#ShoutoutSaturday: Elreta Dodds
We're very glad to have Elreta Dodds with us today! We hope that her insight will be helpful!
Tell us about yourself!
I was born in Greensboro North Carolina in June of 1957. I am 58 years old. I have been writing books since 1992 and publishing since 1997 (doing business as Press Toward The Mark Publications). I am an ordained minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and an assistant minister and counseling director at Lifechurch Southfield (Southfield Michigan) where Alan Tumpkin serves as Pastor. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor, Board certified by the American Psychotherapy Association. I am also a licensed Masters Social Worker (with specialties in clinical and macro practices). I have a MA in Guidance and Counseling and a BA in Psychology, both of which were obtained from Wayne State University (Detroit, MI) where I graduated with Honors. I teach courses in Community Services as an Adjunct Instructor at Siena Heights University (Southfield Michigan).
What is the title of your most recent book?
“Racism, The Bible, and The American Dream.” The subtitle of the book is “From Slavery to Obama: A Frank Discussion from a Christian Perspective, on Racial Discrimination in America, and its effect on Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” It is available wherever books are sold (meaning that you can order it at any bookstore or online).
What is it about in a paragraph?
“Racism, The Bible, and The American Dream” refutes the popular notion that the Bible condones racism and attempts to redirect, as many as possible, those who erroneously use the Bible as a weapon to justify racial hatred. It challenges the concept of race by presenting strong argument, biblically and scientifically, that we, as human beings, are not significantly physiologically different from one another and points out the biblical passages that teach that God is not a respecter of persons and that he does not play favorites. Consequently, the uniqueness of “Racism, The Bible, and The American Dream” centers around the declaration that racism is not just a social issue, but it is a moral issue as well. The book also provides an extensive history of the practice of discrimination/racism in America, beginning with the attempted ethnic cleansing of Native Americans by European occupiers in the 1400s, through to the onset of the enslavement of Africans, the development of the Unites States Constitution, the practice of Jim Crow, the Civil Rights Movement, and on up to the election of President Barack Obama in conjunction with the types of backlash he has received that many believe much of which stems from racist sentiments. There is also a secondary aim of this book and that is to expose and emphasize the seriousness of institutional racism that exists in America today.
Why did you write your book?
I began writing books because I felt led of God to defend the Christian faith when it comes to certain sensitive topics, one of which is racism. Unfortunately, there are many black people in America and abroad who believe that the Bible is “the white man’s religion” and that it promotes the system of slavery that was imposed upon Africans and blacks during the American antebellum era. Many blacks (as well as many whites and people of other ethnicities) also believe that the Bible teaches that blacks are cursed to be slaves. I wrote this book to debunk these untruths with the ultimate aim of planting a spiritual seed of salvation (Romans 10:9-10) to bring those who have rejected Christianity (because of these misgivings) into a better knowledge of biblical teachings and the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
What specific challenges did you face when writing and publishing your book?
I felt that I couldn’t really talk about what the Bible says about race, racism, discrimination, and how these things affect the “American Dream” without first providing a detailed history of racial discrimination in America. This took quite a bit of research and therefore it took me roughly ten years to complete the book. I was also working a “nine-to-five” during those years which made it even more difficult. But the research was well worth the effort. As it pertains to publishing, the main challenges were getting permissions for my quotes and finding a national distributor that is a subsidiary of Ingram and Baker and Taylor (primary industry book wholesalers). Without a channel to Ingram and Baker and Taylor, I would not have been able to get my book into any of the major brick and mortar bookseller stores (e.g. Barnes and Noble). I found a distributor, but unless an author is selling hundreds of copies he/she will see little or no monetary profit from distribution. The distributors eat up the profit with storage fees and the like. However, my aim in writing the book has to do with the ministry of the gospel and not necessarily with making money so I keep my books under distribution as long as I have enough inventory.
What has been the most rewarding part of publishing and writing your book?
Getting two industry-recognized book awards. “Racism, The Bible, and The American Dream” is winner of the 2011 National Indie Excellence Book Award in Social Change and winner of the 2012 International Book Award in African American Studies.
What tip or piece of advice would you give to unpublished writers?
Do as much research as you can about the publishing industry.