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Instead of writing about our beauty, our pain, our history, we write about our dysfunction,

throw in a few sexual escapades, and call it erotica.  Yes, our stories need

to be told, but glorifying behaviors that are unhealthy isn’t art.

 

 

The State of Black Erotica

By Scottie Lowe

 

Perhaps one day someone will convene a panel of scholars and academics that discusses Black sexuality and that addresses the subject of Black erotica.  From the rhythmic tales of the sagacious griot, weaving tales of slaves whose love endured the horrors of chattel slavery, to the Harlem Renaissance with its unapologetic look at that mysterious element which made our natures rise, to the soul-stirring harmonies of R&B that have been the soundtrack to our seductions for decades, Black people have always had a long tradition of erotic expression.  In 1992, an editor by the name of Miriam Decosta-Willis, published an anthology of erotica called Erotique Noire that was not only groundbreaking, it truly was a celebration of Black sensuality and set the stage for a new genre of expression.   Today, if you venture into the African American section of any bookstore, it’s filled with shelf after shelf of degrading, crude, and offensive books that don’t even deserve to be called erotica.  We’ve come a long way baby, but it certainly hasn’t been an erotic evolution. 

One can’t have a discussion of the topic of Black erotica today without discussing Zane; she and Black erotica are virtually synonymous.  For those of you who haven’t been in the African-American section of a bookstore in the last five years, Zane is the number one selling Black author who writes Black erotica.  She says she is empowering Black women with her in-your-face brand of sexual writing.  She certainly has done well for herself, selling over 2.5 million tittles and plans to launch television shows, plays, movies and a whole host of other branding opportunities from her tales of dark lust. 

Zane’s story is one of triumph.  She started out with rejection letter after rejection letter from publishers who told her that her brand of writing was too vulgar, that people wouldn’t buy such hard-core material.  Self-publishing her books and selling them out of the trunk of her car, soon publishers were beating a line to her door to offer her a deal.  Now she has her own imprint and is publishing upwards of 30 authors herself.  She certainly deserves kudos for her good old-fashioned ingenuity and determination. She’s single handedly reshaped the face of Black erotica an opened the door for anyone, ANYONE who writes about sex to get a publishing deal, regardless of talent, or in most instances, the lack thereof.  Sentence structure, spelling, grammar, and editing be damned.  Publishers have taken the Zane story and capitalized off of it to the detriment of the genre and to the absolute degradation of any sort of example of healthy Black sexuality.  

Writing Black erotica is a lot like rapping.  Anybody who can come up with three words that rhyme can call himself or herself a rapper; anyone who uses the words dick, pussy, and fuck in a sentence can call themselves an erotic writer.  Black erotic today consists of the same storyline told over and over again: super-beautiful women with abnormal libidos and superficial standards seduce their super-rich, lovers who always have super-sized genitalia complete with matching, heightened sexual appetites, and a non-existent commitment to being in a relationship.  Throw in several dozen references to capitalist trinkets and you essentially have every erotic story on the shelves today. 

Black erotica has made being ghetto equivalent to being Black.  We have a unique culture and experience that can come across on the page in our reflections, our words, and our perceptions.  That, however, doesn’t have to include baby mamas, visiting day at prisons, spelling the words boys with a z, or eroticizing the N word.  Instead of writing about our beauty, our pain, our history, we write about our dysfunction, throw in a few sexual escapades, and call it erotica.  Yes, our stories need to be told, but glorifying behaviors that are unhealthy isn’t art.  There certainly is more to Black life than what we are being force-fed. 

The publishing industry has all but shut out writers with integrity to the craft who want to tell our stories in a way that don’t degrade but that celebrate Black and interracial sexuality beyond clichés and stereotypes.  So terrified are the Black middle class of being associated with the freaks and nymphos depicted in Black erotica, so distanced are we from a healthy example of our sexuality, we sit in silence, never demanding more, never complaining about the proliferation of erotic literature that reduce our sexuality to nothing more than a sweaty, recreational activity. 

When our literary diets consist only of poorly written, grammatically incorrect, inane tales of ghetto sex, it's not feeding our souls, it's poisoning our minds.  It's reinforcing that the institutionalized, substandard education that we have been fed is acceptable.  It's crippling us, as Black people, academically so that we will never be able to read and appreciate a well-written novel in our lives, let alone be able to construct a sentence that would be considered well-written.  We MUST raise the bar when it comes to what we are feeding ourselves, what literary sustenance with which we nourish ourselves. 

Even with the proliferation banal Black erotica and the horrendous mediocrity of it all, there are still those who value the melodies and harmonies of jazz, who feel the angst of Morrison’s Beloved, who treasure the beauty of Alvin Ailey’s Revelations, and who appreciate the artistry of true erotica.  Long gone are the days when we dog-eared the pages of Erotique Noire and quoted passages to our lovers in steamy late-night phone calls.  Truly empowering erotica lifts us up, paints a picture of our lives and our sexuality that have nothing to do with exchanging sex for money or adultery but that allows us sensual release and to mentally travel to a place of sights, sounds, sensations, and tastes that arouse all of our senses.  

Scottie Lowe is the founder, CEO, and the creative driving force behind www.AfroerotiK.com, THE most unique website dedicated to showing the true beauty of Black sexuality in all its many facets.  AfroerotiK creates customized and personalized erotic stories written from a decidedly Afrocentric perspective and embraces diversity in sexual expression.  Tired of erotica that portrayed black women as man-stealing gold diggers and brainless nymphos, and black men as thugs, players, and emotionally immature dick-slingers, I decided it was time to write erotica that represented the complexity and full spectrum of African Americans.  Look for her highly controversial upcoming book, In Loving Color, to create quite a stir with literary works of art that are dripping with sensuality and explore groundbreaking, socially relevant topics.  It will include breathtaking photography that will be sure to arouse and stimulate intense passion and establish In Loving Color as the standard for Black erotica. 

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

Fiction

#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Erotique Noire/Black Erotica

Edited by Miriam Decosta-Willis, Reginald Martin, and Roseann P. Bell

The editors are to be congratulated for amassing a collection of erotica worthy in its own right because of the writers showcased, among them Alice Walker, Chester Himes, Gloria Naylor, Jewelle Gomez, Charles Blockson, Audre Lorde, and Essex Hemphill. Coverage is not limited to African American writers but includes African, Caribbean American, and Latin American writers, whether straight or gay, of prose, poetry, or fiction. For some authors, this anthology features their first piece of erotic writing. Readers will be familiar with other selections, for example, Lorde's "Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power." As a whole, this book successfully challenges stereotypical notions about black erotica and serves up delightful sexual tidbits for just about everyone's taste.—Faye A. Chadwell, Library Journal

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Intimacy: Erotic Stories of Love, Lust, and Marriage by Black Men

Edited by Robert Fleming

Inventive conceits dominate in Fleming's second collection of erotic stories (after 2002's After Hours) by African-American writers both new and established. Sexual frustration proves to be a nice point of entry for sci-fi writer Stephen Barnes in "Jet Lag," as a writer's busy schedule and a visiting mother-in-law keep the flames of love in check until a final, explosive release. Kinky sex takes center stage in Reginald Brown's "Almond Eyes," a cautionary tale about a young man whose hot, older and erotically adventurous girlfriend might be sucking the life out of him. In Gary Earl Ross's "Lucky She's Mine," a criminologist rescues and marries a battered woman, only to be stalked by her ex after he gets out of prison, while in "Forty-five Is Not So Old," Kalamu ya Salaam  presents the sad dilemma of a middle-aged woman lamenting her husband's lack of desire for her even as he lies in a hotel with his mistress. Cecil Brown provides a cheeky moment of comic relief in an excerpt from his novel Days Without Weather, "A Fan's Love," in which a woman seduces a comedian after his show, and demands good loving and good jokes to spur her to a stirring climax. Despite the occasional clunker, and the lack of a couple of longer, more complex stories to balance the quick-hit situational material, Fleming has assembled another volume that's sure to please.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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posted 18 August 2007 

 

 

 

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Related files:  Kalamu's Feminist Erotica  Introduction to After Hours