Yes we’ve heard of this nonsense.
I’ve written a letter which I’ve sent to Victoria Foyt, however her current email address isn’t accepting my letter so I’m attempting to find another way to send her this letter. For those of you who’d like to read it, here it is (I’ve posted it on my personal blog as well):
Dear Victoria Foyt,
I had never thought I’d have to write a letter like this. I’d thought that perhaps people knew some things were off limits, and that such things were off limits because they still cause hurt to very real and very subjugated people, but I was wrong.
Mrs. Foyt, I’d like you to know that I’m only nineteen, a young Black person budding in a world where I am (whether consciously or otherwise) considered less than because of my race. Even as a light-skinned Black person, I face fetishistic catcalls from white males, propositions for sexual conduct and marriage and discrimination in the job market.
I’m sure you’re not interested in reading about my life, and that’s perfectly fine. I’m sending you this email, not to inquire, but to share my feelings on your (latest?) book “Save the Pearls”.
You see Mrs. Foyt, I was under the impression that you were indeed “turning the tables on racism”. The phrase itself acknowledges that in today’s current world situation, white people cannot and do not face racism on institutional and global levels like counterparts of color. My interest was piqued to see just how your book would manage to flip the script.
I would like to say that I was surprised at how dreadful the concept of your book is, but I wasn’t. People of color are always let down in various forms of media and entertainment; we receive mere morsels compared to our white counterparts in terms of representation, acting roles, and complex character writing in novels.
Mrs. Foyt your book isn’t turning the tables on anything. In fact, you are helping to mold young minds such as mine to further ignore the plight of people of color and disrespect the historical pain they’ve been through. Your book, your youtube channel — it encourages blackface, a practice used to dehumanize black people. I’m sure you’re aware of the racist minstrel shows performed in the U.S. and if not, I implore you to use Google’s search engine to read about it as well as view film evidence that portrays black people in a less than favorable light (to say the least). The mentalities and stereotypes blackface created have not dissipated over the years Mrs. Foyt. People of color, black people specifically (I speak of them because I am black myself), still suffer from the detrimental acts committed by racist white people in the past. Hell, we still suffer due to detrimental acts committed by racist white people NOW.
My point concerning blackface is that, regardless of your intentions, blackface is hurtful and painful to black people. The historical pain and agony of being dehumanized, subjugated, murdered, lynched, raped (all in masse) cannot be separated from blackface for the sake of a novel written by a white woman. It CANNOT. I am writing this email to essentially express how I and many other black people feel; we are appalled by your racism, and yes, you are indeed being racist.
Your novel is no “neo-racist” treasure. It fails to address the issues people of color face today, something that could be done even if your novel focuses on “subjugated” white people. The terminology used in your novel reveals your racist subconscious (a subconscious white people as well as people of color possess): white people are referred to as ‘pearls’ I believe? And Asians are referred to as ‘ambers’? I also understand that Latin people are called ‘tiger-eyes’? These are all precious or semi-precious gems, of value on the market today. Do you see what I’m getting at? The black people in your novel are called coals, a term that actually has a historical background. Many dark skinned black people (I’m not particularly sure if you know any) have had themselves negatively likened to coal at some point in their lives, and if not, they’re among the lucky ones. It is evident that your novel doesn’t truly “turn the tables on racism” as you suggest, but rather, offers a common and wrong perspective on social dynamics through fantasy and post-apocalyptic science fiction.
The wide bracket you’ve place people of color under fails to take several things into account, things I hope (but doubt) you’ve addressed in your novel: what of pale-skinned black people? Are they pearls? East Asians, whose skin color is sometimes more fair than that of white people, and more prone to damage — are they considered pearls or do they remain ambers simply because of their race? Dark skinned southeast Asians, does their status improve to that of coals? There are pale skinned Latin@s, indigenous Latin@s, afro-Latin@s… have you taken them into account as well? It seems as though your book doesn’t acknowledge the racial complexities of our current world, nor does it take into account the future race-mixing that would occur before your apocalypse.
But in all honesty, your narrow-minded perspective on racial features pales (no pun intended) in comparison to the blackface which you encourage on your youtube channel. As I’ve stated before, blackface carries with it the weight and agony of widespread dehumanization and genocide; I often have an extremely difficult time explaining the severity of this to my counterparts in school as well as to adults who haven’t taken the time to learn about societal issues. I do not think you understand the gravity of encouraging impressionable people to commit blackface — regardless of its intention or purpose. You are fostering more ignorance through your young adult novel, and contributing to the silent killer that is covert white supremacy. Mrs. Foyt, you may think you’re showing appreciation for people of color, for dark skin (as I’ve noticed through your descriptions of dark skin) but there is a fetishistic tone that disturbs me, especially as someone (who is just one voice of millions) who is often harassed because of the hypersexualized nature associated with my race/skin color.
Your book has been published already and I doubt you’ll do any changes to anything you’ve already written because of a solitary letter sent by a lightskinned negro, but I hope you’ve taken the time to read this opinion, an opinion that actually matters much more than usually credited for; a person of color’s views on race and racism are always of the utmost importance, considering the discrimination and subjugation we face. This letter might have saddened you, might have angered you, but I hope that if you have indeed felt these emotions while reading this, you’ve considered the emotions of the people of color who were so deeply offended after having read the premise of your book and also after having read your book. I hope you considered the black people who were (once again) emotionally wounded, after viewing how you’ve encouraged blackface and used it as a mere plot device for a novel. I hope you considered my anger and my hurt, the emotions I have to stifle on a day to day basis in order to function in a world that will never care about me as much as it will care about you.
Thank you for your time.
I am not expecting a reply.