The Last Word on Millenia Black

Monica Jackson declares me a racist because I refuse to pursue the Millenia Black issue further.

I had hoped that my polite stance would be enough, but, if the cuffs are off, then my findings must be laid down on the table. Who knew that myopic demagogues like Monica Jackson were out there? People so fixed in their worldview that they cannot consider the entirely reasonable assumption that something that one person says on the Internet without a shred of supportive evidence may not be true.

First off, I am not in the habit of reporting a bullshit rumor and I am always grateful for reader corrections. I try to confirm information when I can through emails and phone calls. Here, for example, is what I’ve done about the Millenia Black matter:

I’ve talked with Millenia Black herself. I’ve talked with various people inside Penguin. I’ve attempted to contact people in the law firm who is allegedly handling the case. I’ve had exchanges with the bookstore owner. And the upshot is that the story doesn’t check out. This scenario is, as far as I can tell, a great deal of noise from an author who has no recourse for attention other than finger-pointing and lawsuit threats. Ever wonder why print journalists haven’t pursued this story? I mean, think about it. A major publishing house commits an act of apparent racism in the 21st century. It’s a perfectly interesting story that I’m sure any decent editor would lap up. Could it be that the facts are in question? That this may be a question of journalistic integrity? Could it be the same reason that newspapers didn’t immediately report the rumor planted by the National Inquirer and the Book Standard last week about O.J. Simpson getting paid $3.5 million for a book deal? Perhaps because it was utter horseshit denied by O.J. himself?

I find it ironic that the color of my skin is now being laid down as a qualifier. Is this not the same racist assumption that Ms. Black herself has accused others of all along?

Call me a racist all you want, but as Frederick Douglass once said, “I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.”

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9 Comments

  1. Is there no way you can explain specifically WHY you think the story doesn’t check out? Is there some legal reason barring you from speaking about it in more detail?

    I thought of the same thing you did: people shouldn’t trust what they read over the internet, especially by seemingly “anonymous” people. But I’m inclined to believe that what Millenia Black said has happened has really happened; the basis of her story rings true to me.

    Which brings me to: especially considering some of the recent negative responses toward her, maybe she didn’t get the outcry she wanted or expected the first time she disclosed the issue publicly, and felt dejected so stopped pursuing the issue further as much as she should have–and that’s why she might have only threatened but has maybe not actually done anything legally (yet). She might not have intended to do all that but eventually felt forced to. And maybe she felt (or was told) she didn’t have enough evidence. Things like this can be difficult to prove, especially in a courtroom….

  2. Well, here we go again. Now I won’t be so quick to call EDrants a racist, but I have to agree with Fran’s question. This does not make any sense. Before we throw this author under the bus as a mere opportunist (which I don’t think makes any sense at all under the circumstances) there’s got to be some evidence that disproves what she’s saying don’t you think? What did these people tell you that convinced you she’s just a media-hungry quack whose claims deserve no further attention?

    So as Fran said, why exactly doesn’t Millenia Black’s claims check out?And why do you think a publisher would ADMIT they were guilty of such a horrible thing? Logical reasoning says that it’s MUCH more likely this type of thing did happen than did not. It’s sad, but no less true. It just doesn’t make sense that an author would make up such lies about her own publishing house as a PR stunt. Ruin her writing career by hurling false accusations of this nature at the publisher producing her work?? Un-un. I see no basis upon which to buy that. You mean, before they’ve even released her second book? She’d stab them in the back with false accusations of such specific race stuff? It just doesn’t add up. The author would have to be nuts…and I don’t get the impression Millenia Black is nuts.

    So are you saying the publisher denied asking her to change the race of her characters? Are you saying they denied the author’s claim that she objected to the African American tag on The Great Pretender? Did they tell you she’s just looking for attention? If so, what specifically makes them more credible to you than the author? Can a guilty party be expected to admit to such things in interviews, if they are indeed guilty?

    Speaking to evidence, I think there’s several shreds of evidence that are extremely supportive of Millenia Black’s claims……1) Take a look at her first edition of the Great Pretender, the one that was self-published “General Fiction” 2) Then take a look at the later version from NAL. African American Fiction. 3) As someone else mentioned, there’s even an interview in the back of NAL’s where she talks about the racial treatment she experienced, a number of reviewers have referred to it. 4) Considering the climate that exists for black writers in the industry (being niched by race to the exclusion of readers outside that race) why is it such a stretch to believe this happened? I’ve read Millenia’s posts and I must say that she doesn’t come across like a sniffing media whore to me. It all sounds disturbingly real to me. Considering the substance of the allegations, Millenia does not come across as a ranting fabricator. It makes more common sense that she is telling the truth.

    From Edrants first post with the “since no one bothered to look into this” rhetoric, it reads like he set out to prove the author a liar, more so than to merely verify her claims. So my other question is, why is there what looks like a passionate need to throw this author under the bus for simply bringing the charges? What kind of evidence could we expect to get from her under the circumstances? Did Millenia Black approach Edrants with her story and therefore needed to provide you with proof, but could not? Or did she just post about it on her own blog? Because if she didn’t reach out for press coverage (hence the lack of journalists picking up the story-how would they know about it?), I fail to see why her not providing “proof” came into the framework and is now being used as the basis for dismissing her as being SO desperate for attention that she’d decide to sever any possibility of ever working in the industry again.

    Becca Tricolli

  3. Um…what say ye all now?

    From Millenia http://milleniablack.blogspot.com/2006/10/great-debate.html: “For those who are of a practical mindset, and to demystify my previous post, yes, a complaint was indeed filed against the publisher the first week of this month (October), in the Southern District Court of New York. Such documents are public record and are readily accessible via a simple trip to the clerk’s office.”

  4. The blogosphere is silent about Millenia revealed the details of where she filed her complaint after not hesitating to imply she was a liar and simply attention-seeking.

    She also addressed my concerns about her contract–if it did specify African American work as most black author’s contracts do.

    I’m not allowed to write nonblack protags, so my work can be marketed solely to black readers and not universally, no matter the content of my books. My contract uphold up the publisher’s rejection of my work if I tried to write amain protag of a different race than myself. My choice would be to take or leave the contract. Black authors only very rarely get offered universal contracts and that usually only of we’re a literary author or have already broken out of the niche (difficult)

    Millenia stated on my blog that she took care that her contract did not include those words when describing the proposed work. If true, it’s impressive that Penguin not only offered a self-published author a multi-book contract at the get-go, but agreed to that contractual change from how they usually handle the Negros.

    And if she took care to communicate with her editor via e-mail thus having a provable trail of her protests about being treated non contractually–well, she might have a case. We’ll see.

    None of Millenia’s many detractors seem to have a thing to say now, even in the comments, huh? Figures.

  5. Well Monica, you’re to be commended for the fearless manner in which you’ve steadfastly defended the cause so needed.

    Wicked witch Scanlon’s and Ed Champion’s credibility is undoubtedly crushed to dust. “Hard to kick against the pricks”. It’s believable that they’ve defended white racism and maybe ex-members of the KKK. Anything can be expected of the duo, as made vivid after they have falsely accused MB of shamming, then were proven wrong, they still stay their course.

    Their insistence on still trying to tear down MB, and thereby all affected authors, speak volume that they’re avowed oriented racist.

    I didn’t want to say that but there’s nothing else to say, its’ the truth. We would invite them to have a change of heart toward the cause as it would assist in fostering a better social climate.

  6. “I’m not allowed to write nonblack protags, so my work can be marketed solely to black readers and not universally, no matter the content of my books. My contract uphold up the publisher’s rejection of my work if I tried to write amain protag of a different race than myself. My choice would be to take or leave the contract. Black authors only very rarely get offered universal contracts and that usually only of we’re a literary author or have already broken out of the niche (difficult)”

    I would never sign a contract in which I was forced to write about characters and content against my will or inclinatiion. While the black community does continue to suffer from all kinds of racist bs, we do have resources, including our own personal power and the right to walk away. As a black female editor, I’ve signed many authors over the years, and I’ve never once accessed a special contract for black authors. The contracts describe the work submitted for publication–book, series, whatever–deadlines, payment details, etc.

    If the work submitted and approved has black characters as the principals and we are signing books aimed toward the black readership as primary market, then, no, I’m not going to publish your book on the American Revolution.

    You make it sound like you are a slave and the publisher is your overseer–and, what’s worse, that you accept this relationship. I don’t understand.

    If you want to write about “nonblack protags,” do it. You have the right to write about whatever you want as long as you do an excellent job.

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