Oh my, it's my day already. Honestly, I do wonder how time flies like that when I'm trying to get things done. I'm not of course but it's all about trying, right? Hehe. So, today, like always, I come to you with a topic that has been in my head for quite some time but needed a good hard shove to finally come out.
That shove came by Emmy Jag. For those who haven't heard of the illustrious Lady Emmy, she's a straight-shooting kind of reviewer, much like Mrs. Giggles. Emmy, however, is perhaps even more blunt, if that's at all possible. I have a healthy dose of fear and respect for both reviewers. Emmy did a recent review and a comment she'd made had me thinking. With her permission, I'm reposting that bit from her review (I'm not linking to the review to avoid wankery and because I'm not picking on this author at all nor do I believe Emmy is. She was just the catalyst to the discussion. The link above is to Emmy's general blog):
"Ok, can we please stop referring to black people as chocolate flavored? Nobody calls white people vanilla flavored, or asians...banana flavored (sorry, ran out of flavors), do they??? It's an old and overused cliche, and entirely inaccurate to boot."
A perfectly fair plea to my mind. I know I tend to come up with the racial issues in stories but honestly, if there weren't so damn many, I probably wouldn't open my mouth about it. These things are annoying, folks. Perhaps it bothers Emmy and I more because we are both black women. That could mean our ire lights up a little faster. But I find this aggravating when it happens to any color.
Maybe we need to stop with the food references all together. No? Okay, I'll relent on that because I admit that it's hard sometimes. Mocha-skinned, honey brown, cafe au lait --I guess we just can't help that and really those don't offend anyone. Frankly, I use food and drink references in description of skin and it's a habit I don't think any writer will ever be able to break. I don't expect anyone too. But the chocolate thing has reached a ridiculous level.
Again, not picking on that author but the chunks Emmy pulled out of that story drove me nuts. The skin thing...is it really so hard not to go there? Brown skin is brown skin is brown skin. And yes, I know who to blame.
The worst description I've ever read was "Hershey nipples" in a het contemporary by a black author. So maybe we're not setting the best example here but c'mon, use your common sense too, authors with characters of color. And yes, this is for any race outside of white, not just black. But I'm using black because one, I am black therefore, I know how damn exasperating this is. And two, it happens mostly to black characters.
I've had white authors tell me its hard to walk the line of not being offensive and I understand. But let me tell you this folks: this. is. offensive. It's also overdone just like the damn ghetto black guy is but I've already done that rant, I won't do it again (maybe).
He's not food, I don't give a damn how edible he may look. He's got dark brown skin, pale brown, creamy coffee...just avoid chocolate, please. Like Emmy pointed out, there's no vanilla-skinned or white-chocolate men running around.
So what's with (I'm stealing another quote) the "Chocolate Easter Bunny"?