The Color of Character

Posted January 13th, 2012

Book CoversFor the record, I’ve never had a nose job, or tried to bleach my skin. I do not straighten my hair—not that there’s anything wrong with that. The fact is, for decades now, I have worn my hair natural in celebration of my African heritage. I am now, and have always been, black and proud.

That said, I take issue with the fact that reviewers routinely begin every discussion of my books by identifying my characters as African American. Now, before you chime in with comments about ethnic pride (“My Greek friends refer to themselves as Greek Americans,” one woman told me, while another said “I’d never call myself Greek-American”) that’s not what I’m talking about, here. Under consideration here are how books are defined in terms of race.

As I noted in a conversation on Facebook, if I were Italian, no reviewer would refer to the characters in my book as Italian-American, unless that heritage was of particular consequence in the storyline. Yet, when it comes to my books, no such distinction is made. The specter of race is raised right out of the gate, with every title, nearly every time, subject notwithstanding. Just recently, I read an otherwise wonderful review of my latest novel, Planet Middle School that did exactly that.

Sigh.

I know it’s possible to write a thoughtful review of this book without mentioning race because K.T. Horning created one for Booklist. Now, since I’ve been in the business for more than 30 years, and most of my books have centered on characters of African American descent, it can be assumed, without prejudice, that my new book does so as well. However, race is by no means germane to the subject or treatment of this particular novel. You’d never know that, though, according to the first review referenced above. Why does that matter? I’m glad you asked.

I understand why librarians might want to be able to quickly identify titles of particular interest to African American readers. And were I a first, or second, or third time author, with no track record, or body of work, or status in the children’s book community, one might argue the importance of mentioning race, at least initially, in connection with my titles. However, none of that is the case.

At this stage of the game, most people involved with, or making use of, children’s literature know that I’m African American, and that my primary characters are, in the main, African American, too. Mind you, I’m not suggesting that I’m “famous” in the sense that we speak of celebrities (God forbid!), but merely that I am well established in the children’s book community, and it is a fairly simple matter to ascertain that the characters of most of my books are African American without having the fact mentioned in review after review after review. Besides, the cover art makes it plain, does it not? (I’ve all but begged publishers to consider creating covers for my books that are not always race-specific, but to no avail!)

“But,” you ask, “what if the cover art is not included in the review?” No problem. Take two seconds to go to IndieBound.org or Amazon.com or the Barnes and Noble website, click on the title in question, and up pops the telling cover art, in no time flat. Problem solved. And oh, by the way, if race is the only common denominator book buyers are interested in, they’re free to check out the special listings publishers produce each year to highlight their own black and multicultural titles. Most publishers’ catalogs I see, these days, have a section set aside for those titles. And don’t forget the annual Publisher’s Weekly issue on black books in—when is that? February?

Of course, my issue with the whole race question in discussing children’s literature (or any literature, for that matter) is, if you will, more than skin deep. I have a problem with segregating teaching or reading practices in all schools, whether a school is segregated or racially mixed. Be a student black, brown, yellow, or white-skinned, he should be encouraged to read a diverse selection of good books by authors of every race. Period.

Is a book well written? Is the story well told? Will the subject matter resonate with readers? Does the book have the potential for making an emotional connection with readers? These are the kinds of questions teachers and librarians should be focused on. In the case of books in which race is central to the storyline, race should absolutely come in for a mention. But where it does not, it should not. That is my contention.

Race, as an explicit designation in books, has a marketing component that can’t be overlooked. Books identified as “black” are frequently marginalized in the marketing plan. Their appeal is automatically considered to be narrower than books written by Caucasian authors, sometimes even when those books are about non-white characters. The point-of-view is assumed to be universal, simply by virtue of the white author’s race. In the sellers’ mind, a so-called “black book,” i.e., a book written by a black author, should be exclusively marketed to black buyers. As such, said books are rarely made available in outlets located in predominantly white neighborhoods. This makes me crazy because I have avid fans in those neighborhoods, too. I know because I meet them during my school visits, and find their letters among my fan mail. Luckily for me (and them?) they were exposed to my work at their local library.

I can’t help but wonder how many students are missing out on these reading experiences because my “black books” aren’t being marketed to a broader audience. I never know whether to ball my fists or cry.

I find myself annoyed by reviewers who give my books left-handed compliments. In the first sentence of their review, they’ll mention the African American lead character. Then, in the final sentence, they’ll offer some version of “but the story has universal appeal.” Well, duh! If that’s the case, why bother to point out the fact that the character is African American?

(A question just came to me. Can you imagine referring to a computer program design, or a medical breakthrough, or a work of architecture as “black” simply because the creator was African American? I’m just wondering. Where do we draw the line?)

As I sit at my computer, typing this blog, I think back on some of the gorgeously crafted, well-imagined books I read last year as a judge for the National Book Award. I would hate to think that African American students will miss out on the titles that don’t happen to feature African American characters, or that white students will miss out on those books that do. What a crying shame!

I might be inclined to shrug my shoulders and say, “Maybe it’s just me,” except I know it isn’t. There are other authors of color who are bugged by this issue, as well. (And what about those authors who are from South Africa, but are not black? What kind of box do reviewers put their books into? Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to give race more than its due!) Still, I can’t speak for all authors of African descent. It’s quite possible that some are content to have their entire body of work boiled down to the color of their skin. As for me, I’d rather be known for writing books that are moving, inspiring, impacting, emotionally charged, beautifully written, cleverly constructed and—oh, yeah—universally appealing!

But that’s just me.

164 Responses to “The Color of Character”

  1. Helen Frost says:

    No–not just you, Nikki.
    K.T. Horning has thought deeply about this for a long time; not surprising that she gets this.
    And as a Caucasion author, I want to say you’re right that when my books feature African American characters, that doesn’t seem to be mentioned in the reviews. Though when I meet readers, especially readers of KEESHA’S HOUSE, they sometimes express surprise that I’m not black, and ask questions about the race of the characters.
    I wish this wasn’t such an effort, and hope it all gets easier. I want your books to be widely read.

    • Autumn P says:

      In my English class we are reading your book “Bronx Masquerade”. I don’t think the race of the peole is necessary because what is important is the story and the meaning behind it, not what color the people in the book are. My favorite character is Tyrone because he isn’t afraid to speak his mind and doesn’t hold back what he feels he has to say. My favorite poem is “Bruised Love” because Chankara’s sister allows people to hurt her so Chankara has learned from her sisters mistake and now she stands up for herself and won’t let anyone hurt her like her sister continually does.

      • Nick K says:

        Hello, I just want to start out saying Nikki I loved your book “Bronx Masquerade” and I believe that no matter what color the The Characters are the message and Impact should not be any diffrent. The Story is great because everyone can relate to the charcters feelings. I noticed that every character was afraid to share their feelings in the begining of “Open Mike Fridays” but towards the end they were venting there feeling and i really liked that because you could see the other side of them.

  2. Betty Birney says:

    I’m not African American but I am totally with you on this. Reviewers should be much more thoughtful about this. I also think publishers don’t always HAVE to use representational covers. The color of a character on the cover might make a child of African descent say, “This book isn’t for me,” or on the flip side, might make a white child think the book isn’t for her.

    I’ve also gently chided friends in the Jewish Children’s Literature circles for labeling The All-of-a-Kind Family series as a Jewish books. As a gentile growing up NOT knowing Jewish people well, I adored the books and I loved this family. Children’s books are meant to widen our experience. I want to see African-American kids readiing about white people and white kids reading about African-American kids, etc. Labels limit their appeal.

    Obviously there are books centering around civil rights and slavery that are clearly about African American characters. But something like Planet Middle School can and should be enjoyed by all.

    Thanks for sounding off, Nikki, and keep it up!

  3. Candace L. says:

    I love your books Nikki and I love you and your skin color. You are so right. Your books shouldn’t be “labeled” except maybe “children” or “youth” or “fir readers if all ages,” because if I being a -uh- American-American who can relate to your books dispite having a different shade of skin then you, then why limit the audience to your marvelous books that can be enjoyed by youths and adults of any shade. Our skin may be different but we all hope and hurt and fall in love. Thanks for your thoughts on this subject because it makes me made that I have to go into the city to find most of your books. (Thank you, Lord Jesus, for Powell’s Bookstore that carries authors of every shade.)

  4. Lisa Alfred says:

    Point well made, Nikki, and I so agree. Change is slow, but I feel confident that it’s possible, especially as we raise questions and have discussions about practices that are suspect.

    Here’s an example in a very different setting but over the same basic issue: a few years back our hospital stopped designating race in patients’ histories. Where at one time they would have read, “40 year old AA male suffered SDH [brain injury] during moving vehicle accident….” now the “AA” for African American is omitted (and mind you, when the patient was caucasion, no race was stated). Someone raised the question, and thankfully, it was determined that recovery from brain injuries (etc)is unaffected by skin color (all races share the same colors beneath the skin!) So now I go into a new patient’s room not knowing what color his or her skin is, unless the surname gives a hint – Nguyen, or Gonzalez…. It’s very refreshing!

    I look forward to a time when your books are reviewed for the clever, moving stories they are, period.

  5. This sentiment reminds me of the way I feel about being pushed as a teacher to find books that get African American males to read. I am eternally frustrated because I have never seen my students as representatives of the “sub-groups” that No Child Left Behind has forced us to “address.” I have always (and will always) see my students as individuals with individual interests defined by their own personalities and experiences, not by any “subgroup” to which they might belong. I am in the business of knowing my students as individuals, knowing young adult literature and connecting what I know to make matches.

  6. Amy Malskeit says:

    What strikes me most about this post isn’t how well you’ve articulated your position (you have) or how you continue to be tuned out by those who say they’re listening (you do). What strikes me is that, while you speak strongly and with passion, your words are seasoned with grace, not judgment. Like Dr. King, whose memory we celebrate today, may your words travel exponentially further because of your choice.

    Thanks, Nikki. You’re a class act.

  7. Nancy Barth says:

    One of my all time favorite books is My Man Blue. I love the strength of the male character, as well as the gentleness. It is such a REAL book. And now i need to go get Planet Middle School. I had four daughters go through middle school, and now I am friends with the principal of a wonderful charter middle school. I’ve already told her about Planet Middle School, and I donated a couple of your other books of yours from my collection now that I’ve retired from teaching. This post of yours is quite thought-provoking.

  8. Thanks for this, Nicki. I am not a writer of color, but my books are books of color, if you will, and they face the same thing. And it always rankles. Reviewers not only mention the race, even glowing reviews say–or imply–things like “If you like books about Eskimos, you’ll like this book,” as though this, rather than being human, is a prerequisite for reading one of my books. The older I get, the grumpier I get about this stuff. I remember fighting to eradicate this kind of racism 40 years ago. What in the hell happened?

    Sorry. I don’t normally swear. But really.

    Two things give me solace: One, I tell myself that people bring their own baggage to the reading of the book and there is nothing the writer can do about it. Sometimes, when I read a review, I can’t believe the reviewer actually read the book I wrote. Sure, sometimes this is my fault as a writer but sometimes it just isn’t.

    And two, kids don’t think like this. Kids read a book and notice where their experience relates or overlaps with that of a character. Nine times out of ten when they come up and ask questions about books, they are colorblind.

    I had a white boy come up to me in New York and all he wanted to know about the Iñupiaq uncle in my book was, “was he based on a real person? I liked him.”

    He just wanted to know that somewhere in the world there was a person like that. Never mind the color.

    I guess that’s why I write for kids.

  9. >Books identified as “black” are frequently marginalized in the marketing plan. Their appeal is automatically considered to be narrower than books written by Caucasian authors, sometimes even when those books are about non-white characters. The point-of-view is assumed to be universal, simply by virtue of the white author’s race. In the sellers mind, a so-called “black book,” i.e., a book written by a black author, should be exclusively marketed to black buyers. As such, said books are rarely made available in outlets located in predominantly white neighborhoods. <

    This is also backed up by the cover choices Publishers make, as the Bloomsbury/"Magic Under Glass" controversy Illustrated. Booksellers seem to weigh in heavily on these cover decisions, all certain that a White girl will not purchase a book based on the cover showing a Black girl (or at least she can't look TOO black or TOO African American) Publishers/Booksellers need to step into THIS generation of teens to see this is not the case. As is often the case, an older generation holds back the steps forward of the new.
    PB Illustration still has it's hands tied as well. Unless the book is specifically about the Black culture, we are restricted to HOW DARK we can paint a main character (playing to the booksellers views that the majority of PB's are purchased by White Woman/Mothers/Grandmothers)
    In a series of books I Illustrated, I was limited to how dark I could paint my main, multi racial, child character. I DID, at least, "get away with" colouring her Mother brown. Small victories, ridiculous to even be calling them such or having to think twice about a choice of paint colour and so frustrating that there is still such plotting and planning going on when it comes to books, that children not consumed with such issues, will read. What century are we in now???

  10. J.Meloling says:

    Think about the message you would like to leave…you may comment on what Ms. Grimes posted or discuss your own feelings on the topic.
    Mrs. M

    • Mike B says:

      The racial barrier between “black” books and “white” books should not have any effect on who gets the chance to read it and where it is available. A book is a book and if it is what people want to read then it should be read by those people. I have been reading your book “Bronx Masquerade” and the characters are mainly from an African American culture, and if not for the cover, as you said, and the projecting of skin color in words nobody would know, or care, what the characters looked like. You have written a great book that depicts many problems faced by everyday teenage children. My favorite character happens to be Devon. I love the Tall, Tough, dumb jock who isn’t just that. He has a very intellectual mind that he builds by reading, even though his friends and teammates might not approve of it. In his poem “Black Box” he speaks the truth saying that he is misjudged. If you gandered upon a 6 foot tall teenager would you expect him to be an honor roll student with straight A’s? No. Just based purely on his height you would think him to be dumb. This happens world wide. If you are going to judge someone get to know them first. Great Book, Nice ideas Nikki.

  11. Meg M. says:

    I agree 100%. People should not be judged on what color they are were all on the same planet we have to be here on earth for some reason. Just because you write books whose main charachters are African American doesnt mean anything. It just mean that maybe you grew up around African Americans your whole life. Or maybe it means that you dont know what a anyothere races life is like maybe its easier for diiferent races but were all unique. I honestly dont know what the deal is with people in different reaces thinking thier better then everyone else because all colors of human kind have identicle issues. I dont get it. I admire you Mrs.Grimes Thanks.

  12. Mariah T says:

    i agree, people should not be judged in anyway on their race. an authors of different race should not be put into catagories because of their race, we are all the same an you have a point that you are worried some kids wont get to read your book because of this and it isnt right, im white but to me race doesnt matter not one bit an im reading your book “bronx’s masquerade” an so far i love it an nothing has come to my mind about their race an if they should or shouldnt do this or that. i think you are an amazing author, and you shouldnt be judged on race at all. what you should be judged on is how good is your book, will it attach to your readers and make them conect with it, an your book does an amazing job of doing that and those people that do catagorise your books because of race should read “bronx’s masquerade” and if they have a heart an mind they will see that kids or anyone shouldnt be judged cause of color or what ever. my favorite character is tyrone because he seems to be seeing the true people an he is changing himself to.

  13. Meg M. says:

    P.S I have been reading your book “Bronx Masquerade” with my eight grade English class and i absolutly love it my favriter charachter is Lupe. She wants a baby to feel loved but then shell have problems in school and im poretty sure shell be bullied. I think the open mike fridays is a great idea for kids to open up; After we started reading it my English teacher Mrs.M started having open mike fridays. Only a few kids do it and there poems are okay but nothing like the kids in the book. I like how in the book they tell the poems and the poems tell something about themselves. This book was realy good. Kepp it up. 🙂

  14. Mackenzie Bogart says:

    I agree with you Nkki, students should be able to read what they want,even if the author or characters are African american, white, what ever they, are people and should not be jugded. My Eglish class is reading your book “Braonx masquerade” and I feel that this book is real.nt talking about some made up story that is thought up in someones head. these people are very judgmental about looks, I mean its high school, but when they have a chance to open themselves u pand show everyone what they are like, the real them. If people got to show themselves to people i think that there would be more understanding in this world. im white and i have Hispanic friends, African American friends, i also have disabled friends, yet i dont jugde. i think everyone is equal, and should be treated like that.

    Im your book, ” Bonx masquerade ” my favorite poem is from devonhope,Black Box, I love how he says that people are “sorted” into groups. i think thats how people are seperated in todays world.

  15. Erica P says:

    Thanks for writting this Nikki. I don’t write books but I do write poems. Your book “Bronx Masquerade”, for me, it doesn’t matter about the race of people, It is a very good book and it shows the characters point of view. If people rate it on the race of people, then they shouldn’t be allowed to read the book. People are who peope are and it shouldn’t matter what race they are and judge the mby that. The poems in your book, really tell what the characters are feeling and what they are going through. The only thing an author can do is what you just did, tell the people how you feel. The readers need to take it into consideration that you don’t want people to rate your books just on the color of their skin, you want them to rate it on how good the book is.

    In “Bronx Masquerade” my favorite character is Jannelle and I love her poem “Mirror, Mirror” beacause I can connect with her and see myself in her. It’s amazing how I can actually see the caracters in my head and be in their shoes. I like her because she is strong inside and wants people to see the real her and not judge her on the outside.

    If people only rate it on the color, they shouldn’t rate it at all. People like that drive me up a wall. I agree with you and I hope to read more of your books in the future.

    -Erica P. \m/ <3

  16. Mitchell N says:

    in my Eglish class we are reading your book “bronx masquerade” my favorite character is Devon. i find it extremely anoying that people find it nessary to define your protagonists as “black”, its not. my favorite poem is “black box” because feel that goes on all over the world. so far i love your books…and i dont read.

  17. Taylor K says:

    In my English class we started reading “Bronx Masquerade” the book is great! I find it unnecessary that the people reviewing your books always mention the race of the characters. If a reveiwer is so hung up on the color of the charactors skin that their barley writing about the meaning of the book they shouldnt be reveiwing the book at all. Especially when usually the race of the character is irrelvent to the book.In conclusion your book is amazing and inspiring and i hope in the future reviewers will concentrate more on the meaning of the book and less on the color of the charactors.

    P.S. my favorite character is Devon and my favorite poem is Devons first poem because I love how hes trying to open up to people even though he wasnt quite there yet he was trying.

  18. Genesis L. says:

    I dont believe that people should not read books because of the race of the author or characters. I love the book “Bronx Masquerade” and I dont feel that its racial in any way. Its showing that everyone has a voice and feelings and it has a way to be show that through a different perspective. Martin Luther King Jr. said that everyone is equal no matter what race or religion. I still go by that today and I hope that people stop judging the book and characters and actually read it because im sure that they will enjoy it. In the book “Bronx Masquerade”, my favorite poem was the one Gloria wrote. I like it because I feel that it is strongly worded and tells a lifelong story in a couple of well detailed sentences. It makes the point clear that she used to be living life to the fullest but then she lost her freedom because of her baby so she wonders if she will ever get her freedom back again. Nikki, im glad you thought outside the box and write books about a different race to show people that a book can still be just a book with a different race of characters then the average book. Kudos to you 😀
    -Gen <3

  19. Daniel A. says:

    In English we are reading Bronx Masquerade and although most of the characters are of hispanic or african american thats not what reviewers should be focused on. there are no reviews saying that Harry Potter is white but if he was african american i bet there would be comments saying so, you make an excellent point and the reviewers should know that white people arent the only people and if theres a book about african americans then there is thers nothing to it no comments about race just there african american its no big deal to me personally but to reviewers it seems to be a big deal and i wouldn’t be wasting my time yelling at them because if there just going to focus on it because of race then its there loss for missing out on all the other things the book has to offer.the book though whether race or not is amazing my favorite character was Sterling because he forgave the bully and hugged him because that was hilarious and my favorite poem was Raul’s becuase it was saying that Puertoricans arent all heros or criminals there normal they live normal lives i think tyrones a little ignorant though he thinks he’s the boss i would definetely read any of your other books. (P.S: the English teacher didn’t want me saying this but you flamed the reviewers so hard by telling them race doesn’t matter PSS: the teacher made me add details)

  20. Paige S. says:

    Nikki, In english class we started the book Bronx Masquerade. It’s a wonderful book and your right your books shoulnt be “labled”. Your book is your book no matter what people say about it! You have a way of exprecing the charecters.My favorite charecter is Janelle. My favorite poem is “Mirror Mirror” because janelle writes deep things and stuff about how shes treated and how people hurt her feeling when they pick on her!

  21. Mykayla C. says:

    Nikki,In English class have
    started the book Bronx Masquerade.It is a great book and many people dont look past the characters colors because many dont look past the history how blacks cant fit in and are mistaken as bad guys not normal citzens there were brought to America to be slaves. Many have looked past because if not we wouldnt have Barack Obama. The characters are great mostly Janelle I like her because she writes deep things about how shes treated and how she takes it. I really like the poem “Mirror Mirror” it is a great way to see high school many change how they act about someone when someone walks into the picture. 🙂 I might read some more of your books. :);)

  22. Kendyl L says:

    In my English class we started reading your book “Bronx Masquerade”. It is a great book. My favorite character is Tyrone because he speaks whatever is on his mind, whenever he wants. My favorite poem is Wesleys because he likes to rap. It annoys me how all the poeple talk about when reviewing are about the race of the characters. Just because she stats that they are African American, doesn’t mean that all the reviews have to be about there race. overall it is a very good book.

  23. Amber D says:

    I really think them mentioning the race is unnecessary. Im sure if a person reads the book they will find out where the people come from on their own. When reviewers tell the race it can really ruin the story someone might not want to read it and it can upset people of that certain race.I am not african american myself but I can kinda understand how this would upset you. Right now I am reading Bronx Masquerade and find it to be a very interesting story. I love all the characters they all have diffrent personalities that make the story fun to read and people who read it might have a connection with a character/characters. My favorite poem would have to be “Black Box” by Devon Hope. It means alot to me because people are always being put in groups and I don’t like it so I won’t let anyone put me in a box I’m just me. I love your story and I hope to read more keep doing what you do because your books are great.

  24. Nick R. says:

    I think that many people say characters are black or african americans in summaries and reviews of stories beacuse many people still are not used to african americans and its because the people who captured and took africans to america as slaves and looked down at them as if they are not human beings they whiped and tortured them. Its gotten better over the years but people use labels without even knowing and its because hundreds of years of genaerations have gotten acustom to it. Its definetly not fair but usualy white people dont marry people of african desent and they are usualy thought of as different not really in good or bad ways but just different.People are also very sensative of there race about being to light or too dark like in the people in bronx mascarade.I enjoy a poem that jannel wrote because she is not pretty on the outside to heself but on the inside she is smart and beautifull.

  25. Ahron S says:

    I get were you are coming from with the fact of why should you need to literatlly tell the people reading your book that your characters are african american. When J.K. Rowling didnt say that Harry was an eleven year old caucasian male. Tolkin didn’t say that Frodo or Sam were caucasin trust me i read that in fourth grade it said absoulutly nothing about that and I’ve read harry potter sence i was like seven. My english techer pulled out a copy of bronks masquerade in class we all seem to like it. Im thinking about buying a copy of it, my favorite poem/rap was tyrones weaslys and steves rap “news at five” hopefully the techer lets me rap it I liked it alot.

  26. Tim H says:

    My English class started reading your book Bronks asquerade,and it is a good book. My favorite character isTyron.

  27. Justin G says:

    A little while ago my English teacher introduced the class to the book Bronx Masquerade. It was a great book and i liked that the book changed point of view every chapter yet still kept one main protagonist. I personally like the poem that Jannel wrote because it talked about how it didn’t matter what she looked like on the outside because what she looks like on the inside is more important.

  28. Sam H says:

    In my English class we are reading Brox Masquerade. My favorite character is Janelle, because i think its funny when she compared herself to a coconut:). I think its really stupid that people judge how your characters are african american. It doesnt matter what race they are as long as its a good book i dont think anything else matters as much. I think its cool that youre confronting this instead of shrugging it off because its a matter that really does bother alot of people. Good job on the book!

  29. Ben H says:

    In my English class we are reading your book named “bronx masquerade” so far it is a really good book. I like how every chapter is from a different point of view. And at the end each chapter there is a poem that the high school students do. My favorite character is tyron because he has a unike persenality and he want to have a future. But he is a little bossy and thinks he is the king. I like how it all fits together like a puzzle when after a couple chapters. And it is different, most books dont have african americans but you do. it is what makes your books great. KEEP IT UP !!! 🙂

  30. Anthony M says:

    In English we are reading The Bronx Masquerade and i love it because it is so real! The book describes actual everyday problems of a middle and high school student. from fitting in and personal problems i think Nikki did a great job when she wrote The Bronx Masqurade. The book was a perfect combination of poetry and a structured novel. i would definitly read another one of your books. About the blog above i personaly dont care about the authors ethnic backround if the write good i appriciate

  31. Chase S says:

    In english class we have been reading bronx masquerade and it is a good book. my favorite character is tyrone because he says anything on his mind and i like that. My favorite poem is attendance. my favorite line is poision gas does not discriminate because gas doesnt judge looks it kills everyone in its path. based on your comment i dont thing its right what people say about african americans. there the same type of people as white americans.

  32. Lily H says:

    In English class, we are reading Bronx Masquerade. I agree that people should not mention the race of the characters in your books, because they don’t mention white characters in different book reviews. This book really shows how you never know what someone is like before you get to know them, so you shouldn’t “judge a book by its cover”. I like how Devon is the most popular jock in school, but underneath he’s actually someone who likes to read and learn, and he’s starting not to care about what anyone else thinks of him. My favorite poem from the book is “Message to a Friend” by Gloria. She talks about how sweet and innocent she used to be, then she went out and made one mistake and it turned into a baby being born. She doesn’t regret that she had her baby, but she wishes she would’ve known what it was like so she could finish school and be successful before having a child. The firend she’s referring to in the poem is the girl she used to be, the person she wishes she still was. She wants to be able to go out with her friends, and have no worries or responsibilities. Her friend, Lupe, thinks that she wants to be like Gloria, but Gloria is trying to show her she doesn’t want that, and that she should wait.
    I think you do a really good job as an author, and you should look past the discrimination and just let your writing be however you want it. (:

  33. Marisa L says:

    In my English class we are reading your book “Bronx Masquerade” I find it unnecessary that the people mention the race of the characters.The readers should focus on the meaning of the book and not the colors of the characters. My favorite character is Devon,I like his first poem because he started to open up to people about who he really is, not just a jock.

  34. Collin F says:

    In english we are reading the “Bronx Masquerade” and it is a good book my favorite character is devon because he doesnt want to be labled as a dumb jock and wants to be smart and i aggree with you no one should be judged because of their race everyone no matter what color should be able to enjoy a book.

  35. Julie says:

    Our 8th grade English class is reading Bronx Masqerade. I think it really relates to middle school and high school students. There are plenty of other books written about African Americans, but I don’t get why they are picking out yours? My faveorite character is Janelle, I don’t know why, but I love her personality.

  36. nate w says:

    In english class we are reading your book ”Bronx Masquerade” i think the book is very good and its so real! My favorite poem is Long Live langston by Wesley Boone but my favorite character is devon beacuse hes a jock but he likes to read and hes really smart and not afraid to hide it.

  37. Robbie P. says:

    In my English class, we started reading your book “Bronx Masquerade.” So far, im not a big fan about your book. It’s just very hard to follow for me, switching charactors every chapter, But thats just me…im sure other people enjoy your book very much. Tyrone really bugs me, but i think that he plays a big part in the book. Without him there would be no bad guy. Also, about the whole discrimination thing you blogged about… I feel like its not a big deal that they are saying that. Most people just think automatically that charactors are white. So the reviewers put in that they are black. I belive that there is na racism at all.

  38. matthew c says:

    I know where you come from cause it dont matter what race you are it is who you are and wht you do.I dont think its rite for people to get picked on because of there race.In english class we are reading “BRonx” “Masquerade” my favorite charector is Devon Hope because he tells the truth about how he has to hide his real self because people think he is someone that he is not.You can show your real self not your fake self because every one will think that your someone that your not.

  39. Brianna H. :D says:

    Nikki,
    Your blog is really true. I agree with it. I am reading “bronx masquerade” and its a cool story bro. Also my favorite character is Tyrone, but Gloria has by far my favorite poem written. Mostly because “Message to a Friend” really spoke to me.
    ~Bree~
    P.S. I really think im going to read more of your books, bro 😀

  40. Casey J. says:

    The book I’m currently reading in English class Is “Bronx Masquerade”. The book describes people who like to speak there mind at “Open Mike Friday” and write origanal poems that describe who the person is on the inside rather than out. Your “black book” inspired me to not judge people so easily and get to know the person rather than taking a glance at them and saying something that could hurt them severely on the inside. My favorite character that opens up the most would be Janelle. Her poenm called “Mirror, Mirror” was trying to give some of the people she knows a hint to stop judging her because of her weight and start judging not only her but other people in the school to judge who they are on the inside if there beautiful or not. The book isn’t just something kids write for fun or assigned for homework, it’s a chance to have your time to tell them what you are or who you are as a person not a speck of dust waiting to be something to someone. I enjoy the book a lot, thank you for writing a book I can call inspiring.

  41. joshua h says:

    In my my English class we are reading your book it’s hard to follow with ever chapter starting with a new caracter. You are putting a label on your own race putting them in that type of situation. Having them be abused and pregnent at a young age. Saying they are arfraid of being smart. But the blacks in america can make the same out of there lifes that anyone else can. Just like you made a good life for yourself just like anyone else can do the same. It’s there choice.

  42. Brianna S. says:

    I think you make a really good point. People shouldn’t have to point out that the characters are African American. It shouldn’t matter if the characters are black, white, whatever they are. It’s the actual story that matters. I think the book is great. I like how real it is and how accurate it is to an actual high school. My favorite character is Tyron because he is very blunt and always speaks his mind. My favorite poem is “If” by Diondra Jordan.

  43. timothy b says:

    A little while ago my English teacher introduced my class to the book Bronx masquerade. I think it is an interesting choice of characters. It is very widely spread with all the races and I think it is completely right no one should care about what skin color people are. We may be different on the outside but on the inside everyone is close to being identical. Everyone wants to be (cool) and cared about like Tyrone; he thinks he has nothing any future only a past for himself all because one thing happened to him. I am=sorry to say this but life goes on you can’t stop it not even slow it down it pushes you to the ground and expects you to move on with the pain of failure but it only repeats its job push you fall and over and over never stopping its job is to never let up keep you going through a motivator and a killer never to be stopped but to be encouraged with its evil scheme no one cares only if its then but life goes on. Timothy B.

  44. GARET. R says:

    In my English class we are reading your book “Bronx Masqurade” i think the book is hard to understand because the people keep switching evey chapter and i forget what had happened last chapter they were in (i have short term memory loss). Even though i think your book is bad it is still good to other people.i dont know why you think it is bad that people keep calling your caracters “black”, who cares if they think or call them black it dosnt really matter. You dont have to think that it is such a bad thing it is your book do what ever you want just dont be sterotypical to your own kind.

    P.S. i dont have a favroite caracter but if i did it would be tyrone, i lkie how he judges the poems.

    GARET. R

  45. Madison C says:

    In english class we are reading a book call Bronx Masquerade. My favorite character is Lupe Algarin because she expresses how she feels about being lonely. I don’t think she should have a kid at this age because she needs to be able to enjoy her teenage years.

  46. Alexis M says:

    In english class we are reading Bronx Masquerade. My favorite character Janelle becuase she relates to people in our school because people always call people names just by there looks. Butt they do really know then in the inside. I dont think people should judge others by the way they look. They should acclually get to know them before they judge.

  47. ian D says:

    No–not just you, Nikki.
    K.T. Horning has thought deeply about this for a long time; not surprising that she gets this.
    And as a Caucasion author, I want to say you’re right that when my books feature African American characters, that doesn’t seem to be mentioned in the reviews. Though when I meet readers, especially readers of KEESHA’S HOUSE, they sometimes express surprise that I’m not black, and ask questions about the race of the characters.
    I wish this wasn’t such an effort, and hope it all gets easier. I want your books to be widely read

  48. PaIge N says:

    In my english class we have been reading a awesome book called ” Bronx Masquerade” this book is about a bunch of kids that go to this high school and have somoe type of problem like haveing a baby, or because a jokoe and loving to read books, or hateing the color of your skin this is what some of the kids at this high they deal with everyday and their english teacher Mr.Ward asked his class if anyone has any poetery to read and if they did they would be able to share on Friday. The reason I am shareing this all with you is because I think it is a good way for people to express their fellings and show their emotion with out anyone knowing who they are talking to. my favorite character is Devon I like because he is a great basketball player and all his friends thinik that their is nothing in his head when in fact he loves to read and is a very smart person and trying to hide from all his friends

  49. Bayley R says:

    In my english class we are reading the book Bronx Masquerade and it is fantastic because it is so real.The book describes the real actual everyday problems faced by teens everyware whether in middle school or high school they all face problems that happen everyday.I love how in the book there is a different point of view between all of the students. my favorite character is Tyrone because he is not afraid to express what is on his mind.Also he wants to be a hip hop star but he is afraid that people will not like his music.My favorite line in his poem is Its me Tyrone up here all alone because his father died recently.

  50. Tamarow says:

    I dont really think that the reveiwers are trying ot be racist,but rather they list the detail because most people automatically assume characters are white…like in the book “HOLES” with zero,but i 110 percent agree that race is being classified in books and the caucassions are being deprived of learning about black authors.Looking into local libraries or public resource sites things are certainly classified by what skin tone the author is.lLabels are wrong and shouldnt be used,but i guess like in the poem “Boxes” people really are being put into little boxes and not being classified by the emotion or strentgth of the book,and one day maybe people will actually unite and try to make things right like devon the supposedly “dumb jock”.
    over all “bornkx masquerade” was a fantastic and heart tugging book that any race should read
    …my favorite character was Chankara,because she reminds me of my mother in more ways than one,i swear i almost broke out in tears reading the poem “bruised love” because it just brings back so much memories.that shall always and forever be my favoritepoem and frankly this book should go down in history!!<33
    -Tamarow S.

  51. Hannah B. says:

    I agree with you, no one should be judged by the color, or heritage. Same goes for books. If a book has a different culture in it, it shouldn’t be discriminated. In my English class we are reading “Bronx Masquerade”. Very good book. *applauses silently in head* I love how they have Open Mike to express themselves. My favorite chacter is Tyrone because he was judging people and he didn’t have a dream, but now that Open Mike started he actually hears what people think and he actually wants to change himself.

  52. Dominic s. says:

    In my English class we are reading “Bronx masquerade.” It is a very good book, its really interesting. I feel it is wrong for people to identify a character as “black.” The way you set up the book is great, how we see the point of view from each character every chapter. Although it is somewhat unrealistic for where we live. There isn’t much fear of being killed every day or being scared of showing our intelligence. Some have to worry about somethings like pregnancy. I know thats how it is for some but for others it is hard to relate to it if we don’t go through the same thing. My favorite character is Devon, i like Devon because he realizes throughout the story it doesnt matter what people think of him. If is friends arent his friends after they find out there smart then there only holding him back. When he stood up for himself and told Mike he wasnt reading for class. That he was reading for himself because thats what he loves. My favorite poem is Zorro by Raul, this is my favorite poem because i feel it flows the best and i relate to it the best of all the poems so far.

  53. Zach A. says:

    I think that if most of the characters in a book are not the same race as you, that should not stop you from reading it. That’s racist and just plain silly. After all, you are right about your books when you say they are universally appealing, Nikki, especially Bronx Masquerade. My English class is reading that and I think I am the one who likes it best. I am intrested in the story and the poetry is fantastic. My favorite character from Bronx Masquerade is Devon Hope because he is the one who is most like me. Both of us are very tall, and while I am not a basketball player, I am quite athletic. I am on the Oswego Lakers Swim Club. We each also have a pretty good intrest in reading. My favorite poem from the book is Zorro by Raul Ramirez. It is a good example of just how mind-blowing all the poetry is. I like how Raul mentions the Spanish superhero to express that he is neither good nor bad.

  54. Hannah B. says:

    By the way, my favorite poem is “Inside” by Janelle Battle because it’s on the inside that counts and I can relate to her by people being rude and not looking all the way through the skin and seeing people for who they really are.

  55. Callie B says:

    I agree with you on the fact that color shouldnt matter when it comes to writing… or anything really. In my English class we are reading the book “Bronx Masquerade” and I really like it. I like how Tyrone has his own oppinion on everyones poem because it gives me an idea on what some people may be thinking. My favorite poem though I think would be Chankara’s peom called “Bruised Love”. I like it because she is standing up for herself.

  56. Gabriella L says:

    In English class, my other classmates and I are reading your book “Bronx Masquerade”. Focussing on what the story is about is what people should be doing instead of judging the book by what color or race the characters are.My favorite character is Sterling S. Hughes because I like the way he handled those bullies. I have never heard of anyone doing that before. A close friend of mine told me to kill bullies with kindness. I love your book “Bronx Masquerade”. My favorite poem is “Message to a friend” By the character Gloria Martinez. Her poem is my favorite because I love all the poetic terms used in her poem. I also like how time was compared to a perfume bottle.

  57. Cameron C says:

    I agree with you, I think that race shouldn’t make a difference. My favorite poem in your book “Bronx Masquerade” is “Zorro” because it talks about a super hero, and that is cool! My favorite charachter in the book is Tyrone, because he speaks the thuth, and doesn’t sugar coat it.

  58. Lorcan M says:

    In my English class we are reading ”Bronx Masquerade” it’s a great book so far, my favorite charecter is Janelle because the way she described herself as a cocanut, she has a circular shell, a dense outside and sweet in the middle

  59. Justine L says:

    Nikki I agree. Books shouldn’t be judged by the race. In my English class we are reading the “Bronx Masquerade”. The book is really good.I like the characters Gloria because she is trying to live a life but can’t because she has a baby and doesn’t have any freedom. I can connect to Jenelle because some people get picked on like that. I like the poem “Message to a Friend” because she’s writing to her self about how she was free before her baby came but she still loves her toothless, squirming bundle of joy. This is my favorite because its saying how a baby can effect your life and they also take you freedom away. Babies also need alot of love.

  60. Kevin C. says:

    I agree that reviewers shouldn’t requier that books written by African Americans have to have something saying that. It dosent matter who wrote it, a book is a book. In my english class we are reading the “Bronx Masquerade” and i am loving this book. My favorite character is Tyrone. I think its awsome that he started the Open Mike in his class and finnally has something to do. My favorite poem is “Attendance” by Tyrone. I like this one because it talks about the problems they all have in the city. I love the line “terrorism is here” it tells that in a little city there can be alot of danger.

  61. Kelsey H says:

    I agree that people fell the need to point out they happen to be African-American. In any other book if they were cacausion yuo dont point it out. You also made them have proploms teens everyday all aroun the world face. Devon labeld as a nothing more but a “jock”, but is smart and afriad to show others he read. Janelle has the issue of being a little plum so people bully her. Lupwants a kid to feel loved, Tyrones afriad of dieing. My favorite character is Sterling. he is my favorite beacuse he has to deal with others thinking hes crazy and bullys picking on him for his religon. You have a great teen vioce.

  62. Kimberly R says:

    I agree with you 100%. There is no reason that your books should be judged on if there are African American characters. In my English class we are reading your novel “Bronx Masquerade”. I absolute love it! It is fonominal. Personally my favorite character is Diondra Jordan because I can relate to her people think I’m just smart but I’m really good at drawing. My favorite poem so far is “Inside” by Janelle Battle because I feel similar to how you have her feel in the novel. Keep writing compelling novels. Thank you! Kimberly R 😉 🙂

  63. Sydney K says:

    In my English class we are reading the “Bronx Masquerade” I find it unnecessary that people put the “African Americans” label on your books but, you are also putting a label on your characters. They can be anything they want to be but, you make them pregnant and being beaten by their boyfriends and they’re scared to be themselves.
    My favorite character is Janelle because her problems relate to people in my school, judging you about what you look like and how you dress. No one gives anyone a chance to see how they really are.
    My favorite poem is Devon’s “Black Box” because he doesn’t want to be put into a box as a “Dumb Jock
    ” because he’s not a dumb jock at all he enjoys reading but is afraid to tell anyone.

  64. David T says:

    In my English Class we are reading the book Bronx Masquerade. I like the book alot and it has a different style to the setup. While I can understand why you are frustrated, I don’t think it’s racist to include the protagonists’ race in the book. Not selling them in places populated by a different race is wrong, however, they may feel the need to mention the race of the protagionist in those ares, not because they might not choose the book because of it, but beacause they are genuinely itnterested. My favorite charecter is Sterling because he tries so hard to stay innocent, even when he’s surrounded by those are far from it. My favorite poem is Zorro because it explains not putting people in boxes per se, but instead combining that thought with that of Devon’s, about not being what people expect you to be. My only complaint about your book is that sometimes the characters’ emotions are extremed; i dont’t know anyone in my grade who is as good or as bad as you’re’s. They’re always in between.

  65. Julia W says:

    Dear Nikki, I tottaly agree!….. Books shouldn’t be judged by who wrote them or what race the characters are….. In my english class we are reading “Bronx Masquerade”. So far I absolutely love your book! The characters seem so real…. They face problems that teenagers experience everyday…. My favorite character is Leslie. I can connect with Leslie because everyone expects her to be good at sports just because she is tall. Just like her I have zero cordination. My favorite poem from the book is “Message to a friend!”. This is my favorite poem because it really catches my eye. I love when she says “Untill the day she stopped, caught the toothless squuirming bundle and gravity kicked in. She realizes that a baby is hard to take care of and you lose your free “teenager time”. Since we have read your book your teacher lets us have an open mike friday to read our own poems 🙂

  66. Jacob B says:

    In my English class we are reading the “Bronx Masquerade”.I agree with some of the earlier posts that say you are labeling as characters “pregnant young, being afriad of being killed everyday, not worrying about their own future, and being beaten by their boyfriends” and I am not that only African Americans face these problems everyday but I think the way you label them makes it seem like that. I do agree with you saying that reviewers and critics should not call them “Black” when they talk about the character seeing that if they review a Caucasain’s book they do not label the characters as “White”. My favorite character is Tyrone most of the time because I feel that he is telling the story but, I also do not like it when he acts like a BOSS and he acts like he is in control of everything. I do also think your book is kinda confusing to me because it keeps on switching back and forth between charaters which makes it harder for me to read. My favorite peom is Attendance because I like how it shows of what he feels on daily life and how he lives his life. It also shows why he dosen’t worry about his future.

  67. Alysia F says:

    I agree! Your books should not be judged by other people just because there are Aferican American characters. In my English im reading the “Bronx Masquerade”. My favorite character in the story is Diondra Jordan because people see her just as a tall girl instead of an artist. My favorite poem is inside by Janelle Battle because i feel similar to how she feels in the novel.

  68. Devon R says:

    Dear nikki we are reading one of your books in my
    English class. It is The Bronx Masscarade and i must say the book is really a phenominal one. The book explains many issues that people can relate to. I totally agree with you on how you say that your books shouldn’t be judged on race. It doesnt matter what the book is about if it is written with african american characters orange characters with purple polka dots or whatever, books are great either way. I am not really a reader but your books are really interestin to me and am going to have to read some more of your books. My favorite character from Bronx masscarade is Devon Hope. The reason is because my name is Devon and because people with the name devon are awesome also he is not afraid to show the other side of him because he isn’t afraid to be himself thats what I think and by the way i think you are inspiring and many

    people will look up to you. Dont stop writing books bro 🙂

    Keep up the good work

  69. Tattiana P. says:

    Right now i’m in my English class writting this letter to you with hope that I will finish all your books, published and soon to be written. Presently I am reading your book, “Bronx Masquerade”. Throughout the book I seem to be more and more moved by each line like a beautiful wave in the ocean plucks shells off from the shore. So far my favorite character is Tanisha because of how her poem tells how her heritage effects her and how she feels misunderstood becaause of her skin. I myself am not of African descent but I am colored. To me being judged on your skin tone isn’t just hurting the people they say it to, its also the person who has it in themselves to discriminate others. Although it’s wrong to segregate people some kids can’t hepl it because they are raised that way. After reading your book you’ve inspired me to do a little writing myself someday.

  70. Tyler B. says:

    First I must say that I completly agree with you, it goesn’t matter what color you are to enjoy these books. speaking of books my 8th grade English class is reading The Bronx Masquerade. My favorit charater has to be Sterling S. Hughes, the way he deals with bullies is strange but brillent. Ihave to ask what was your insperation for him? Aside from that my favorit poem is black box. My favorit line is “Just don’t put me in one, son belive me I won’t fit”.

  71. Dylan B says:

    I agree totally with you nikki i beliveve that african americans should not be discriminated againts in book reveiws or anywhere in the world. i have been reading your book “Bronx Masquerade” it is pretty cool so far, my favorite character is Devon because he is a jock like me. my favorite poem is “Black Box” because i feel it conects to a lot of people everywhere in the world. the line “im allergic to boxes” is a amazing line showing he does not want to be fake he wants to be free and be himself that why i love that poem so much…

    🙂 🙂

  72. Tyler S says:

    In my English class we are reading the book “Bronx Maquerade”.I agree with you because African Americans should not be discriminated for being characters in books. My favorite character is Tyrone because he is not afraid to express how he feels about everyones poems. The peom “Black Box” is my favorite because Devon doesn’t care what people think about him reading books even though he is a jock.

  73. danield says:

    I personaly think that the auther is compleatly corerct and the reason why is that i beleve that no one should be segrigated by the color of there skin. my favorit charictor is tyrone because i can kind of see wher heas coming from but my favorit poem was by janelle it is inside. my favorit line is “your loss is someone elses gain for i am coconut.”

  74. Shawna C. says:

    I believe in what she is saying how they don’t really have to go by race as to what your reading about. Depending upon your heritage it doesnt matter what you read,Caucasians can read about the Jewish, African Americans can read about Caucasians. Racism doesn’t exist within the titling of books, thats just obsured. My favorite character would have to be Tyrone,he’s kinda like me in a way as to the fact he doesnt care what he says or if it gets him in trouble. Girls will like him for being like that as long as it doesn’t involve him. My favorite line would have to be from Chankara though,she says “She tiotoed in,late and limping,her cheek raw as red brown meat.” This line reminds me of my mom in a way because no matter what time your up she is too. There would be no way that I ever could sneak out of the house. Bruises, what can I say besides they hurt, mentally and physically. If my boyfriend ever hit me he wouldn’t live to see tomorrow. My da is very protective over me about guys and so if I told him, or he saw my boyfriend would never hear/see me ever again. So far I am enjoying your book despite my fond hatred of books and reading, so I give you a thumbs up for that! 😀

  75. Bailey P says:

    In my english class, (Along with everyone up above XD) we are reading “Bronx Masquerade.” It is a great book, and I suggest it to anyone who just wants to sit down with a good book. :3

    I agree with Nikki. People shouldnt judge people by color. Do people judge labadors on thier fur color? No. So why should we?

    My favorite person from “Bronx Masquerade” is probaly Leslie Lucas. I feel I can rlate with her, with her mom dieing. Except for with me, its my dad moving out of the house. I always wish that when I go home, my dad would bring me into a big hug and ask hiw my day was. But I cant. With her, she fears being alone. I have to agree with her. Same it the poem, Common Ground. I fear that pool of tears, in the center of aloneness. My best freind is my life perserver, my buoy. And I love her for that. <3

  76. Kasey M says:

    In my English class we are reading your book “Bronx Masqurade”. I agree with her because African americans should not be discriminated. This book is not racist at all. My favorite character is Devon because he is a “jocky” But he does still like to read. I think the author made Devon in the Novel because its saying that just because your a sports “jocky” doesnt mean you cant like other things like reading or school or any other thing. My favorite poem in the novel is “Black Box” because it is saying Dont let people bug you just because you like to read and dont hide it.

  77. Kailee F says:

    I agree with what the author is saying. I understand that people shouldn’t stick out because their a different race or come from some where that isn’t near here. In a way, many people are pointing out different races and thair not even realizing it. My favorite character is Devon because I love how unusual but understandable this chapter is, when people label you because your good at something but really you have a whole other aspect on life. His poem ‘Black Box’ would be my favorite poem. ‘My body is the only box I belong in.’ When it comes to this part of the poem I really get what he’s trying to say. he’s saying that people can call you whatever they like and it sticks. You barley even control over that, even if don’t know a lot about you. So they have no right to label you unless they are you, because only you know exactly who are and what you have planned for the rest of your life.

  78. Matt K says:

    I think that you are correct in saying that charecters race is not nessasary as long as it is of no importance to the book.I don’t think that it isn’t racist by mentioning it, but i just think it’s extra un-needed info. I also believe that your books should be merketed to a wide variety of readers, not determined by race. Currently our English class is reading your book Bronx Masquerade. My favorite charector is Devon because he doesn’t want to be the person everyone thinks he is. he is extremely athletic, but thats not where his heart is. He wants to be smart and exceed expectations. I also like his poem Black Box because he spreads the message that books shouldn’t be judged by their covers, just like yours.

  79. Austin W says:

    I agree with what she has to say about how her books should not be labled just like how people should not be labled because it does not matter about skin color it is about what kind of person you are on the inside. My favorite character is tyrone because he has the biggest part. my favorite poem so far is Bronx Masquearde. also i have to say that most of the that commented on your book are probly not meaning to sound racest but that one of the thing people normally do, it does not matter what skin color people have, that is just one of the things that normally sticks out to people. people will do it with any color of skin.

  80. Gina says:

    Well wherever we go in the world there is bound to be racial problems, which makes me mad. I completely agree with you! Why should it matter what you look like? We all have the same heart, lungs, hands, feet. Inside we are all alike. People shouldn’t judge you how the way you look before they know you. Why should it matter if your black, white, Mexican, Italian or anything! It gets me upset hearing about things like that. My favorite character in “Bronx Masquerade” is Janelle because she knows she’s beautiful inside and wants other people to see it. I connect to that because I wish people would just stop caring about looks and see the true beauty inside. Not a lot of people see that and I wish they could. My favorite poem in the book is “If” by Diaondra because it’s so calm and I can just imagine her sculpting the moutains and drawing the sea in ink. It’s so powerful and calm at the same time. All of the poems in the book so far are very deep and they are all wonderful

  81. Mykenzie F. says:

    Recently in my English class we’ve started reading your book “Bronx Masquerade”. So far I’m impressed with your book, ma’am. I must say it’s quite a hoot! I like how you didn’t stick with one race or ethnicity, and the fact that you have put in multiple races and ethnicities makes the whole story-line kinda “spicy”. But I’m not trying to be like the other reviewers and make a whole scene about the race/ethnicity thing. I’m just stating my opinion. I’d have to say my favorite character so far is Tanisha Scott, because I find it absolutely interesting that everybody is so hung up over her hair. And don’t get me started on the poem “Black Box”, I was very intrigued with Devon’s poem. It was amazing to know that someone feels the way I feel when people label me as “tough” because really, on the inside, I’m as soft as a bunny’s tail. Once again, I’m impressed. Keep up the good work, Nikki.

  82. Topanga Ruzycki says:

    I agree you alot nikki. its not fair how if a black person writes a book that automadiclly only black people can read your books. i actually love your books. my English class is reading your book the Bronx Masquerade. i love that book. MY faveorite charter is Janlle Battle. she isa my favortie because i relate to her because im a big girl myslef. im always geting picked on at any school i go and stinks. My favorite poem from that book is Bruised Love. I like it because i also relate to it.I used to be abused when i was little. But everytime i read a book of yours it makes me feel a whole lot better.

  83. Crystal H. says:

    I totally agree with you Nikki!! People shouldn’t be judge on your books. African Americans, are just like normal people, and shouldn’t be judged. My 8th grade English class is reading your book “Bronx Masquerade”, and I’m really loving it.:) My favorite character would have to be Chankara, and how she does’nt want to end up like her sister and let guys walk all of her. My Favorite poem is For the Record By:Tanisha Scott. My favortie line is, My heart beats like a talking drum.

  84. Cody G. says:

    In English class, we have started reading your book, “Bronx Masquerade” and I have to say I like the way the book is set up, with all the characters speaking at different times and I think you are correct about your blog on how the race of the characters shouldn’t matter in the meaning of the book. Race doesn’t change the story at all, and if you don’t come right out and say that race matters, nobody should care. I know that’s not what le I read this novel. My favorite character is Devon because I like the way he wants to make himself heard that he is more than a jock. My favorite poem is Devon’s “Black Box” because he is saying that he doesn’t believe that people should be judged on how they are on the outside, and that people should take it more by who they are on the inside. He doesn’t care that people think he should just be a jock, he is his own person

  85. Allen L. says:

    I agree with her because books shouldent say the race of main caharictor on black puplisher’s books only. Judging by coler of skin is roung. We dont do it to animals why should we do it to other humans.

    My faverite charicter from the “Bronx masqurade” is devon hope because he was afraid to show himself. But later he changes his mind and shows it to the team.

    My faverite poem is “Bronx Masquerade”. I like it because he is expressing him self and is talking to him self. My favret line is “My name is surprise.

  86. Victoria C. says:

    I agree. Color should not matter. It should not matter when it comes to books or anything. Kids should be able to read what they want to read no matter what as long as they are getting something from it. In my 8th grade english class we are reading “Bronx Masquerade”. My favorite character is Devon. He is my favorite because when Mr. Ward started Open Mike, he started to realize that everyone has their own problems and aren’t perfect. He took the risk to be picked on by other jocksby showing them that he read because he wanted to. Not because he had to. My favorite poem is “Black Box”. No matter where you go in the world, people are being segregated not because of their race, but because of what they like to do. Like if someone liked learning, they would be classified as nerds, or geeks. People don’t take time to see what is on the inside, only the outside.

  87. jasmine g says:

    in my english class were reading “bronx masqurade” i agree with you people shouldnt be judged by the color of there skin. my favorite character is devon because hes not just some jock that dosent care about anything but basket ball. he also love to read but he dosent want people to find out. my favorite poem is bruised love. because i have friends that can relate to the poem.

  88. Ethan D. says:

    I agree with what you has to say about how your books should not be labled just like how people should not be labled. Race doesn’t change the story at all, it doesn’t matter what color your skin is, or what race you are. What matters is how a person is on the inside. What race a characther is, shouldn’t change the way a person views a book. In my English class we are reading your book “Bronx Masqurade”. I don’t like how it’s set up, changing charachters every chapter, it gets to hard to follow. But I have to say you go into great detail on how hard some of these kids lifes are, throught worrying about dieing, and raising a child. My favorite character is Devon, I like Devon because he realizes throughout the story it doesnt matter what people think of him. If people don’t like the way he is, why should he listen to them? It took alot of guts to tell Mike that he wasn’t reading for class, because he was afraid of what he would say at first. My favorite poem was Devin’s poem black box. It really shows that people don’t like to be labeled something, like tough guy, or tough jock just because they play a sport. People are different, smart people can be good at sports, and tall people, like Diondra, aren’t always good at basketball.

  89. Tim McAfee says:

    One of my best friends is South African. Every time I tell someone that he’s black and stereotyping isn’t fair to anyone. My favorite character is Devon because I play sports as well and like him i love reading. My favorite poem is “Black Box” because no one likes being stereotyped as Jock or Geek.

  90. jared s says:

    Nikki, My class is reading your book “The Bronx Mascaraed” in school. And I agree with what your saying about how your books should not be judged because its about African American characters there is no reason for people to do that and its just wrong. My favorite character is Mr. ward because of how easy going and cool he is. it seems as though all the students in his class truly like him and respect him though he is a teacher. I think my favorite poem is black box because it expresses what happens to a lot of people. I don’t know why but people seem to like to label people things such as trash scum dork geek and a lot of other hurtful things. your book is really good and i cant wait to get my hands on another novel by you.

  91. Mikayla S. says:

    Nikki, I love your book Bronx Masquerade that we’re reading on English! I entirely agree on not judgin people on there culture or looks. My favorite character in the book is Devon Hope. He used to hide behind himslef not showing who he really was. Because people awlays thought he was a basketball jock but really he just loves to read. I can’t stand it when people judge me for someone i really am not. Including that i also love his poem. It seems that many people put others in little boxes that dont really describe them. People just assumed that devon was only an athlete. But really he wants to be free and read poetry with out being picked on! I tottally love your book and want to get my hands on another one of your peices!

  92. Mikayla S. says:

    We are reading your book “Bronx Masquerade” in english class currently. I love your book and want to read another one of them soon! My favorite character in your book is Devon Hope because he wants to come out of his shell and be who he really is. Devon is called the “Basketball Jock” but he really just loves to read. I also love his poem “Black Box” because it truly expresses who he really is. He tells his english class that he hates how people judge you and shove you inot a little box that they think you are. It totally describes me and how i hate being judged!

  93. ian d says:

    My english class has started reading your book. I think it is really good and i agree with you 100 percent. They shouldnt have to mention that your characters are african american. it is unnecsecary. my favorite character is devon because he sounds really cool. My favorite poem is black box because it is the most relatable.

  94. N. Shatrau says:

    Nikki, Nomatter how many different books you write about different races, people will still make fun of your books and writing. People have found something to blame… The books that you write have many African American herritage or culture in them. People just decide to use that to make fun of the race. We are currently reading “Bronx Masquerade” in our English class. This book is probaly one of my most favorite books! My favorite caracter is Devon Hope because in the book he says that people do not know the real him, his personality is more than just being a sports finatic, he also does many oter things except for sports. My favortie poem in the book is “Bronx Masquerade” by Devon Hope. In the poem it says ” Dont call me Jump Shot, My name is Surprise”. This means that he does more than just play basketball, he can write poems, or even write a good book… Like you Do!

  95. ecimino says:

    nikki, i like your poem i agree with you completely. my favorate charachter in bronx masquerade is Raul, he has a really cool name and i think it is cool that he likes to paint the way he made is poem in the shape of a Z was very unique and so far nobody ealse in the book has done it yet. GREAT BOOK

  96. Ryan M says:

    On your thoughts, Nikki, I fully agree with you, I have yet to understand why African Americans are discriminated against. What does it matter if your characters are heavily African American, for one people seem to think that African Anericans are scapegoats for gang violence and drug abuse. Not many seem to agree that most African Americans are responsible for gang violence. I, for one love Bronx Masquerade, most books seem to not grab my attention as well as this book, surprisingly I have gotten in to poetry which is usually my least favorite section of English. My favorite character is Gloria because of how it hits home , but thats a little bit personal. She realizes that. “She bought in to Hollywoods lie.” For what she thought would. ” Lead her to dream places.” She realized having a baby would not. “Fill all her empty places.” Now she realized she had to stop and, all these poems are from Gloria’s poem. ” Message to a Friend.” on page forty-three of Bronx Masquerade. I like this character because she realizes her mistake of having Angel, but she realizes.”She didn’t even know what soy milk was a year ago.” I admire her taking care of her baby after the father walked out on her.

  97. Evan B says:

    I think you are right it should not matter the race of the writter or the reader! My favorite charecter is Tyrone because he speaks his mind, he doesnt lie about his opinion so he is like me.Ex. “Raulis on the money.You gotta make your own rules, Jack.Thats the real 411.Forget who white folks think you are, ’cause they aint got a clue.” My favorite poem is “Inside” by Janelle Battle, I think its cool how she compares herself to a coconut. Tough on outside weak and sweet on the inside.

  98. Gabrielle H. says:

    My english class has been reading your book “Bronx Masquerade” and i dont think people should have to judge on how they are colored in the book, all that is important is that they actually like the book. If they have a problem with the color they have then they could just stop reading the book. My favorite character in this book was Tyrone. Tyrone was my favorite character because he always has something to say about everybodys poems showing that he can relate or show that he actually listens to how people are. when tyrone talks about their poems he talks about how after he feels bad for some of the people in the book. that shows he cares. My favorite poem that was read in this book was the poem “inside” by Janelle Battle. in that poem it says “feel you poke me with the sharp tip of your booted words.” i like that because it relates to most of the students in my school. people dont realize how much words hurt people. Jenelle also talks about being a “coconut” as saying that she needs a hard outside to make it so nobody can break her down, but at the same time she is sweet on the inside. but nobody realizes it because everybody is to busy judging her on the outside. i loved this book!

  99. Autumn L. says:

    In my english class we are reading the book “Bronx Masquerade” and I completely agree with you on the whole race thing……….Why does it matter what race the characters are. If the meaning of the book isn’t rascist its self then people should not judge you for putting people of your own race in your own writing. It’s your writing no one elses so write as you feel and express yourself on paper.So far my favorite character in your book is Lupe, her and I have so much in common. I just want to feel loved but one thing I disagree with is trying to have a baby to feel loved. My favorite poem in “Bronx Masquerade” is “Message to a friend” because it explains Gloria’s life before having her child. How much fun she had, it explains how much hard work she has had to put in. It makes you wonder about the outcomes of your actions……..

  100. frederick p. says:

    I agree with what you say about books being juged by race, some peole are just mad at the world and want to take other people down with them, keep doing waht you are doing i love your book ,”Bronx masquerade”, i think its wonderful. i love Tryone beacuse of how much of a boss he thinks he is and he can be funny at some points, i like the quote,”take two poems and call me in the morning.” because he is refering to the poems as medicine to the heart, like a way to be free from all the pain and hate.

  101. Nicholas B. says:

    Well Nikki,i think that your perspective of your writing is unique in many ways. your choice on weither to write on “black” or “white” characters most have been hard to chose beacause of all the feedback of your peers.My favorite character is Devon hope because i can relate to him in ways that it says in the story.In the story “Bronx masquerade” the part with devon it says that “the law is be cool,be tough,play ball,and use books as weight lifting-not reading” refering that jocks arnt supposed to be smart haha not in my case im a basketball player and have more then a 95 average and it keeps going up.I know not all jocks are the smartest but there not the dumbest either.My favorite poem is “Bronx Maquerade” because it shows how jocks around the world that are smart and like to read be free and not confined in a dark corner of secret and denial.

  102. A. Greenier says:

    Hi Nikki, i am an 8th grade student and my english class is reading your book “Bronx Masquerade”. I agree that it shouldn’t matter what race you are or what type of skin color you have. Some of my very good friends are African American and theyu are very nice people. It shouldn’t matter what is on the outside. It should only matter what is on the inside which is a person just like anyone else that sometimes has really good times and sometimes is sad just like any normal human being. My favorite character in your book is Devon Hope. I like him because he likes to play sports and so do I. His problem is that he is a jock but he he likes to read. His friends think that he is going to the gym when he is really sneaking into the library to read. People don’t accept jocks reading and they think that they should use books for lifting not for reading. He should be able to be who he really wants to be not who others want him to be. it should be the same way in real life also. My favorite poem is “Bronx Masquerade” by Devon Hope becauise it tells who he really is. He is telling people who he really is not who others want him to be.

  103. Diana G. says:

    I agree with your thoughts because judging by races is wrong. In my eglish class we are reading “Brox Masquerade.” My favorite character is Diondra Jordan because she isn’t the athletic kind, but she has height. She wants to be an artist but everyone suggests basketball. She keeps to her heart though and does what she wants. My favorite poem is “Common Ground” by
    Leslie Lucas. I like this poem because it expresses a lot in different words, different ways. It’s iteresting on how her metaphores make you really think about things and what she’s saying. In conclusion, I really like your work and can’t wait to read the rest of your book! ~Me 🙂

  104. t. Contois says:

    So far my favorite character is Devon Hope, which is the B-Ball/jock who likes to read. But his friends think that jocks shouldnt read books like it says in the book “The law is be cool, be tough, play ball, and use books for weight lifting not for reading.”

  105. Kimberly Hall says:

    I’m picking up with what you’re putting down. It Isn’t fair that poeple are judging you because of your race. It doesn’t matter if your characters are colored or not. What matters is how poeple are on the inside not the out. A characters race shouldn’t change a persons point of veiw on a story. In english class we are reading “Bronx Masquerade” it is absolutely amazing. I think it’s cool that they have “Open Mike Fridays.” My favorite character is Devon. I like that he’s into basketball, but that he has another side to him than just sports. In Devon’s poem “Bronx Masquerade” he says “theres more to devon than just jump shot and rim.” I like how he’s saying that there more to him then what everyone sees, that behind his tough, athletic side, there is a sweet side to him. I like that he wants people to know who he really is then trying to hide it. This book is great i can’t wait to read more.

  106. jarred p says:

    in my english class were reading “bronx masqurade” i agree with you people shouldnt be judged by the color of there skin.

  107. Patty P. says:

    In my english class we are currently reading one of your famous books call ” Bronx Mascuerade.” We are not really far in the book but i think it is a great book. I think the raciest problem is silly we are all still people. We are all pretty much alike we just have different skin color.
    In the book Bronx Mascurade i liked the poem that Chankara wrote “Bruised Love” no one really deserves to be beat expecially by the person they love. I also liked it because it tells us about the person and what she expects from guys and not just to be hit by the person.
    In other words Nikki i love your book i can’t wait to read more. Your an amazing author, thank you for writing.

  108. Alexis K says:

    My english class started reading your book. I think that they shouldn’t judge a book & put on the cover “African Americans” It doesn’t mateter what the race is & shouldnt. MY favorite chracter is Tyrone because hs speaks his mind. My favorite poem is the black box because it explains a lot & i like it.

  109. austin v says:

    I agree with what she has to say about how her books should not be labled just like how people should not be labled because it does not matter about skin color it is about what kind of person you make yourself be and how you act. My favorite character is tyrone because he has the biggest part in the poem.

  110. Julia K says:

    I dont believe that people should not read books because of the race of the author or characters.Martin Luther King Jr. said that everyone is equal no matter what race or religion. I still go by that today and I hope that people stop judging the book and characters and actually read it because im sure that they will enjoy it.

  111. Noah C. says:

    I totally agree with Nikki, race in a novel doesn’t matter the only thing that matters is the story line and the conflict/resolution. So what if you’re African American, Asian, Hispanic, or Caucasian. Race doesn’t matter.

  112. Pie lover 69 says:

    This is a great way to put it! It’s very inspirational!!! 🙂 It teaches a good lesson and tells people to be proud no matter what color of skin you have, or what you look like. It tells you to be happy to be youself! You’re telling us don’t change your self to make people happy. Also, in my English class we are reading your book “Bronx Masquerade” it’s a very good book. My favorite character is Chankara. She was strong even though her boyfriend hit her. Nikki grimes is a amazing author. 🙂

  113. MR.Pickel says:

    in my english class were reading “bronx masqurade” i agree with you people shouldnt
    be judged by the color of there skin.All people should be treated equily.
    It doesn’t matter about the race of people.My favorite character is Tyrone because
    he speaks whatever is on his mind, whenever he wants.:)

  114. seth says:

    i thought it was a very inspirering and entousiastic artical.

  115. Uniqua Erdried says:

    I absolutely, positively agree with you on that Nikki! Race shouldn’t matter no matter the subject you are basing your(book, article ect.)on. So what if you are a different race? In my english class we are reading your book “Bronx Masquerade” and so far, it is an amazing nd inspirational book. My favorite character in your book is Chankara. She has been through and is going through a lot to deal with. She is being strong and pulling through even though her boyfriend beats her. I beleive that if she is tough enough to be able to pull through something as bad as that, I can too. I love your voice in your book and I can’t beleive that I’m saying this but,I am really excited to read the rest of your book an this is completely true!! 🙂

  116. Andrew says:

    i think that what anyone thinks is just there own thoughts. I like the character Tyrone Bitting because he may not be the brightest crayon in the box but he thinks he is the leader of his class and i like that.like his peom when he was takig attendance like a teacher. My favorite is bruised love because she can’t stand that her sister is with someone that misse’s treats her.”” i bruise easily is one of her lines she sprinkles like sugar.’

  117. Kevin says:

    My favorite thing about the book is how it include all of the lifes of a teenager and, all of there problems in to poems. Such as Tyrone his fear is of being alone and, on Open Mike Fridays he will read out his feeling,and problems through his poem. One text based detail to show that the teen Tyrone’s fear is being alone “It’s me, Tyrone, up here all alone.” My favorite poem is “Inside” By Janelle Battle because in her poem she will talk about her self as a coconut and, connect how she is like one. one way she says she is a coconut is “Your loss is someone elses gain for I am coconut, and the heart of me is sweeter than you know.”

  118. Elizabeth F. says:

    In my eglish class we are readig your book called “Bronx Masquerade”. i agree with you on the whole race thing. I beleve that people souldnt be acist against characters. My favort character is Tyrone. I like him because he speeks whats on his mind. My favort thing that he says that i like is “shool ain’t nothin’but a joke. And another oe i like is “my moms dont want to hear that, but it werent for wesly and my other homeys i wouldt eve be here aiight?” I loe how he is honest about his education. My favort poem is “Bruised love” by Chankara Troupe. the eason i like this is is because i love how she decribes her face as raw as red brow meat. It tells us that her face is real bad..

  119. Kathleen S says:

    Nobody should be judged by their race. We’re all the same anyway. Were just different skin color. Why does it even matter? In English Class we are reading “Bronx Masquerade” and i like it so far. My favorite character in this book is Gloria. Gloria wants her life back to normal without having to take care of a kid. Gloria says “once you have a kid, everything changes. If i could go back, do things over… but i can’t. No sense dreaming about it.” This means she would rather go back in her time and never had Angel. Angel ruined her life. She has no freedom at all to do anything with her friends. My favorite poem is “Bruised Love” by Chankara Troupf. I like this poem becuase she says “I causght a quick glance in the chilly glow of the refridgerator before she had a chance to hide the latest souvenir her boyfriend gave her.” A bruise.

  120. Will Bowers says:

    I to believe that the color of your skin should not matter to anyone or anything. We are reading “Bronx Masquerade” in my english class and my favorite character is Tyrone. I like Tyrone because he understands his class mates and agrees with them. He also supports them. He always has a positive attitude towards his classmates work. My favorite poem is “attendance”. I like this poem because he states his fear clearly using his classmates and Mr.Ward.

  121. Skyler F. Miller says:

    I am an eighth grade student and in English we are reading Bronx Mascaraed. You have an outstanding point that people should not be judged on their race or skin color. Like the people in your book that read poems our class has started doing the same. i read a poem on the first Friday so far being the only boy to do so. i did a poem on people not judging me on what I do and what I like to wear. My favorite character is Devon Hopes. i like how he likes to read but dislike that he hides it.(just as I used to hid my liking for things people made fun of me for). After he was caught liking to read by Janelle he started to think he should not hide his liking for reading. Just because he is a jock and reading was a thing that no jock does in Devon’s school. Like him I decided to stop hiding the true me and do and wear what I want. My favorite poem is by Janelle Battle. She explains on how that she was picked on her for being a bit chubby. But she says that “I am a coconut and the heart of me is sweeter.” in my point of view she is saying how “it’s what’s on the inside that counts” or that “you never judge a book by its cover.” Thank you and I can’t wait to read the rest of the book!!!

  122. Noah wallis says:

    I have recently posted a paragraph and titled the name as itchy bob and my real nme is noah wallis so mrs. meloling give me full credit please.

  123. trevor g says:

    i agree with what you are saying i dont think the color of you skin should matter about what your writing about, i really like your book bronx masqureade. my favorite charactor is devon hope because i think its weird that he hides from who he really is. being smart isnt anywhere near bad it is a good thing. it is also a good thing to be athletic. i really like jannelles poem i like the description she uses to herself.i like how she says she might not be pretty on the outside but is amazing on the inside.

  124. Jared M says:

    I agree with your thoughts, race should not affect the way people think of each other. Everyone should be treated equally. I enjoyed your book so far, I can really relate to Devon. I like him because he is smart and has talent in sports. My favorite poem in the book has been “Attendance” it’s more of a rap and that why I like it. I can’t wait to read the upcoming poems in your book!

  125. Michael S says:

    After all that I have read I couldn’t agree with you more. I wish that we didn’t have to point out the obvious in other people because they know and you make it worse by telling them in a way they don’t want to accept it. My favorite character is Jump Shot, Devon Hope. He’s my favorite because even though he will get made fun of for reading in the library he still does it and being a basketball it will be bad if he gets caught. “I tell them I’m heading for the gym to meet coach and work on my layup. Then once they’re out the door, I cut upstairs to the library sneak a read.” he has to use a disguise. My favorite poem in the whole book would be the one that Raul did. The way his format was it made him get his point across that he like to paint. “I lunge on a cue, save the damsel in distress.”

  126. K. Smith says:

    I agree with you that people should not be judged by their race ever. In my english class, we are currently reading “Bronx Masquerade” and I think that it is a very inspiring book. My favorite character is Chankara because, her sister was abused in past realtionships that she was in, and Chankara does not want to turn out like her sister did. My favorite poem in the book is Mirror, Mirror by Janelle becasue she tells how she feels on the inside.

  127. ToXix says:

    To Nikki, I find the problem you have very annoying as well, I find it unnecessary for the reviewers to mention your characters as African-American. Like the other commenters above I am reading your book Bronx Masquerade as well. My favorite character so far is Tyrone. I like him the most because he not only comments and reviews on others poems but he also tells about life and the problems we face today as well, such as when he reads his poem Attendance and says “Terrorism is here lurking at the bus stop” and when he talks about past problems when he says “Can’t hop on the subway without thinkin’ of Tokyo- we all know poison gas does not discriminate” On the same topic my favorite poem in your book is probably Bronx Masquerade. I like this one the most because it talks about problems me and several of my friends face today (being in jr. high) like when Devon says “I woke up this morning exhausted from hiding the me of me” I love this quote the most because I can relate to it. Thank you for reading my comment I hope you enjoyed it.

  128. cory b says:

    I agree picken o people for there race. o boady cares about ay boady else besides ther selves. my favorite charecter is tyroe because he tells whats on his mind and he is laid back. and he is hoest.his fear is of being alone and, on Open Mike Fridays he will read out his feeling,and problems through his poem.All his poems are about his fears about dieing.
    people shouldnt get picked on because of there race. or discriminated. it hurts people when people picke on them

  129. Dillon H. says:

    I completly agree on the situation. It is not fair that you have to state that your characters are colored. But on another note, I think Tyrone is my favorite character in “Bronx Masquerade” I have a good vibe about him. Attendance is my fav poem,I like how he see’s him as a leader but understands the dangers in being one. “We are all here”. He knows the real world, he knows what is out there. That is why i like him.

  130. lisa_swatkowski says:

    In my English class we are reading a book called “Bronx Masquerade” and I totally agree with you Nikki because when you say it not about the race. My favorite character in this book is Tyrone, and Tyrone is dying and of getting beat my his dad if/when his father couches him and his mother.my favorite poem is Tyrone’s poem. Tyrone’s poem is about what he feels and if you really get I to the boo then it shows that its very inspiring:)

  131. Carissa says:

    My english class is reading the book “Bronx Masquerade” and I feel this artical has much to do with the placing of this book. I Agreee with you completely Nikki, The race of a real or fictional person should not decide if people will look into there life, or read the book. In The book “Bronx Masquerade” My favorite character is, Tanisha Scott. I Like her because I know what it’s like for people to want something of your’s real bad and it can get annoying. I also understand her about the being proud about a race that was ruined a long time ago. Unlike my favorite character my favorite pome is Janelle’s poem “Mirror, Mirror” I like this poem because, I understand what it’s like to want to be someone else than what you see in the mirror.

  132. Kevin Jones says:

    My english is reading “Bronx Masquerade” and i feel that race shouldn’t have anything to do with who reads a certain book or not. My favorite character is Tyrone because he isn’t afraid to speak the truth or what’s on his mind. He is a very open character(in my opinion). My favorite poem is “attendance”. This is my favorite because he talks about his fear using his Mr. Ward and his classmates.

  133. Ray-Ray says:

    This post was inspirational and something to live by and taken seriosly. Your book “Bronx Masquerade” is very good, well done. my favorite character is Tyrone because there is not much to read about him and hes a fun character and I llike the poem “Black Box” by Devon Hope

  134. Emily M says:

    In english we are reading the book called “Bronx Masquerade”.I like how in the book it changes from charactor to charactor.. i agree with nikki, its not fair that you have to state that your charactors are colored. My favorite charactor in the book is devon because its weird that he hides who he really is, and i like that he has another side to him than just sports..

  135. Mateo says:

    in my english class we are reading “bronx masqurade” and my favorite charactor is tyrone becausen he thinks he can rap. the message that this book sends is about being your self. if other people dont like you for who you are then they can deal with it. the race dosent really matter to the reader as long as the message gets though.

  136. Shannon Z. says:

    In my English class we are reading your book, Bronx Masquerade I am really enjoying the book so far. My favorite character is Gloria Martinez. Even though she had a baby at a young age, she still came back to finish school. That takes a lot of nerve. She isn’t a party girl anymore now that she had the baby but she could be. She could be some irresponsible parent who leaves her kid every night to go to clubs. But, she stays at home. My favorite poem is Bruised Love by Chankara Troupe. Her poem has so much truth to it. Her sister gets beat u on all the time but Chankara won’t have it She will not let anyone do that to her. Chankara uses detailed describing words like “…is one of the lies she sprinkles like sugar.” That is a great simile. Also, another simile is “…her cheek raw as red-brow meat” meaning her sister had been beaten. I think that is my favorite poem because she shows a lot of heart in it. That’s what got to me. All of the heart.

  137. David H says:

    I totally agree with everything you’ve said. I don’t think race should be a factor when finding a book. An author should be well known for their books, not their race. In my English class we are reading your book, “Bronx Masquerade”. I have to say that this is probably one of my favorite books. My favorite character is Sterling. As a pastor’s son, I understand what Sterling goes through when everyone expects him to be perfect. I also really admire how he sticks to his faith, especially when being bullied by the other kids. My favorite poem in the book so far would have to be “Bronx Masquerade” by Devon Hope. Although not many people deal with having to hide their love for poetry instead of basketball, I feel that most teens do wear a ‘mask’. I think this poem is relevant to many teen lives.

  138. zach p says:

    In my 8th grade English class we are reading you book Bronx masquerade so far it is an amazing book. It is one of my all-time favorites. My favorite character is Devon because of everything he is hiding. I loved his poem the black box it shows us all the cliques we form are just imaginary barriers that we make to keep others out.

  139. Ethan W says:

    You make a great point Nikki. I have never understood why people would treat someone differently because of their skin color, or anything else. I have been reading your book “Bronx Masquerade” in my english class. I’ll admit that at first I didn’t really want to read a book with so much poetry, but now I find myself having trouble putting it down. My favorite character in the book is Tyrone. He’s never afraid to say what he thinks. My favorite poem is “Zorro” by Raul Ramirez. The last few sentences explain that we can all help each other. When I get done with this book, I want to read some of your other books.(:

  140. Chris says:

    I agree with everything you mentioned about race and the book, it is a very good point. My favorite character in the book is Tyrone. This is because he started off with that “I don’t care” attitude and thought everything was a joke. I can relate to some of the things he says as such. My favorite peom in the book is “Bronx Masquerade” by Devon Hope.I like this poem because it is about someone who is practically hiding behind a mask because of what he wants people to think of him when really he is something else. I know people who are just like that and this poem I feel could help them out.

  141. Justin Gilbert says:

    Right now in my english class we are reading “Bronx Masquerade” which is a good book, my favorite character is tyrone, because he thinks he can rap when he really cant.My Favoroite poem in this book is ‘open mike brown hands. You, macho soledad the secret i whisper in the night you fill your eyes with me, like a mirror i see myself in. our twin hearts beat like congas the rythm churning our blood to salsa. our brown hands entwine beneath moonshine clasping all the lovewe’ll ever need” and it doesnt matter if your black white orange purple or yellow your still the same to everyone else just as long as the messege gets through to the readers.
    And you should make another book with the character tryone in it!:)

  142. Trent B says:

    I am currently reading your book “Bronx Masquerade” in my english class. And yes, why does it matter? I hate it when people discriminate others if they are a different race or have a different religion. That’s just the way they are, and they’re still people. My favorite character is Devon since I play basketball also and I love to read. My favorite poem is “Zorro” by Raul Ramirez because it talks about helping out others.

  143. danny says:

    we are reading bronx masquerade in are english class i think the book good so far . i dont care about what peoplse color is were all the same species human i have many different colored freinds i like them all . my favorite chareter in the book is tyron becouse hes cool my favorite poem is tyrons

  144. Taylor Z. says:

    I completely understand how your feeling as if people “Label” Books!Just because someone who is a different color or their from somewhere else other than where we’re from shouldn’t matter.Pick up the book , sit down , get comfortable and give the book a try! I am reading the Book “Bronx Masquerade” and it completely connects to what your saying. In this book my favorite character is Tanisha. She keeps her head held high and faces her problems. She gets picked on and sometimes guys and girls like/ are jealous of her. She has green eyes and light skin. She has perfect hair and once she was thinking about putting in brown contact lenses to get a little ” Uglier”. My favorite poem by her is ..,, ” It’s the blood that tells :slaves black as Mississppi mud ring the trunk of my family tree. They speak through me black as they want to be. The slaver’s white drop couldn’t stop the spread of African cells. They’re bred in the bone, past the slick hair , the too -fair skin. So don’t tell me I can’t fit in. My heart beats like a talking drum , my mom hums to Bessie just like yours , the brothers in my dreams. ” The poem is called ” For The Record” I like this because shes talking about how she is like everyone else and she should be treated the same.

  145. Brendan L says:

    My english class is reading “Bronx Masquerade” it is a very good book so far.My favorite is Devon Hope and my favorite poem is bronx masquerae.

  146. Nathen S. says:

    I think you are right on the parts that i understood , by that i mean i enjoyed reading what your opinion was but it was so long ,i could not understand evry thing you said . But what i did understand ,i agree completly.I believe that the most interesting charactor in your book,( Bronx Masquerade) is Tyrone Bittings for hisattitude towards peoples poems like when he said “Raul is on the money, you gotta make your own rules, jack” on line 23. just the same that I like tyrone, i Also like the personal feelings that are shown in each persons poems. My favorite poem is most likely ( bronx masquerade) by Devon Hope because it reminds me so much ofwhat me and my friends are like here at school. For example, Devon “said I stand here confiding theres more to Devon thanjump shots and rim” I liked this because most of the people on the court are not just players all of them try very hard at education as well.

  147. justin says:

    My english class is reading your book bronx masquerade my favirote poem is black box because you shouldnt judge a book by its cover

  148. Caleb L says:

    In my English class we are reading your book named “Bronx Masquerade” so far it is a really good book i think. I like how every chapter is from a different point of view. And at the end each chapter there is a poem that the high school students do. My favorite character is tyron because he has a unike persenality and he wants to have a future.I like him because he thinks he all bad but and thinks he can control everyone in the story!! my favorite poem in the book is fromdevon hope on pg.32 because its a poem about hiding ur true self and waking up every morning exhausted from hidding the you in you.

  149. Marshall C. says:

    Nikki you make a good point. Just because someone has a different skin color then you, doesn’t mean they are any less equal to you. My 8th grade english class is reading your book “Bronx Masquerade” and so far I like it a lot. My favorite character from your book is Devon Hope. Devon loves reading but everyone knows him for being good at basketball. He hides that he loves reading from everyone. He sneaks into the library when no one is around. In his poem “Bronx Masquerade” he says he is tired of hiding his true self, who he really is. His poem is my favorite so far, he explains how everyone is hiding their true selves from everyone else. No one wants to be who they reall are. They just want to be what everyone thinks is cool, or what they are known for.

  150. Phil S says:

    BEFRORE ANYONE READS THIS I APOLOGIZE FOR ANY SPELLIG MISTAKES LIKE THESSE ONESI’d like to say that I agee with your statemants and that they have valid reason. I belive that the race of the author affects, the race of the characters in the book. Also that an author of a certain race may seem to appear to write books specifically focusing on the race of that author so you could say that that book is indeed “limited” (alhough it shouldn’t be) to that race.

    Now in my 8th grade english class we be reading your book “The Bronx Masqurade” and I find its structure different from any other book I’ve read. Each character has his/her own say for each “chapter” uhm I’d like to say that my favorite character is Tyrone, Because he seems like hes a real rapper, and he is thinking about life in long term. My favorite poem however is “Bronx Masquerade” it seems like the real basis of what the book is based on.

  151. Alexis S. says:

    Nikki you are right. I don’t understand the whole point in the race discrimination that goes around. I don’t think that there’s any point in it. It shouldn’t matter what race you are we all live on the same planet so deal with it. Anyways my English class is reading one of your books “Bronx Masquerade” and it’s very inspirational to me. My favorite character would have to be Devon Hope because I can relate to him the most. I am scared to show who I really am just like he is. I’m just terrified that many will judge me for the real me so I hide in a disguise. But my favorite poem would have to be Devon Hope’s “Bronx Masquerade”. Your story is so inspirational.

  152. Syd T. says:

    Well said Nikki. In life there is always going to be people who judge you based on your looks. In my english class we are reading your book “Bronx Maquerade”, it is a really good book. I love how all the characters tell everyone what they want in life and what problems they are facing. It`s hard to tell people things like that sometimes. My favorite character in your book is Chankara because in her life she has seen her sister get beaten by her boyfreind. Chankara has decided she does not want to live her life like that and she is going to try and give her self the best. My favorite poem in your book is ‘bruised love’ my Chankara because it tells about the situation she is in while watching her sister get beaten. Chankara said she has known the truth since ten, when her sister lies to her Chankara and her both know it was her sisters boyfriend. After my class is done reading this book I want to read another one of your books!

  153. Kenny D says:

    Nikki I agree 100% people should’nt prejudge a book depending on the skin color. A book is a book no matter the authors skin color. In my 8th grade class we are reading the “Bronx Masquerade” and I’m enjoying I very much. My favorite character is Devon because he kind of what the book is about,people hiding from their true selfs. My favorite peom is “Bronx Masquerade” by Devon because he comes out with his true feeling and tell people who he really is and don’t forget it.

  154. Taylor W. says:

    You’re right race shouldn’t matter,the color of your skin shouldn’t determine anything about you or what you do. In English we are reading “Bronx Masquerade” and it is pretty good. My favorite character it Tyrone but, my favorite poem so far is Devon’s poem “Bronx Masquerade”.

  155. Alysa Rosenbarker says:

    Dear Nikki,
    I think your book is great. it is not fair that people are judged because of their skin color. As some people might say never judge a book by its cover. Nobody should be judge at all by their skin.I think you are so right. in my english class we are reading “Bronx Masqueade”. I never liked poetry, but I think it is cool how you have made poems that represent the character. My favorite character is Janelle.I like how she is realizing about how when people are reading their own poems, they are talking about their own personal problems. My favorite poem is Brusied Love by Chankara Troupe. Her poem is my favorite because it just represents her so much. I was so suprised that she was so brave to share it on open mike Fridays. thanks for righting such a good book.

  156. Joey B. says:

    I strongly agree on everything that you said because im in 8th grade english class right now and were reading a book that you wrote called “bronx mascerade”. It is a great book so far. my favorite character is devon hope because he is hiding something from everyone because he doesnt want them to that he loves reading, so he hides his fear from people by sneaking into the libray when he can to sneak in a read. that is just one character in the book that I like. I love his poem “black box” because it shows us that all the problems we form are just inaginary barriers that we make to keep others out. I will always agree on what you say.

  157. Marcus S says:

    I agree with you that race should not affect what you read or write. I am reading “Bronx masquerade” in my English class and my favorite character is Tyrone. I like his comments after every poem.

  158. Ary. B. says:

    Reading through this blog, it was with great interest. Usually, students are forced to read these things, and then told to do the work, but for this, I didn’t quite mind. I think no matter how hard we try, there will always be people we think of African American’s as “not equal” but that never means they are right. I stick my nose in your book, “Bronx Masquerade” and have a hard time taking my nose out of it. I never did though start reading this book and first think you were an African American author, and now that I know, I don’t think of you as an author, or as a person every different. You were a natural writer. I can put myself in your characters shoes’ and pretend to be them, even though I am white. I think African American authors should actually be recognized more, because it’s nice to think that instead of assuming everyone is white, which white people tend to think, we are looking at the world in a whole new perspective. I would never think that you should stop writing. I’m glad you love who you are, everyone should be! Devon Hope is my favorite character in your book, “Bronx Masquerade.” Devon is a very athletic kid, an absolute basketball star, and that’s all he wants people to see him as. He is afraid to admit he loves to read. But as I continue to read, Devon doesn’t just want to be “Jumpshot”, he is full of suprises. He is beginning to accept himself, a reader, and letting people know about it too. I can relate to Devon, in someways similar, but not equal. I’m not the geek everyone really thinks I am, or the star. I actually like to chill once in a while, and sometimes I do forget to do my homework. And that’s okay. I’m okay with that. Just 100% me. Devon Hope’s poem, “Bronx Masquerade” has been my favorite poem so far. It is just the typical life of a teenager I believe. Everyone hides behind a mask at some point, but when you take it off, and show your true colors, that’s when you are you.”I woke up this morning, exhausted from hiding.” This is one of my favorite lines of the poem. “…discover the poet in tough-guy disguise.” I love this too. Poetry is a easy way to express yourself. It’s almost a conversation, but with so much more emotion. I give props to you Devon, for starting to take off your mask, and to you Ms. Nikki Grimes, please keep writing girl!

  159. Nick W says:

    In my English class our class has been reading the “Bronx Masquerade” I believe your characters should not be discriminated on their race. The characters go through issues that people can relate to in real life and many people relate. They write poems that are very inspiring. My favorite character is Devon because he is not afraid to express himself. My favorite poem is “Bronx Masquerade” by Devon because it explains how he is exhausted from hiding who he is and under that tough guy disguise there is a poet.

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