and that this racism caused great damage to certain characters in the book I wrote. In short, this "reviewer" basically implied I was a racist. This hurts. I am nothing of the kind. I had a huge epiphany when I took a graduate sociologist class called Minorities in America way back when. It changed my world view. So, in my attempt to show that my fictional creation is all inclusive, I was pretty much accused of being racist. (And, guess what? Many books are racist by their lack of inclusion of minorities.) I guess I just can't win.

And by the way, in her "review," I was accused of "racial profiling." According to the ACLU, the definition of racial profiling is this: "Racial Profiling" refers to the discriminatory practice by law enforcement officials of targeting individuals for suspicion of crime based on the individual's race, ethnicity, religion or national origin. First of all, I am not law enforcement by any means and second of all, I would never, ever do such a thing. And yet, not only is my work being criticized, so is my character.

Let me say, however, that I support the right of any reader to criticize as they see fit. I just wonder if that person knows that after I read that particular review, I cried. But, I doubt they will understand because they have no idea who I am or what I stand for. It was a very sad day for me.