Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Addressing Prejudice in Romance Fiction: It's All There, Folks!!

Yesterday was Martin Luther King Day here in the United States and throughout this weekend the classic movie stations were playing some of the finest of the films that were made with all black casts or which were pioneer efforts to bring the harmful realities of segregation and racial prejudice to the attention of the public. Probably the most upsetting movie forth years ago was the last movie Spencer Tracy made: "Guess Whose Coming To Dinner" where an upper class white girl brought her black fiance home to meet mom and dad. I can remember how that set America on its ear!! It got me to thinking of the many novels I have read over my life, more in recent months as I have been reviewing books, but certainly a hefty number of novels of all kinds.

Even in the most benign of romance literature there always crops up mention of some kind of prejudice whether it be racial or rooted in social class distinctions. In recent years there have been a number of authors who have deliberately made racial and class prejudice the subjects of
their stories. Writers who specializ
e in Western topics, whether contemporary or historical, are really good about not backing away from prejudice against Native Americans. This is true especially of novels set in the post Civil War period. We have all heard President Grant's opini

on: "The only good Indian is a dead Indian." It was the feeling most late 19th century Americans ascribed to then.
Now we also have a number of authors who are bring interracial romance into the genre. Marilyn Lee, Brenda Jackson, Lena Matthews, Dahlia Rose an
d others have written clearly and specifically about interracial romantic
relationships, marriage, children, and community involvement. Some like Ms Lee have also written novels about Big Beautiful Women and have even brought that added theme into interracial novels as well. And what about the prejudice that is deeply ingrained in our culture against older wo
men getting involved with younger men? That's one that pushes lots more emotional "buttons" than most people would admit. Yet it is becoming more and more a part of romance fiction and as an older woman, that suits me just fine!

Sean Michael, Stephanie Hecht, J.P. Bowie, Cameron Ride and Josh Lanyon are just a few of the authors who are writing about same sex unions and romance, both M/M and F/F. Readers are now finding more and more same-sex romance available and it is good stuff. It is a reminder that human love is wonderful and it comes in all forms. People are people and their needs are their own. Finding that special person who makes one's heart whole is just as special if it is in GLBT context as it is in a "straight" relationship.

This particular holiday is not one that was a part of my growing-up experience as it is a relatively recent addition to the calendar of federal holidays. Yet I am glad when it comes each year as it gives all of us opportunities--whether we take them or not is up to each person--to think on the many ways we screen people out of our lives because they are different. There was a time when even good people, religious leaders and others believed slavery was good because it was "the way of the world" and was supported by religious teaching. Thankfully, we now know how blind they were. It is my sincere hope that each year that goes by will see all of us becoming more accepting of others, no matter how different they may be.

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