Monday, June 28, 2010

Help Wanted

After our chat on SheWrites.com today about women writers of color, I thought that maybe like in Lori Tharps' soon-to-be-released book, I should hire a "substitute me." But instead of "being me" in my home, she could be my public face in the biz. Here's my job ad.

Wanted: a white woman to pretend to be me in public

Want to travel to some of America’s greatest book stores? Don’t mind sitting at tables listening to strangers tell you the stories of their lives, all of which they just KNOW would make a great book? Always wondered what it would be like to be author of a novel? Have I got a job for you!

Pretend to be me in public. That’s right: I’ll do the work. You take the credit. No boring hours sitting in front of a blank computer screen! Just show up for the "fun" parts like media interviews and book signings.

Qualifications:

Must be a college-educated, well-spoken, moderately attractive white woman between the ages of 35 and 50. Comfortable in front of audiences. Able to discuss issues like forgiveness, redemption, love, rage, hope and despair.

Available for in-person appearances at book stores and book festivals. In addition, I will need a high-res and low-res head shot to post on my your website and give to media.

Answers to FAQs and scripts describing the book and my writing process will be provided, but must be able to lie improvise on the spot. Also must be willing to occasionally answer rude questions and listen to rude critiques of your my work.

(Don't worry about the double-consciousness. You get used to it eventually.)

Employer:

I'm a college-educated, well-spoken, moderately attractive black woman in her forties. I write novels that would be categorized as women’s fiction if I and my characters had slightly less melanin. Since I am unwilling to bleach my skin, I need you to represent me to publishers, booksellers and readers.

And because the world will think I’m you, I can write about an even wider variety of subjects. Though let’s be real: if I really want to hear cha-ching most of my new characters better be white. So I can sleep at night though, I’ll figure out some ways to add in the occasional person of color on the margins. A sassy best friend coming right up!

Salary:

This is where things might get tricky. I don’t make very much money and even with your help chances are that I won’t ever be able to pay you what you could make at…say Starbucks. However, the more books you sell the higher the advances I get and the more I can pay you. Also, I am amenable to “sharing” you with other writers, depending on how good you are at disguising yourself. Expenses for wigs, prosthetics (no wide noses please!), colored contacts, and make-up will be shared by the writers, but you are responsible for clothing. Just make sure we look good!

No phone calls please.

Just joking people! Mostly. 

***
A must read take on a similar topic.

And on a very much more serious note, join The Bottom of Heaven as they host a round table in celebration of The Bluest Eye.

12 comments:

DeBerry and Grant said...

I love this post and although it's meant to be, as you say, "tongue in cheek" there is a sad reality to it. When I think of what we all go through, the negative comments we hear/read as we try to bring light to this situation,I can't help but be depressed about the situation. I wish I didn't truly believe this might be the answer.
Virginia

evelyn.n.alfred said...

This was very funny and melancholy and scary at the same time. Scary because I bet if you did hire someone for the position, it would help you sell books...at the very least it would get your book moved to the fiction section of the bookstore.

Mardel said...

Very comedic, but with a grain of truth there. By 2010 things should have changed a lot more than they have. I think we, the readers are a lot further along than the people who make decisions in the publishing world. There's a lot more we would read than they give us credit for.

K.L. Brady said...

Ha! Heaping serving of funny with a small side of painful truth.

jeanette nicole* said...

As everyone said before me this post is equal parts hilarious & sad. You would think that this wouldn't be an issue in "post racial America", yet here we are.

Carleen Brice said...

You all definitely get it. As K.L. noted, that's how I serve it up over here "heaping serving of funny with a small side of painful truth." So true!

Inda Lauryn said...

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. HA!!!

Jody said...

I'd fill in for you but I'm over the age limit!
Seriously, it's too bad so many white people can't get over their preconceptions and try new things - even if it's just a book by a black author.
I read books by many different people - from other countries, other cultures, other colors,as well as from my own area of the state. I read men & women's works. I do primarily read crime fiction, historical fiction, science fiction or a combination of the above.
I read your suggested Reading While Black or White: Do Readers Prefer Books Written by their Own? Lots of interesting comments there.

Dee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dee said...

OMG! (Do NOT hit me upside the head with your shoe) Dude! This blog is totally AWESOME! From the title to the content. You are a riot!

As everyone said, sad but true commentary. It is time though, that we work with what is and not what it should be or what we would like it to be.

Peace,
Dee

Carleen Brice said...

Dee, I make exceptions when people apply the word awesome to something I've done. And I have a policy of never whacking people who think I'm funny. :)

Dasaya Cates said...

Hilarious. Sad. Fiercely thought-provoking ... all that at the same time. Great post.