Historical romances without black voices…should I keep reading them?

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As a child I used to go into my grandmother’s old, worn basket which sat by her bed full of Harlequin Historicals and romances. As a bibliophile, I loved books and wanted to read ANYTHING. So in essence I moved from R. L.Stine to Babysitter’s club to Historicals with women on the cover who looked nothing like me.

Let me explain briefly. I am still so totally in love with historicals as they were one of the books that captured my imagination and feelings. However eventually, becoming a teen I realized that those ladies being courted and described as buxom and beautiful looked nothing like me. There I was a lithe, athletic black girl with long braids reading books about women from every culture but mine.

But I loved them anyway. They’re just books…right?

Well, I believe the reason most blacks stay away from historicals is because blacks in history did not have it totally good: no possessions to call their own, losing their families, and should I mention slavery?. I mean, there I am reading a wonderful romance about a red haired chic and her chisled beau and thinking: “Wow, what a dream! I can write like this!”

But it will have to be drastically different.

For one, my black characters will have to be realistically set in the 1400s, 1500s, 1600s….their talk and walk, struggles, appearances..

Second, what kind of romance can spring up for us in times of slavery? Sure some taboo, some uneasy lusts and of course the absolute dominace of a person because of their culture and that is really not romantic at all.

Most blacks don’t want to be reminded of any of that.

However I have read Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed series and must say her creation of Doro and Anyanwu as Africans with special gifts put a wonderful spin on things.

Goes to show there is still some areas in history that can be plotted out.

Bottom line: A story is a story. I read anything, just get me hooked with the plot and I’m good.

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