The Writing Journey

Dear White Christian Publishers, Black Pain Isn’t For Your Gain…

To get a clearer picture of how I feel right now, imagine the angry feeling from the Emoji movie. Yea…him

Unless you have totally been removed from reality, you know the world is in timeout right now.

Between COVID 19 and the present racial reckoning, a whole lot has been happening. With that said, there has been a so-called awakening in industries that have fostered systemic racism for years. All of a sudden, they “weren’t aware and want to do something”. I’ve always been hesitant in my speech because as a first-generation Nigerian-American who lived her childhood and early adulthood in Nigeria, I understand I have a certain privilege living in America for the past two decades.

I am able to do a lot of the things I do here because I stand on the backs of African Americans(Black Americans) and the fight and blood that has been shed for years. I however do my part to educate my fellow Africans and lend my voice to the cause and culture. But I digress…

One of such industries is the publishing industry. A stunning hashtag on Twitter some time ago…#PublishingPaidMe had me disgusted. I’ve experienced my own share of racism as well as systemic racism working in Corporate America but what that hashtag revealed was just too much.

Overnight there’s a call for #ownvoices #diversestories, all the big to intermediate mainstream publishing houses are now trying to “do their part” I was kinda skeptical because;

  1. Indie publishing no longer has the stigma it once did. I’ve never needed a publisher to validate me. And this is due to many hard-working, talented indie/hybrid writers who have done wonders to revive Black Romance. From Christian fiction, Urban, Paranormal, and every subgenre in between.
  2. How will they market and promote these stories if they aren’t making changes from within by hiring Black editors(of all kinds), working with Black blogs & promoters or Black indie bookstores?

Now to the title of this post and why I’m fuming….you would expect Christian Publishers to be different when it comes to bias. But then look where we are in ops in front of churches and ish.

Lo and behold, not only are they behind but I promise y’all Jesus is not in that mess, they call themselves doing. So here it goes, I attended a call today( Aug 1, 2020) to “shed” light on the state of Christian Fiction and what they are looking for in #own and #diverse stories

Y’all ready? In a nutshell. They want BLACK PAIN. Well Dear White Christian Publishers, Black pain isn’t for your gain!!

Here’s a paraphrase: Race stories are hot right now. You’ve (Black Americans) had the experience of slavery.

So one of my sheros who reads my work and knows what I am about askes where African stories fit in this “new era”. I’ll pause here, in case you don’t know, or this is your first time here…I do not wax stories of African oppression, I do not tell downtrodden stories of social injustice. Those are not the type of stories I tell.

Newsflash: Black people are entitled to Black Joy! And Black Love that doesn’t come with PAIN. We deserve it!!

I showcase the fantastic culture, experiences, food, music, the scenery from the Continent the media doesn’t show while telling stories of faith. Featuring real people. The kind Jesus came for, those who are flawed and are only redeemed by the grace of God. Our daily struggles clinging to the cross and remaining anchored in faith, hope, and love while living in a fallen world.

Here is the answer to the question of where African stories fit into White Christian Publishing:

Very close paraphrase: “Unless the stories are stories of AIDS, POVERTY, or MISSIONARIES, going to Africa to build wells or it takes place on a Safari… readers( white women between 40-70) and the Christian Publishers won’t really go for it.”

Big African cities with African characters basically not needing the white man as a savior apparently does not cut it.

It’s taking everything in me not to curse right now. Yea Jesus works on me daily. Are you freaking kidding me?? Is that what Africa is to white American “Christian” readers??

You come to our land, steal, massacre, and loot our people and resources. Hundreds of years later, YOU still want to profit off BLACK PAIN? When will your conscience kick in?? I have no idea what Bible you’re reading? But Jesus is not in that. This is why people are leaving the church. We are not the example He has called us to be.

I will be here all day if I go into every single stereotype about Black America and Africa I heard on this call in 2020!!! To crown it however BLACK readers aren’t a demographic that can really make a difference in terms of buying power to sway what white Christian publisher want…

I’m so so done…

Yo America tuck your shirt in, your devil is showing~ Wale


24 thoughts on “Dear White Christian Publishers, Black Pain Isn’t For Your Gain…”

  1. If people wrote what they were “expected” to write, we wouldn’t have the change we’ve experienced so far. Write from the heart, do your part to get the word out, and those who are supposed to find your work, eventually will.

  2. I want to leave a reply … I’m determined to leave a reply … but I’m still trying to process your post. I’m reeling from what I read, in a surprised/not surprised kind of way. My heart aches for every single person who had to listen in on that phone call … and yes, for the people who talked about what people supposedly want to read. (Grace, right?)

    1. Thanks for your comment Beth. After three days, I’m still at a loss of words. I’ve been told about the CBA but it’s another things to experience it.
      When someone blatantly tells you that all your narrative can be is AIDS, POVERTY of Missionaries coming to build wells in your villages. Or how authentic it would be to write a slave story because you’ve had “the experience” or that to get a book deal you have to have 10k followers across platforms…my post was mild. But then grace 🙂

  3. What an outrageous and frustrating situation. I am so sorry. Do they have Black people (especially authors) on their committees/boards who can steer them in a better direction? Do you think they will seek input? Did they get feedback during the call or was it just one-sided? If they got feedback, how did they respond to it?

    I am glad that Black indie authors have been successful outside of the traditional publishing industry – I am happily indie myself – but it’s unacceptable that they should be excluded or “guided” in such an abominable way inside of that industry.

    And yes, I am in that middle-aged white woman bracket. I hadn’t read many books with other-than-white main characters until the last five years or so, but I do now, and I’d like to see more of the kind of books you describe as well as romantic suspense and mystery.

    Now that I think about it, I probably didn’t read many racially diverse books because I was then limited to paperback books found at the bookstores and library. Traditional publishing.

    1. Hi Cathe, from the way she spoke, I wouldn’t think they have anyone Black. My main issue was, she knew she was coming to a room full of Black women authors and still was so free with her audacity.
      I guess I should be grateful, saved me from submitting anything for the CBAs consideration.
      We were told to give feedback, I just blogged mine which surprisingly blew up.
      I have no hope in the CBA at this point, either I continue to indie publish or I go with mainstream and strip my Christian content and make it more inspirational.

      1. Please don’t stop glorifying God in your books! Stay indie if necessary, but we need your voice – your books! – in the Christian community.

        I wouldn’t ask you to extend grace toward those people now, but I do encourage you to watch for repentance and change. They asked for your feedback, and you were very articulate, so hopefully they will hear and be ashamed. Maybe you will trigger meaningful change!

  4. Thank you so much for sharing about this, Unoma. I do know a few white women age 40-70 who are not very interested in books about Black Joy, Black Love, and Big African cities full of life, culture, and uniqueness, but in my experience they are the minority. And they have *plenty* of other books to read if they don’t like those. So why is Christian publishing so sure their readers won’t “go for it”? Especially when they’ve never offered it? I am sorry and disappointed to hear about this, but I also, like you, believe there is still hope. Though God Himself never changes, He is pretty awesome at bringing about change in others. May all our hearts be open to His work.

    1. Thanking God for the exceptions. God is able and I press. Especially after the outpouring of love and encouragement today. Thanks

Comments are closed.