Monday, March 13, 2006

Bookstore Prerequisites?

I shit you not...

The following is an e-mail I received last week - although the store contacted me over a month ago requesting and scheduling the appearance. I've omitted the identifiers.

Referral: From a Friend

Subject: Your Race

Message: Greetings, my name is [--] and I'm the director of [--], you are slated to do a book signing with us on the 18th of March. I want to know if you are a black/ African American person.


OK. Now. I have two questions for my blog audience. 1) Do you think this is an appropriate e-mail? 2) Author or not, if you receive this type of an inquiry, what's your response to it?

My Take?
1) Heck no. I don't think it's appropriate by any stretch of the imagination. Just what exactly happens if they get the "wrong" answer?

2) I'd cancel the appearance.

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  1. Nope... it is not an appropriate email. Work... any type... an employer should not discriminate due to race, gender, disability, or religion. I am not sure how you should deal with this situation. I don't think you should cancel the appearance. If they cancel it, I would call a lawyer. :-(

  2. OMG! That is so totally unbelievable that my first reaction is it can't be real. But since you put it up here, Millenia, I am certain it is all too unfortunately real. The frickin' nerve of some people!

    If this is a national chain, I'd be sending a note along about how inappropriate this question is and advising them I intended to take it to the top. I'd also contact the ACLU and whoever else I thought would get indignant over this. I would not cancel the appearance. It's like Tiger Woods winning the Masters and that guy making the fried chicken and watermelon comment. Tiger was classy about it and the guy ended up looking like a dumb shit (which he was). I'd make sure this idiot looks like the dumb shit he is.

    If you choose to cancel, I'd still make a big stink out of this. It's inappropriate and I don't think any national corporation wants to be identified with this type of blatant discrimination in their correspondence. What does your race matter? Why didn't they ask if you were handicapped and need special assistance? Or a nursing mother who needs a private area? Or a man who plans on eating chili and beans with a six pack half an hour before your appearance (so they can hold it outdoors)?

  3. Lynn - It's actually an independent bookstore, not a chain.

    I had to cancel. I abhor racial discrimination.

  4. Oh crud. Well they're still wrong and you are right to be mad! And I'd still think about making a public fuss. :/


    There are two types of bookstores out there. One is the commercial thats controlled by Whites, and the African American bookstore, AA if you will.

    Whichever one has done this thing "Millenia Black's" talking about, is guilty of Racism without excuses. Sad!

    Has the mainstream of people in the USA resolved to such low human aberrations? Is anything intelligible or commendable about negative-racism? If its negated then why the most so-called highclass people of all races seem to indulge in racism?

    Do you want to tell me that lots of money cover the sins of racism? I just don't think so.

    I'm sure at this time in our world history, everybody identifies with the enlightened age. Oh boy! Aren't we glad we're not living back in Middle Ages times, in European history between Classical Antiquity and the Renaissance...Circa 5th centiry up to the 14 or 15th centry? Of course! We're recipients of Renaissance turning into "The New Age".

    Well what brings us The New Age, isn't it prudence, knowledge understanding and a sense of rationalism?

    If so, should we be glowing at all, or so brazingly in such demeaning aberration such as stinking...Racism? Lets single out the people who are determined to perpetuate this social malignant-cancer of racism, shall we?

    "Shame on you bookstore, we implore you to start share in the great pride of social freedom, free from beastly emotions. Get on the intelligent side of moral and let all of our society breath more easily in the trust of each another."

    Peace and love-:)

  6. Hi Lynn - I think this blog is about as public a fuss as I have time to make right now. Aside from refusing to make the appearance. ;-) Too much stuff going on.

    Hi Global Man - I agree with what you've expressed. Racial discrimination is very ugly and reprehensible indeed. I feel it says a lot to refuse to be a part of it, from either side of the fence.

  7. Blech! Not appropriate or necessary in the slightest.

  8. Appauling. Simple appauling.

    It makes you feel sorry for the ignorant person who wrote it -- how he/she must be lacking! And for the people who are discriminated against!

    So sorry.

    I think I would call the store and ask to speak to the manager. I would try to get the person who did that FIRED!!! But I'm a firecracker. Eyes

  9. I see your point. Superficially it may appear you are overreacting or being too sensitive, but clearly this type of question proves problematic.

  10. Am I missing something? Was the bookstore trying to have a signing of all AA authors and that's why they asked?

    Yeah, I'm desperate to find some logical basis for this disturbing email...

  11. Hi HelenKay - See, I don't think there should ever be a logical basis for a bookstore to make this kind of an inquiry. That opens the door for a slew of such inquiries from a variety of business establishments with "logical" reasons for asking.

    I mean, suppose they don't get the answer they're looking for? What would they do? Treat the author differently somehow, based on the response? Or go one step further and cancel the event altogether?

    To avoid such inferences, business should be conducted as per the content of the author's work. Books. Period.

  12. Wow, my dear Millenia, like Lynn I can hardly believe that in 2006 someone would send an e-mail like that. I understand why you would cancel the appearance. I agree that you should probably try to get the person fired!

  13. I don't think that is is very professional to ask someone what their race origin is. That is suppose to be optional. So I do agree, CANCEL THE SIGNING!!!

  14. takes a lot to surprise me, but this does! I'm with Gina, I didn't think that type of overt racism was still being practiced. I'm not sure what I would've done. I certainly would've cancelled.

  15. Millenia,

    Wow. I know you said you have your hands full right now, but maybe you could follow up a little later with the owner/manager of the store? Just a thought.

    Take care,

  16. Let's just say that I've got bigger fish to fry right now.

    This race thing is a lot more corrosive than most people know.

  17. I agree that you should follow up with the store's management and forward the offensive email to let them know exactly why you cancelled. And then ask, "What's up with this?" b/c I sure would like to hear how that would justify that asinine email.

  18. Thanks so much for the support, Sharon. Asinine indeed!

  19. Wow. I probably don't want to know how the store explained your cancellation given that email enquiry.

  20. See, my curiosity would have gotten the better of me...I'd have called up the named person and ask him/her why they needed to know! I love to hear people stutter!

    I dunno'...maybe they got hit by a falling book shelf that morning...LOL

  21. Is it a racist question, since you're White? I don't see the racial discrimination that many are alluding to. The book store owner didn't ask your race, you responded and then there was a cancelation by the owner -- that would be discrimination. Why or how does asking the question automatically means one is discriminated against?

    I don't think there is a wrong answer, only an honest answer, which is the right(or correct) answer.

    Really amazing that many are making an incorrect assumption. *shrug*

  22. Really amazing that many are making an incorrect assumption. *shrug*

    Indeed it is amazing, "blacknproud" - LOL

  23. Dear Blacknproud: First off, Millenia isn't white! I met her when she came to DC and bought a copy of her book which she personally signed for me. What makes you think she's white? And more second off, why come to her blog with such a racially offensive comment? Black, white, it doesn't matter.......yes, it would still be a racist question if she were white or any race. Bias is bias, discrimination is discrimnation and I think that was the point here from the beginning.

    Millenia, Do you know who 'blacknproud' is? Any idea at all? Why in the world would s/he think you're white? Weird one indeed :0)

  24. Hey Gina - I haven't the foggiest idea who it is, and it boggles the mind that this person was so assertive when they're obviously the one making incorrect assumptions. :)

  25. I had a similar comment posted on my blog, someone saying there's no discrimination because you're white. Who knows what's wrong with some of these fools! Go figure.....

  26. Actually, there could be a logical explanation. The bookseller's question might have to do with media coverage. A number of publications and TV talk shows cater specifically to the African American community, so it's possible that he/she was just trying to figure out whether it was worth sending a press release to those media outlets.

    When I was a publicist, I used to do this all the time.
    If someone was of Irish descent, I tried to get The Irish Voice to write about it. If she was black, I wanted Essence to do a feature story. If she was Hispanic, I wanted Telemundo to interview her.

    It wasn't racism -- it was marketing.


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