Welcome to Trope Tuesdays, a meme/series created by yours truly. Every Tuesday, the goal is to discuss, define, and explain one trope that you feel any range of emotion for, and then give your verdict on the trope. The trope can be one you dislike, love, feel indifference or annoyance towards, ones you think are problematic, or those tropes that just make you want to throw them out the moon door à la Petyr Baelish. You can learn more about Trope Tuesday here.
While I love Romance, there are some terrible tropes that still float around the genre even today. But Not Too Foreign is one of them.
But Not Too Foreign relies on heavily racism and manifests itself in many different ways. Often in But Not Too Foreign books, there will be a majority white cast and then one biracial character. Or in the case of Cassandra Clare novels lots of white main characters but some leading biracial characters who always have at least one white parent. A lot of time in Historical Romances that take place in England, there will be that one biracial character and it will be a big deal because ‘wow they included one character of color when people of color did actually exist in regency era England’. And 9/10 times they’ll be exoticized.
Two of the worst instances of But Not Too Foreign can be found in the Night Prince series by Jeaniene Frost and the infamous, extremely racist book that started the sheik obsession, The Sheik by Edith Maude Hull (it also promotes “forced seductions” aka rape).
The Night Huntress Universe, a long running paranormal romance series, as a whole has had a history of poor POC rep. But Night Prince takes the cake. In the fourth and final installation of the series, we learn that Leila is Native American on her mom’s side and it only seemed to be mentioned so Frost could bring a magic plot line into the story (because Leila has magical powers because of her Native American heritage) to bridge it with the upcoming series about Ian called Night Rebel. Using a character’s heritage as a plot twist AND waiting until the last book in the series to mention her heritage when it hadn’t been apart of the plot before, is a really bad move.
And then there’s the Sheik….. I don’t even know where to start with this book. There is so much racism in it.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the story, The Sheik is about a young, wealthy english woman who is bored with her life of aristocracy and parties so she begs her brother to let her go travel in the Algerian desert. Her brother eventually lets her, but of course things go to shit and she’s kidnapped by Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan. He’s half English on his mother’s side and he inherited his position from his father. A lot of the language used to describe him is on extremely racist and relies on the racist trope that paints POC as barbarians.
Later on in the story, she gets kidnapped by rival chieftains with dark skin. Then, we learn that Ben’s father wasn’t actual his father. He was adopted by the Sheik because the Sheik was in love with his mother who was already pregnant with him by the time she left England. And there in lies the huge problem (if the previously painted tropes weren’t bad enough), we now know the hero is white and the new villains in the story are described as having extremely dark skin. And there’s a ton of racist language used to describe them. Yeah… it’s bad.
My Verdict: I will not miss you racist trope…