Now that's a stupid question, right? Would a bookstore ask someone that before a signing? Might make it easier on the customers if, say, Bubba Greene's coming to sign his cookbook about gassy food combinations and plans to demonstrate the effects of mixing pickled eggs with cabbage and Bud. “Join us on the sidewalk while Bubba educates us on lethal combinations.”
But is it okay to ask an author what color she is? Is it relevant? Millenia Black got a letter asking just that. This is shocking:
The following is an e-mail I received last week – although the store contacted me over a month ago requesting and scheduling the appearance. I've omitted the identifiers.
Referral: From a Friend
Subject: Your Race
Greetings, my name is [–] and I'm the director of [–], you are slated to do a book signing with us on the 18th of March. I want to know if you are a black/African American person.
This is TOTALLY outrageous. I am offended and appalled and even, yes, embarrassed because you pretty much know it was a white person who asked this. I just can't see the relevance here. Do they want to put Millenia in the AA section of the bookstore? Are they asking so they can advertise in black publications? Does her race matter one way or the other to the bookstore's marketing plans? Should it?
What on earth is next?
I agree. This email is outrageous. 🙁