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



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My Road to Publication: My Story

So I got an email over the weekend asking for this so I am publishing it again. As I read through it now some years later, I have a follow up which I have to write soon. But for now…this is my story.

One of my favorite quotes is by Laurel Bleadon-Maffei and it says, “I found my heart upon a mountain I did not know I could climb, and I wonder how many other pieces of myself are secreted away in places I judge I cannot go.” Now, don’t just go past the quote. Let it marinate a little, and then repeat it. I have this pasted in my home office right next to the scripture I can do all things through Christ.

For you to know how this impacts me, (and I hope at the end of this, you too) I gotta give you some backstory. Until about four years ago, I was the most introverted, don’t move out of my comfort zone, scaredy cat, person you’d ever meet. Let me put it in context, I have four brothers, all younger than me but people referred to me as XXX’s sister or Prof’s daughter. They rarely knew my name and I preferred it that way. I didn’t want to be known neither did I want to be seen. I wanted to just live my life in the little corner I had carved out for myself. No stress, no issues. Ordinarily that won’t be a bad thing, but I was just allowing life to pass me by. My routine consisted of work and church, then when I got married throw in wife and mom duties. Let me stop here and make a disclaimer, being a wife and steward of my children is a tremendous gift I never take lightly and I’m so grateful to God for my family. They come first in everything.

However, a part of me also knew that God knows ME by name. Before I was formed in the womb, He knew me. That means I, Unoma, have a purpose in creation. I, Unoma owed it to my creator to find out what He put me on this earth for and do it. But did I mention I was a scaredy cat? Yep. Fear of the unknown had a grip on my life and that hold was tight. I was riddled with self-doubt for years. On the other hand, my husband knew exactly what he was called to do. Let me tell you a secret, if you are surrounded by people who passionately pursue their purpose and you don’t have anything going for you, two things are bound to happen; either you resent them because you haven’t found yours or you are pushed to find out what yours is. For me, both happened at the same time. I found something to be mad about all the time, but my husband didn’t let my nagging deter him from his call.

Finally, in a quest for self-realization, I got on my knees and asked God to show me how I can serve Him. But you know how God tells us one thing but we still seek human confirmation? Trying to act like we didn’t hear Him, right? So I ignore God’s answer and ask my hubby what he thinks my purpose is. I guess you know what I’m about to say. He confirmed God’s whisper, touch lives through your gift of storytelling. I was perturbed by his response. I have the kids to look after, I have a full time job, I barely have time sit down and write more than 300 words for a blog post, yet he utters that response.…I complain and grumble for months. Then I came across Mathew 5:15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. I grumble some more. Then several weeks later, a terrible incident leaves me in the hospital for weeks. All the while I’m thinking; if I die…will God tell me well done my daughter? The thought of the answer to the question made me shudder because I was conscious of my disobedience. But then, I recovered and so began my journey to publication.

With my behind in the chair, fingers on the keyboard, I got my first novel done. Here’s the thing, I knew there was no way I was going to weave tales like my favorite authors, but I did know that when I move, my God would move. The moment I finished writing—what in my mind was the bomb dot com (at least I finished it)—God sent me destiny helpers.

This is my testimony and I share this story because I believe there are a lot of people just like me. Scared to step out and walk in their calling because of the voices of doubt. I had so many excuses before on why I couldn’t obey God’s call. Notably, my circumstances haven’t changed, I’ve probably gotten busier. I still have two kids, a full time job and now a business BUT I get the books out. A lot of people that know me on a personal level ask how I do it with no help. My answer is the same every time. “I do not know it’s but by the grace of God, I am what I am.” That Paul’s saying has never been truer for me, because I honestly don’t know. But what I do know is I found my heart upon a mountain I did not know I could climb, and I wonder how many other pieces of myself are secreted away in places I judge I cannot go. And I can do all things through Christ.

My two cents move and where your human ability ends, God steps in…But you have to move. The size of your stage shouldn’t matter, the fact that you’re answering His call in service and making an impact should be your sole focus.

“Completion and fulfillment of the purpose for which you were created is the real KEY to Success.” ~Dr. Myles Munroe

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