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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Or maybe it isn't. Katie started a thread where she was saying she was irked by a review but wasn't sure if it was because she was pregnant or not. I thought I'd throw this out there as well because I'm not sure if I'm being overly sensitive. But when you grow up around constant discrimination, it's hard to decipher some times. In any case, I think this review shows how I seem to have an added barrier to getting readers just because of my race.

What attracted me to read this novel, is because it's about an African-American teen who wants better for herself, than to become a statistic. No offence to any black people, but I don't care to read the books African-Americans write because it's usly about sex, drugs or what ever. Not to say there arnt any novels by Caucasins that follow those same things. But when I look for a book by a black person I can never find a good read and actually say I like it. And for once I actually did!
 

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My friend has a saying: when someone prefaces a statement with "no offence", you can guarantee they are about to be offensive.

I hate reading books by middle class white guys, they are always talking about the boring suburbs and their feelings. :D
 

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Highly inarticulate and borderline racist, but I think it was a great compliment in the reviewer's mind.

It's like people forever telling me that I don't look nor act a Chinese person. They think it is a compliment, but the message is clear.

If your book turned one heart in the right direction, then be happy.
 

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Sybil Nelson said:
Or maybe it isn't. Katie started a thread where she was saying she was irked by a review but wasn't sure if it was because she was pregnant or not. I thought I'd throw this out there as well because I'm not sure if I'm being overly sensitive. But when you grow up around constant discrimination, it's hard to decipher some times. In any case, I think this review shows how I seem to have an added barrier to getting readers just because of my race.

What attracted me to read this novel, is because it's about an African-American teen who wants better for herself, than to become a statistic. No offence to any black people, but I don't care to read the books African-Americans write because it's usly about sex, drugs or what ever. Not to say there arnt any novels by Caucasins that follow those same things. But when I look for a book by a black person I can never find a good read and actually say I like it. And for once I actually did!
Ugh. I don't even know where to start with that, it bugs me on so many levels. Even leaving aside the weird racial element, it gets into one of my pet peeves, projecting the writer onto the character. I had a blog review that accused me of misogyny because my villain hated women. This writer does the same thing, confusing the story with the person telling the story. The good news is that you could probably get this review removed, because Amazon will be sensitive to even a hint of racism in a review, and this one has that stink about it.

In any case, I think this review shows how I seem to have an added barrier to getting readers just because of my race.
The only people who will find your race a barrier are idiots. As far as I can see, you're using the same words as anyone else, and you're telling stories that have a broad appeal. And I know personally that you're a great writer. Not a great female writer, or a great African-American writer, or a great children's book writer, you're a great writer. Great writers will find readers.
 

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I would ask Amazon to remove the review simply because it is racist. Offensively so.

I don't think you are being sensitive at all.

M
 

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Offensive indeed, but as Samantha says, most readers will just write that review off.  I wouldn't worry about it reflecting the views of most readers, and I would certainly try to ignore it as much as possible. ::)  I imagine you could get Amazon to take it down if you wanted, though-- it's pretty blatantly racist, IMHO.  I don't think there's anything "borderline" about it.
 

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samanthawarren said:
I can honestly say that I've never once thought about the color of a person's skin when purchasing a book to read...

I wouldn't worry too much about the comment. There's a good chance that anyone who reads that review will write it off. I know I would.
Me too. ;)
 

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Without ever having walked in your shoes, Sybil -- I don't blame you for taking offense at that.  It's complimentary to you as a writer but a slap in the face to you as a person.  I had nothing to do with this review, of course, but even so it somehow it makes me feel all slimy...
 

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You have a right to be offended. But just shrug it off, life's too short to spend time worrying about back-handed replies like that. Some will read your work and have their perspective changed. Some will never change their perspective. Living well is the best revenge--keep writing :)
 

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I would opt for asking it to be removed. It made me gasp when I read it - it's certainly offensive to my mind.  I only read it here on the thread, not on the page for your book, but I think it could be a distraction among the reviews.  Why keep their nuttiness on the book's page - it would be a sore spot for me if I were the recipient of the review and it gives it more than its due by keeping it there for others to stumble upon.  Just my two cents.
 

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It seems my opinion is completely different to everyone in this thread.

Sybil Nelson said:
What attracted me to read this novel, is because it's about an African-American teen who wants better for herself, than to become a statistic. No offence to any black people, but I don't care to read the books African-Americans write because it's usly about sex, drugs or what ever. Not to say there arnt any novels by Caucasins that follow those same things. But when I look for a book by a black person I can never find a good read and actually say I like it. And for once I actually did!
So, I don't think this is a racial slur or offense to you as a writer, Sybil, but to Black Authors in general. And I think the reader just is not as eloquent as we writers can be in expressing ourselves.

"What attracted me to read this novel, is because it's about an African-American teen who wants better for herself, than to become a statistic."
Okay, I have not read your book, but I can assume this high end summary of the plot is accurate? What is bad about this sentence? The reader has highlighted she liked the content and was attracted to it.

"No offence to any black people, but I don't care to read the books African-Americans write because it's usly about sex, drugs or what ever."
I'm going to be honest and say this is true. Most of the mainstream literature from Black professionals gets noticed because its about down and outs who aspire to be better, and so there does tend to be a lot of profanity, sex and drugs involved as typically the character they are writing about comes from that kind of environment. No doubt there are hundreds of African Americans or Black British writers who don't write about this (I'm one of them), but I can't think of any off the top of my head.

Not to say there arnt any novels by Caucasians that follow those same things.
No, but there is a lot less as this is not a defining cultural stereotype for Caucasians. The reader shows some awareness here that you cannot neatly group Black and Caucasian authors simply by book content.

"But when I look for a book by a black person I can never find a good read and actually say I like it. And for once I actually did"
Okay, interesting, this reader actively seeks out works by black authors. Makes sense as she/he has previously expressed she likes this kind of good feel read. She then says she enjoyed your book, she was for once not let down.

This reader has found you, enjoyed your work and was surprised. I don't think his/her comments on race were a reflection on you at all, but on the work produced by others which (unfortunately) reinforce deeply ingrained stereotypes. Your book seems like it may cover topics to bring this kind of comment to the forefront - namely, a good feel read about an ethnic youth who overcomes cultural issues that put the character at a disadvantage.

Your instant response was to jump to the conclusion your race is a barrier in getting new readers? Why? I am Black British, and whilst I could bemoan the fact this might put me at a disadvantage if someone was to see my profile picture, I quite simply feel it does not. Frankly, if a reader is dense enough to come to that decision about any race outside their own then I want nothing to do with them.

I don't think this review is offensive. I think it's honest and a reflection of this readers experiences with books by Black Authors. I think the reviewer simply did not have the tact to express themselves properly. You can tell by the tone and errors in the review this person may not be very worldly.

I urge you all to read between the lines here and approach this with a less defensive attitude.

We do love to jump and cry racism whenever someone mentions the word "black" in any way that could be interpreted as negative. Being a black person myself, this is not offensive, but I can understand why you might have felt singled out, sine it was a review of your book.
 

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IMO, the reviewer's comments aren't racist. Stereotypical thinking, no doubt, but not racism. Sybil, I cannot tell you how many times I've heard the exact same comments from African Americans. Sybil, notice the number of African American authors here on KB. Only a handful. Each one, including myself, writes in hope of appealing to a wide spectrum of readers, with no thought of race. African American authors who target African American readers have no need to appear here because there audience is not here. Another obstacle, Amazon lumps any novel with an African American character in the category of African American fiction, where the majority audience is African American women who prefer African American romance. And though many people say they don't judge books according to the author's race, many people share the reviewer's stereotypical thinking. Sybil, all you can do is keep doing what you do best, which is writing good novels. The rest will take care of itself.
 
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I'm sure you could point to Amazon's reviewer guidelines and have that review removed, regardless of what the intent behind the review was.
 

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Sybil Nelson said:
Or maybe it isn't. Katie started a thread where she was saying she was irked by a review but wasn't sure if it was because she was pregnant or not. I thought I'd throw this out there as well because I'm not sure if I'm being overly sensitive. But when you grow up around constant discrimination, it's hard to decipher some times. In any case, I think this review shows how I seem to have an added barrier to getting readers just because of my race.

What attracted me to read this novel, is because it's about an African-American teen who wants better for herself, than to become a statistic. No offence to any black people, but I don't care to read the books African-Americans write because it's usly about sex, drugs or what ever. Not to say there arnt any novels by Caucasins that follow those same things. But when I look for a book by a black person I can never find a good read and actually say I like it. And for once I actually did!
WOW. JUST WOW. Okay, normally these things aren't allowed on here because "what happens at Amazon stays at Amazon." But I will say: The review is a reflection of the person writing it--not on you or your writing. Whether or not that person came across as racist will be in the eye of the beholder. The most important thing is that it does not reflect on you.

All any of us can do is stand tall and be who we are. You keep doing that and let the reviews be whatever they are.
 

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Miss_Fletcher said:
I urge you all to read between the lines here and approach this with a less defensive attitude.

We do love to jump and cry racism whenever someone mentions the word "black" in any way that could be interpreted as negative. Being a black person myself, this is not offensive, but I can understand why you might have felt singled out, sine it was a review of your book.
This...

I once wrote a review where I said one of the main characters, a female, "came across as slutty." The author responded with "After I finished this book, a thought popped into my head, and occasionally it strikes me that my biggest mistake was in making the female detective black. Maybe she is "slutty". I don't think so, but everyone has their own view."

Now, understand that I read a book, then make notes about what I'd like to mention in a review, and often do not write the review until a few days later. By the time I wrote the review, I had completely forgotten that the female character in question was black. It was irrelevant to my statement.

Yet, for some reason, that author took my remark as something close to racist. ???
 

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Oh, man. No part of this is fun.

My first reaction to that review was definitely, "yup, racist," but it's possibly racist in a coded way that maybe Americans have come to expect or look out for more? I'm not African American, but I would find it upsetting. Or do, rather. Maybe disappointing is a better word? On the other hand, it might just be the result of an inarticulate reviewer stumbling into the issue of race.

This discussion so far reminded me that J.K. Rowling published as "J.K." because her publishers were concerned that boys wouldn't want to read books about a male hero written by a woman. For marketing purposes, Rowling had to be asexual. The most charitable reading of that review IMO would assume that the reviewer conflates the most visible marketing targeting African Americans with African American writing. I really don't know enough about this topic as it pertains to race, but I've been thinking about it a lot as it pertains to female writers, and for women, it does seem like there are certain genres where you should go with the initials if you want to maximize sales. This leads to a certain catch-22: readers only by books by female authors in "female" genres because they're conditioned to do so by marketing, which decides what a female genre is. Maybe the same problem afflicts marketing targeted towards African Americans and what defines an "African American book" in the minds of readers. (Again, I honestly have no idea, it's just conjecture based on what I've noticed with female authors, which itself is hardly scientific observation.)

Wrt what you should do about it...I have, literally, zero experience, having not published anything yet, but my instinct is to leave it alone. It's not obviously abusive or intended to be inflammatory; it seems like an honest review, and an accurate (if not necessarily flattering) reflection of the reviewer. It seems not unrealistic to hope that exposure to your work has helped to expand the reviewer's mind. You never know what plants the seed. Maybe leaving that review up will help your work do the same for others?

 

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As a couple people have pointed out, I'm not sure if the reviewer actually is racist (doubtful, considering it sounds like s/he actively searches for books by African Americans), but the review is poorly worded. I wouldn't worry about getting it removed, since it sounds like, in its own way, it's actually a decent review. And as I said before, a lot of people are just going to ignore it anyway. It might end up disappearing on its own via the "Was this helpful" buttons.
 

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Uh, yeah, it is offensive. It makes gross generalizations putting all black authors into one group/type of character/type of story. That is the first step in racism (the generalization). Discriminating based on those generalizations is the next.
Lori
 
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