victoria-foyt

A List of Practical Ways to Protest "Save the Pearls"

Today, tumblr has exploded in opposition to Victoria Foyt’s novel “Revealing Eden,” the first book in her Save the Pearls series. This outpouring of intellectual criticism is great! Follow the “Save the Pearls” tag and you’ll found a huge collection of people who have written up poignant and articulate reasons why this book is a very, very bad thing. But what if you want to do more than post about it on tumblr?

  1. Rate the book 1 star on the websites for Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, LibraryThing, and other popular book review sites. Even if you do not feel comfortable writing out a reason for your low rating, enough 1 stars will influence the book’s overall rating and discourage potential readers.
  2. Comment on the Save the Pearls Facebook page. It is actively maintained, so your comments will be read by some aspect of the publishing house.
  3. Reference Save the Pearls and Victoria Foyt on twitter. This is quick and fairly easy.
  4. The Save the Pearls website allows you to comment on the book’s video trailers and Eden’s blog. You may even submit your own videos there. Just be warned that the site has been “moderating” comments, so negative remarks may never actually be posted.

I will personally ask that all users who make direct comments towards the book and author refrain from using profanity, violence or threats, yet I accept that I cannot control or expect to control your actions. Use your best judgement.

Do you want to move beyond the Internet?

  1. Visit your local library to inquire whether or not they stock “Revealing Eden.” If yes, speak with the head librarian about the many options available for the library. You may start a petition to: a. remove and throw out any copies, b. personally buy the library’s copies from them, so that the establishment is reimbursed for the money they spent, or c. restrict access to the book for any reader under 18, requiring them to have a guardian’s permission in order to check out the book. Just keep in mind the library’s funding (or lack thereof) and how they typically acquire books. Some may find it painful and harmful to actually throw novels out, so offering donations or compromises will always be helpful.
  2. Create your own collection of alternatives that you can suggest/lend to potential readers. The genre of race-related dystopian fiction exists and there are high quality others out there. “Noughts & Crosses” by  Malorie Blackman is a good place to start.
  3. Do not buy the book! If you are interested in reading it but do not support the author, then look into (legal) ways in which you can get a copy without giving money to the publishing house. Having one copy that you may lend throughout your circle of friends is a good idea, as is exchanging and borrowing digital copies through online libraries. 

I do not recommend or advocate stealing copies of this book, destroying someone else’s property, or impeding upon an adult’s right to spend their money/read however they choose. If you want to have a bonfire, as I joked before, go for it. Just make sure that all copies are willingly and legally burned.

And as always, educate yourself on the matter at hand before taking action or criticizing those who take action. Tumblr is filled with wonderful commentary on what is wrong with this book series, so in addition to the Save the Pearls tag, here are a few of my favorites: X x X x X x 

Once upon a time, when Victoria Foyt was a young girl, she was called the n-word by a group of boys. Little Victoria was confused. “I’m not a (n-word)”, she thought. The boys continued to jeer at her.
“I completely understand racism now.” thought little Veronica. “I know what it means to be a (n-word). When I am grown, I will write a book so all white people know what it feels like to be a (n-word).”
She then smiled to herself and whispered “I am Africa.”

Victoria Foyt has commented that there has been a “ lack of racial commentary" for her book "Save the Pearls”. I am taking it to mean that no one has inspected the book from a racial/racism perspective. Someone forward her this post by Dion Beary, ‘Save the Pearls", which is quiet excellent. Maybe this way she would learn something. Here are is a little excerpt: 

To put it lightly, this book is problematic, but to put it more accurately, this book is catastrophically misguided. It doesn’t take much effort to unpack the racial implications of this one. You don’t need to look any further than Foyt’s own summary of the novel. The protagonist, Eden Newman (the name Eden here obviously is meant to signify purity), lives in a world where dark-skinned people are the dominate members of society. They’re known as Coals. I can’t imagine why the ruling class of the world would choose to name themselves after something so dirty. Oh wait. It’s probably because Victoria Foyt is a racist. Eden

Newman has the unfortunate luck to have been born blonde-haired and blue-eyed. These people are known as Pearls. Again, the ruling class of society inexplicably gives a better name to the supposed underclass. Wow, it’s almost as if white people are still the dominate class, even in a fantasy novel based on the premise that they’re oppressed. In this post-apocalyptic world, those with darker-skin are more valued because they’re better equipped to handle the intense heat of the planet. Therefore, Pearls are considered weak, ugly, and have the lowest chance to find a good mate. However, choosing to defy the logic of her own novel, Foyt writes that mixed-race children, even though they can survive the heat better, are still ridiculed in a similar fashion to the Pearls. Why? Who the fuck knows?

My favorite part is how the Uni-Gov, the Big Black Brother of Foyt’s novel, has a law that says the Pearls are only allowed to go outside at night, and only if they’re wearing heavy layers of makeup to darken their skin. That’s right: black face features prominently in this totally not racist novel. Foyt writes that even if Pearls follow all the oppressive rules created for them, they’re still considered lucky to survive to their 40′s. You know, kind of like black men such as Troy Davis and Trayvon Martin.

Edit: An amazing black person wrote her a letter, too. It’s an excellent piece.

so global warming makes everyone live indoors so the more melanin you have the better and black people are evil and greedy and powerful while people of hitler’s chosen race get thrown outside to get a super fantastic tan and sunburn to death

and you say this is “all too easy to imagine.”

got it

So this whole “Save the Pearls” thing is already really fucking ridiculous, but I think it takes on a whole new layer when you realize the author wrote the book because she was so traumatized at being mistaken for a black girl and called ugly for it.

No, seriously.

Imagine this: a fourth grade girl with wild curly hair, huge green eyes and large bee-stung lips, her skin perpetually tanned from the Florida sun, stands alone waiting for her mother to pick her up after school. A large yellow school bus begins to pull away when a young boy sticks his head out of the window and hurls a racial slur at the girl.

Her first reaction is shame. He has slandered her with an ugly epithet – a disgusting remark about her lips. Later, she wonders how he could possibly have mistaken her race. She is white, the remark usually targeted at blacks. (The term “African American” did not exist in that day.)

Confused and hurt, she wonders why her appearance should elicit such hatred. She hides this incident in the back of her mind and never repeats it to anyone until many years later when she writes a book in which she turns racial stereotypes upside down.

Only when I began to answer interview question and answers, did I recall the incident, and wonder how it had informed the story. Writers pluck bits and pieces from their lives and weave them, often unconsciously, only hoping the seams between reality and fiction do not show.

(Source)

So I finished Revealing Eden & it is actually worse than I expected. Her racism shines through on every page, but that’s about all that’s clear. Otherwise the plot is a mess, she peppers the book with scientific terms, but clearly doesn’t know basic biology, much less anything about DNA or genetic therapies. Add in the one dimensional characters rooted in stereotypes, the plot twist straight out of a soap opera, & the complete failure to build a believable mythos for her world & you can tell that any awards listed for this claptrap are purchased or simply made up. The offensive plot devices are all that make this train wreck remotely interesting & they’re not deployed with any skill. It’s poorly written, poorly plotted, & after a while it even fails at being offensive simply because it’s so damned boring. 

Eden Newman must mate before her 18th birthday or she’ll be left outside to die in the Heat. But who will pick up her mate-option when she’s cursed with blond hair, blue-eyes and a tragically low mate-rate of 15 percent? In a post-apocalyptic world where resistance to the overheated environment defines class and beauty, Eden’s coloring brands her as a weak and ugly Pearl. If only she can mate with a dark-skinned Coal from the ruling class, she’ll be safe. But when she unwittingly compromises her father’s secret experiment, she is thrust into the last patch of rainforest, and into the arms of the powerful, beastly man who she believes is her enemy, despite her overwhelming attraction. Eden must fight to survive, but only if she can redefine beauty and true love. Acclaimed writer VICTORIA FOYT blends equal parts suspense and philosophy, adventure and romance, in this captivating novel set in a terrifying future, which is all too easy to imagine. (via Buy the Book | Revealing Eden | Best Fantasy Romance Novel of 2012)

So, they seriously went with “beastly” as a descriptor for a black man?

And that cover design? With the animal eyes and the half blackface?

Everything I see and read about this book is worse than the last thing I saw about it.

Imagine this: a fourth grade girl with wild curly hair, huge green eyes and large bee-stung lips, her skin perpetually tanned from the Florida sun, stands alone waiting for her mother to pick her up after school. A large yellow school bus begins to pull away when a young boy sticks his head out of the window and hurls a racial slur at the girl.

Her first reaction is shame. He has slandered her with an ugly epithet – a disgusting remark about her lips. Later, she wonders how he could possibly have mistaken her race. She is white, the remark usually targeted at blacks. (The term “African American” did not exist in that day.)

Confused and hurt, she wonders why her appearance should elicit such hatred. She hides this incident in the back of her mind and never repeats it to anyone until many years later when she writes a book in which she turns racial stereotypes upside down.

— 

Victoria Foyt: Interracial Relationships Seen Through Eyes of Young Adults

Right now I’m imagining a bus, hitting this white supremacist piece of garbage. Then, the bus backs up over her and drives off into the sunset to the sounds of cheers from people of all colors who are appalled and offended that this person and this book ever existed.

And now a quote from "Save the Pearls"...

‘Eden flinched. One of them was touching her. White-hot light exploded in her head. Before she knew it, she blurted out an incendiary racial slur.

“Get your hands off me, you damn coal!”’

So explain to me how this isn’t racist.

So.

So far in this book, we have:

  • White people being displayed on something called the “Beauty Map” even though PoC are supposed to be the desirable group in this society.
  • “Them” used as a descriptor for PoC in a clearly negative way
  • Blackface
  • Eden feeling superior to PoC (I didn’t put up a cap for that part, but it’s there - she considers the workers with “smug satisfaction”)
  • PoC as food/consumables

And now we have:

  • Black people being (unnecessarily) violent
  • A white person blurting out a racist slur without thinking

Jesus fucking christ, this is so far away from reversing racism it’s ridiculous. This is like Stormfront-style shit.

Heidi Klum’s awful Kali costume from a few years ago, posted just last week on the Save the Pearls Facebook page with a caption saying it’s an awesome costume. 

This is just too much. Of course we can’t expect the woman who wrote Save the Pearls to know anything about cultural appropriation, imperialism, and the fraught history of Kali in particular, but come on.  

The Final Letter Sent to Victoria Foyt Today

Victoria Foyt:

When I (a 19 year old African-American woman and college student) logged on to Tumblr this morning I was immediately greeted with news of your novel, Mrs. Foyt, and a disgusting photo of your protagonist, Eden Newman, in blackface (which is actually the cover).  People on your Facebook page have already informed you of how wrong this is but I will repeat it: Blackface is ALWAYS wrong and should NEVER be done. If you’re confused by the history surrounding blackface, I suggest you look it up.

Eden smearing her face and body with “midnight luster” to make herself more desirable and also protect herself from radiation, is both ridiculous and offensive.  Yet that is only the tip of the iceberg that is the revolting premise and execution of this novel. Despite the fact that the scientific aspect of Save The Pearls is laughable, (as racism is not simply about biology and melanin does not equate to sunscreen), the overall message you are giving is deplorable and astoundingly racist.  

You say that you hope this book will open the eyes of people to racism and teach them that people shouldn’t be judged on the basis of their skin.  Yet on the (terribly racist) Youtube channel devoted to this novel, you give those precious pearls (as you know, white people) names like Monica and Kimmie and Lucile but all the coals (the supposed oppressors and the top tier of this society and black people) names like Nate Dogg and C-Money, perpetuating racist stereotypes of the black community.  

Racism is not a system that affects white people.  It is not one that has or will ever negatively affect you.  In writing this book, you ignore the struggles of past and present POC and stick them on a white protagonist and pretend that this is a possible and even likely future.  Your experience with a boy mistaking you for a black person and slinging a slur your way once does not equate to the racism experienced by actual African-Americans and POC everyday and you should be ashamed for pretending that it does. 

Which brings me to another issue with your narrative.  How is it that in a society that is ruled by African-Americans, did you decide that the bottom rung of this ridiculous ladder is named after precious and valuable stones like pearls? Meanwhile the ruling class of black people is named coals? Pearls are precious, priceless and beautiful while coal is dark and dirty.  If that didn’t point out the racism of this book, everything else did. 

The fact that your white Pearls must be saved from the black Coals is so blatantly ignorant that it amazes me that not a single person that you shared this premise with prior to its publishing said nothing of it. And the so called romance in this novel is disgusting.  You create a love interest, a black man, and describe him as being a beast man.  You add to the stereotype that black men - and black people as a whole - are uncivilized compared to their white counterparts. As a person who has been in interracial relationships before, you did a horrible job and only added to the stigma that interracial couples face today.  

You write this book for young adults/teenagers. Do you realize how often young people of color are bombarded with imagery that we are not good enough to share a world with the pure, white race? That we are a threat to their safety and their security and that ours matters very little?  That those are lessons carried with us into adulthood?

In an interview, you say that the reason you had yet to receive any backlash for this novel is because this book had yet to reach the African-American community of readers and then had the audacity to question if such a thing as African-American readers (black people know how to read?) existed.  This only added to the appearance of racism and ignorance on your part, already cultivated by the writing and publishing of this novel.  

You, Mrs. Foyt, are not and never will be, qualified to write about the struggles of a POC in this country and throughout the world.  You have offended and debased all African-Americans (including myself) and all people of color and I hope that you take to heart at least a few of the criticisms collected across the internet today, and apologize for the blatant disrespect that you have displayed in this book and in your interviews, blog posts, etc. 

After seeing your “response” to the barrage of criticism that flooded the Facebook page today, I have some things to add to this letter (which was originally posted on my blog until I could find a suitable way to contact you).  Your words simply equate to, “But it’s not racist.”  In fact, your book and all the books that will follow in this horribly misguided series are blatantly and painfully racist.  If your only response is that it’s not then you are seriously lacking.  

As an aspiring writer myself I understand the feelings that come when one’s work is criticized, especially on such a large scale, however this criticism is much deserved, and I (nor do I believe the other people who made their feelings known) feel bad for letting you know what a racist piece of work you’ve put out there for consumption. And deleting the comments and criticisms only proves how ignorant you are.  When you wrote this book you were fully knowledgeable about the hurt you may cause and simply didn’t care.  You were relieved that there was no backlash because no one of color had discovered it yet.  Now that more than a white audience has read this book, you don’t want to face the valid criticisms that we (the people most affected by racism both presently and in the past) have for you.  

Whatever you intentions were in writing this book, the finished product does the exact opposite.  Upon reading the preview, I don’t need to read any further to know that your treatment of the black characters in this novel is abhorrent and sickening. How exactly are you “turning racism on its head?” when you degrade and malign the very people that are most affected by racism today? If you refuse to acknowledge it yourself or issue an apology to the people that you have offended than you are truly presenting yourself a proud and unapologetic racist. 

Chelsea