Saturday, April 22, 2006

Millenia Black: Is She Crazy...or Courageous?

I just got back from an extended trip and was stunned to log onto my system and see how much I've been missing. Author Millenia Black can't get a break can she? I know I'm late with this, but for those of you who haven't gotten wind of this yet, she's posted that her publisher won't release her second novel because she penned it with white characters!

I have to tell you I'm not surprised by this at all. I think any black author knows all too well they'd have a huge problem with their editor if they tried to do this. You'd have to adopt a pseudonym at the very least. But, according to Millenia, her first book, THE GREAT PRETENDER, has no black characters, etc., but not surprisingly, for her second book, her publisher will nonetheless make an argument that her audience is now African American. Translation? You can't write about white people, your "audience" won't buy it!! Duh. Do we have to spell everything out for you black folks?

While I am certainly not surprised by this action on the publisher's part, I'm very moved by this author's willingness to take a stand. She's not taking it, and my own predictions have come to pass. Millenia doesn't say it, but you can easily read between the lines: she's going to sue. Rumors abound that she's retained an attorney named Susan Clark of Ritz and Clark. Ed Champion wasn't able to locate Susan Clark, but I googled Ritz and Clark and (tada) there IS a Susan Ritz of Ritz and Clark in NYC.....We all know how info gets distorted, but my bet is that the rumors are dead on. She's going to sue.

Should she kiss her career goodbye? It's hard to say. I myself have kept relatively quiet about the injustice to protect my own career from publisher retaliation, but I'd say that for a new author, she's got a lot less to risk than those of us that've been around a while.

In short, this author has put me to shame. I really feel ashamed to see someone brave enough to stand up for herself and demand to enjoy the same freedoms white authors do. I spoke with a fellow writer friend this morning and his impression was that we hadn't heard the last of Millenia Black, she's got courage enough for all of us. I've said before, my hat's off to her. I think it's a lesson for all of us. We're all waiting and watching to see how this fight plays out. Don't you think it will affect us all to some degree? I do.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


(212) 930-8500





4/22/2006 10:16 PM  
Blogger Bestselling Author, Pontif. said...

It's done. I saw this over at Millenia's blog and phoned in yesterday. I do encourage everyone to do the same. This situation is an injustice that deserves national media attention.

4/23/2006 10:02 AM  
Blogger Shawn said...

So I should purchase Millenia's book despite the allegations?

4/23/2006 1:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate to see you dissing yourself in comparison to Millenia Black. I trust your blog for the very reason that it is anonymous. Everything you say is because you care about the topic. Ms. Black is enlisting all of us to call the NY Post about her, but we don't know the facts. We don't even know if she is black, do we? If you google "Millenia Black is white," you'll see that someone said she was. Has anyone met her? I think saying you write "colorless characters" (as she has about her first novel) screams White Author. Off topic, but Judy Garland and Nat King Cole and Pearl Buck don't sound like the favorites of a 29 year old either. What if she's The Great Pretender, out to get publicity for herself? Then when she's unmasked she can say she was just doing it for the "black folks."

Loyal to the Pontiff

4/23/2006 10:59 PM  
Blogger Bestselling Author, Pontif. said...

Shawn, I bought a copy of her first book. I think that's one of the ways we can support her in addition to alerting whatever media will listen. I just don't think a boycott will be very effective and it will hurt other innocent authors, black and white.

Anonymous, I did not get the impression that Millenia was enlisting anyone to call the post, I've seen the posting, but it's by an anonymous poster, so it's unfair to go around saying she herself is asking you to do it. Secondly, Millenia Black is not white. I have never met her, but I read somewhere about an appearance she made and the reporter wrote that she was an African-American, so rest assured, I doubt this is some big conspiracy to pass herself off as black (though I have no clue why on Earth that theory would make sense to anyone). I think you're reading too much into this. I appreciate your kind words for me, but your suspicious lingo sounds completely far-fetched and borederline hostile. No, we don't know all the facts, but if you don't want to show support, it doesn't help any cause to go around slinging "mud" and trying to turn people against an author that I believe is fighting for the rights of every black writer in the industry. I stand by my word that she's to be supported, and applauded.

4/24/2006 12:48 AM  
Anonymous Ancient Reader said...


Good stance Pont, that's it.

Indeed we all must realize the value of the power of "language". For believe it or not, when someone begins fashioning a more efficient and effective way of speaking, people automatically take note of it.

So having an issue such as racism against any race at all, White or Black, calls for particularly the most effective linguistic delivery to disgrace the perpetrators and thereby bring about access to liberty everyone is entitled to enjoy.

Talking trash even jokingly, but more specifically in solemn occasion as in this subject matter, this do seriously harm the chance for which to deliver needed change.

Good spoken representation and sage conduct is the tool that's reliable enough to get the job done regardless of the resistance.

Trust Mi, for I'm a global philosopher, I do understand the chemical secret workings of when we communicate. And there's a vast difference between when you "hit it or you mist it".

It seems like many of us do recognized and well appreciate Millenia's sense of articulation. I can tell that by reading her novel "The Great Pretender" that she's mentally adroit and skilled, very decisive. She seem to exercise her ferocity of pursuits with some kind of subtle MO. That's very powerful, allot of linguistic mystique is at work here.

What I'm driving at is this; it has to take something extraordinary in talent to embolden someone of Ms. Black's status to get up single-handedly to lead the fight of racial cause with Mount Everest standing David against Goliath. Of course David's big brothers et al just stood by while he slay Goliath. But they all celebrated the victory. We can't just stand by like some are attempting to do.

I affirm that it behooves both Whites and Blacks to speak decisively, effectively and scholarly in solidarity against the shamefulness of racism, and loathed it with high emphasis.

Millenia Black is undoubtedly doing the hardest part, like being on the frontline-- so instead of one being critical in speech, just put that energy to renounce the dam injustice affecting them while trying to shoot down the wrong target. Racism will never go away doing that kind of a thing.

Hey, good judgment and accurate distinction are vital for our living, especially for fighting any battle.

I'm sure Millenia Black will win with Whites and Blacks supporting this noble cause, I see the support is building on several fronts. It must not stop, that's until we've made and are satisfied with substantial progress.

So, is any more fool left out there? I really believe that the national medias will soon pick this up and run with it, its too relevant and seriously important to all of us. Then many will say: I knew this was a damn serious thing.

4/25/2006 12:40 AM  
Blogger Kate R said...

Oh. Is that what the publishers think? That a black writer can't imagine the life of white people?? Wow. It's all so weird. . .what about a novel with all sorts of characters? black, white, chickens?

I wrote a book with a heroine who is mulatto. I'm white. My editor didn't have a problem with her (although I did have to cut some of the race issue. I didn't think it was a racist move--it was simply that the book was a romance and she doesn't like any Issues cluttering up romance).

I've only had one reader tell me that I'm white and therefore couldn't know the black experience. (And we ended up having a fabulous conversation, actually.)

I expect my book was okay because it was historical and because the main social context of the book was white. But what about Barbara Hambly and her Benjamin January historicals? hmmmm I've always assumed she's white. . .

So maybe the rule is anyone can write historical characters and societies? The rules clearly aren't written down anywhere--and that's a blessing of sorts.

Although come to think of it might be better if they were. It's always easier to attack stupidity if you've got written evidence that it exists.

4/25/2006 4:39 AM  
Blogger Bestselling Author, Pontif. said...

Ancient Reader, you've expressed some good thoughts.

Kate R, niche marketing is in right now. Publishers feel targeting a specific market gives a book, particulary a debut, a better chance in the marketplace. This may be true in some instances. The problem for me, and obviously for Millenia, is this should be done based on content, not the author's race/skin color. Anyone can write about anyone else. As Millenia expressed in her blog she's an American. Why can't she tell a story about other Americans?

4/25/2006 9:12 AM  
Blogger Kate R said...

Ha. So it is about the money. Tchah, of course.

Anyway, Millenia's apparently taken down that entry in her blog. (I wonder if that means something like...I should take down my entry in my blog?)

4/25/2006 6:13 PM  
Blogger Kate R said...

How do you feel about the niche marketing for subcultures like the Latino community? Or gay people?


Can't think of another culture that's been separated...No Greek American trends beyond my Big Fat Greek Wedding. Maybe chicklit was a kind of sub-culture too?

4/25/2006 6:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's very interesting to me is the post on her blog is gone.

Gone, with absolutely no explanation.

4/25/2006 11:46 PM  
Blogger Bestselling Author, Pontif. said...

Hmm...the post is gone. Something must be happening. I wonder if that was a condition of meeting her demands? Word is that she served them with a demand letter, so perhaps they made that a condition of meeting it...? Dunno, it's all pure speculation at this point, we don't know all the facts. I do hope we get the facts soon though. I still think this issue is a very important one no matter what happens. Wouldn't you agree?

4/26/2006 8:18 AM  
Blogger Shawn said...

Yeah someone emailed me about that. I don't know, she left another mini post kinda saying she would explain later. *shrugs*

4/27/2006 2:06 PM  

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