Judging A Book By Its Cover Gives Birth To Racism
July 30, 2012 in Eden's Posts
Judging A Book By Its Cover Gives Birth To Racism
By Victoria Foyt
I would like to address the recent accusations of racism that have been aimed at my young adult novel, Revealing Eden, Save The Pearls Part One.
Some have taken offense at the cover photo on the dust jacket of a blond, blue-eyed girl with her white face half covered in dark. Without reading the novel or understanding the premise, some believe that the photo shows the girl in “blackface.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
First, consider that the basis of all prejudice is judging a book by its cover. To condemn any book on the basis of its cover is hardly different than condemning a total stranger because of the color of his/her skin. How can you critique or damn a book if you haven’t read it? This kind of blind attack is exactly what creates racism or condemned many progressives as communists in the Fifties.
Revealing Eden is a sci-fi fantasy adventure romance. And while it is a work of fiction, the premise is all too believable in the face of extreme global warming. So yes, this book is meant to provoke the white community that has never experienced racism or been oppressed because they have been in the majority in this country.
If global warming results in a meltdown of the ozone layer many things would change, including the inability of those with little melanin in their skin to survive the blistering effects of increased deadly solar radiation. In humans, melanin is the primary determinant of skin color. People with dark skin have more melanin and, although they also get skin cancer, they do not contract it at the high rates of those with fair skin.
In Revealing Eden, “The Heat” (basically, skin cancer) wipes out the majority of people with light skin. Then people with dark skin are in the majority. In this future world, because those with fairer skin suffer a debilitating, perhaps fatal condition, they are considered second-rate.
The titular character, Eden Newman, loathes her white skin because of this, and accepts the oppressive opinion that she is ugly, even worthless. Because her chances of survival are so low, she has little chance of finding a mate (her mate-rate is an embarrassing 15%). And if she doesn’t find a mate by the time she is 18, she will be killed.
She colors her skin with a special dark coating in order to protect it from “The Heat,” and because she is desperate to appear darker in order to be desirable. With the clock ticking, she will do anything to attract a mate.
The use of blackface presents a mockery or travesty of African Americans’ lives. Eden Newman wishes to “Great Earth” that she had dark skin, not because she wants to make fun of people with dark skin, but because she admires their status and is jealous of the genetic advantage they offer against “The Heat.”
Why are whites called Pearls, while blacks are called Coals? Imagine a gritty, post-apocalyptic world where all that matters is survival. What good will a pearl do you when luxury items have no use? Coal has energy, fire, and real value. It is durable and strong, not easily crushed like a pearl. Pearl is a pejorative term here. Coals are admired. Coals oppress Pearls because they fear that those with light skin will add to a population unable to survive “The Heat,” and drain meager resources.
Eden Newman evolves from a girl who loathes her white skin to someone who understands that real beauty comes from within. Finally she begins to shed her skin covering, and learns to accept herself—a journey we all must take, regardless of race. She begins to realize that she has misjudged her Coal boss, Ronson Bramford, and they fall in love.
In this future world, Eden Newman’s father works at Bramford’s laboratory where he creates the evolutionary technology that will enable mankind to survive “The Heat.” The experiment involves the creation of a hybrid human with the combined traits of great predators that are able to survive in extreme environments.
Bramford is a hero for funding this technology, and for risking his life to adapt. He becomes the first hybrid man-beast, and in doing so, begins the process of mankind going back to nature, reclaiming the land, saving Earth.
In the second book, Adapting Eden, Save The Pearls Part Two, Eden only wants to adapt into a hybrid human like Bramford so they can be two of a kind and, like Adam and Eve, restart the human race.
Artists provoke to get their point across. I abhor racism. In Revealing Eden, I aimed to turn racism on its head in order to portray its horrors and its inevitable road to violence. I believe that anyone who reads the novel will understand its strong stance against racism.
And there is reason to support my belief when you consider that the novel has won five literary awards, including the Eric Hoffer Best Young Adult Novel 2012 (Eric Hoffer was a great humanitarian), or that Marianne Williamson called it on her Facebook page, “A fascinating story…for lovers of all ages!” or that dozens of reviewers from the San Francisco Book Review to Fresh Fiction to many book bloggers have embraced it with glowing reviews.
And if you ask if all these reviewers are white then consider that you have a racist point of view.
I sincerely hope that you will read Revealing Eden and grasp its message of love and hope for the planet and for all mankind. Perhaps it can lead to more discussion about the harm we are causing to our environment and to each other.
Throughout the novel, I quote Emily Dickinson, Eden’s “adopted aunt.” These lines of poetry most represents Eden’s journey from a frightened, self-loathing girl to someone who opens her heart: That love is all there is / Is all we know of love.