*sigh* I don't normally do this, but here goes


I saw this on my Facebook page today (apparently it was posted some time yesterday) and though I normally would just ignore something like this, I do want to state my side for the record since I was tagged.

Dennis Upkins is releasing his second novel, West of Sunset, and is planning to do a Virtual Book tour.  I reviewed the dreamcast for it and I'll be honest; I was surprised.  Upkins has often criticized the lack of diversity in mainstream media, and so I wondered why his white characters outnumbered his characters of color.  A few weeks ago, I asked why.  Upkins explained his reasons quite logically and assured me he was writing exactly what he wants to write.  I accepted this and was ready to move on.

But then, Mr. Upkins brought up a time years back when he'd asked to write for the Blasian Narrative and was declined because it's a safe space for AMBW (Asian men/black women).  This upset him.

Once again, I was surprised.  I could be wrong, but personally, I've never perceived Denny Upkins to be particularly vested in the Blasian world.  I expressed this, stating anyone who knows Denny knows his taste in men (and doesn't care). So you can understand my confusion as to why writing for an Asian men/black women blog was so important to a black man with, at best, a muted interest in Asian men and no particularly special insight into AMBW overall.

Now, I was happy to disagree with Mr. Upkins in private and peacefully go our separate ways.  But since he's decided to go public (and tag me along), I figured I might as well be heard since we know a lot of people in common and some of them are probably wondering what's going on.

That being said, this will be the last time I speak on this; folks can take from it what they will.  I do not regret asking Denny Upkins why he cast mainly white characters in his upcoming book; a writer should be prepared for questions and criticism at all times.  It goes with the job.  And as for his romantic life, once again: I don't care.  He has his taste in men, and I have mine.

Comments

  1. Good response. I think it should be noted that often self-professed "activist" are some of the worst offenders of the behavior they are supposedly trying fight against. I see this often in the writing of Asian Females, where by the white male is the core romantic interest, often framed around the "I never truly loved until I loved a white man" theme. I think you're more than justified in responding to him on facebook with the same demeanor and eloquence you displayed in this post

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  2. Well stuff happens. Like I said on his end i understand how he feels and since I've read you side I understand how both of you feel. It's sad that you guys are not friends anymore. but what can you do, he got his thing going and you got your thing going.

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    1. After this, I sincerely doubt the nature of our initial "friendship." I asked him a question, he gave me his answer, I accepted that answer, and was ready to move on. But that was not enough.

      We disagreed about the Blasian Narrative, a blog which was not set up for him and which owes him nothing. I was willing to agree to disagree and move on, but that was not enough.

      So here we are, almost a month of silence later, with him out of the blue calling me a self-loathing, homophobic cannibal on Facebook, and...fine. *shrugs* I'm a professional. I'm used to being questioned and insulted on a daily basis.

      But how many of you want to bet that's still not going to be enough?

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    2. Yea...dropping shade on FB is definitely not how you treat the people you call your friends. I should have commented earlier BTW. I apologize. I'll take sides on this cos I judge a person's character by their actions, not their words, and I can see who acted how.

      Delete
  3. Leo Princess4/12/14, 12:16 PM

    ........wha.......I need to process. I just feel like I got bitchslapped.

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  4. Sorry to hear this. I follow you both, and enjoy each blog you both have created for yourself. I'm not out to take sides, and will still support you both. But it does seem like it isn't enough at times, I feel for you. Your falling out was really none of our business, so it came as a shock to see it aired so messy and publicly. I had no idea you even had a falling out. Guess you can't have an opposing opinion with some people...

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    1. Thanks for your comments, and I perfectly understand your posting as Anonymous.

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  5. I think the problem was the way he went about it. I too am a fan of you both, but I've never read any of his work. Personally this may mean I'll never read any of his work because he attacks people who have a different opinion that him. He told his side leaving out so many details and it just came off as a little childish and bitter.

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  6. Wow... this is a surprise to me. I didn't think that this was happening to you guys. Y'all seem tight. I'm sorry that the both of you had to part ways like that.

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  7. Whoa,

    This is a lot to take in. You two seem to be real cool, but now this. I know how both of you feel and all. You two raised good points. And it's real sad to see a relationship divided like this.

    I agree with his statement about getting our own house in order, because I wrote about my own falling out with a black author who wanted me to illustrate his book. I can't go into details about it, at least not here. So, I sympathize.

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  8. Also, I'm not taking sides, but I don't see how questioning someone about their characters, particularly a POC writing about white people, is considered self-loathing. I think it's a legitimate question in a time where POC are still a severe minority in the media.

    This is not to say that Dennis isn't free to write whatever he wants. He has the freedom to do so and the freedom to enjoy it. Yet, it's hard to get past the fact that white people are still the character archetype in most storytelling in all forms of media.

    However, the plus side is that there are other POC telling stories about POC...

    I dunno. I'm still taking this all in.

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    1. I don't see how questioning someone about their characters, particularly a POC writing about white people, is considered self-loathing. I think it's a legitimate question in a time where POC are still a severe minority in the media.

      Thank you.

      Delete
  9. Dizzy queen4/13/14, 6:26 AM

    For someone who plays the lack of diversity card constantly, you would think his books would reflect, I don't know more diversity! No Asians, no Latinos, few black women who aren't light skinned and mixed race. Hmmm...maybe it's him with the problem. I smell internalized racism here. Like Harriet Tubman once said " I freed a thousand slaves, I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves!"

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    1. Exactly with his neverlutionary ass.

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  10. Tailor made4/13/14, 6:28 AM

    It's annoying how this guy puts his name in the same breathes as highly successfully in his craft. He's not even close to seeing them. Not even close!

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  11. Black people never take criticism for other Black people well. It always gets super blown up.

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  12. It's interesting that this comes up. I remember on Shadow and Act they posted an article about Octavia Spenser writing a book about a young female ninja. When I clicked on the link I discovered the young girl was white. I asked 'Why is the lead character white?" One commenter responded to me with 'why is everything all about race?' (side eye) Another commenter said 'Octavia was just playing the game, for now'. Academy Award winning actress Octavia Spenser is just 'playing the game'.

    The whole thing about it is, if WE (black creators and consumers) don't believe, why should anyone else?

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    1. I believe a writer should scribble whatever they want. However, as a writer, they should be ready for questions at all times - the fun ones, the boring ones, the easy ones, the annoying ones.

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  13. yeah, he's always doing to people he don't like. You do know this is harassment and he's been sharing this around on Facebook. He use to be so cool, but know since he did his book, it just went to his head. His flunkies don't make it better. (Shawn Harris and Jamie Jeans). Hell,They made ArsMarginal, New Millenium a toxic place to be at sometimes. I'm glad I didn't buy his crappy books.

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    1. I can't speak as to the other two, but I have been told my name is still "making rounds."

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  14. Grown folks do grown things. It is sad when a friendship ends. That said, he could have just parted ways with you and left it at that. Why post the ending of said friendship on social media? It speaks to his character or lack of it. The constant shade is ridiculous. Why go on and on about it? WTF?! I've seen 14 year old girls with more decorum. He's a writer so I assume he is trying to grow his readership. Nothing turns off a potential audience member like mean-spiritedness. As Puffy has stated time and again don't f**k up the money. Showing your complete ass on Facebook, twitter and any other outlet you can get your hands on is just beyond. I'm not his friend, however I have enjoyed some of the things he's written. Since he's allowed me to peak behind the curtain and get a glimpse of who he is and how he conducts himself, best believe I won't be bothered with his ass from this point on. I swear by Puerto Rican Jesus and all the saints and apostles this whole episode is completely uncalled for. And on that note I'm off to Pinterest.

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  15. In your online persona, I don't find you as likable as some others, but I continue to come back here for your content on both blogs year after year.

    Because it's good. And I always learn something.

    You have an impeccable sense for whittling a particular issue down to its essence without diluting. And I continue to appreciate you for it and the countless hours you've sweated into it.

    In contrast, I found Denny Upkins' in-circle persona to be very affable. That being said, he cannot do with his content what you're able to do with yours. This isn't to slight his work and efforts, but I believe your material is on a level that compels people to really use their minds to chew on what was just delivered.

    For the value I got from both of your works, it sucks that I can't unsee this mess. People have blind spots of privilege, and I've even seen you flex it on occasion. Maybe he was justified in pointing out something he experienced as hurtful or unintentionally heteronormative that was said. Maybe your words were taken out of context, stretched, and spun. I dunno, I wasn't there. But I really disliked seeing "pre-sorted" dirty laundry being aired out *in public* like that between two well known personas with many overlapping fans. Asking people to take sides is exactly what a FB declaration like that is, even if it's not explicitly stated. I don't delight in reading publicized social media drama, especially when it really didn't have to happen.

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  16. I have to reply anonymously but
    Shawn is a snake
    https://www.facebook.com/denny.upkins/posts/10203289828541702?notif_t=close_friend_activity

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    1. I understand why you're posting anonymously on this thread, but this thread is not about Shawn or any other friend of Dennis's. This thread was about my getting to speak my side about a specific situation.

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