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“Freedom (n.): To ask nothing. To expect nothing. To depend on nothing.”
– Ayn Rand, “The Fountainhead”
One of the beauties of life is how vastly things change over a set period of time. Trends change every minute and we get technological advancements seemingly every month. However, social behavior is something that drastically changes as the years wear on. We don’t carry ourselves or interact with each other like our parents or grandparents did before us. Our circumstances are different from theirs. The world as a whole is different!
Societal behaviors have always interested me. Maybe it’s my natural inclination as a writer but I’ve always had a habit of studying the people around me and taking note of how they act and react to different things. One societal group that has gone through a drastic change over the decades is black women. The adverse circumstances that many in the African-American community face from our current broken family structure to the backlash of living in a ruthless world altogether has created a new generation of females I like to call the “21st Century Black Woman”.
The new, 21st Century Black Woman is strong, sexy, intelligent, resourceful, business minded and aggressive when it comes to what she’s passionate about. Their sheer courage, independence and will power is incredibly attractive to many men but comes off as pent up aggression and exuded masculinity. Because of this, many black women of this generation tend to have a rough time finding partners that they’re compatible with.
The true 21st Century Black Woman is rarely ever embodied in black literature for some reason. Instead, she’s replaced with a ghetto, over-sexualized, attitudinal, self-hating, loud mouth caricature that perpetuates the worst stereotypes you can name. I tried to fight the negative propaganda and tell a true narrative in my novel The Diary Of Aaliyah Anderson. Author Renee Wallace also highlights the brilliance and the struggle of the 21st Century Black Woman in her novel In Pursuit Of Joi. Recently, I talked to her about the novel and other relationship based topics concerning black women today.
Randall: How did the novel In Pursuit Of Joi come about?
Renee Wallace: In Pursuit of Joi is a story about a woman, Joi McIntosh, who is perceived as a modern day Superwoman. Most people know a “Joi” or someone like her. She is, by most peoples standards, living the America dream. She has own business. She’s independent, happily married, awesome as a mother, and everyone’s sister-friend. She juggles all of her duties well simply because she is expected to. She is a success because she has to be. It is all on the surface, but she is forced to dig deeper when she meets a woman named Latoya Bradshaw.
Randall: Is there a real life motivation behind the story?
Renee Wallace: For me, there was because the characters involved are parts of me. In many ways, I was a “Joi McIntosh” as well as a “Latoya Bradshaw”. And there are many other woman who have gone through something similar to what occurs within the pages of this book. Though it is a work of fiction, I’m also telling someone’s story.
Randall: Black women of the 21st Century are strong, intelligent, career oriented, well- educated and fiercely define themselves as independent. However, we find many black women in situations where the relationships fall apart because of the qualities mentioned above. What’s your take on this?
Renee Wallace: The best way that I can answer this is by countering with a question. At what point does it become too much? There is such a beauty in being intelligent, career oriented, educated, independent, and strong. However, there is also the pressure that comes along with it all. Women are often expected to be superwomen, so we follow suit. We tend do what is expected of us. Not only that, we tend to push ourselves harder in order to exceed expectations. But at what expense? Sometimes we get so determined to be the “Alpha Woman” that we forget that we are also soft and vulnerable and prone to make mistakes. It can sometimes affect our relationships, romantic and otherwise.
Am I saying that women should be pansies? NOT AT ALL! However, we don’t have to always be so fiercely set on being independent that we no longer value things like chivalry, protection, companionship, or having a mate who can and will pick up our slack.
Randall: What does it take to bring balance to a relationship?
Renee Wallace: Honesty. The willingness to work towards better understanding of one another. Communication. Being one another’s strength. Being friends, having a sense of humor, and not being afraid to be vulnerable with one another.
Randall: Do you believe that there is a place in the current black literary market for fiction that has an overt message and tackles real world issues?
Renee Wallace: Oh yes! There is definitely a market for it. There is a need for it. The Black literary industry is meant to entertain, educate, and open the minds of readers. There are things that aren’t being discussed that should be. There are dialogs that need to be approached and books and magazine, and blogs are a gateway for it all.
Randall: In your opinion, do relationship stability and success correlate with each other?
Renee Wallace: Relationship stability and success are not mutually exclusive. You can definitely have one without the other. However, life is so much better if you are fortunate enough to have them both.
Randall: What upcoming projects do you have on the horizon?
Renee Wallace: My next project is Foolish Pursuits. It is the follow-up to In Pursuit of Joi and it is a story about the consequences of actions that people take when they act out of emotion. It is also a story about growth and learning to let go of things that hold you back from happiness and peace. It is told from the perspective of Latoya Bradshaw who is introduced in In Pursuit of Joi. I also have a book of short stories in the works for 2014 and more works for 2015.
Randall Barnes: By the time this article is published, it will be read by many young people. What is your message to them?
Renee Wallace: Don’t give up on your dream. If it is your passion, it is what you are meant to do. Don’t let anyone else determine your value. Don’t be afraid to dream big and don’t be afraid to have more than one! Failures are a part of life; let it motivate you. It’s okay to falter, but as long as you keep trying, you are not defeated. Always find at least one reason each day to smile. And never measure your standard of success by somebody else’s.
Randall: Where can we find you?
Renee Wallace: You can find me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ReneeWallaceBooks, Instagram @skorpionlady77 and on Twitter @LivWallace. You can email me at email@example.com. I love to hearing from readers and writers. I love meeting new people and I look forward to hearing from lovers of literature!
Order Pursuit Of Joi and Renee’s other books on Amazon today!
We came, we saw, we conquered! My debut publishing effort “Riverview High: Circumstances” reached #6 on the Amazon charts! Check it out for free for a limited time on Amazon today. Don’t forget to leave a review!
Want more of Brianna, Maury and the Hendersons? Part 2 is available on Amazon as well!
“The Diary Of Aaliyah Anderson” is dropping this month!
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Do you have any questions, comments or concerns? Was I right or wrong on this issue? I would love to hear from you! Contact me directly at: