#AltRead Book Chat

#BookChat ~ Discussion Time: The New Order of Publishing; Can Black Authors Write as White People From A First Person Point Of View? #amreading #AltRead

Good Morning, Everyone!  

Welcome to another "Book Chat" discussion time post, here at Alternative-Read.com Today Author, Professor Dewey Edwards Chester and I, may be stirring up a right hornets nest, but it's an interesting topic, and one we shouldn't be shy of discussing. "Book Racism" I've seen a fair bit of this online myself and wanted to ask you, dear readers, what you thought about all this and have created this discussion post, so you can have your say!  

I normally stay away from subjects which may cause controvesy, but when Professor Dewey Edward Chester reached out to me, I felt it was important to share, and thought, maybe it's time I changed.

Looking forward to chatting. Thank you!

So, onwards and upwards...


The New Order of


By Professor Dewey Edward Chester

I write mixed-race stories for the American Library Journal, and recently won their “Best Story” list with romance, drama and action, of bi-racial Americans.

My writing is not content to ask, ‘What changed in America during the ‘War for Human Rights?’ But details how racial order shifted. I interpret little known motivations of mixed-race people, in sports, race and politics.

After my novel’s release, Librarians told me they were placing it in their “romance section,” but others wanted it in the “African American” section, then, they couldn’t put it there because a ‘white woman’ was on its cover.”

A black Author, portraying a white woman on his cover, I discovered, was not legitimate.

I was advised, “There’s a rule in the book-selling business: black people can’t write about white people, at least not from a first person point of view; no one will buy the story.”

I assured my adviser I was intending to hire a white female to impersonate me, and suddenly my novel was marketed immediately to New York publishers.

I was pitched as ‘Michelle Stahr,’ the first white female who participated in the Human Rights Movement. I received six figure offers.

My publishers planned on advertising an imaginary ‘white’ woman – Human Rights pioneer — on the Oprah Book Club show, talking about her bi-racial romance novel. But when they realized I was the author, they withdrew their offers. I discovered I couldn’t tour with legitimacy.

Many traditional American publishing companies, I realized, are made up of executives producing stories for people who look like them — an astounding philosophy, and wrong.

I was asked by one publisher if I would change my novel’s character from black to white because “black people don’t sell; no one wants to read about them.”

*Professor Dewey is the Author of the novel, “My Emma Remembered.”



“There had always been a sense of celebrity and excitement about the ‘New College Students of 1960.’ They were special; the fresh products of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s new liberality — ‘The New Frontier’ concept. They were children of destiny who would make their way through dangerous and unchartered seas.”
—- ANDREW YOUNG, former mayor of Atlanta, Georgia.


MY EMMA REMEMBERED is an unashamed romance of the 1960’s which uses as its background the revolutionary consciousness of the JFK era that was unpredictable, stormy, and violent. This novel encompasses five characters who come together from different ethnic backgrounds and experiences — emphasizing the diverse uniqueness of their time. 
Michael is the idealistic, pioneering black radical; Nicholas is the Jewish ethnic who supports Civil Rights; Archie is the frail intellectual who believes in all causes and idolizes college athletes; Emma is the Gentile female counterpart to Michael, rebelling against her middle-class parentage; Sam (Samantha) is the conservative bourgeois whose political consciousness is rooted in the ‘gradual’ process of change, rather than radicalism.In 1967, New York magazine writer, Samantha O’Neal, encounters newly sworn-in ‘Big City Mayor,’ Michael Stahr , just after his inauguration in Cleveland, as the first African American mayor EVER elected in the United States. She recalls how they had gone to the University of Pittsburgh, in 1960. He, along with his friends, had been student activists, while she remained unprogressive in her views. Yet, she was always attracted to Michael because of his spunk and decisiveness and she set a personal vendetta to try and change his radical ideologies. They always fought….then!!Now, at the inauguration, Sam is witnessing Michael’s rise to fame and political power, and suddenly she feels that all the years since their college days must have mellowed him and cooled his fires.

This marks the beginning of a passionate love affair that leads to an equally passionate marriage. Sam believes in Michael’s ability to become the best big city mayor in American history, but questions his unorthodox progressiveness in handling big city problems. And always, Michael’s strongly held political beliefs come between them.

After the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., rioting breaks out in major cities across the country. Michael is secretly called to Washington by an Intelligence Committee that informs him that his life is in danger — one of his befriended community workers is alleged to be plotting a major riot in his city with communist inspired backing.

Michael refuses to believe that his progressive mayoral-ship is being brought to an end by a simple betrayall, and when he asks for Samantha’s support, she denies him; feeling that now she had finally won the conservative vs. liberal battle. She also realizes that their personal war has come to an end.

They part, knowing what happiness they had cannot be recaptured.

If you’re interested, here are a few similar articles to whet your appetite:

Noticeably, these articles are mainly from the other point of view, writing black characters when you are not…






What do you think of this subject?  Are their any legitimate reasons boundaries like these should be made? Should black people be able to write about white people and vice versa?

What are your favourite books where authors have written ‘as a colour they are not’? The Help by author Kathryn Stockett and Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult spring to mind!  Both have done very well. The Help became a successful film, and even Small Great Things is soon to be a film, starring Viola Davis and Julia Roberts. But again, both these authors are white.

Come one, what do you think? We’d love to hear your views!

Luv Sassy and Dewey


Sassy Brit's Personal / Virtual Assistant Services : bit.ly/MyPatrons


  1. I see no reason why black people can’t write as white. Or white people as black, come to that. As long as the author is skillful enough to have a voice that sounds authentic, what does it matter? In the same way, male authors sometimes write as female (I was quite shocked to discover the author of some of the books on my shelf written by a woman was in fact a man!) and female authors quite often write as men in first person. Our only limit is our skill and our imagination. Some can, some can’t. Writing should transcend male and female, black and white. A great story is a great story. But that’s just my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Loretta!

      I feel exactly the same about this, as you do. As long as an author can make it work, why the hell should we be looking any further into it?

      Yes, in a way it is like having men write as women and vice versa, but does this cause issues? Nope. Mostly it just surprises readers when they find out.

      I do love how you say “Writing should transcend male and female, black and white. A great story is a great story.”

      It’s a perfect response!

      Thank you for commenting. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Choice Item:
      A movie was released last year called “The Mountain Between Us.” This was a novel, written and published by Charles Martin.
      Mr Martin is a White male who wrote about two White characters, male and female, who get stranded on the side of a mountain together. They become hard pressed to get themselves off, before falling in love
      Hollywood bought the book last year and made a movie of Mr. Martin’s story; only the White male character was changed to a Black male, so the social dynamics become Bi-racial love.
      The cover of Mr. Martin’s book was changed to reflect an interracial couple instead of a White couple.
      Can Mr. Martin now be qualified, as a White male writer, to detail how a Black man makes love to a White woman?
      I’m not sure he can, but I spent years in Hollywood and found it impossible to get a Bi-racial story with implicit love scenes, published, bought and produced. Author Charles Martin seems to have had no problem
      Dewey Edward Chester

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Well, he actually didn’t write it that way, so technically, I shouldn’t think so. And Hollywood, of course, works to its own specifiations, whether or not it should. It seems a shame they chose his book and changed the characters when they could have chosen your book which was written to that dynamic in the first place, but Hollywood does what it pleases.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t see any problem with it at all. I feel the same about several things Loretta mentioned. If the character’s ring true and the story is good, it’s all good for me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, exactly, Laura! Surely, a good story written in 1st person is simply just that, a good story. But why do some publishers feel it makes a difference with sales? I’d like to hear why it would be so, if it really does put off publishers from buying into a perfectly decent story.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I would now like to read “The Mountain Between Us”, and then watch the film to see what the differences are, if any, because surely replacing a character from white to black, would change the dynamics of their relationship?


    1. Getting you to read “The Mountain Between Us” is a trick, a distraction from your reading “My Emma.”
      One story is philosophically fake racial fiction, the other is authentic Bi-racial love.
      Unless you read authentic, you’d never know what’s real. You’d be fooled into thinking what you read and what you see on screens, is real. You’d be wrong.
      It’s the old Blackface Comedy of Vaudeville thing: White men cover their faces with black oil to simulate their rendition of what Black men are like.
      Don’t be fooled by distraction, Sassy. Reading “Emma Remembered,” as with reading the stories of the Bi-racial life of Prince Harry and Meghan, are authentic, not vaudevillians of fakery.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The Prince Harry and Meghan story, is definitely hot news, with their impending wedding date looming! Not everyone is happy with their bi-racial relationship either, which I’m sure you are already aware.

        By the way, I’m still waiting for my Harry and Meghan wedding invitation to drop through the door… 😉


      1. Well, I need to read it to find out more about what it was like to have a Bi-racial relationship during that time period. I suspect it’s not all a bed or roses, or should I say hippie flower power? (Although, that –
        the “Summer of Love” – came in the late 60s as far as I know…) 😉

        Politically and socially there were indeed a lot of changes!


  4. Sassy
    Let’s return to the question, ‘Does Writing transcend race?’
    It can. But in theatrical and literary drama, do we want that?
    Character development is the life blood of any well-told story. A man’s psychology determines his motivation.
    Does a man have big ears, bulging eyes, long hairy arms, is he Black?
    All these things are likely to condition him to an outlook which will affect his every action; on a mountain top; on a football field, or as leader of a major American city.
    Does this man hate to talk about crooked noses, big mouths, thick lips, big feet, being called Black?
    Perhaps it’s because he has one of these defects.
    One human being takes such a physical liability with resignation, another makes fun of himself, a third is resentful. One thing is certain, no man escapes the effect of such a shortcoming.
    Psychology is fundamental to character motivation.
    Can a Black man, mouthing the psychology of a White man, give us character authenticity?
    If so, we will never get to know what the Black man thinks; only what we think he thinks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Psychology determines a person / character’s motivation.

      That’s what make good stories great, and real life sometimes terribly hard!

      As you say, some of us struggle more than others when dealing with issues of which are important to us, but not everyone can know what we’re really thinking – what motivates us in way which truly resonates with our inner thoughts, feelings and values.

      Great discussion!

      I feel I may have gone off track slightly, but I’m enjoying it , nevertheless!!


    2. I’m thrown by your use of “mouthing” and the sentence after the question. If a black writer is writing a love story with a white male and a black female, how will I know what that black male thinks since he is writing from the point of view of two characters that don’t represent him?

      From a writing perspective, a black writer can creative white characters that narrate in first person and vice-versa. It depends, yes, on how well the writer understands psychology, human behavior, if he has done research, and how strong he empathizes with people who are not like him (or her.) I also assume this writer is progressive enough to know that race affects the story/life situation in ways that are both dramatic and subtle. And if it doesn’t why have you chosen these characters who are so unlike you.

      I suppose if a black male writer is choosing to create a white male/black female dynamic, there is an objective in mind. There could be many, I suppose, but the objective can pervert the story or it can enliven the story aesthetically.

      So, can a black writer create a first-person narration from a white character’s pov? I say, yes. Baldwin did so in “Giovanni’s Room” and it seems to hold up for readers. I can’t think of anyone who’s done it in these times. Things are tricky these days with the subject of cultural appropriation. I am of the belief that if creatives want to write about the taboo, they should know why they’re doing it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. ‘Stan the Man’ is absolutely a great name.
        You make the statement, Stan, “If creative’s want to write about this Taboo, they should know why they’re doing it.”
        Meghan and Harry know why they’re doing it: they’re in love.


  5. Sassy,
    let us also consider your original question — “Can a Black man write as a White man from a first person point of view?”
    In all Classic literature, Sassy, I know of only Alexander Dumas ( The Count of Monte Cristo). Please name someone else for us.
    In America, I know of only Frank Yearby who practiced successfully. Major book editors have never encouraged that thought.
    You’ve asked us, Sassy, what are our favorite books where authors have written ‘as a color they are not?’
    “The Help,” by Author Kathryn Stockett and “Small Great Things,” by Jodi Picoult. Both successful books and movies. But again, both are White authors.
    This brings Loretta’s comment above, directly back home: Why would a major publisher market a White Author’s story about a Black man, but not market a Black Author’s story about a White woman?
    “Book Racism?”
    Professor Dewey Edward Chester


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