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When She's on Top by C. X Brooks coming Sat. 4/14 from BlackOpalBooks.com


Saturday, December 28, 2013

B.A.M. (Bad At Math)

poster and image copyright 2011 by Cardyn Brooks

Confession: Every time someone argues that raising the minimum wage will destroy the economy it makes me wonder if they're mathematically challenged. A 70% retail consumer-driven economy requires a population of gainfully employed laborers in the workplace who purchase goods and services in the marketplace. In legitimate supply and demand capitalism, living wages for the masses support and expand the economy from the bottom up.

BATAF: Siphoning resources away from the masses stabilizes the country's finances.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Snow Days Are For Readers

Photo copyright 2013 by Cardyn Brooks
All rights reserved

Confession: Reading a book while sitting snuggled into a cozy chair in front of a roaring fire in the fireplace makes blizzards and power outages unexpected gifts.

BATAF: Physical books are obsolete.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Gobble, Gobble--The Aftermath

Image from wallsave.com

Confession: While my family and friends eat themselves into food comas, binge watch football, and shop themselves into debt by doorbusters specials, I'm compulsively reading when not taking advantage of a certain online retailer's Cyber Monday 30% off incentive to purchase many of the books on my long TBR list.

BATAF: More consumption generates more satisfaction.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What Every Blerdy Student Learns Eventually

Image from graduationsource.com

An Education
copyright 1988, 2012 by Cardyn Brooks
All rights reserved

A babe crawls around enormous space.
A monotonous drone whispers in the background.
She explores, mesmerized by patterns as they reveal themselves.
Her expanding vision fills the space, once-infinite space that transforms
Into a room within an institution with walls constructed of projection screens.

Formal education begins. Pivotal assessments are made.
"GIFTED" is branded on her. Time passes. The room shrinks.
Her isolation increases as the screens surround her in coils of rapidly decreasing radii.
Jumbled words flash to the screens as their rate of shrinkage accelerates.

Meanwhile, that monotonous whisper hisses louder.
It hisses louder, until it undulates into a thunderous peal that echoes the
Manic velocity of the projected words:   smart,
Special,   talented,  nice, shy,aloof,uppity Oreo.

The shrunken walls of the room now fit as tightly as a too small body bag,
Squeezing her from textured crown to brown toes. She flexes.
Every muscle strains, fighting to loosen the restraint of the
Parasitic cocoon. The unyielding screens; their projections bruise and tear her flesh.
Battle brings her to her knees. Rage clogs her throat. Exhaustion clouds her vision.

The indistinguishable source of a jumbled chant slides.
Closer. The girl wiggles and rolls; screams and jerks
Crying out for help as she fights. Just as she considers
Succumbing, she's able to poke her head from its suffocating confinement.

Before she takes a liberating breath, she feels the projection screens tightening.
Tightening around her neck, strangling her.
She gasps and coughs, struggling to breathe despite the tightening noose.
Tears of frustration and anger and despair fill her eyes.
Suddenly, she sees people gathered around her, talking at her as she dies:

“She’s not like most of them. She’s a good one; I almost forget she’s black."


“Why are you friends with Them? Have you forgotten slavery?”


“Of course everyone’s equal, but we don’t have to mix with them.”


“You think you’re White—talkin’ proper, livin’ among Them... but you’re just as black.
As black as all the rest of us. Don’t think They ever forget that.”

She lies on the floor in a graceless heap, praying for silence; an escape.
Neither come. Instead, the body bag peels itself from her flesh in an upward rush
Away from her feet toward her face, where it affixes itself as an ever-changing mask.

Everyone’s greeting differs: “Hello,
Token/Suspect/Victim/Mooch/Scapegoat/Sellout/Drudge/Video Vixen/Nag/Other”

So she reads. She reads because books don’t accuse her in the hall, ridicule her on the
Playground, or undermine her in the classroom. She reads even though the power in the
Words was not intended for her and the images on the pages do not resemble her.
Books fuel the dreams that become her goals.

She excels because it’s what her family expects.
Achieving keeps her too preoccupied to think about the mask.
The mask that stifles, smothers, and is unbearably confining.
She suppresses her rage and guilt, which perpetually seethe with the threat of eruption.

Throughout her studies, failure is expected.
Success is dismissed as a fluke.

She learns what is considered black
And what is considered white.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Does Reading Romance Novels Make Me a Bad Feminist?

Image from cafepress.com

Confession: It doesn't matter if reading romance novels is politically incorrect for a feminist (who's actually a humanist). What other solitary pastime offers totally risk-free sex (to readers, not characters), travel, humor, adventure, intrigue, social commentary and a guaranteed happily ever after whether the main characters are paragons or annoying idiots? Romance novels celebrate love in all its incarnations from sublime to catastrophic.

BATAF: Feminists (and female humanists) hate men.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Odd Man Out

Image from sportsillustrated.cnn.com

Confession: Hearing the free usage of ethnic slurs combined with despicable threats and abhorrent remarks about black and brown women from an immature professional athlete wasn't a surprise. The archaic, primitive definition of manliness being broadcast by otherwise sophisticated sports pundits was.

BATAF: Real men resolve conflicts with their fists.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Future Is Here

Image from dw.de

Confession: This child's courage challenges me to reconsider my priorities.

BATAF: Being virtuous protects people from injustice.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Poison Pills

Original image from tabtote.com

Confession: Billionaires like the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson baffle me with their conscientiously mean-spirited behavior. How does preventing other people from accessing basic human and civil rights; the protections, privileges, and rights of U.S. citizenship; stable paths to upward mobility improve their quality of life? What makes billionaires like Richard Branson and Bill & Melinda Gates embrace The Golden Rule at a cellular level?

BATAF: In a 70% retail consumer-driven economy, the wealthiest 1/10 of 1% can flourish indefinitely while the masses deteriorate.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Consider the Source

Image from istockphoto.com by Alan Crosthwaite copyright 2007

Confession: During each U.S. congressional showdown it feels as if we the people, the masses are simply collateral damage in the wake of the warring parties' legislative destruction. The politicians who refer most often to the U.S. Constitution act in ways that undermine its intent to avoid tyranny, oligarchy, and plutocracy. Today's 21st-century United States doesn't feel like a democracy.

BATAF: Politicians will ultimately make the wisest decisions for the country because doing so is in their own best interests.

Monday, September 9, 2013


Confession: During my childhood, rainy days meant reading randomly chosen articles from the World Book and Encyclopaedia Britannica sets that my parents had bought for me. Having them so easily accessible made me feel as if everything worth knowing was within my reach.

BATAF: Physical books are obsolete.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Already Paid In Full

Be f r e e !
Confession: Seeing footage of the Freedom Riders and other non-violent Civil Rights volunteers as they're taunted, beaten, hosed, attacked by police dogs, and arrested makes me grateful to have been born after 1965. The depth of their faith, commitment, and endurance is beyond my ability to comprehend fully. I doubt that I would have been that brave.
BATAF: Each generation is on its own.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Double Standard

Image from offthebeatenpanel.com, artist: Suso, copyright 1974. Victims reprinted by Eternity Comics 1988

Confession: The tough Black girls on the covers of urban romances look incomplete. Their bold stares challenge their observers, but where's the tenderness and vulnerability that's the standard for mainstream romance covers?  

BATAF: Authentic Black girls are hood rats, tough girls or ride-or-die chicks.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Fact Versus Fiction

Confession: When some people insist that white is every color rolled into one without making the distinction between light and pigment, it reminds me of layering all my crayon colors into the center of the page to create one dark spot that fascinated me as a young child. Since my extended family members' complexions spanned the range of freckled pale to deepest dark, being called Black felt accurate and inclusive.
     Through my child's literal interpretation filter, I wondered why White people with skin the same pale shades as some of my kin were called the same name as my crayon with no color.
     As an adult, reading descriptions of pale, milky white skin makes me wonder if the character is a mime, a Goth, a ghost or a clown. Even albino people are pinkish.

BATAF: Absence of color equals purity.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Woman's Worth

Sexual Virtue
Relationship Status
Confession: Women's fiction that reinforces entrenched, narrowly defined ideas of what makes women desirable and worthy of courtesy, respect, love feels archaic. It reads as if the authors haven't been paying attention to the fact that it's normal for girls and women to pursue their intellectual, academic, and professional interests as primary goals, not just as hobbies until they become girlfriends, wives, and mothers.
BATAF: Professionally ambitious women want to be men.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Stop Herding Me

Image from anatomyatlases.org

Confession: Cover art that features scantily clad or naked people is a turnoff even though reading romances and erotica is one of my favorite non-food indulgences. Let me imagine how the characters look without imposing upon my visualization through cover art that often contradicts the text descriptions in the story.

BATAF: Women with seriously curvy bodies are abnormal. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Tunnel Vision

Image copyright Michael Brown from 123rf.com

Confession: As a teen, I once got so engrossed in reading a book that I lost track of the child I was babysitting at the neighborhood pool. By the grace of the patron saint of cavalier teens, he was only at the adjacent tennis court fetching tennis balls for some older boys who were practicing their serves.
     He was having fun, but losing track of him terrified me so badly that I never again took magazines or books with me when babysitting at the pool.

BATAF: Professionally ambitious parents with only one child neglect her/him. Double Bogus! Parents of an only child who adore children pour all their love and attention into their child until the child sometimes wishes the parents would conceive/adopt other children or take up some really time-consuming hobbies. Think Tiger Mom x 2 with extra play dates, lots more fun and positive reinforcement.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Abandonment Issues

Confession: It breaks my loyal reader's heart when my favorite adult non-paranormal romance authors switch exclusively to YA and/or Sci-Fi. Although those genres and their sub-genres are enjoyable, they're not the only types of fun fiction that are worth reading. The variety and volume of contemporary adult fiction (without relentless retail product brand bombardment) written by adults for actual grownups seems to be shrinking exponentially, unless it's depressing, cynical, bittersweet, tragic or catastrophic.

BATAF: All women over 30 wish they were younger. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

More Multitasking

image from oregonlive.com

Confession: The best feature of my slow cooker is that it gives me more time to read.

BATAF: High quantity of words = High quality of words

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Using What You've Got

Confession: In the time before e-readers, I've read cookbooks as if they were short story collections because the library didn't have exactly what I was craving for my next prose gorge, there wasn't money in the budget for a book splurge, and reading chocolate recipes satisfied two of my joneses at once.

BATAF: Being thin is always a sign of self-control.

Monday, August 5, 2013


Image copyright 2013 Banks Art Partners. All rights reserved.

Confession: More than one saucepan has been charred into early retirement when I've decided to read "just one more page" while waiting for water to boil.

BATAF: Domestic labor is an inherently feminine proclivity.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Make 'Em Laugh

Image from eurweb.com

Confession: Moms Mabley, Whoopi Goldberg, Issa Rae, W. Kamau Bell, and Gary Owens inspire me with their funny ways of telling uncomfortable truths while they entertain. Their brilliance spotlights humanity's resilience.

BATAF: Oppression harms only the oppressed.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Frequency of Disdain

Scott-Lincoln commemorative coin image from thedredscottfoundation.org

Confession: Every time someone publicly spews racist, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, ageist, Lookist, homophobic, Classist, xenophobic tripe as justification for the dehumanizing treatment of others, Dred Scott comes to mind. It makes me wonder: What would happen if every reference to man/men in the U. S. Constitution were changed to human being/s?

BATAF: Some human beings are less valuable than others. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013


What color?

Confession: People who haven't been medically diagnosed as color-blind, but claim not to see skin color make me suspect that they're willfully, culturally blind to the ways in which skin color still impacts individuals and groups in major ways in the 21st century.

     Color-blindness isn't the ultimate virtue; seeing skin color and not making assumptions or taking action based solely upon skin color is.

BATAF: All non-Caucasian people wish they were Caucasian.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Mainstreaming Multiculturalism

Image copyright and brand registered trademark by General Mills

Confession: Reading mainstream adult contemporary fiction set in Chicago, Atlanta, Washington, D.C. or anywhere in the 21st-century U.S. that doesn't include any Black people or includes them only as caricatures that scream, "Stereotypes! This author doesn't really know any Black people," sucks the joy out of the reading experience for me.

BATAF: Political Correctness is something new.
What was lynching, other than a violent backlash against Black people whose words and actions had been judged politically incorrect by self-appointed enforcers of entrenched racial boundaries?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Burden of Proof

Image by Jon Sullivan from public-domain-photos.com

Confession: The optimistic part of me believed that the jury for the Trayvon Martin trial would return a verdict of manslaughter, at least. The rest of me feared that the grown man who had deputized himself, armed himself (in direct violation of Neighborhood Watch rules) with the intent of finding a confrontation--or creating one--would be found not guilty for projecting his negative, racist assumptions onto the first younger, leaner, unarmed Black solitary target who crossed his path. Trayvon Martin's killer visually tagged him, followed him from within his vehicle, stalked him on foot, then executed him.

In the 21st century it's still open season on Black bodies.

BATAF: Black people are the least valuable humans; entitled to less protection under the law sometimes than animals.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Word Bomb

Image copyright 2013 Banks Art Partners

Confession: Use of the f-word outside of referring to sexual intercourse or expressing extreme anger, fear or pain makes an unpleasant reading experience for me. It's jarring and distracting when used copiously as every part of speech in a character's vocabulary.

BATAF: Frequent use of the f-word conveys intensity and edge--not just a limited and primitive vocabulary.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Readers in a Barrel

Image copyright 2013 Banks Art Partners

Confession: Whenever traditional publishers bemoan the shrinkage in their market share and profits, it makes me wonder why they're not cultivating new and future clientele by partnering with public school systems to make sure every student is literate. Making universal literacy and Internet access their goals supports the whole 70% retail consumer-driven economy, not just publishing, by increasing I.Q.'s, intellectual curiosity, ingenuity, academic engagement, professional aspirations, and earning power for the masses; the laborers in the workplace who become the consumers in the marketplace. (There's a reason luxe brands keep partnering with Target: It's mathematically impossible for the wealthiest 2% to buy every product offered for sale.)

     Some traditional publishers' reactionary solution of charging multiple times the hardcover list price for sales of e-editions sold to libraries ignores the fact that library budgets are strapped and rapidly shrinking. The exorbitant markup on e-editions means most libraries will buy fewer books overall, which generates negative long-term results for publishers, literary agencies, libraries, authors, and readers. Avid readers use libraries for introduction and access to evolving technologies and unfamiliar authors. Libraries are taxpayer-subsidized public relations, product advertising and marketing for publishers.

     The exclusionary philosophies of Imperialism are counterproductive in the 21st-century world of all access, all the time for anyone, anywhere with secure Internet access. In the U.S., public libraries and public schools cast the widest net among the masses. They also offer the broadest range of opportunities to catch the attention of students as future consumers and their parents as current consumers--especially poorer communities where the potential for expansion is greater because those markets are underdeveloped.

     In families where the adults work low-wage, low-tech jobs, children introduce their parents to evolving technologies through their curiosity-driven observations and exposure in school. The socio-economic digital divide doesn't just limit opportunities for poor and underprivileged people, it limits possibilities and constricts growth for the entire 70% retail consumer-driven economy.

BATAF: Most people are expendable.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Deja Vu

Confession: When my girlfriends call to rehash the most recent episode of the same recurring (that I can recite verbatim) fight with their men, I'm reading silently while occasionally murmuring agreement and saying, "Really?...No!...What?"

(My lesbian friends work out their relationship issues by discussing them with their partners and wives.)

BATAF: Women who say they're happily single are pretending.

Saturday, July 6, 2013


Image copyright 2012 R.D. Banks
All rights reserved

Confession: The treadmill and stationary bike are my favorite pieces of gym equipment because I can indulge myself with reading while working out. Sadly, it's impossible to read while playing baseball, softball, tennis, golf, football, soccer, American football, basketball, badminton or volleyball. Although reading an entire short novel while watching a professional American football game is easy--especially during the Super Bowl.

BATAF: Being competitive is not feminine. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Read. Swim. Repeat.

Image copyright 2011 P.W. Banks
All rights reserved

Confession: On vacation, it's normal for me to read at least one full-length novel per day.
Sandra Kitt, Crystal Hubbard, Carol Taylor, David Handler, Dana Stabenow, and Frankie Y. Bailey can't write fast enough to keep pace with my reading habit. So I read other authors' fiction and skip all the descriptions of main female characters with blonde hair, blue/green/grey eyes, thin noses, skinny thighs, pale white skin, and single-digit dress sizes.

BATAF: All fat women want to be skinny.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


image from joinafrica.com
Confession: I love Zane for expanding the presence and raising the profile of Black characters as complicated, multifaceted imperfect human beings in the spotlight in sexy escapist fiction.
BATAF: Africa is a country, not a continent with 50+ countries that are as different from each other as Mexico is from Canada. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Confession: I've stayed up all night to read one of my favorite author's new releases on a weeknight, then gone to work functionally comatose the next day. (No heavy equipment, dangerous machinery operation, volatile materials or classified information involved.)

BATAF (Bogus Assumption Treated As Fact): The pursuit of excellence is not the cultural standard for African-American, Hispanic-Latino and Native North American cultures; only Asian and Caucasian people routinely train their children to work hard to earn their success.

Monday, July 1, 2013


Today's Confession: Sometimes during church service, I'm not always reading scriptures on my tablet... Yes, there's probably a special level of purgatory to torment the souls of binge reader sinners: They're chained in the center of the stacks in the Library of Congress, where they can see all their favorite kinds of books, but are unable to read any of them while other visibly giddy souls read one book after another without pause. The virtuous readers never need to sleep, work, cook, exercise, eat or clean.

Today's BATAF (Bogus Assumption Treated As Fact in mainstream fiction):
All Black people who aren't thugs or 'ho's are very religious, and sprinkle "Praise the Lord. God is good." throughout their everyday conversation.