By Tqwana B.
Remember that time two romance authors joked about writing a BDSM novel starring Thomas Jefferson and his slave, Sally Hemings? LOLing at the idea of him giving her shackles? Yeah, I didn’t think it was funny either. That book didn’t happen, though they did write one with Jefferson’s daughter — legitimate, obviously, making reference to her father’s “liaisons” with Hemings.
They also seem to have forgotten the fact that said daughter also owned slaves.
If you thought it couldn’t get worse, along comes a book about a “blonde-haired, blue-eyed Jewess” held hostage in a WWII concentration camp, embarking on a romance with a Nazi SS commander. Did I mention it was nominated for two, yes two, RWAs? Fyi, Jewess is/was considered by many to be a racial slur…
This week, I came across this diamond in the rough on Twitter:
— Sahara (@SaharaHoshi) August 17, 2015
Click the link if you dare. The basic premise is a romance between an imprisoned neo-Nazi and a black woman missionary of a sort. Written by a black woman.
Written. By. A. Black. Woman.
Move over Sad Puppies, romance is gunning for your place on the crazy train.
Here’s the thing: this is not about censorship. These authors can write whatever they please. Publishers can publish whatever they deem worthy. Readers can spend their money however they choose. The issue here is that these books romanticize scum. Bottom-feeding, lowest of the low, trash human beings.
Two of these premises feature relationships of dubious consent, and that’s giving more credit to those ‘relationships’ than they deserve. Truthfully, as Jefferson’s property, Hemings could not have said no to his advances. An SS officer in charge of Jewish prisoners also didn’t have to take no for an answer. They controlled the very lives of these people, able to kill them at any moment.
That’s not romance, people; that’s rape.
Never mind the owning humans or participating in the mass murder of tens of millions of innocent people (or the implication that if only they had accepted Jesus, this wouldn’t have happened to them). I’m a Christian and that reasoning sickens me.
That third book, though, that one really gets me. Either you have some deeply embedded levels of internalized hatred, or you are suffering from a serious case of hubris if you think you can somehow redeem this type of man. Christian that heroine may be, but God she is not. I consider myself an equal-opportunity lover when it comes to the men I’m attracted to and/or date. But, there is zero sexiness in a man who has spent his whole life hating me simply because of my melanin levels. A man who is in prison for a hate crime.
Seriously, what’s next – ‘redeemed’ wife beaters? Pedophiles? Serial killers? Black Jack Randall?
Again, write and publish what you want. You are free to do just that. Other readers are free to enjoy these books. I read things that others would find offensive – Nora/Søren come to mind.
But, I’m also free to think that maybe these go too far, and you’re sending a twisted message out into the world, whatever good intentions you may have.