October is Domestic Violence Month. So it was difficult when I received a 1-star review for my short story, Flee with the words that the heroine (a domestic violence victim) was dumb, weak, and boring.
Of course, as I read the review, it became quite clear to me that the reviewer did not understand women who have been abused. In fact, that the reviewer did what most people do when faced with these victims, they characterize them as dumb, weak, and stupid. Moreover, abuse victims are seen as being incapable of making sound decisions when, in fact, the women are just trying to deal and survive.
When I wrote Shania’s character, I realized that I was taking a leap. I realized that I was being experimental. In many paranormal romances, the heroines are usually white, 20-something women whose largest problems are that they are still virgins and have been labeled as “different” because of their paranormal abilities.
Let me take a step back. Years ago, I studied Africana womanism for about a year in graduate school. It was by far the toughest program of study that I ever took. It was hard for me to learn about the deep layers of oppression heaped upon the vast majority of Africana and third world women. But on some levels, Africana women are seen only as strong, fierce, and tough. In truth, the oppression thrust upon Africana women which is based upon race, class, and gender can only be characterized as an atrocity.
Back to Shania, there’s this stereotype of the “strong black woman” who can do and survive all things, easily. She’s supposed to be a natural leader and certainly is incapable of suffering PTSD or of being a victim. She always fights back and could not possibly be submissive, weak, and confused. That sista betta’ always think on her feet, make the best logical decisions when she’s trying to survive because that’s just how it’s supposed to be…
I believe that this is one of the reasons that Domestic Violence is treated the way that it is in the African American community. This is a tricky stereotype, especially, when that woman is the victim of domestic abuse.
I’ve written an unlikeable and perhaps for some, unbelievable character. Shania goes against the grain. What I’ve found is that readers either “get her” or they don’t. Then, there are those that “get her” and understand the seriousness of domestic violence but want for me to not write these controversial issues. It’s better for them to avoid discussing Domestic Violence in the African American community. “Alicia, can you please make it go away?”
I’ve been grateful to the many personal emails, direct tweets, and phone calls that I’ve received from readers who understand and simply want more of Shania’s story. They won’t post, tweet, or make comments because of the seriousness of the subject matter but they’ve asked me when I’ll finish Shania’s story. They want to see Shania triumph and find the love that she deserves.
That makes me feel good. They give me hope.
I will complete the Soul Eaters novel. I have a couple of projects in the works but look for something by Fall 2013.
The last thing that I’d like to say is this…
During the month of October, make sure you keep those women who are victims of Domestic Violence in your thoughts and prayers. Give them the support that they need emotionally, financially and spiritually so that they are able to survive. That is all…