Monday, January 30, 2012

Why Is it important to show race, culture, minority politics or ethnicity in SciFi?

I remember the time I realized the stuff I write -- the situations I wanted to explore-- were not considered marketable by editors and agents...even if there were readers like me who lived in such situations.

The gatekeepers of book-publishing have ideas about who they are marketing to, ideas about what the reading public is like and who the readers of books are. For instance, they seem to assume that Black folks don't read or that readers don't care about religious or spiritual matters. When they see a manuscript written by a Black person, they assume the book will contain certain "issues" -- issues they feel the average American would be uninterested in. And their are expectations about books written by Christians or Black Christians as well.

My response to their expectations and stereotypes is this:
True, there are certain issues that appear in Black and/or Christian books but why assume that all Black folks write the same way.

True, but why think the non-Black world will not be interested in MY particular manuscript?

True, but why assume you already know what a Black writer is going to write?

True, but why concern yourself with only books that you KNOW will sell? It's possible Black literature -- expected or unexpected-- will sell.

But still, the sorrow that came on me when I realized I had written great works but these "assuming gatekeepers" would not let my story enter the hallowed halls of publishing.  To me, race and culture are important. Religion is important. Religion interwoven in history and race is important. I remember a reviewer saying my book Wind Follower was made for a small niche audience. Why? Because it was speculative fiction AND race AND religion. She didn't consider that Black folks and Asian folks have had to deal with ethnic fantasy such as vampires, elves, dwarfs...because to her the fantasy of the white world -- all those knights, ladies in waiting, white female scientists-- were not ethnic but were the norm.

Black folks are used to identifying with white characters because we have grown up inside white culture. We can see the humanity of these white characters. It seems to me that white folks should be given the chance to identify with non-white folks, and that folks without religious faith should  learn that folks with faith are not stupid cardboard stereotypes either.

The fact is all people need to see all people reflected in art. This is how we heal and humanize all humanity.

  • So what would I like to see in this area for the upcoming year? More cross-genre publications. Black specfic graphic novels, Black mangas, for instance

By the way, promo day is coming soon, folks. I'll be giving away copies of my book, Spirit Fruit, to the three folks who have given me the most tweets and retweets during this time period.  So tweet away. Please post the link to this article to twitter using any of the following hashtags. Pass the word on about Blackscifi.

Twitter hashtag: #blackscifi2012 #blackscifi #christianspeculativefiction #fantasy #blackfiction

Other participants

Check out the other members of this Online Black History Month Event:
Winston Blakely, Artist/Writer-- is a Fine Arts/Comic Book artist, having a career spanning 20 years, whose achievements have included working for Valiant Comics and Rich Buckler's Visage Studios. He is also the creator of Little Miss Strange, the world's first black alien sorceress and the all- genre anthology entitled - Immortal Fantasy.  Both graphic albums are available at Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and other online book store outlets. Visit him: or

L. M. Davis, Author--began her love affair with fantasy in the second grade.  Her first novel, Interlopers: A Shifters Novel, was released in 2010, and the follow-up Posers:  A Shifters Novel will be released this spring.  For more information visit her blog or her website

Milton Davis, Author – Milton Davis is owner/publisher of MVmedia, LLC . As an author he specializes in science fiction and fantasy and is the author of Meji Book One, Meji Book Two and Changa’s Safari. Visit him:   and
Margaret Fieland, Author-- lives  and writes in the suburbs west of Boston, MA
with her partner and five dogs. She is one of the Poetic Muselings. Their poetry anthology, Lifelines is available from  Her book, "Relocated," will be available from MuseItUp Publishing in July, 2012. The Angry Little Boy," will be published by 4RV publishing in early 2013.  You may visit her website,

Valjeanne Jeffers, Author -- is an editor and the author of the SF/fantasy novels: Immortal, Immortal II: The Time of Legend and Immortal III: Stealer of Souls. Her fourth and fifth novels: Immortal IV: Collision of Worlds and The Switch: Clockwork will be released this spring. Visit her at: and and
Alicia McCalla, Author- writes for both young adults and adults with her brand of multicultural science fiction, urban fantasy, and futurism. Her debut novel, Breaking Free will be available February 1, 2012.  The Breaking Free theme song created by Asante McCalla is available for immediate download on itunes and Amazon. Visit her at:
Carole McDonnell, Author--She writes Christian, speculative fiction, and multicultural stories. Her first novel is Wind Follower. Her short fiction has appeared in many anthologies and have been collected in an ebook, Spirit Fruit: Collected Speculative Fiction.  Visit Carole:  or
Rasheedah Phillips,Author--is the creator of The AfroFuturist Affair in Philly. She plans to debut her first spec/sci-fic novel Recurrence Plot in Spring 2012. You may catch her ruminating from time to time on her blog,
Nicole Sconiers, Author-is also a screenwriter living in the sunny jungle of L.A. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, and she recently published Escape from Beckyville: Tales of Race, Hair and Rage.  Visit her: 
Jarvis Sheffield, M.Ed. is owner & operator of, & Visit him:

Thaddeus Howze, Author-- is a veteran of the Information Technology and Communications industry with over twenty-six years of experience. His expertise is in re-engineering IT environments using process-oriented management techniques. In English, that means he studies the needs of his clients and configures their offices to optimize the use of information technology in their environment. Visit him: or

Balogun Ojetade, Author—of the bestselling “Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within” (non-fiction), “Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman” (Steampunk) and the feature film, “A Single Link”. Visit him:


Alicia said...

Carole, I really like this:

"It seems to me that white folks should be given the chance to identify with non-white folks, and that folks without religious faith should learn that folks with faith are not stupid cardboard stereotypes either. The fact is all people need to see all people reflected in art. This is how we heal and humanize all humanity."

Those words ring true. We all need to take part in the story of humanity. We all need to read outside the norm and find those niche books that touch something deep. Thanks for posting. Wind Follower is on my to be read pile. I can't wait!

Winston said...

Oh, yes, we need Black Manga, Black
Sci- Fi.. Black Westerns, you name
it. Good Reading.

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