The Billion-Dollar Romance Fiction Industry Has A Diversity Problem

From National Public Radio:

The romance genre is a juggernaut that continues unabated.

It’s a billion-dollar industry that outperforms all other book genres, and it’s remarkably innovative, with a strong tradition of independent and self-publishing.

It’s also an industry that’s been grappling with a diversity problem. The RITA Award, the top honor for romance writers awarded by the Romance Writers of America, was awarded this week, and the organization acknowledged that in its 36-year history, no black author has ever won the prize. According to the RWA’s own research, black authors have written less than half of 1 percent of the total number of books considered as prize finalists.

“It is impossible to deny that this is a serious issue and that it needs to be addressed,” said the organization in a statement. “Educating everyone about these statistics is the first step in trying to fix this problem. We know there are no perfect solutions but ignoring the issue is that not acceptable.” There’s certainly no lack of black readership: A Pew Research survey from 2014 found that the person most likely to read a book of any genre is a college-educated black woman.

Alisha Rai, the south Asian author of the three-part Forbidden Hearts series and nearly a dozen other romance novels, has been reading and writing the genre since she was a teenager. She tells NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro about her own experience with readers, publishers and writing about race.

. . . .

On systemic issues in the genre

I’ve heard horror stories from other authors [of color] about, you know, sitting at a table at the RWA national conference and people who are there will get up and walk away from them. In a lot of ways, it’s like going to a water cooler and being turned away from that water cooler. And when you’re in this industry, it’s a very solitary life. We write, and we keep to ourselves in a lot of ways; we’re a little bit like hermits. And this is our way to see our colleagues, is to go to these meetings and conferences. When you feel like you’re not a part of it, it’s very demoralizing.

The organization is composed of so many people, it is hard to get everybody together and moving in the same position, and I understand that progress can be slow. … This is the first year that I’ve even joined RWA, because I felt sort of a tentative hope that maybe we are moving forward, maybe I wouldn’t feel so left out constantly.

. . . .

On her own experience with publishers

Getting published was pretty tough. My first book was more sort of on the sexier side, and the heroine was south Asian. … You sort of fall into an internalized trap, all of my characters [before] were always white, and my heart just wasn’t in it. So I felt like, this wasn’t a book I hadn’t see anywhere, so I want to write it. … I shopped the book around [with different publishers], and I was told to change the characters’ ethnicities. “We can take this if you can edit it.” … It is disheartening to hear, “Well, we can’t really connect to her, but we can if you make her white.”

Link to the rest at NPR

PG suggests the problems of the romance industry must be laid at the door of the traditional publishers in the romance industry. They have decided and continue to decide which authors are published and which are not. Which material will be included in those books and which will not.

If asked which segment of the traditional publishing business has treated its authors the worst, without hesitation, PG would name romance. Exhibit A (there are others) would be Harlequin, which settled a large class-action lawsuit by its authors for substantial underpayment of royalties over several years.

Romance publishers are the single best reason for authors to self-publish. There’s a lot of money to be made in romance and indie authors are earning far more of that money than their traditionally-published counterparts.

62 thoughts on “The Billion-Dollar Romance Fiction Industry Has A Diversity Problem”

    • RWA (Romance Writers of America) presents the RITA award. Doesn’t change your point, just wanted to prevent confusion.

    • I have a feeling they wouldn’t be happy with categories. Say you had “best overall romance”, “best black romance”, “best Hispanic romance”, “best bi-racial romance”, “best LGBT romance”, etc. “Best overall” would still skew white, and then people would complain that all the “diverse” (gross misuse of that word, but whatev) romances are shunted off to the lesser categories. They’d argue that “diverse” romances deserved to be considered just as romances, not as “[adjective] romances”. And they would be, those book still considered when determining “best overall”, but if a normal, white romance won, the detractors wouldn’t believe it.

      No, what they want is for romances with white protagonists to be marked down for having white protagonists and preference given to “diverse” romances. Or for the RITA judges to agree not to consider white romances at all (or to at least consider only the exact same number of white romances as others, despite proportional representation among books/readers).

      You can’t win the “diversity” game. The only solution is to not play.

        • Or, now here’s a thought: rather than ghettoize fic written by/for African-Americans or any authors of color, declare ineligibility for any publisher whose titles won in the past five years. Also the authors. This would also help by getting rid of the category that’s tailored for Harlequin’s major lines’ preferred length: no more “Short Contemporary Romance” for the next five years. Arbitrary my idea may be, but it might regrade the playing field and introduce some welcome change.

          • Thing is, if you make it just the subcategories, you then have to create 1 for the “white” characters, too. So everyone gets ghettoized equally, in a manner that sabotages interference from general bias Folks who want to stick to a specific category can avoid getting offended (thereby reducing trolling to folks who seek to do it on purpose), and those who want to try things from different categories can more easily.

            This enables a more supportive environment within each category. If one group gets divided into subcategories, let it be by universal criteria that will apply no matter the subcategory—just as the broader categories would be universally determined by ethnicity/race/etc.

            I can’t think of any examples where disqualifying someone based on prior wins actually functioned to increase the category pool. Perhaps you know examples I don’t, but I can only think of examples of it increasing the rip-offs and look-alikes.

            But then, I’m not a fan of “overall” categories, in general. There’s always bias.

  1. Back when I was a romance-reading fiend, I heard the very same words of advice from a top Harlquin editor: minority couples don’t sell. She didn’t out and out say “make em white.” But the implication was clear that with few exceptions (an Indian/white romance, for ex), Latinos and Asians and Blacks in a romance submission would likely sink it, as they could not expect to sell what they wished. The market, the market. That was circa 1992.

    Funny how black, Latina, and Asian romance readers have had no trouble reading romances with white/Euro protagonists and enjoying them just fine. If we can connect, why can’t anyone? I’m sorry, but sounds like racism is alive and well, still, in the reading public.

    • I’m curious how true that really is, and how much of it is self-perpetuating. I recently commissioned covers for a romance trilogy I plan to write. The first was already made and had a white couple. No problem, I liked the cover. When I worked with the designer in making the other two, I didn’t specify what ethnicity the other four people were, and I offered sample stock images (to give her an idea of what I wanted) with a variety of ethnicities represented. Every design she offered back to me was all white. So it seems that “conventional wisdom” that experienced cover designers have as to what sells says that, unless specifically requested otherwise, it’s best to make all the romance characters white. (OTOH, we did end up using two white couples, photos that I had to choose myself, which I picked not because they’re white but because the couples and those photos specifically matched the tone I wanted and the overall stylistic look of the covers. So I also wonder how much of it is that “conventional wisdom” and how much is just a dearth of non-white options in stock photos.)

      • …how much is just a dearth of non-white options in stock photos…

        That’s been a real issue for me. I write fantasy, not romance, and the people in one of my cultures resemble the people of Tibet. But nearly all of the images of Tibetans are categorized for editorial use only. Meaning that you can use them in news articles, but not commercially on a book cover.

        I managed to find the photo of a Chinese woman that worked for one of my book covers, but even that was really hard to find. I must have searched a dozen different sites over the course of two weeks. The next time I needed an image to represent my Hammarleedings…I didn’t even try to find something accurate.

        • Another case where it’s safer to ‘roll your own art’ using (or paying someone to use) some 3D art program (or pay an artist of course) so ‘you’ then own the copyright to the image.

        • I didn’t even bother, I just went custom. The kind of stock art you found could still be useful for someone with mad photo manipulation skillz; mine are not even mildly eccentric. I found an artist on Deviant Art who was very reasonable. I’ll shoot you an email if you want. I think you may also have luck with finding someone at CG Society.

      • Harlequin could afford to have photos made, if they wished, of any sort of couple. Or to do non-couple covers. I have many romances where the covers are landscapes/houses/dark cityscapes/etc, without couples. This particular publisher–having been the largest one publishing romances–had no excuse not to get suitable cover art or images.

        As far as indies, yes. Big issue. I’m a biracial Latina, and I’ve done some covers for friends (one a black writer). And finding Latina and black stock is a slog.

        • This is frustrating. This niche should be filled, and helping pay the rent for young photographers and their photogenic biracial, Asian/South Asian/Native/Hispanic/Black friends.

          • When a niche for a service isn’t filled, it’s usually because there is too little demand for that specific service.

              • Demand reflects tastes and preferences of individuals. Complaints have little effect on them. Too little demand for Chunky Fish ice cream? Complaints won’t change that.

                • Chicken, egg, perhaps. As someone who has browsed a lot for couple/people stock suitable for fiction (fantasy and romance), I noticed a bit of a trend in the photographer names. They sound Eastern European/Russian. Some I looked up (I sometimes search by a photographer if they seem to have the right look) have been Dutch, Finnish, Russian, Ukrainian. Anyone who searches stock a lot probably has had this thought: “Yep. She looks Russian.”

                  For one example, take a look at this article in the Atlantic on stock photography. Not for the article. Look at the names of attribution on the 4 photos used in the article.
                  One in Serbia.
                  One in NY.
                  One in the Netherlands.
                  One in the Russian Federation.

                  The one from NY has in his bio that he’s been there a year and his Linked in shows he is originally from the Ukraine.

                  That’s the pattern I’ve seen in browsing several stock sties. A lot of Russian, Ukrainian, Eastern European photographers offering the sorts of couple and female shots of the sort that are suitable. It is not a wonder white predominates.

                  And if the larger publishers were discouraging minority heroines/couples, they wouldn’t be seeking minority stock.

                  I think demand is a factor–of course. But I think source of affordable or suitable photos is one as well.

                • Chicken, egg, perhaps.

                  Demand curves are not an example of chicken/egg. Each person has their own tastes and preferences. This is easy to test. Just ask them.

                  Goods are offered at various prices. Consumers are willing to pay various prices for any given good based on their personal tastes and preferences.

                  Those preferences don’t change because someone else doesn’t share them and complains about them.

                  A larger demand for any good results in an increased price or increased supply. We see this all the time.

                  At the same time, we also see people who want to tell the rest of us what out tastes and preferences should be. They don’t like the aggregate expression of those tastes and preferences as shown in the market.

                  Often they tell us one good or another is being kept off the market by biased sellers. This would mean that no seller is willing to make a boatload of money from an unmet demand.

                • Supply side. If a lot of the photographers offering affordable stock of fiction ready type photography or illustrations are from countries with few Asians/Latinos/blacks/biracial folks, then the stock will reflect the photographer’s environment. Particularly since it’s obvious in many of these they are taking the photos in their Russian/Serbian/Ukrainian/etc cities, nations.

                • Supply side? If there was a demand it would be met. Suppliers can come from any country. Suppliers don’t have to come from Russia, Serbia, or Ukraine. There is no barrier to entering the market.

                • Okay, you totally don’t get my point. So I’ll leave with this demographics of Ukraine. Tell me where they are going to find the black, Latina, Chinese, etc, models to offer stock?

                  Ethnic groups: Ukrainian 77.8%, Russian 17.3%, Belarusian 0.6%, Moldovan 0.5%, Crimean Tatar 0.5%, Bulgarian 0.4%, Hungarian 0.3%, Romanian 0.3%, Polish 0.3%, Jewish 0.2%, other 1.8% (2001 est.)

                • Okay, you totally don’t get my point.

                  There is nothing that stops Mexicans from doing the same thing Ukrainians are doing. And Mexico has a pretty high percentage of Latinas. Probably pushing 50%. They’re probably not doing it because of a lack of demand.

                • I have found Latina and Asian stocks that are for non-fiction (business books, homemaker, etc). It’s the stock for fiction that is lacking. So, perhaps they are making money off the business relevant stock and can’t be bothered with the more glamourous/emotional/romantic/sci-fi-ey stuff.

                • Perhaps they are making money off the things for which there is a demand and don’t bother with things for which there is much less demand. Maybe they are smart people and try to maximize profit.

                • A lot of Russian, Ukrainian, Eastern European photographers…

                  Mirtika, yes, I have definitely noticed this. I write fantasy, so I am generally looking for images suitable for that genre. Which has its own challenges. Maybe it’s just because I’m not all that skilled at search, but I have to wade through tons of images that might work for steamy romance in order to find those that work for fantasy, and not big-epic-quest fantasy either, but character-driven secondary-world fantasy.

                  Of the ones that come close to what I want, the vast majority seem to be created by Russian and eastern European artists.

  2. Back when I was a romance-reading fiend,hitting the conferences to meet fave authors and editors, I heard the very same words of advice from a top Harlequin editor: minority couples don’t sell. She didn’t out and out say “make em white.” But the implication was clear that with few exceptions (an Indian/white romance, for ex), Latinos and Asians and Blacks in a romance submission would likely sink it, as they could not expect to sell what they wished. The market, the market. That was circa 1992.

    Yeah, well, indies seem to be selling minority romances. I’ve seen several in the top 10 of their categories (ie, contemp romance or Inspirational or etc).

    Funny how black, Latina, and Asian romance readers have had no trouble over the years supporting romance publishers, reading romances with white/Euro protagonists and enjoying them just fine. If we can connect with heroines/heroes of different cultures and colors, why can’t anyone? The echoes of the “R” word…

    • “If we can connect with heroines/heroes of different cultures and colors, why can’t anyone?”

      I wish you would stop generalizing so. Who says a whole lot of us don’t? I grew up on fantasy. Characters don’t have to even be human for me to connect with them. I’ve never understood any need to have characters share something as specific as skin tone or gender for the reader to connect with them.

      • In a lot of SF&F race isn’t even discussed.

        In some cases a character’s ethnicity might be relevant but most authors tended to sidestep the gatekeeper prejudices by not stating it openly. If a reader wants to see Elijah Bai!ey as a black cop (in Asimov’s ROBOT NOVELS) he’ll find nothing that says otherwise.

        At most hair and eye color get mentioned. Context might point at one ethnicity or other but readers are free to interpret things as they prefer. After all, all fiction is set in parallel universes anyway… 😉

      • I’m repeating what the editor said. And what I’ve heard other writers say in one form or another was told them, too. That’s why I’m generalizing. The editors said then that the ethnic/POC couples didn’t sell, and since the white couples did, then the conclusion one must reach is a large segment of the readers who did buy white couples would not buy non-white couples. What other conclusion would you reach when a top editor of the top publisher of romances then made such a statement?

        I mostly read SFF (I did have 13 years of romance prime preference, sometimes reading 3 in one day), and I can connect with aliens and diverse characters, too. That doesn’t mean this ability to associate carries to all readers.

        • Back when I worked in an office, there was a guy who came in and set up shop, for about two days every two months. He sold discount books and knickknacks. Most of the books were nonfiction or inspirational, but there was also a whole table of urban black romance novels.

          Most of them were along the lines of seventies saga romances, where the woman goes through a lot of picaresque suffering and adventure, meets various guys, and then finds true love. Others were about “bad boys gone good,” which included ex-cons as well as drug dealers and other unsavory characters. There were also a lot of romances with pastor/minister heroes. Those Christian or inspirational romances seemed to include a lot more serious problems than the Amish or evangelical Christian romances on the next table over.

          When I was working in a call center, one of the other ladies was a slush reader for a small press targeting African-American women. She also passed around romances from them and from other similar presses. Nowadays, my local libraries carry a lot of these black-targeted romances. Again, they tend to be covering a significantly different territory than what readers usually think of, when they think of genre romance.

          Think of a Tyler Perry movie (which are usually based on the old conventions of touring plays and musicals which were targeted at a black audience). Is it very much like most contemporary movies aimed at white audiences? And yet, it’s not that different from a lot of older movies aimed at, say, white immigrant audiences, or a Bollywood flick.

          “Contemporary romance” is usually aimed specifically at evoking warm romance fuzzies and hot sex. “Urban romance” is more about providing a full-spectrum saga experience, evoking all sorts of emotions.

          If you’re not writing in the same genre, to all intents and purposes, and if you’re not really interested in attracting RITA judges (which most of the black-targeted small presses and indies aren’t), you’re not going to see a lot of awards from RITA. You will, however, get plenty of acclaim from the people who actually care about your actual genre.

          • Let me give an example.

            There’s a recentish book in one of the library ebook apps, which is about a newish convert woman who marries a very popular and handsome minister. The main conflict is that all the local church ladies hate her. They dig into her background and publicize old dirt. Meanwhile, the new convert tries hard to become a good minister’s wife, with all the challenges of organization, as well as helping congregation members who need help but don’t want it from her. Will love and Christ triumph? Or will the minister fall for a seemingly more perfect, unmarried church lady?

            Obviously this is within the bounds of romance plots. But it’s also obviously not a common sort of plot for a contemporary (or historical) genre romance.

            (People would be more used to seeing it as a story about a countess from an unapproved background learning to run a great household, or the like.)

        • It’s more your classification of white people not reading non-white characters as “racist” that I have a problem with. Even assuming the publisher’s statement is true (which I have real doubts about, since I really have little faith in tradpub’s interpretation of what the reading public wants), why would that be racism?

          A black person wants to read about black characters? Totally fine, normal, and expected.

          A Hispanic person wants to read about Hispanic characters? Totally fine, normal, and expected.

          A white person wants to read about white characters? Racist.

          Um, what?

          • I’m actually surprised they haven’t gone after Hallmark. Their romcom paens to family and small towm values isn’t reflective of urban culture of any ethnicity.
            And all those blondes and Canadians!

          • It’s not about wanting to read, but about what they did not want to read being tied to race/ethnicity.

            The way the top editor I heard (and other writers of color who heard similar things from different mouths) phrased it, was that the readers did not want to read POC. They could read white folks from the past (historicals), present (contemporary), various nations (generally US, European), but had little interest in reading characters who may be living in the US and Europe, even, past or present, who were not white. I would not have suspected such a thing, since I don’t care if the characters have white or brown or black or tawny complexions. So, one has to assume that if these books sold well for publishers, the editors would have been happy to say, “Yeah, sure, hand those mss over.”

            But saying, “WE tried. Didn’t sell. Expect yours won’t sell. You may want to consider rewriting and making the characters white,” is clearly indicating there is a type of racism at work that does not allow certain readers (not all, some) to identify with a person unlike them in terms of racial profile.

            As I said before, my black and Latino and Asian friends have read romances, happily, with white characters for years before we happened upon lines that experimented with POC characters (Encanto was one for Latinas way back, for ex). It never occurred to me not to buy a romance because the heroine, unlike me, had milky white skin, red hair, and green eyes. So what, would have been my response. It’s a love story. I wanna read a love story.

            But if someone says, “I don’t wanna read a love story if the couple is black, Latino, Asian..” what else would one gather but a type of racism, no matter how subconscious, is at work?

            Considering I still here nasty things said about mixed race couples in this day and age, and still here things such as “black men are ugly” or “Asian men are not attractive” (that last one is especially interesting to me when I hear it at the gym or from acquaintances said without any hint that they are classifying a whole race as non-attractive). I do think there is some racism behind it. Some.

            • You may want to consider rewriting and making the characters white,” is clearly indicating there is a type of racism at work that does not allow certain readers (not all, some) to identify with a person unlike them in terms of racial profile.

              There is nothing at all clear that it is racist. The company wants to make money. No author, and no publisher has any obligation to any unnamed group of certain readers.

              There is little reason to pay any attention to the activists who see racism everywhere. People have their own tastes and preferences. They have zero obligation to follow anyone’s lead in those tastes and preferences.

              It doesn’t matter what someone else wants us to read. It doesn’t matter what someone else wants us to write. It doesn’t matter what they think of our choices.

  3. What’s especially funny about this piece is that NPR didn’t talk to any minority authors before they published.

    I’;ve heard NPR contacted a POC romance author, asked for other authors to talk to, and was given a list of 4 black authors and one white author. Guess which authors NPR did not contact?

  4. The problem is that we don’t have a government agency to enforce racial quotas in entertainment and other industries. It’s high time such an agency was established, with clear outlines as to precisely what percentage of each “race” must compose every facet of our lives. Until this happens, true equality will never be achieved.

  5. “black authors have written less than half of 1 percent of the total number of books considered as prize finalists.”

    I would be interested in knowing the percent of black authors who are members of RWA. My gut tells me that there’s probably a strong tendency for self-published authors as a whole to ignore RWA. If the majority of minority romances are being written by self-published authors who aren’t members, then their books aren’t eligible for the RITA and that’s a whole different story than those books being snubbed.

    I have to conclude that this NPR article may have an agenda.

  6. I slightly quibble with one thing that PG said: “If asked which segment of the traditional publishing business has treated its authors the worst, without hesitation, PG would name romance.” It’s only slightly because in my experience, category romance’s abuse of authors is matched — on balance — by religious publishers. In the spirit of Bob’s Country Bunker (The Blues Brothers), I’d name both kinds: Country AND Western.

    But it’s a very minor quibble indeed. And those with a particularly twisted sense of humor might ponder the irony of “rampant abuse” in those two particular segments… or perhaps not, given the origin of commercial publishing in priviligio and similar Renaissance-era religious-and-cultural censorship schemes across Europe.

  7. In an era when anyone can hit the Amazon Kindle Upload button, who cares about those who don’t?

  8. There’s always room for improvement, but I’d hate to see RWA knocked down when the organization really seems to have been seeking diversity for some years, such as through its wonderful speakers and workshop presenters at the national conferences. Example: Beverly Jenkins was keynote speaker in San Diego a couple of years ago, the last time I attended, and she’s definitely not the only minority speaker on their roster.

    Interestingly, Vivian Stephens, one of the founders of RWA, was African-American. She was an editor at Harlequin and bought one of my books.

  9. Some facts:
    My “White” protagonist Romance books outsell (like 99.9%) my minority Protagonist Romance books. When I wrote the minority Protag Romance novels, I knew they probably weren’t going to sell as well, but I wrote them anyway. But I didn’t expect them to have such a low level of sales. I have to admit, Harlequin knows what they are talking about.

    My readers come from a wide variety of ethnic groups. (Many of them include photos on their FB or email profiles). Readers know what they want and they’ll buy it.

  10. By the way, I’ve had two Hispanic main characters (one man, one woman) in Harlequins. As far as I know, their ethnicity didn’t affect sales, but then, it wasn’t played up, either.

    For the curious, the titles were Million-Dollar Nanny (which I just reissued as an ebook) and The Doctor + Four.

  11. just a comment
    many people have their own lens to try to see through, in and over about various matters, including this one. Some use free trade iodeal. Some use parity. Some use religion, some use ‘i know because i know’, said the one-eyed man in the land of the blind. Some see through many lenses, from more than one angle

    With regard to minority characters in a romance novel. As a minority mestizo de mexico, I would just mention that I personally dont know anyone of our heritage group who relates to the word ‘hispanic.’ We relate by nation of citizenry, often then, first language group, then nation of heritage if different than citizenship, then tribal group, family clan groups, then political group, religious group, possibly caste, area lived in, how many ba-jillion primos one can brag on, lol…in about that order.

    That makes for individualized descriptions of persons that dont easily fit into the idea of race. Not even close.

    Many groups have gone through many ‘self namings’ over time, reflecting often different self names when victims of kidnapping, invasion, rape and colonization, through to freedom fighting, and as the group evolves from independence forward in time.

    Hispanic is a word used by the usa government for their census that counts people like cattle and hens. They apparently chose not to have people ‘report’ by heritage or exact language group, or country of birth, or other sets of features that would tell alot about what people actually are, with a few hints about why/what they believe in values, religion, politics, etc.

    So a usa citizen who is Zacatecas whose first language was nahuatl, who belongs to blue clay clan en familia, was pachuco in los angeles for a time, now calls himself chicano, and who is a non-compliant but deep Catholic with blends of the old nahua cultures of Gods and Goddesses, and who has thousands of primos who he knows by family names. And the fellow’s name is Zephyr and he runs a joint called All American Bar and Grill in Philly.

    He’s not hispanic. Zephyr is far more common in the usa with rich background than most people might guess.

    I find it maybe better most time, besides calling people brother and sister, just to ask people what they want to be called. Some people say, ‘nothing;’ that their given name is fine; others have other preferences.

    Also, what does a Hispanic look like? Dark skinned? Wrong. Millions of people who are mexicans are all the way from light to dark, and that’;s just the afro-mexicanos who were dragged from their homes in Africa and sold along the engtire eastern coastlines of mexico, central and south america. Mexicans come in all colors, {i never have nderstood why people wnt to divide people by skin color] but also many many combinations: chinese-mexican, french speaking red=blond haired mexican from the time of the invader-fool Maximillian who thought it would be nice to have mexico as his private nation away from france…. Mexican Irish, mexican german [like frida kahlo] jewish mexican, spanish y indio mexican, and many many more .

    Meaning there are well defined layers of cultures in mexico, and there is no stereotypical mexican to represent all persons in /from mexico. Not sure how one thereby defines a ‘hispanic’ anything in books… meaning deriving from the same language base, spanish– [as in puerto rico and spain, and many many dialects of spanish throughout the world and the americas]

    Well that’s enough for now, lol

    • Thanks for this, USAF.

      The pastor of my church is from Hungary and came to the US as a young woman. She was quite confused when she started to encounter all the paperwork we have here, being especially bewildered by the insistence that she categorize herself by “race.” Apparently they didn’t have that emphasis when she was growing up in Hungary. Not that her culture of origin was free of human flaws, but they tended to focus on nation of origin rather than physical parameters.

      Anyway, cutting my long story short, 😉 she felt a strong desire to draw her own checkbox for her use and to label it “human.”

      • I hope she did.
        If more people did that we might not have to deal with as much c–p.

        I tried it once in a “sensitivity training” class. They wanted everyone to pick a pigeonhole, to start with. Took me a while to get through to the indoctrinator that where I come from people don’t care what you look like, just what you do.

      • There’s a reason why she never had to deal with “race” in Hungary–the country is a racial monobloc. Ethnicity, on the other hand…

  12. PG, are you ok?
    If you see this, can you just let us know?
    Do you need help?

    I dont mean to intrude, but am just seeing the absence of you here for the last couple days.

    Please let us know.

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