IF SHE WERE BLIND is the first book in the engaging New Adult series AFTER TWELVE by author Laney Wylde. Perfect for fans of the television shows REVENGE, SCANDAL, and VERONICA MARS, the AFTER TWELVE Series is a gritty social-issue drama that delivers steamy romance, intrigue, and the most bittersweet revenge plots. Estlyn’s determination to right every wrong is sure to quench your thirst for justice, yet leave you wanting more.
“The Privilege to Write About Race”
I was eighteen the first time someone made me feel shitty about the color of my skin.
It was my sophomore year at Biola University, a Christian college in Los Angeles County committed to racial reconciliation. That fall, at our annual Torrey Bible Conference, to which attendance was required, a black speaker addressed the topic of racial injustice. At least, that’s what I think he talked about. I stopped listening after he told the gym full of mostly pale students that white people were racists.
I couldn’t believe it. He listed half a dozen races, victimizing each one for the challenges they faced. I waited for him to say something about whites. We were the last he mentioned, saying we simply didn’t understand what black people endured.
How dare he, I thought. How dare he assume that because my ancestors were from Europe that I held a hatred toward people who look like him. How dare he presume to know anything about me. Because he didn’t. He didn’t know that some of the most influential women of my adolescent years were black, that one of my exboyfriends was Mexican, that I had friends of all colors and shapes and sizes.
It’s funny now to reflect on that rage I felt. I made it to eighteen before someone stigmatized my race. I doubt the speaker had made it that long.
Fast forward six years. My husband and I were watching a documentary on Netflix called 13th about mass incarceration in the United States. Several men and women, white and black, were interviewed. Whenever a white person spoke about institutionalized racism black people still face in the United States, I listened. When a black person did, I did my best not to roll my eyes.
That’s white privilege.
Privilege is an insidious force. It was invisible to me, because, like many others, I just didn’t know any different. I was raised to be colorblind, and consequently never attributed injustice to race. In fact, calling out the police or politicians or the church or any individual on anything less than involvement in the KKK was unfair.
Because if a cop shot a black man, it was because he wasn’t compliant, because he was running, because he deserved it. If he was in prison for life, it was because he broke a law that warranted that kind of sentence. If he was poor, it was because he didn’t work hard enough.
Black people told me otherwise. They protested through tears. They shared stories of the sons they lost to police brutality. They voiced the pain of being stereotyped as criminals. But I didn’t listen.
Until a white person said something.
I’m not proud of this. But I think it’s important to admit, to say out loud that I had and still have blindspots because of my privileged skin. Because maybe other people with skin light as mine will feel free to say the same, and start asking questions they once thought they had the answers to.
So many of us are afraid to say that we’re ignorant, that we just don’t know. But, guess what: when I approached my black friends with questions about what it’s like to be them, they answered. Happily. They assured me that there’s nothing wrong with not knowing. There’s only something wrong with refusing to learn.
When I started writing If She Were Blind, the first installment of the After Twelve series, I wanted to explore racial issues by writing from the perspective of characters of color. I wrote these characters in first person so I could feel the fear, the indigence, the often futile fight against a false inferiority placed on them.
It was the first time I wept for the people whose stories I had once refused to hear.
So, I wrote If She Were Blind not only to revolutionize my own perspective, but for everyone else like me––those who need someone who looks like them to validate the stories of those who don’t.
Because privilege is only insidious if you never use it to speak for those who don’t have it.
Laney Wylde is enamored with all things southern California–the traffic, smog, surprise earthquakes, and nonindigenous palm trees. Consequently, it’s the landscape her strong and sometimes lovable female leads paint their stories on. Her New Adult novels Never Touched and the After Twelve series are bright with provocative themes, steamy romance, and inappropriately timed humor.
When Laney isn’t writing, she’s singing Taylor Swift with her little boy or asking her husband not to tell her about his work as a surgical resident while she’s eating. She daydreams about using her math degree to get into law school, then realizes that would be too much work and that she should just play pretend court on paper instead. While she loves a good book, nothing beats 30 Rock with a bag of popcorn and M&Ms.