Shelf Love

Black Romance and Historical Spaces

Short Description

Hear Elysabeth Grace & Katrina Jackson in conversation: a recording from Black Romance and Historical Spaces presentation put on by the Center for Black Diaspora at DePaul University on November 5th, 2022. This episode is a co-release with Black Romance Podcast, hosted by Dr. Julie Moody-Freeman.


romance scholarship, genre discussions, historical romance

Show Notes

Hear Elysabeth Grace & Katrina Jackson in conversation: a recording from Black Romance and Historical Spaces presentation put on by the Center for Black Diaspora at DePaul University on November 5th, 2022. This episode is a co-release with Black Romance Podcast, hosted by Dr. Julie Moody-Freeman.

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Black Romance Podcast

Center for Black Diaspora

Katrina Jackson

Elysabeth Grace


Andrea Martucci: [00:00:00] Hello, and welcome to Shelf Love, a podcast about romance novels, and how they reflect, explore, challenge, and shape desire. I'm your host, Andrea Martucci. And on this episode, I am sharing the recording from Black Romance and Historical Spaces, which was a presentation put on by the Center for Black Diaspora at DePaul University on November 5th, 2022 with speakers, Elysabeth Grace, AKA Margo Hendrix and Katrina Jackson, AKA. Nicole Jackson.

Romance scholar Julie Moody-Freeman is the director for the Center for Black Diaspora Studies at DePaul university. And she is also the host of Black Romance Podcast.

So this episode is a co-release with Black Romance Podcast.

If you haven't checked out black romance podcast, yet I encourage you to do so. It is currently on hiatus, but there are amazing episodes from season one and two featuring conversations with Black writers, editors, and scholars of historical and contemporary popular romance fiction.

So I want to say thank you to Julie for giving me the opportunity to share this with all of you on the Shelf Love podcast feed and also for creating the opportunity for those of you who are not able to make this presentation to hear it or read it on the transcript, which you can find on my website.

So this event was called Black Romance and Historical Spaces, Black romance authors in conversation. "Join Black romance authors, Katrina Jackson, and Elysabeth Grace as they discuss writing Black historical romance. The authors will engage the question of readerly and publishing perceptions about the place of African slash African diaspora love in historical spaces."

Without further ado. I hope you enjoy this fascinating conversation. You don't want to miss the cameos from Ms. Beverly Jenkins herself, who came up as a topic of conversation, but also happened to be in attendance. And so it was such a pleasure to hear from her as well in this presentation.

Julie Moody-Freeman: Good morning everybody. I am Julie Moody-Freeman. Welcome to the Center for Black Diaspora. Behind me is the library, and if you were on campus, this is what you would see. So I wanted you to get a feel of the library, and I also wanted to hide the mess in my office. So , thank you all for being here so early.

Welcome to Black Romance and Historical Spaces.

Thanks. We have Margo Hendricks and Katrina Jackson. However, let us change names now because we have Elysabeth Grace here, right? Margo Hendricks and We have Nicole Jackson, who's a professor, but coming in as her writerly herself, Katrina Jackson.

So before I do my intro to Elysabeth Grace and Katrina Jackson, I want to quickly thank two people who helped to make this event possible. Jennifer Ogwumike, who was I say was because she has graduated, she got [00:03:00] her bachelor's, but she was the Center for Black Diaspora student Research researcher and coordinator. And before she left, she made sure everything was in place for promoting. So thank you.

Good morning, Tasha. Good morning.

I would also like to thank somebody who has been so instrumental in helping US put this together. And it's Kathryn Douglas. She's the administrative assistant for the Department of African and Black Diaspora Studies that delivers the curriculum and the Center for Black Diaspora that delivers programming, any type of scholarship.

So Kathryn, I am so grateful for your amazing help. Thank you.

So let me talk very quickly I'll do quick introductions and and then we'll get started.

I'm going to start with Elysabeth Grace, so when she's not writing romance, Margo is also a Professor. Elysabeth Grace writes paranormal contemporary and historical romances where love and HEAs accept no impediments. Her stories and characters are diverse, sensual, and occasionally wicked. She is a native Californian and professor emerita of English in Shakespeare, and early modern English literature and culture. And she's the author of a four book Paranormal series, Daughters of Saria, a contemporary series, Midsummer Sister Series, Elizabethan Mischief , a spy romance set in the age of Elizabeth, the First, and other books that I have not mentioned.

An associate professor of. Katrina Jackson is a college history professor by day who writes romances by weekend when her cats allow. She writes, high heat, diverse and mostly queer erotic romances and erotica. She writes racially diverse and often queer stories that show love in the world in all its beauty and colors.

So a few of her novels. I'm a little biased because I have some favorites here. I'm sure you all have your favorites. From Scratch, Office Hours, The Hitman, Encore, Grand Theft New Year's Eve, among others, as well as her historical fiction, The Tenant, and Back in the Day.

So thank you all for being here with us early this morning, and I will hand you over to Elysabeth and Katrina Jackson.

Elysabeth Grace: Thank you.

Good morning, right? I have my mimosa here I have it here cause seven o'clock in the morning is like ungodly hour.

Katrina Jackson: Look, it's 10 o'clock and this is ungodly for me.

Elysabeth Grace: Yeah. Well honey, I would send this to you, but FedEx didn't come out my way too long.

So. What I wanna do first before we actually start, is to just give a little [00:06:00] background to how this evolved and during the conversation Katrina can, you know, keep me focused. We've been kvetching with each other for a while about just the way in which history slash histories function within romance, historical romance, literature, and I will always call it literature, so if you can't, that's on you, but take it from me. It is literature. We write literature and specifically the way in which Black historical romance is often treated negated and ignored by traditional publishers and by a certain strand of a large strand of historical romance readers.

The expectations are four to five times higher. We often get, and I we get it in our academic arenas as well, that the number of African descended people or African people in European and colonial spaces who weren't enslaved was a small number, but people presumed that most African descended and African people were enslaved, which is not always the case.

In fact, which wasn't the case until slavery became truly a capitalistic endeavor. So we spent time talking about this. Just so you know, every historical romance that I've written and self-published was first submitted to a traditional publisher, got feedback and rejected, liked the story.

Didn't know what to do with it. Couldn't get into the voice, couldn't get into the characters or any of that rejection. So self-publishing was the way to go for me with my historical romances. I will not write anything post 1700. I refused to simply because I think there needs to be an awareness that Black lives, Black love, Black romance has existed as long as Black people have been on this planet, and we've been on this planet for longer than most people.

So this is kind of how the conversation got started. And of course, me being me said we need to do something. And I reached out to Professor Moody-Freeman in the Center for Black Diaspora and asked if we could have a conversation, not do a presentation, but just have a conversation because this is something that we need to talk about both within the context of Black historical romance and Black romance in general, but also in a way that doesn't become pedantic.

Although occasionally we will slip into our [00:09:00] professorial most, we will endeavor to stay as much in our romance authorship roles, but sometimes it's hard. So that being said, what I would like to do and as people come in hopefully you'll get caught up. What I like to do is to ask Katrina to talk about her training and her relationship to bringing that training into Black Romance.

Katrina Jackson: So good morning everyone. So I, I have a PhD in African American and African Diaspora history and which was a trial by fire it in and of itself getting that degree. But my particular area is a, I'm a post-world War II historian, so most of my work is actually in the 19, late sixties, seventies and eighties, which is history.

And , just as a reminder and I went into graduate school wanting to study activists. I'm I thought that was like really fascinating history. I'm from Oakland and I grew up surrounded by really the remnants of the Black Panther Party, which sort of shaped how I understood the world in history.

I also my high school, for whatever reason, they spent a lot of time organizing and protest action. So it was very common for us to walk out and strike for, you know, kind of any little thing. But, so I understood social activism as something that was significant. And I ended up in graduate school just wanting to study that and thinking I would write a sort of classic, kind of hard hitting project on and social activists.

And instead what I ended up writing about was family and community and love. So the beginning of my dissertation started with a conversation about what it meant for Black people to love one another in a movement and how love became central to how Black people understood the world and how they fought for the world, and which was not the goal.

That was definitely not the plan, but it was really hard to study what I studied and to look at the people I was looking at and not think about the sacrifices they made willingly for these people that they loved, that they, many of them that they birthed, some they didn't. I mean, it was just love was kind of everywhere.

At the same time I started reading romance and then writing romance. And so for me, like in the historical context and in the present moment, like love was the story in and of itself. There was, you could have so many conversations about things that I value and still have a romantic arc and love relationships kind of centered in that as well. So that's how I ended up here. I think.

Elysabeth Grace: Thank you. As for me, a few of you now, I'm trained to do what was called Renaissance and early Modern English literature. [00:12:00] It has shifted to early modern English studies although the interdisciplinarity is still not fully there.

I primarily worked on issues of gender and sexuality. I managed to work race into my dissertation by focusing on 20th century British and American theater. So I come to romance as a reader prior to my academic career, but not really thinking about it as something that I would want to write. Because I wanted to write plays and be like Alice Childress and Lorraine Hansbury.

That failed. But I think I discovered my calling. Katrina reminded me that I am of that generation. I lived in Oakland in the sixties and early seventies and then returned home to Riverside. I am a California girl. And so I don't think of it as history because I lived it, but I need to think of it as history because I lived it. So I'm working on that one.

My aim throughout my academic career and with my romance writing has always been to ground Black people's lives. And how images of Black people are constructed in the early modern period. And that through my own work and other people's work in the archives, reading between the lines, thinking differently about how we approach those texts and how we read them and how we study them, we can get a slightly better picture.

We were forced to fight a battle to make race an issue in the 16th century because as everyone knew, and many people still believe, race is a 19th century construct, or even a late 18th century construct race began with the enlightenment, not any time earlier. So I spent a lot of time working on that as an academic.

That experience seeps into what I write. As a romance author. However, as someone who was first a literary historian in terms of how literature wanted to justify what we did to historians I felt that historians didn't take seriously their own mini in the early mining period, didn't take seriously their principles about writing history histories and the nuances of historical space, which is how we are here for me at seven 30 in the morning. And for the rest of you at 10, 7, 13 are there in, and the rest of you are at seven 14. So I think there are enough people in the room where we can go ahead and get started.

I guess the important question for. Correct me if I'm wrong, Katrina, I'm gonna try to put words in your mouth right now. The important [00:15:00] question is why we need to have this conversation. Both of us wanted to encourage people to consider how they use history to ask what is history to engage more critically, the fallacy of authenticity. That is somehow we can construct an authentic, a real history around an event, around a person, around a nation, around the people.

We even want to question the authenticity of Black historical experience. For both of us and for many people. And we're not gonna spend a lot of time talking about Beverly Jenkins, but we need to raise her. Because for many people

Katrina Jackson: we could though, we could talk about Ms. Bev.

Elysabeth Grace: We could talk about her for days.

I mean, literally we can, there may be at the end a little bit of conversation about this, but one of the things that both of us wanted to grapple with maybe we could start off with this, is the idea of an authentic Black historical romance genre in which Beverly Jenkins is the center is the one, as if Black people didn't exist historically before or after that amazing, that extraordinary canon of historical writing that she has gifted us with and which has created in many reader's minds a sense of an authentic Black historical experience.

One of the issues that I think, and feel free to jump in and interrupt me. I think we both came to, is that there's so much writing against the grain of a notion of an authentic Black romance experience in Ms. Jenkins writing that people miss

Katrina Jackson: Yes.

Elysabeth Grace: That we felt needed to be talked about, needed to be addressed.

Jump in now because you know me, I'll talk and as this takes hold, I'm starting to relax a little bit.

Katrina Jackson: I think, so in a conversation I had with Ms. Bev about her career for Lucy Eden's um, magazine, we talked about how a lot of her work actually is clustered in the reconstruction era. And it's such a like wonderful moment in history that is also full of so many pitfalls and I really love that she manages to, to find so stories to tell in that sort of moment. Not all her stories are clustered there, but especially recently a lot of her stories have been there and it's just -she manages to, to look at a time period from so many different angles. . And for me that's like, you know, each book is like a masterclass in possibility.

And yet when we look around, especially now for other Black historical romance, it doesn't quite exist. Right. And some of that I think is related to, as I've heard people talk about this fear of having to deal with [00:18:00] slavery, and then in other ways there is this fear of having to deal with the 20th century as well.

And it's not as if Ms. Bev is only writing in this period where everything is hunky dory. Actually, so many things are slipping away. I mean, yeah, you could chart the sort of rise into Black citizenship and rights and then also the loss of those rights and actually many of her books. Right.

But yeah, so it is, and I've said this over and over again, one of the saddest things that I think is actually indicative of the fact that traditional publishing doesn't value Black historical romance is that we do not have another Ms. Bev. And to be clear about that, because I have said that before and gotten pushback, there is no other Black author of historical romance who only writes Black couples.

There is no other author

Elysabeth Grace: exactly

Katrina Jackson: who, who exists in that space. And that is a shame. And that would be such a beautiful place to build on her legacy while she's here. And that has not happened.

Elysabeth Grace: Yes.

Katrina Jackson: And there was still so much history to tell. We love your writing Ms. Bev.

Elysabeth Grace: Yes, we do.

And you are inspiration. Okay. I'm like, okay, everybody, let's, I'm gonna fan girl here for one second.

For me, it when I decided to write Elizabeth and Mis year, because that for me is the Black Romance historical Black Romance that I wrote my other books that are set in the same era, deal with a multicultural spectrum. And by all appearances they appear to be interracial. Although if you actually scratch the genealogy, every one of my heroes has a Black ancestor.

And if you understand the nature of the one drop rule it would be no problem to pick up on kind of the little Easter eggs that I've dropped in my paranormal series. Especially my contemporary romances are Black couples, but they're not historical. When I came to write Elizabethan Mischief, I know the history of Black people in the 16th and 17th century in London.

I know the history of Black people in English colonial spaces who are enslaved. I know for a fact that there are love stories. I know for a fact that slave owners attempted to write that love out of history, but actually ended up recording it in some of their documents and their letters and their reports as they try to separate couples where they deliberately engaged in the separation of families in a destabilization of community.

So my goal in writing Elizabethan Mischief, was to [00:21:00] effectively show how much Ms. Bev's writing had influenced me to capture a different kind of history for Black Romance, one that wasn't predicated on a Black woman falling in love with a non-Black male and living happily ever after.

One that was predicated on, which I do write about, is not like it's an issue, but one that was predicated on engaging a historical space where Black people lived, loved work, died, and their history is recorded.


Katrina Jackson: and that's like the, that becomes the problem, right? Yes. That like the, when we talk about the lack of Black historical romance, the assumption is that Black people did not either live in those spaces. They lived in those spaces, but did not find one another or did not want to be with one another in those spaces. Or they had to leave.

And it is, especially for me I cannot think of of the, of a more. Disrespectful way of understanding the broadness of history, right? Yes. And I think England becomes a really great space for looking at that, which is why I was really excited when you told me about Elizabethan Mischief, the assumption so many of the assumptions people make about historical romance set in England is that of course this person had to have a white partner because that's all, those were the only sort of options which is untrue. Or that they wanted to, you know, move up the sort of social ladder, which, is not necessarily true or that those were bonds of love, right? Only. And I'm like, well, that also is not necessarily true.

And it is, I think as a historian especially, it is the lack of attention and care for detail and also for the humanity of these people. I've said this before that one of the things that really frustrates me about books set in England is that there with Black characters is that we never really see authors attend to the things that Black characters lose. Right? Yes. When they are in either that space or in sort of social spaces in terms of class where they are one of a few or the only one, there is a loss there.

Elysabeth Grace: Yeah.

Katrina Jackson: And we never attend to the loss. So when we are talking about someone like a Dido Belle, we know what she loses.

Elysabeth Grace: Yes.

Katrina Jackson: She loses her mother to have the sort of fairytale that we tell on screen and that Amma Asante told in that that movie. She lost her mother. She, I mean, and that is very clear, right? So if you aren't going to attend to the, which as a historian, I am trained to do, right? And it's still a practice. But if you aren't going to attend to the emotional lives [00:24:00] of the characters and to the ways in which they have to either, they either are ripped from parts of their lives or those are ripped from them, then we aren't really doing the work, right?

We aren't really talking about the representation of of Black people.

Elysabeth Grace: We're not talking about their subjectivity. This is one of the things that drives me crazy because the presumption that we don't have community, the presumption that we don't have family, the presumption that we don't love each other, that there's a natural inclination to be part of a community that is familiar, that has roots, that has connections that's not represented when we sever our Black subjects. The other issue, it is so rare to see in historical romances, Black males represented with dignity.

We can go there. I'm going to qualify this. Pre- 1800 Regency, et cetera. We just don't yeah, we're going there.

Because you know me and I've been drinking. But it is one of the things, again, this is conversation that Katrina and I have had, you know, on the side we look at you know, Piper Huguley's representations of Black males. We look at Ms. Bev's representation of Blackness. We have the models there. So there's no reason that respect for Black subjectivity can't take place, that we need to stop thinking of a homogenous idea of Blackness that fails completely the myriad experiences of African descended people, what they bring together, what they retain, the sense that there is the monolith in terms of what we can represent. And it's only based on a single notion called slavery.

Katrina Jackson: So I had this professor in grad school. I was his TA. And we, so I regularly teach like Modern US history.

We start at Reconstruction. I somehow Reconstruction is like the, yeah the central like focus of my, like teaching career, even though it is not the focus of my research life. But this professor was fantastic because for the first time I had taken modern US with like other professors, but he was the first time I took it with a Black professor trained in African American history.

And he asked his students, like, you know, we went through the whole like, this is what happens in reconstruction legally, and da da da. And then he asks the students and me what do formerly enslaved people want out of their lives now that they are free? [00:27:00] And I was close to the end of my PhD and this was the very first time I had ever been asked to think about what the formerly enslaved wanted out of their freedom at the end of the Civil War.

And so his students and I were like, that's a great question. We have. No, we do not. We do not have answers for that. And then he walked it. He walked us through all of that. And what stuck with me, and this is still how I teach that class to my own students a decade later, what stuck to with me is that the very first thing freed people wanted was to legalize marriages that had existed long before they were legally allowed to marry.

And I first of all, almost broke down crying in class when he said that . But it totally changed the way that I ended up teaching about like the conceptualization of freedom. Because so often we are focused on legally what Black people can or cannot do, and we do not ask what they do anyway, right? As property enslaved people could not legally married, and yet they jumped that broom anyway, and yet when they were separated by miles and sometimes death, they still honored those relationships.

So I actually ran downstairs right before we started to get what is my, like break, like reading . I Can't Wait to Call You My Wife. And I'm like, have been just absolutely obsessed with this. With as many records as we can, as historians as we can gather about how important family and marriage and parenthood was to enslaved and formally enslaved people.

Because so often the stories we think we cannot tell in terms of their romantic lives hinge not on what Black people wanted to do, but what they were legally not allowed to do. Which those are two different questions.

Elysabeth Grace: Yeah. For me, working in the 16th or 17th century, it's a little bit different in terms of England because there are a lot of people who will point to Elizabeth's first proclamation ordering the deportation, which I like the fact that word is used of "Blackamoors, Negars, and Moors from England because they have grown so great in number." It's a complicated document. People read it, I feel very strongly simplistically because the under pining of it is also the rise of immigrants from Protestant countries fleeing Catholic oppression and settling in England, a Protestant nation, and the impact that has on the economy because many of them were coming in as weavers, as merchants, as and so on.

But this particular document was done at the behest of someone who saw an [00:30:00] opportunity to traffic in slavery. To, because England came to the Transatlantic slave trade a little bit later than Spain and Portugal. England needed to establish its colonies first in order to do that. So the idea that there weren't Black people present Is a myth.

The idea that they were all in one location and could be easily rounded up was also a myth because there are records of Black people living in places like Bristol, in places like Plymouth, in places like York. So they're scattered throughout and Wales and Scotland. They're scattered throughout what we call the United Kingdom.

And yet there's a perception of nonexistence. The question for me as a graduate student and as when I was doing my writing was how could literature be a way for me to think about how ideologies are constructed? Why is it Black people are represented as full of passion, full of emotions, et cetera. "The baser side of human nature," in quotes, so that whiteness could be constructed as a model of, for lack of a better term, of perfection. It is important for me to grapple with that legacy in my academic work. It's also important for me within my historical writing, historical romance writing to debunk that notion that we don't need to lean on the construction of whiteness in order to represent Blackness.

We don't, cuz it's there in front of us. We see it. That legacy, that history that's been around since the first African was transported in an enslaved condition and had a family, and generations, we see it. We know about that. Okay. So for me, that's been an important part of what it is that I seek to do.

It's to in effect, redirect the white gaze or shut it off as much as possible. It's hard to completely shut it off because we live in it, but to redirect it or to shut it off while you're reading my books.

One of the things, and we are gonna leave some time for q and a. One of the things that Katrina said that just hit home with me, and okay, so what you need to understand is I really wanted to just question Katrina, so that's why we're doing this. So I'll try to talk a little bit, but I really just love talking to a historian. They just make my day when the historians as opposed to pseudo historians and joke [00:33:00] of the Black experience. When we were talking s we were talking about just this whole question of how people engage, the authenticity of history, et cetera.

And she dropped this lovely little bomb that I'm going to write about in a different way, that historical romance. We need to see historical romance as a fantasy. Remember that one, you doubt. Well, I'm gonna bring you back to it cuz it stayed with me. The whole idea that there's a way in which the perception of authenticity makes historical romances real so that there's 6,000 Dukes running around looking good with fine teeth, fine limbs, and being able to fuck their way across England and not impregnate someone in the 18th century when many of them didn't want to use a condom even though they were available.

And yet people will buy that. Yeah. Right. And so if, okay, so that was a rather crude of me. But the point is, yes,

Katrina Jackson: it's true though. I think that's actually the, yeah, there is. So, I mean, and there are like people in here who will be better able to talk about this than me, including you, but like the idea of romance, especially historical romance as a fantasy, somehow the minute you put Black people in there, the fantasy cannot exist, which is I think it is what it is, right?

I mean there, you could unpack that forever, but the part that always frustrates me is that we're talking people who are usually saying that are people who are making their living as creatives, right? Yes. So the possibility for creativity somehow extends right up until you talk about Black people loving one another in a moment where the world is against them.

And you know, the jerk in me wants to point out there is no moment where the world is not against Black people. So you can do whatever you want, but more importantly, And this, and I do have a literature background, which is maybe why we get along. And then like, I came to history actually through like literature class.

But especially if you have even read, not even deeply, but just shallowly in classic Black literature.

Elysabeth Grace: Yes.

Katrina Jackson: All you see are Black people imagining possibilities. Right. Whether that is, you know, together in romance, whether that is sex cuz they was writing about that too. , whether that is, you know, the possibilities for the end of slavery for, you know, Black self-determination. I mean, they are writing about possibilities over and over again. So then we have so many literary examples of possibilities.

But then we also have the same thing in history, which is a thing I'm [00:36:00] always trying to point out, you know, to my students. If you don't have an enslaved population that can imagine freedom, they die. I mean, I just cannot stress that enough. If you do not have a population that can imagine freedom, they would die under the weight of enslavement.

Elysabeth Grace: Yes.

Katrina Jackson: That they do not die, that some of them decide to procreate because it is a decision, right? That is a hope for the freedom for the future and for freedom in the future. And there's so much there that you can use to pull out a really beautiful story. And yet, when romance authors and readers are talking about writing Black people in historical spaces where they are statistical, they, you know, maybe majorities or at least a significant statistical population, it is as if even the hint of slavery robs them of possibility.

And that is heartbreaking.

Elysabeth Grace: And it's wrong.

Katrina Jackson: It's also wrong.

Elysabeth Grace: It's wrong. Ok? It's wrong if you walk away from this. It's wrong because to reiterate, there is no way Black people who have survived, if they didn't have imagination, if they didn't believe in their freedom, if they refused to fight for it, even in the most subtle ways.

If you haven't read Elizabethan Mischief, my, one of my main char, both my main characters, one of them specifically kills her grandfather, right? For family, not because he was a dickhead, but for family, there were enslaved people who were doing that. There were enslaved people who were resisting.

If the only story you can tell about enslaved people from the, basically from the 16th century forward, is that they wore their chains willingly, which is a myth that they didn't resist. That they didn't hold on to the bonds that managed their subjectivity, that gave them their subjectivity, their humanity.

If you cannot write that, then stay out of historical romance, in my opinion. And don't write Black people in your historical romances. Yeah, I went there. Because honestly, you are doing your Black characters a disservice if their whole existence is framed by enslavement.

What about the mothers? What about the brothers? What about the children? So many of those communities exist within enslavement. They also existed without, [00:39:00] yeah, and we need to recognize that there were Black communities in early America that existed. They went further west got away from those enslaving colonizers and formed their own communities, formed bonds with native people's.

What's going on? Why isn't that history part of what you're telling? There's a way in which you have no, there's a way in which the lens of white supremacy has colored and continues to color how we represent Black people within historical romance. And I think we need to do, and this extends to the Caribbean and to Africa.

Katrina Jackson: I was actually gonna make that point that this is also why I find it so depressing that more people are resisting me reminding y'all that the 1970s for history. Because if what you want is to write a story about Black people that is not in a moment of slavery then write in the 20th century, right?

Yes. And even in that context, I mean, I in particular, I'm a Black British historian, so a lot of what I study is the movement of Caribbean people to the UK in particular from the British Caribbean, but I also just study Black people who move. Like that is literally what I am fascinated by.

So I also study Black Southerners who moved to the west, of which Margot and I are both the descendants of Southerners who moved to California.

And again, I had another professor in graduate school who pointed this out to us that like, if you want to look at Black people's agency, see where they go.

Elysabeth Grace: Yeah.

Katrina Jackson: See where they don't go. Right.

Elysabeth Grace: Yeah.

Katrina Jackson: And when you start looking at that, it opens up the possibility, right? Like you have all of the, I mean it, the fact that I have not gotten, I mean, I'm saying this like, I'm gonna cuss someone in particular out and I don't, but the fact that no one has given me a pan-African romance is quite literally rude.

Because the way that like Black people all over the Atlantic are moving around looking for freedom, thinking about, talking about Africa. , right? Talking about Black self-determination.

Elysabeth Grace: You need to write it.

Katrina Jackson: And if you need a man in a suit, let me tell you about them garveyites, right?

Elysabeth Grace: Like, oh Lord, .

Katrina Jackson: They were like, this is pageantry. Like there is just so much like in that in 20th century history. And so again, the fact that like, we aren't seeing, I mean, I think we're even seeing traditional publishing moving away from like the Western romance, which would've been a space, problematic as it was, which would've been a space where you could get more diverse histories and historical romance.

And they're just refusing to engage with the 20th century as a moment. , right? With like historical possibilities. Just heartbreaking.

Elysabeth Grace: Okay. You need to write it. Yeah. No, [00:42:00]

Katrina Jackson: right. We can move on to the next topic. .

Elysabeth Grace: One of the things that Someone keep me posted on time because there is a question I want to raise, which will allow us to move into

Katrina Jackson: you're doing good, Marco. You're doing good.

Elysabeth Grace: So one of the things that we talked about a little bit was the idea of when writers come to write Black representation within historical romances, and Katrina touched on it earlier is the connection, is the theme of broken connections.

And I said, well, actually I kind of asked the question and made the statement that what is the authorial purpose behind this. And then I went, is it an integrationist? Assimilationist? I isolationist? Is that the only way Black subjectivity can be represented? And then what we miss from these thematic representations.

The thing that I'm seeing occur again in traditional historical romance and we're not gonna talk about historical fiction, Black historical fiction, because that's a different. Space of romance.

Katrina Jackson: And to be honest with you, is much more diverse. Like a lot of what we're like, oh, I wish we this in historical romance, if you're willing to read something with no HEA, you can find almost anything you want in historical.

Elysabeth Grace: Yes. But the sense that somehow, and again, this happens mostly with Black women, most likely mixed race. This idea of a not belonging. And I, for me, that seems to run counter to my understanding of Blackness, that the sense of belonging to this community, regardless of what you look like, you know, that if there's Blackness in you anywhere, even if it's not on the surface, You belong to the Black community, and I don't have an answer for that particular thematic this type of writing that I'm seeing, but I'm becoming more and more concerned about it.

Within historical romance, traditionally published and even self-published, of the need to construct Black protagonists, primarily women, in isolation from a community. That the only way for them to become, quite honestly, "human" in quotes, is to join this white community to assimilate, to not even integrate. It's more assimilation. Assimilate. Yeah. It's to assimilate into this community.

And it's a worry of mine. Because in effect, and it gets cast as Black Romance, which I'm gonna, you [00:45:00] know, when I join the ancestors, I'm gonna be screaming that is not Black Romance. That there are expectations being promised to the reader that when you write Black Romance, that you're also giving us the wholeness of the characters.

How come we can write white protagonists, fully with family, whether it's fraud or not. They leave a family, they return to the family, et cetera. But what about our Black protagonists in the historical romances? And I just wanna put that out there for us to think about, because I honestly seen an assimilationist move about what's happening to Black protagonists, especially women.

Katrina Jackson: It's a, yeah I think, and I think so much could be said again, this could be its own hour, but again, this is one of those moments where one, Ms. Bev has given us a really good sort of roadmap. Like, I, I just don't understand, I mean, I've talked about this, I could talk about this forever, but yeah. In Forbidden, the fact that she has a character one a man, right?

I mean, she is, quite literally turning the idea, the sort of narrative of the tragic mulatto on its head, first of all. But she has a a man who can pass and his HEA is that he doesn't. Yes. I just cannot stress to you enough that, like, that is revolutionary on its own.

What she has told you, right? And then when he shows up again, the contentment, like when you meet Rhine in Forbidden, the man is out here uh, [inaudible] right? But when you see him again and later, but oh my gosh, he's like, he has grown old. He is comfortable and like happy. And that tells you something, right?

Like what we, what she is telling us and what others, you know, what the writers have written around is that, you know, whatever, however you wanna deal with kind of passing as a possibility writer as a historical reality. Like it comes down to characterization.

Elysabeth Grace: Yes.

Katrina Jackson: And so, if you have a character who is passing and is isolated from their Blackness, I mean, you really have to think about what you're doing there, right?

What, why that is the particular story you have to tell to to get at, you know, whatever the goal is, right? And then also why. That HEA doesn't ever, doesn't give them back that this is what I was talking about earlier, right? They have lost something. Right. Like in having to piece themselves apart racially to, to separate themselves from their Blackness and their Black community, which could be anything and everything from, I mean, you know, Rhine is out here looking for good cooking. Right? Like he is like, Lord knows I just want some good food.

Right? Like that is telling you something about his urges and it is the loss at every single level of his [00:48:00] life. Yeah. And he chooses right to lose, like monetarily. Right. In some ways for something that is much more valuable and there are ways, so there are ways to write that story that are different that sort of give us something different than the tragic mulatto story, but also too historically, right? When we're talking about, I mean, that does happen, right? Where we see like biracial people who have children with white people and who whiten, I mean it is literally called whitening, right?

Who whiten their lineages over generations. Yes. They're, that, that creates its own problems. It is not the HEA that you imagine, right? Especially when we're thinking about this happens a good deal in England actually. Right. What it means for, in the present day, for someone to find out that they have a Black ancestor. There's a cost there.

Elysabeth Grace: Yes.

Katrina Jackson: And I keep trying to remember this man's name, but it'll come to me one day or I'll finally look it up. But you know, there's a present day sort of white family who found out they have a Black ancestor from, I wanna say it's Liverpool. And there is literally only one member of that family who will speak publicly because he said, the rest of my family refuses to acknowledge that this is a Black man in our lineage and that's a cost.

Right. And you have to attend to that

Elysabeth Grace: as well as the fact that one of the things that I love about Rhine and also my man, Galen, is they fully understood what passing meant to them. It was an act of liberation at a time when there was no liberation for Black people and it was about the community. You know, Rhine saw himself working for the community.

Some of the romances I've read, there's none of that. It's a complete disconnect. So we do have to ask, what do we lose when we sculpt a novel of romance based on the tragic mulatto? Because I don't see either Rhine or Galen as tragic mulattos, all right? They see an economic reason, a political reason, a liberatory reason for their passing, and they choose to do so.

Katrina Jackson: And strategically, that's strategically. I mean, that's what we're losing, right? Is this idea that like, oh, you know, we keep telling these stories and historical fiction does this as well. It's not just historical romance. Yeah. But we keep telling these stories about, oh, this person just discovers they can pass one day.

And they're like, look how luckily my life could be. I mean, I'm sure that happens. Like, I mean, that's what history will teach you. There's again, possibility [00:51:00] everywhere, but the stories we have of passing, right? Like one of the books on the list is about William and Ellen Craft. Ellen Craft was like, these people think I'm white. Me and my husband are going to freedom. Right. She was just, She was like, let me put in a little bowler. And we are like, we are heading into freedom.

It's a strategic understanding of if whiteness has value, which it does, how can I use it to free myself and my people? That is what we see most often in the historical record.

Elysabeth Grace: Yes, absolutely. Okay. I'm gonna keep us going so that if there are questions we have time. One of the things that I raised is what's the future of Black historical romance, is that these are questions that I shared with Katrina, just, you know, as provocative things for us to reflect on.

Is it possible to break the 19th century hold of historical romance in general and with Black historical romance specifically to think about writing historical romances that run the gamut of Black people's historical lives, of Black people's histories.

Katrina Jackson: Yeah.

Elysabeth Grace: That not only center the us but you know, the transatlantic Blackness that exists. Without engaging in what I'm gonna call assimilationist historical romance. People in, you know, south America, people in the Caribbean, people in Africa whose lives were affected by the disruption to family models and whatnot.

It requires some work, but there's stories out there. And we do that.

The other question that came up for me was in writing Black historical experience is the only Black historical fiction, which I mentioned little early treating romance as an afterthought, are non-existent in people's lives. I mean, I don't think we can do that, thanks to Miss Bev. okay. But it seems we're not taking seriously the masterclass that she's teaching us.

Katrina Jackson: No.

Elysabeth Grace: You know, well, some of us are trying to. We're still novices working on this, but folks, we need to start taking seriously our ability to write historical romances that center Black people's lives, Black people's experiences, Black people's communities.

Without turning it into a kind of assimilationist, uplift, tragic mulatto, recuperative within white spaces type of narrative that the, HEA becomes, again, an afterthought. Is it possible for us to do that in a way where we don't, where we don't [00:54:00] diminish what most of us as Black people know in our personal lives is the truth.

We've seen Black love, we've seen it historically. You know, we've seen it with our grandparents, with our great grandparents. We've seen it with our aunts, we've seen it with our uncles, our cousins, et cetera. We've seen it with our ancestors in the letters they may have left behind, assuming they were, you know, literate. We've seen them fight for literacy so they could leave their histories behind and talk about their communities, their loves, their families, et cetera.

Is it possible for us to do that in a space that says this is not a legitimate romance? This is not an authentic romance unless you privilege.

Last question. Is it possible? And I think the answer is yes because Katrina's already answered this. Is it possible to write historical Black historical romances with enslaved protagonists, a romance that doesn't divorce love and social condition?

Katrina Jackson: I think so. I think a lot of my answer answers to actually all those question questions kind of boil down to the same thing. And I'm gonna echo Ms. Bev in the chat for saying much more succinctly than I'm about to. Yes, it's possible. I think all of it's possible. Like, if there's nothing else, like anyone takes from this, is that like, if what you're looking for is inspiration from the historical record, everything is possible.

I mean, I'm, I am quite literally shocked at the things that are possible. So if that is where you are looking for inspiration, 100% is possible. And then I agree. Will writers do it? And I think every now and then you know, I'll talk to other writers about, like, if they're thinking of a historical whatever, and they think that it's daunting, which it is.

I mean, I'm not gonna pretend as if it's not. I think like, depending on the kind of book you wanna write, like the plot or whatever, it can be really daunting. And also it's a new sub, if it's a new subgenre for you, it can be very difficult to do so. But if you are willing to research needle point from the 19 teens or, you know, whatever, like shipping you know, roots from the 17th century, you can figure out if two Black people lived in, you know, New Jersey in like, 1890.

Like you can, like whatever, you can figure it out. Right. But if you have, so you have to be willing to do the work.

And then I think the other part of that, which is actually quite important, is like who will then publish it? Cause I will say that I think every now and then so if we're talking about Trad Pub, is it possible in Trad Pub? From what I've seen right now, no. In my opinion, absolutely not. And I think that's shortsightedness, I've said this before, I will say this again until I see otherwise, I do not see traditional publishing as a space to do Black historical romance that bucks at that 19th century hold, [00:57:00] right? No.

But if you're a self-published author or you're willing to be hybrid, first of all, you can do it like, right? Cause I mean, you are your boss in that sense, but also there's an audience for that, right? Mm-hmm. It might take a little bit more time to find them. You might have to change your marketing, et cetera, but 100% it's possible. And it, and again, it's possible to find your audience.

Elysabeth Grace: And with that, I wanna open it up to questions.

I just wanna say that this has been a moment for me to just listen to Katrina talk history. Maybe sneaky on my part. But I want to let her know how much I appreciate our conversations. She keeps me grounded.

Okay, so how should we do the questions? I see I hand raised,

Julie Moody-Freeman: so yes. Let me ask Marjorie to unmute.

Marjorie: Hi everyone. I'm not turning on my camera because I am sick in bed today and I will spare you sight, but I hail to you right now from St. Croix of the Great Caribbean, the unceded, but still colonized lands of the Taino people of who breeded Columbus.

So, hello. And the question that I wanted to ask Margo and Katrina, you hit a point that, that was like a punch to my gut as somebody who writes fiction in my spare time, and that is on the issue of imagination. Part of what slavery and colonization does deliberately is to capture our attempt to capture our imaginations.

And the way in which it is successful is when it gets us to believe that certain things are not possible. So I think about some of the reception around, the woman king for example, and everybody screaming about how it's not authentic. And I'm like, what was the last time that a story came from Hollywood that was authentic? Are you kidding me? Right?

And hearing stories about how, gosh, I'm forgetting the actress's name right now, but how she had walked away from playing a role in the movie, a Black actress, because she didn't find it authentic and et cetera, et cetera.

And so I guess my question to you is twofold. One is, you know, what are the things that we do to activate our imagination so that it's full of possibilities in the way that racism, white supremacy cetera, et cetera, does not want it, to happen? And two is how do you respond to those claims of, but it's not authentic? Which I think you raised earlier, but I'd love for you to underscore.

Thank you.

Katrina Jackson: That's a great question,

Elysabeth Grace: Katrina.

Katrina Jackson: [01:00:00] Yeah, I mean, this is fiction. I don't really know. I don't really know how else to say that. Y'all writing fiction. Please write more fiction. Fiction. It's fiction. It's fiction.

Elysabeth Grace: Okay. , I'm gonna jump in here as an academic. Romance is rooted in fantasy. It started in fantasy. The first romances had dragons and sorcerers and magicians and people flying and people managing to run through forests naked, and nobody ever doing anything to them.

It's fantasy. So the imagination has always been a fundamental key to writing romance. Okay, so I'm coming back to my favorite book, Indigo.

It took Ms. Bev's imagination to write that book. No one else could have written that book. She imagined what Hester looked like. She imagined a relationship between Hester and Kevin. She took the Song of Solomon, rewrote it in that book, like my favorite, in order to give us a sense of what Black love is.

Authentic, absolutely. Yeah. In the context of that book, that romance, everything is authentic. We need to stop trying to look outside of the romance narrative for authenticity. Look inside. Cuz the moment you write fiction, I don't care whether you call it literary, genre, whatever. The moment you step into that book, the moment you walk on to that space in that landscape, it's authentic.

Everything else outside doesn't

Katrina Jackson: matter.

And I would say like two practical things in terms of like how you can activate your imagination. I think you know, one of them, like I said before, is like, read other authors who aren't doing that work. Like, I actually love historical fiction. I do wish like there were HEAs, but what I love about historical fiction is that they manage to blend the historical research with, you know, a narrative right. That really appeals to me.

Those are sad. So they're may be a little too close to the historical record. So it's not where I go when I wanna feel uplifted, but like just read other books that are attempting to like, do that work.

But then I think the other thing is I think people are like intimidated by the historical record itself. Yeah. Right? Yeah. So it's as if doing the research tells them, okay, this I haven't found this story, so it's not possible. And, but the point is that, You haven't found the story, so you now create the possible.

Elysabeth Grace: Yes.

Julie Moody-Freeman: So you don't have to unmute yourself to ask a question. Feel free to drop it in a chat In the meantime, I'll go to the second raised hand.

question 2: [01:03:00] Okay. [inaudible name]. And I want ask a very short question. I want to take our discussion from the historical space to space of the future. And I want to ask you how you see the future of Black romance. What uh, opportunities uh, you expect in uh, for the Black romance type literature?

Thank you.

Elysabeth Grace: I'll try. I think the future of Black Romance is driven by us: Black writers, Black readers, non-Black readers of Black Romance. Black Romance has been around forever honestly as long as people have been able to capture narratives of lives and love on the page.

So, I think one of the things that I would say is individuals need to stop depending on traditional publishers for it. I think that there are hybrid writers. I think there are self-published writers, brilliant people who are writing and we need to do more elevation there. I'm, I think that's, for me, that's my answer.

I'm kind of wedded to historical romance right now because honestly I take seriously Katrina's point about Ms. Bev probably getting lonely. She needs more of us in that arena with her. And so, I think there are ways we can do it. I think we're obligated to do it if that is our calling.

And for me, that's my calling. Katrina? Yeah. Do you have an answer?

Katrina Jackson: No. I agree with you.

Eugenia, are you unmuted?


Elysabeth Grace: Good morning, Jean. How are you?

Question 3: How are you? Well, anyway, my question is precisely on this point. I was so struck by the beginning of the conversation that Professor Hendricks, professor Jackson, that you both problematized Ms. Bev's prominence in a fruitful way. I mean, you know, huge fan I've read her entire backlist, I'm working on my doctoral dissertation and she's very central to it. So, so life giving for so many of us gathered here and yet that she is the only one. I'm hoping if you can maybe just speak more about, you mentioned, I think, you know, traditional publishing, that's a sign of their lack of investment.

You also mentioned somewhat how authors are loath to take up kind of a historical lens because of the fear or the discomfort with slavery. But yeah, if you could just speak more to that would be helpful [01:06:00] of what you see as the why she's the only one still. Thank you.

Elysabeth Grace: Um,

You know what, one I think. Okay, so I'm going old on you. I think it's generational. Yeah. In, in some instances in terms of the complicated relationship to enslavement in this country. Because I think and just naturally that the possibility of independence, Black characters inside and outside of the historical narratives constructed within white supremacy need to be wrested from the white gaze in order for us to do justice to their narratives and to their traditions. But we need to understand those narratives and those traditions before we can wrest them.

You know, I'm gonna speak to me and then I'll shut up. I've been doing familial research for a memoir and discovering a lot about a, the great uncle whose father was enslaved, who at the end of, during reconstruction, at the end of reconstruction, moved to California, established a home, et cetera, and brought siblings out.

I have I had a couple of great uncles who were born enslaved and you know, next year they were free. So I'm thinking about, and he married a woman he was capable of passing. He married a woman who is as Black as I am. And there were, just there was discomfort about that because the expectation was assimilation, integration move on up.

They managed to move up without changing anything. That's a romance I want to write. So I have to do the work to construct that romance. I think we need to figure out how best to use the research that's available to us that historians, cultural, political, social, economic had laid out for us for years as well as thinkers to write these narratives.

We can't be afraid to write these narratives. I think that's the most important thing that I've learned from Ms. Bev, is that we can't be afraid to write these narratives. We need to not center the white gaze. I think that's gonna be our first success when we decenter that, that's my opinion.

Katrina Jackson: I agree with all that.

I think I, when you said generational, I thought you were gonna go a different way. So I'll just add to that. There did used to be other Black writers who wrote historical romances. Steve Ammidown, like taught me some of this as well, but I believe her name is Elsie Washington.

Elysabeth Grace: Yes.

Katrina Jackson: So there did, used to be romance authors Black romance authors who were writing historical, not only historical romance, but you know, a standalone here, there, et cetera.

And what I think we have seen is the lack of support from their publishers [01:09:00] for more. Mm-hmm. , I think Ms. Bev is a case that I have not seen elsewhere where not only are we seeing the support from a publisher, but the same publisher through throughout her career. I think that is I mean, she's here. We could ask if that's correct. From my professional opinion, it seems as if like that has been what has led to the longevity of her career is that she has had consistent support from a single publisher that has allowed for her to build this catalog that other Black authors could not.

And then I would also agree that there have been changes in writers where what we are now seeing there, there did also used to be other Black romance authors who have moved away from historical romance, either to just contemporary or to IR or to historical fiction because either publishers or readers were hostile to their inclusion of Black people in historical narratives.

Julie Moody-Freeman: Ms. Bev, are you able to speak?

Ms. Beverly Jenkins: I think so. Can you hear me okay?

Yes, we can hear.

Okay. I just wanna thank you and Katrina and Dr. Margo up there and Dr. Katrina should be, you know, just thank you. This has been a great way to start my Saturday morning. And yes, I would love to see more Black writers doing Black historical romance.

I worry. Because I'm not seeing a lot of stories focused on us, on a Black couple, and I'm not sure why that is. But you gotta do the work. You have to do the work and it's not that hard. I mean, the more you read the history, the easier the imagination becomes. Indigo started with that two sentence, "I knew a man named Wyatt who was free, who, you know, sold himself in slavery for the love of a woman."

Elysabeth Grace: Yes.

Ms. Beverly Jenkins: I mean, if that doesn't get your imagination started, I'm not sure what will.

Elysabeth Grace: Yes.

Ms. Beverly Jenkins: But I just wanna say thank you. I wanna thank you for supporting my work. I wanna thank you for supporting the history and thank you for your scholarship. You guys are awesome. All right. I'm out

Julie Moody-Freeman: Thank you. Right, [inaudible name] can you speak?

Question 4: Yeah. And first of all, thank you for this wonderful presentation and my question is about how to create a woman character that don't fit into the stereotypes of idealized women or these sexualized object? How to create an independent woman born to historical reference of Black communities.

Julie Moody-Freeman: Thank you.[01:12:00]

Elysabeth Grace: Whoa. Good question. For me what I try to do is to understand the nature of the socioeconomic moment that I'm writing about. In the 16th century many of the Black peoples who came to England, some voluntarily, some came over as servants not enslaved as servants. Some came as enslaved children effectively and then were liberated once they were no longer cute.

They had skills. They grew up in communities of weavers, of jewelry makers of iron workers of. All kinds of, you know, some of them were scholars and knew Arabic and Hebrew, and they found ways to turn those skills into a living. They would be mentioned and you would read their names because they adopted English names and you would automatically assumed they were white unless there was some indication that this person was a "blackamoor", that this person was in Negro, this person was a moor.

You kind of have to, for me, I rely heavily on Imtiaz H. Habib's book, Black Lives in the English Archives, 1560 to 1690 or something. I rely on the level of research that he did to give me that documentation, but I also did archival work. Not everybody can do that. But there are books that will tell you, you know, about the lives.

So imagine not writing an aristocrat. Imagine writing a well to do merchant, someone who trades with African nations, who becomes valuable to a community, both their own and the larger community, because they have context back home, because the presumption is those were lost.

To write a woman who is not sexualized in this day and age is in my opinion, a mistake. There's no reason for us to omit a woman's sexuality. This is one of the problems we create, this virginal standard of beauty and et cetera. Come on. It's okay for a man to be sexual, not okay for a woman to be sexual? Let's not buy into this idea that there, there's always this either or, and that if we represent Black women, brown women, Asian women's sexuality, that it always has to be measured against white women's sexuality, which a construct, an absolute construct.

So, I would look into some of the women who had their own shops, ran their own businesses, widows, you know, mother and daughter. There are, there's there, there are representations out there for us to draw upon, and their stories exist and we know it. We can see. Throughout history in terms of widow, you know, widow Jones who ran her own [01:15:00] shop, happened to be a white woman, and people will write about that.

Well, what about Widow Smith, Black woman, who also ran her own shop in her own hotel and so on? Again I mean, I gotta come back to Ms. Bev. She did her work because she gave us women who were independent striving to be independent, fiercely independent. It's not hard to write them. It really isn't.

Katrina Jackson: Yeah I wanna echo that. I also wanna echo Tasha in the chat, pointing out that this is just simply a craft issue, right? If you can write a well crafted white character, you can write a well crafted Black female character. There's nothing particularly distinct about Black people that makes it difficult to write us well without, like, without falling into stereotype.

I would also say for the historical time period, like some of the way that you can make sure you're being, you're writing a believably deep character is, as Miss Bev said, to do the work. Right? So you should be reading in the time period if you're interested in writing like a Black woman in like, you know, 19th century Jamaica, right?

You should be reading not just books about Black- this is, I think, where people get stuck on the historical research. You should be reading books about Black women in 19th century Jamaica, and then you should be reading sources from Black women in 19th century Jamaica if they exist. Cause there's a difference, right?

Like what scholars think about, you know, a particular time period is shaped by the kinds of primary sources they can access. But historians are not infallible, right? Like our ideas change as we learn how to read sources better. So it, that's reading in about the time period and then reading sources from the time period from people who fit the subjectivity you're writing about.

Julie Moody-Freeman: Ms. Bev?

Ms. Beverly Jenkins: Yeah, I just wanna say in crafting my characters, I like to incorporate the three gifts. The Dorothy Sterlings, that Black women the 19th century, all had. The first one being we worked, whether we were enslaved or free. The second was our commitment to community. And the third, which is probably the most valuable, is our penchant for pushing the envelope on gender and race.

So if you wanna read, wanna create Black female characters, and you need to read the history of what made these women so important, not only to our race, but to the country. Cause some of the Black women were the first doctors here. So the three gifts we worked, whether we were enslaved or free, a commitment to community and community activism.

I mean, you could read the stories about Black women chasing the slave catchers out outta their communities n the abolitionist north and three are penchant for pushing envelope on [01:18:00] gender and race. Okay, I'm out.

Julie Moody-Freeman: So we have one minute left. Conclusions?

Katrina Jackson: So I guess I'm gonna, so there is a bibliography that we attached to this for just generally speaking, like if you're interested in history. And I will say that I told Margo, I told Elizabeth not to judge me because like I'm historian, I'm interested in books, and every time someone's like, no one has ever in their life, ever studied this thing, do a little bit more research.

But here's what I would say especially if you want to write his Black historical romance and you just aren't sure where to start. And then also I saw someone say that like they didn't learn a lot in school, so they are, they feel uncomfortable with the history. So start reading. Start reading.

Elysabeth Grace: I'm going to thank Katrina for playing with me this morning.

And as you can see her, I just love her mind and thank you so much.

Thank you Julie, for doing and making this possible. Thank the Center for Black Diaspora for supporting my moments of, Ooh. I'd like to do this. You're wonderful. I want to say this is just a start. This is not an end. We are seriously encouraging writers in the room, readers in the room to support, encourage, push for Black historical romances that center, Black love, Black community, Black families, Black conditions, whatever they may be. And know that our people have always found joy, no matter the obstacles. They've always found love. No matter the obstacles they worked for community and they loved, and if nothing else, that's what you want tell.

That's the story you want. I'm done.

Julie Moody-Freeman: I appreciate you both, Margo and I appreciate you also Katrina. Thank you all for getting up early this morning to be with us. Thanks to the Dean's office in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences here at DePaul University and on behalf of the Center for Black Diaspora, we're done.

Katrina Jackson: Thank you for attending . Take care everybody.

Elysabeth Grace: Bye bye.

Andrea Martucci: Thank you so much for spending time with me today. If you enjoyed today's episode, please subscribe, rate, or review on your favorite podcast app or tell a friend. Check out ShelfLovePodcast.Com for transcripts and other resources. Or you can find me @shelflovepod on Twitter or @shelflovepodcast on Instagram. Or you can always email me at Andrea at Shelf Love Podcast dot com.

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See your name listed as a Patreon supporter on the Shelf Love website if you join at any level. That's

Breaking news. There is now a $1 tier on the Shelf Love Patreon , and that's called Here for the Discourse. So if you are bummed out about the destruction of Twitter, let's just be honest. I was going to say social media, it's just Twitter. I'm trying to get off Twitter if you're trying to get off Twitter, but you think that you are going to miss romance discourse, please consider joining the Shelf Love Patreon.

Because you are here listening to a Shelf Love episode, if you are an avid Shelf Love listener, and do you want to take part in the conversation on the Shelf Love discord, but $1 a month is out of range for you, please reach out to me, Andrea, at Shelf Love Podcast dot com. I do not want it to be a barrier to entry for people who are truly fans.

I don't really want it to be a free for all where anybody can join. But if you're a listener, this is literally the place I created for you. I do not want you to feel like money is a barrier to you joining the conversation. Please let me know. I can add you to the Discord.

That's all for today. Thanks so much. Bye.