C. Mikki hit me up on Twitter with the link to her documentary and of course I had to make the time to look at it. My whole reason for forming R.R.A.P. (Race Relations in the Arts and Politics) was to talk about ALL media being created by people of color. So far, my focus has mostly been on books so this will be my first feature outside of books. Though I think this is a suitable transition, given the topic of this documentary is what it means to be an aspiring black author today.
The thing I like the most about this documentary is that it has a wide range of people that it talks to. You get perspectives from aspiring authors, self-published authors, a literary agent, famous published authors, and writers in Hollywood. It is a variety of perspectives and viewpoints that I found refreshing because it didn’t seem to be completely slanted towards one point of view. That’s important when trying to have the kind of conversations that this documentary had. The mainstream has blinders up when it comes to the problems facing black authors and something too hyperbolic would probably do little to catch anyone’s attention.
One of the first topics tackled by this documentary was the idea of the African-American section in book stores. When I saw that this topic was going to be covered, I was expecting the worse. But the discussion about it was actually very balanced though it seemed to fall into two camps. The aspiring authors wanted to just be “authors” and not have their books be labeled. The authors who were actually published argued the sectioning helped potential customers with little time on their hands to immediately find their product. One of the published authors interviewed was Zane and given the amount of success she has had, I can’t help but to lean towards her wisdom in this.
Along the way, you get to hear stories about the genres that black authors are boxed in to and how the gatekeepers of the publishing industry might not really understand what black readers are looking for. There are unique perspectives and I can tell all these people are giving it to you raw. I didn’t any pretense from any of the people interviewed and that gives C. Mikki a lot of cred in my book because you have to trust someone to take off your mask on camera. And that’s exactly what these people were doing.
If there’s one thing I would have liked to see it would be seeing all the authors discussing works they had in progress or just where they were at in their writing. That was probably my own curiosity though as I found myself wanting to know if there were any speculative fiction authors in the mix. Overall though, this is a very interesting documentary that I think ALL aspiring authors should watch for introspection and motivation.