Why Do Stores Still Practice Segregation?

An enjoyable read, but good luck finding it in the romance section!

An enjoyable read, but good luck finding it in the romance section!

Back in the late 90s, when I was still in school, I remember one of my friends raving about a book by science-fiction author Octavia Butler. I wanted to give her a try, so the next time I was in Borders, I went looking in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section for one of her books. To my surprise, I could find no books by this award-winning author on the shelf. I knew Butler had won Hugo and Nebula awards as well as receiving a MacArthur genius grant, so I decided that perhaps the store now classified her as “literary”, and I went looking in general fiction.

I must have looked lost because at that point, a clerk asked me what I was trying to find. When I told her, she smiled and said, “Oh yes. We’ve got several of her books.” To my surprise, she led me back through the store to a small alcove by the bathrooms – and a single bookcase labeled “African-American Literature.” Sure enough, Octavia Butler’s books resided there, shelved in with everything from The Color Purple to the works of Maya Angelou to Frederick Douglass’ Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. It made little sense, and one reason I remember the incident so clearly is because of how much it bothered me. The store grouped all of the other books in the store by genre and/or subject matter. All these books had in common was the race of their authors, and that grouping made no sense. If a fantasy book by any other author is fantasy first and foremost, why should a fantasy novel by an African-American author suddenly become a work that is first about the author’s race and only secondarily about the type of story written? Continue reading

The Melting Pot Challenge

Haunting Jasmine I consider myself a reader who enjoys a wide variety of books. In terms of historical periods, I enjoy everything from the Roman Empire to WWII, and I now read a lot of Inspirational Historicals. In fact, the main reason I began reading Inspirationals was for the wider selection of historical periods. I also read a variety of sub-genres and genres. I look for books set in a wide range of locations. Then this past month Dear Author posted a blog which inspired this post on the potpourri board. The post had me wondering about the diversity of my reading in a whole other area.

How many romances do I read that involve characters of varying ethnicities who are neither white Americans nor English people? Looking back at my 2012 reading year I saw that as of the last week of June, I’d read seven. Continue reading