The Millenia Black saga
is apparently anything but over. The latest turn of events? She's suing her publisher
, which for those who may not know, is Penguin/NAL.
Of course, this lawsuit is no real surprise. We all know the rules and we've all played by them until now so no black author's ever sued their publisher for being treated like a "black author"......but wouldn't it be nice to have the freedom to write without that goddamn race monkey on your back? Wouldn't it be wonderful if an author was just an author?
I know this has been a very divisive topic. I've seen the comments and statements. A lot of black writers resent Millenia for not representing the so-called "black experience" in her work, but the bottom line is this: your skin color doesn't automatically mean you'll have a certain outlook on life. It doesn't automatically mean you will share the same "experience" as everyone else of that race.
Every writer should have the right to their own artistic expressions. If Millenia decides that she wants her work to be free of racial barriers so it can be commercially marketable, that decision should be supported, because too much has been lost in the name of attaining that type of freedom. Who are we to try and take it from her? To condemn her, openly or not, for her artistic choices? That makes us just as guilty as the publishers who see no problem with keeping black writers suppressed because we're AA, boxed into writing and selling to other AA's, and not good for much else.
I'll be following this very closely. Now that the horse is out of the gate, we all know the importance of this action. If Millenia wins, it just may mean that authors get to be authors; seen as the actual genre they write, not their race. But if she loses......well, let's just say that publishers will then likely have the legal
right to force
all black authors to write only for a black audience forever and ever.
I, for one, pray she doesn't lose.Update 10/10/06: Monica Jackson has an excellent view
. All authors should openly support Millenia's effort. She is clearly sacrificing a lot to take this stand, very likely giving up any chance at a successful career as an author. She's doing it for the benefit of all non-white authors, so we can all have the right to write in any genre we want, without fear of it being labeled by our race.
I disagree with Monica on one point. I don't think if she wins it could prompt publishers to abandon the niche. Why would they do that? This is about mis-classifying manuscripts, not getting rid of the books that truly belong there.
To those who don't support this effort, think of what it means......should all of Tess Gerritsen's
work be classified as Asian-American Fiction and dressed up with Asian-looking models?