Since I was first introduced to the romance genre, I have had unbelievably high standards and the delusions of a hopeless romantic. I was obsessed with anything that involved romance, but as I got older, I noticed the regression of the romance genre.
As a preteen, I would eat up Troy and Gabriella’s relationship from “High School Musical” like everyone else. Still, as a young adult, I now notice how problematic their relationship was.
This was my sign that romance in the hands of Hollywood would most likely be corny, cheesy and not thought out.
After high school, I began drifting away from romance movies and books because none of them piqued my interest nor did they seem organic and original. I believe the authors found a formula guaranteed for bestsellers and did not see a reason to think outside the box.
In addition, there was not enough representation in those books, and I felt some disconnect from the protagonist and/or other characters.
That was until I got into book club and stumbled upon #blackbooktok, where people recommend books on TikTok written by Black authors.
Since becoming a victim of the algorithm, my reading list could stretch longer than Santa’s naughty or nice list. Seeing people who look like me reviewing books with main characters who look like me is so refreshing.
Popular media outlets tend to represent Black people as poor, aggressive and/or struggling, which is an unfortunate truth we have to go through. However, it should be normalized for people like us to have a story that does not involve us at our lowest.
Seeing the black stereotypes in the media is heartbreaking enough, but when those stereotypes are lived in real life it is just as gut wrenching.
When we see ourselves on television act a certain way, sometimes we believe that must be all that we are.
However, reading books like “Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry” by Joya Goffney or “Honey and Spice” by Bolu Babalola really get me excited and inspired to read more books by Black authors.
The story can either be completely original or a tale as old as time and still have beautiful representation. The tales of a quirky girl who lost her journal of secrets and the story of a school talk show host opened my eyes to the unlimited possibilities of a Black protagonist.
Now, I am not saying that other books recommended on BookTok are not just as good, but personally, for me, it is a breath of fresh air to relate to a character deeper than surface level.
I feel more invested in the book with characters that have commonalities with me, can fully understand and relate with me.
According to Chatelaine, it said, “It doesn’t help that the industry itself is overwhelmingly white, from the editorial assistants reading the slush pile—the scores of submissions publishers receive from hopeful authors—to the agents, editors, marketers, booksellers and publishers in charge.”
I appreciate how Black authors are creating a safe space in the publishing work for other black people to create stories for little black kids, teens and young adults.
Publishing companies are being demanded to open their eyes to the new perspective on Black people.
I also appreciate how Black authors implement everyday struggles that people of color still go through to this day without making it the central part of the story.
It gives my heart joy to know my people can have a happily ever after in the type of world we live where we always get the short end of the stick.
Everyone deserves soft and gentle love, and while every love varies in all forms, everyone deserves peace and calm in their wild, whirlwind life, especially people of color.
These novels bring the bookworm out of me in the best way imaginable. I even had to download Goodreads to extend my reading list.
I am excited for the books I have read getting the recognition they deserve as well as the books I have yet to read. Knowing there is someone who looks like me being a huge romantic swells my heart.
The creative spaces Black authors have created motivates me to create those very same spaces when I have my own company. I like thinking outside the box and writing without walls of confinement.
I hope one day my writing can bond people together and get them talking. Having people start conversations and discussion sessions over my work would be so fun and filling. I would even join in on sessions because what can I say: I love when people love.