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Thread: Victoria Foyt's novel coming under fire...

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Tasha&Kamali's Avatar
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    Victoria Foyt's novel coming under fire...



    A few articles have come out today, completely bashing the young adult novel about a distopian society where white people are the minority.

    Here's a youtube video of a white woman in blackface promoting the book.

    I think this book, and the chatter around it, is a pretty good example of white privilege. The articles def reminded me of some of the threads on this board.

    Hoping to capitalize off of the popularity of dystopian young adult novels like The Hunger Games, Foyt constructed a narrative in which, she explains, “Solar radiation has wiped out most of the white race whose lack of melanin causes them to succumb to the Heat.

    The survivors, called Pearls, suffer from oppression under the new majority of dark-skinned Coals.” In the new world, Eden must rely on Bramford, a Coal. As Foyt describes it, Pearls is “a Beauty and the Beast story in which both parties must find self-acceptance before they can discover true love.”

    Say what?
    http://www.thefrisky.com/2012-07-27/...reotypes-plot/

    Victoria Foyt is failing readers of color. What is in this novel for black and brown children other than self hate? We’re talking about a society where images of beautiful women of color are rarely shown in mass media. Hell, there are barely any women of color in mass media to begin with.

    The novel rings forth as not only harmful, but intentionally spiteful. Either Victoria Foyt is the most naive, backward thinking author since Joseph Conrad, or she’s a thoroughgoing racist. I can’t find an in between here.
    http://theblackkidstable.com/2012/07...rst-nightmare/

    My question to the board. Have you read it? What do you think?

  2. #2
    Sophipygian AW Moderator Alessandra Kelley's Avatar
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    I have never heard of her, or of this book. I looked at this thread thinking she was perhaps under fire for standing up for PoC.

    But even before I started reading the thread, that cover disturbed me. Is that ... is that girl's face ridiculously Caucasian on one side and offensively blackface on the other? Oh, dear.

    It looks and from the description sounds terribly offensive. But who is publishing it? Who is behind it? Sand Dollar Press, the publisher, has no books but this one.

  3. #3
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    I'd have to read it to know. I assumed the point was to help kids think about being a minority if they aren't one. There is also an adult historical where a historical advanced African nation invades the US and keeps white people as slaves. Role reversal can be thought provoking. It undermines assumptions that majority traits are innately linked to being dominant.
    Emily Veinglory

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    Rewriting My Destiny Cyia's Avatar
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    Is this self-published? I looked it up on Goodreads, read through some of the comments, and I really can't tell.

  5. #5
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Tasha&Kamali's Avatar
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    I'd never heard of her before today either. I read that she's a screenwriter and actress in addition to being a novelist.

    This is the authors second novel. Her first was published by HarperTeen in 2007.

    Maybe it makes sense why this wasn't published by them.

  6. #6
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    I've read about it in mainstream sources, I would say it was reasonably well known.
    Emily Veinglory

  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW Invincibility's Avatar
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    Here's a pretty good article about the problems with the book.

    Conceivably, if the book had not reached the African-American community of readers, if such a category still exists, perhaps there might be some backlash.
    This is something the author apparently said, which... yikes???

  8. #8
    not napping... brainstorming! TudorRose's Avatar
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    The survivors, called Pearls, suffer from oppression under the new majority of dark-skinned Coals.
    The race reversal isn't a new premise in YA by any stretch. UK author Malorie Blackman's NOUGHTS AND CROSSES was published here a decade ago... and to some critical acclaim. From Wiki:

    This novel describes an alternate history where humans evolved while Pangaea was still intact. Without the barriers to exchange of domesticable animals, among other factors, the natives of Africa gained a technological and organizational advantage over the humans of Europe rather than the other way around, and made Europeans their slaves. At the time of the story, slavery has been abolished, but Jim-Crow type segregation operates to keep the Crosses (the Africans) in control...

    Persephone 'Sephy' Hadley is a Cross (meaning that she has dark skin) and the daughter of a wealthy politician. Callum McGregor is a nought (meaning that he has light skin).
    Malorie Blackman describes herself as "a black woman writer", so she's not writing from a position of white privilege. I haven't read either book, so I can't comment on how the subject matter is approached in both or what I perceive the authorial intent to be, but it might be interesting to compare and contrast how perceptions of white privilege might impact on the kneejerk reactions of other people who just hear the premise and haven't read them either.

  9. #9
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    I thought this thread would be here. I was about to post a link in another thread. I think there is something telling that she named the white people 'pearls' and the PoC 'coals'.

    This is what the blurb on Amazon says
    Eden Newman must mate before her 18th birthday in six months or she will be left outside to die in a burning world. But who will pick up her mate-option when she's cursed with white skin and a tragically low mate-rate of 15 per cent? In a post-apocalyptic, totalitarian, underground world where class and beauty are defined by resistance to an overheated environment, Eden's colouring brands her as a member of the lowest class, a weak and ugly Pearl. If only she can mate with a dark-skinned Coal from the ruling class, she'll be safe. Just may be one Coal sees the Real Eden and will be her salvation her co-worker Jamal has begun secretly dating her. But when Eden unwittingly compromises her father's secret biological experiment, she finds herself in the eye of a storm and thrown into the last area of rainforest, a strange and dangerous land. Eden must fight to save her father, who may be humanity's last hope, while standing up to a powerful beast-man she believes is her enemy, despite her overwhelming attraction. Eden must change to survive but only if she can redefine her ideas of beauty and of love, along with a little help from her "adopted aunt" Emily Dickinson.
    I liked Kira's review on it. She talks about aspects of the novel as she read it:
    I digress. But it's just this sort of thing I abhor: dressing up racism to make it look like some kind of beautiful amazing metaphor. The girl in this book WANTS to go back to a world where the white people reign supreme. She has dreams about black men attacking her and all the black men are portrayed as monsters or "beasts".
    All sounds horribly racist.

    ETA: this review signals out how I feel about the authors naming of races in the novel so I thought I'd post this snippet:
    ETFA: Oh man I can't believe that this series title is called Save the Pearls = Save the Whites. What? Seriously?

    ETFA2: Her characters are played by actors in blackface on her youtube channel.

    And she seems to think that the only problem with her characters she will face backlash of is the interracial relationship in this article by her.

    To quote Victoria Foyt's anecdote about her childhood in this article:
    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.
    Last edited by fireluxlou; 07-28-2012 at 02:05 PM.

  10. #10
    Ooooh, pretty lights and sirens :D _Sian_'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TudorRose View Post
    The race reversal isn't a new premise in YA by any stretch. UK author Malorie Blackman's NOUGHTS AND CROSSES was published here a decade ago... and to some critical acclaim. From Wiki:

    Malorie Blackman describes herself as "a black woman writer", so she's not writing from a position of white privilege. I haven't read either book, so I can't comment on how the subject matter is approached in both or what I perceive the authorial intent to be, but it might be interesting to compare and contrast how perceptions of white privilege might impact on the kneejerk reactions of other people who just hear the premise and haven't read them either.
    A bit of a deviation...

    I read this book when I was .... 14? And I went on to read the other three. And the reversal was complete, utterly complete, and it was never actually spelled out "a is white, b is black", but you picked it up from descriptions.

    I have never thought more in my teenaged years than after reading that book, and it especially made me look at young male POCs in a different way. I had subconsious ideas about the danger related to guys that had darker skin then I did, and this book made me look at how I thought, and changed how I acted. It was an amazing book, it really was. Said so much to me about positions of power and how we treat people in this world.

    Sorry for the deviation from the OP - this book sounds horrible, it really does - but I just had to say what a impact noughts and Crosses made on me and on my ideas about race and how we treat each other.

  11. #11
    practical experience, FTW Silver-Midnight's Avatar
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    After reading through mostly everything, I can say my reaction is and .

  12. #12
    Sophipygian AW Moderator Alessandra Kelley's Avatar
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    I suspect this book is self published.

    The website for Sand Dollar Press says they have a background in independent filmmaking which gives them "a fresh outlook on marketing ... video book trailers and viral campaigns, coupled with expertise in marketing, public relations, and social media strategy, that results in the unrivalled execution of book launches."

    Given what Tasha&Kamali said about her being a screenwriter and actress, that suggests it's the author herself behind all this.

    The site talks grandly about "quality novels in the area of science fiction, mystery and romance," but there's no sign of any other book except this one.

    I think we're all being played for a PR campaign.

    And the book sounds appalling, not only offensive, but laughably unlikely both in sf and social history. "We run the world and have chosen a really obnoxious and filth-related name for ourselves and a literally precious jewel name for the dwindled remnants of our ancient oppressors." Yeah, that happens.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silver-Midnight View Post
    After reading through mostly everything, I can say my reaction is and .
    Exactly it's like the more I searched for her name, the more I read articles by her about her books, the more any positivity about this vanished. Like umm wow it's like the grave was being dug deeper. And the reviews about what is actually in the book is very insightful from what I gathered the 'coals' become 'beasts' like through a rite of passage and ritual.

  14. #14
    On a wing and a prayer aruna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TudorRose View Post
    The race reversal isn't a new premise in YA by any stretch. UK author Malorie Blackman's NOUGHTS AND CROSSES was published here a decade ago... and to some critical acclaim. From Wiki:

    Malorie Blackman describes herself as "a black woman writer", so she's not writing from a position of white privilege. I haven't read either book, so I can't comment on how the subject matter is approached in both or what I perceive the authorial intent to be, but it might be interesting to compare and contrast how perceptions of white privilege might impact on the kneejerk reactions of other people who just hear the premise and haven't read them either.

    I was just about to post a link to Noughts and Crosses -- you beat me to it!

    I also have not read either book so cannot comment. My daughter read N&C years ago and loved it.

    However, to me whites being a minority is not anything in the least dystopian. I come from exactly such a society. Whites made up less than 1% of the society I grew up in, and yet they still managed to keep us "in our places". It's not always about being a minority, you see!
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    practical experience, FTW Silver-Midnight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fireluxlou View Post
    Exactly it's like the more I searched for her name, the more I read articles by her about her books, the more any positivity about this vanished. Like umm wow it's like the grave was being dug deeper. And the reviews about what is actually in the book is very insightful from what I gathered the 'coals' become 'beasts' like through a rite of passage and ritual.
    Not only that, but her quotes make it much. much worse.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silver-Midnight View Post
    Not only that, but her quotes make it much. much worse.
    Yea I agree. Her comments are worth a thousand

    Oh lord the website http://www.savethepearls.com/

  17. #17
    practical experience, FTW Silver-Midnight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fireluxlou View Post
    Yea I agree. Her comments are worth a thousand

    Oh lord the website http://www.savethepearls.com/
    I don't even want to comment on the "mating profiles" thing.

  18. #18
    Oh, lord. I saw Kira's review yesterday. That's all I needed.

  19. #19
    Rewriting My Destiny Cyia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fireluxlou View Post
    Exactly it's like the more I searched for her name, the more I read articles by her about her books, the more any positivity about this vanished. Like umm wow it's like the grave was being dug deeper. And the reviews about what is actually in the book is very insightful from what I gathered the 'coals' become 'beasts' like through a rite of passage and ritual.
    Quote Originally Posted by fireluxlou View Post
    Yea I agree. Her comments are worth a thousand

    Oh lord the website http://www.savethepearls.com/
    Quote Originally Posted by Silver-Midnight View Post
    I don't even want to comment on the "mating profiles" thing.
    Ditto.

    I started reading through some of this last night and COULDN'T STOP CLICKING LINKS. I kept waiting for the "gotcha" to appear.

    The "save the whites" thing is just...

    But, did you see where she's pitching this as "beauty and the beast" and a "dystopian romance?" Exactly what life-altering change is the "beast" supposed to undergo by the end of the tale?

    Or that it's not just "pearls" and "coals," but "ambers" for Asians, and "tiger-eyes" for Latinos, which means the only non-precious material is "coal." (This is supposed to be "upturned" racism? Really?) And what about POC who are light-skinned, or Caucasians who are naturally darker? What about those with a mixed heritage?

    Or the "mate rate" video where the MC's speaking about her only two mating offers (which actually adds a whole 'nother layer of creepy to this, considering 18 is the UPPER LIMIT for age before one is mated) She says "I'd rather die than mate with another one of my kind." "I want to be protected." "I reek of inferiority."

    o...k... backing away from the book very slowly. Not giving it my back.

    I'm not sure who the target audience is for this thing, because I've seen reviews from readers identifying themselves as POC who are appalled, and reviews from Caucasian readers like me who are likewise appalled. It's an equal-opportunity fail. (and I'm with the reviewer who was stunned at the idea that this book has won awards or praise of any kind.)

  20. #20
    the Juggernaut of Imperfection crunchyblanket's Avatar
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    Or that Or that it's not just "pearls" and "coals," but "ambers" for Asians, and "tiger-eyes" for Latinos, which means the only non-precious material is "coal." (This is supposed to be "upturned" racism? Really?) it's not just "pearls" and "coals," but "ambers" for Asians, and "tiger-eyes" for Latinos, which means the only non-precious material is "coal." (This is supposed to be "upturned" racism? Really?)
    I'm confused, if she's going for the 'precious stone' thing, why she didn't go with obsidian or onyx or...anything more pleasant-sounding than 'coal'. I mean, surely the unfortunate implications there were loud and clear??

    This sounds like a very poor, short-sighted attempt at doing what Malorie Blackman (several others already mentioned her) did with Noughts and Crosses. I don't have a problem with the role-reversal - done well, it can be very thought provoking and, as Noughts and Crosses did for me at a young age, a sharp jolt out of ambivalence towards racial issues.

    But this doesn't even look remotely well done.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by crunchyblanket View Post
    I'm confused, if she's going for the 'precious stone' thing, why she didn't go with obsidian or onyx or...anything more pleasant-sounding than 'coal'. I mean, surely the unfortunate implications there were loud and clear??

    This sounds like a very poor, short-sighted attempt at doing what Malorie Blackman (several others already mentioned her) did with Noughts and Crosses. I don't have a problem with the role-reversal - done well, it can be very thought provoking and, as Noughts and Crosses did for me at a young age, a sharp jolt out of ambivalence towards racial issues.

    But this doesn't even look remotely well done.
    It's not just the implications of the word coal, it's actually a slur which was used against black people too. She didn't research her book or care enough about the representations to avoid using a slur considering the other names she came up with. Someone pointed out in one review that why would the 'lower class minority' have such a nicer name than the ruling class? Why would the ruling majority call themselves such a slur and the minority a nicer name?

    The thing between Malorie Blackman's book and this is, Malorie Blackman is obviously not racist, her book was highly controversial but she explored and researched the topic well, she has actual experience, whereas it's quite obvious that Victoria Foyt doesn't. Her racism is blatantly obvious and she comes from a place of white privilege.

  22. #22
    Snakecakes cryaegm's Avatar
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    I saw this book a long while back, and the website for it (I think there's a website?). When I saw the video with the blonde, blue eyed girl in blackface, I was utterly shocked and disgusted. :/ I don't even remember how I came across it, but good lord.

    And the whole pearls = white and coals = black? Really? The author never once thought that "coals" would've been a bad idea?
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  23. #23
    practical experience, FTW
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    She posted it on her goodreads page http://www.goodreads.com/author_blog...n-the-minority

    Uhm one of the comments:
    by Niki (new) Jul 12, 2012 06:22am
    interesting. i think white people are already the minority. i'm in Virginia right now and I'm seeing a heavy block community not much different from Los Angeles. Ironically, I am in a coffee shop filled with white people, but I wouldn't be surprised if in 10 years time, blacks and latinos will become the majority compared to whites.
    ummm no.

    Also someone on tumblr did some digging

    They found out the reviews she talks of in her articles are fake.

  24. #24
    Rewriting My Destiny Cyia's Avatar
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    You can also add the "required" mating to the list of creepiness. The upper limit of 18 is bad enough, but if you follow the requirement out, you've got a society based solely on procreation, where unmatched teens who refuse to link up with a hetero partner are tossed out of the civilization. And from the "mate rate" profiles, it seems that these lifetime hook-ups are with strangers.

    (And that cover is seriously disturbing in context. The eyes belong to a green-eyed jungle cat, and I haven't seen any mention of shape-shifting among any tier of this society, which means the only explanation is that they're supposed to represent the male MC.)

  25. #25
    the Juggernaut of Imperfection crunchyblanket's Avatar
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    by Niki (new) Jul 12, 2012 06:22am
    interesting. i think white people are already the minority. i'm in Virginia right now and I'm seeing a heavy block community not much different from Los Angeles. Ironically, I am in a coffee shop filled with white people, but I wouldn't be surprised if in 10 years time, blacks and latinos will become the majority compared to whites.
    Oh FFS. See, there's the other problem with this book. There are morons out there who'll see it as a prophecy.

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