“If we let them be in control, they will get revenge. They will do to us what we did to them.” I believe these are probably the thoughts that are and have been on the minds of many Americans; many who will state that they want their country back or that they need to preserve the white race or the “Anglo-saxon” heritage (Thanks Romney!). All I see is people who are afraid losing control; that a “dark future” (pun intended) will turn the tables on them. Last week, there was yet another call for salvation, Victoria Foyt’s independent, quasi-science fiction and dystopian novel, Save the Pearls.
Here is the background of the story: It follows Eden Newman (fitting name, reminder of the Garden of Eden perhaps?) who lives in a post-apocalyptic society in which the increasing heat from the sun has created a world of “reverse racism” where white people are considered undesirable and forced underground while black people rule the world and create havoc. This sounds so much like a return to the 19th century Reconstruction era during which whites feared Black domination after slavery was abolished. And it gets worse. There are a number of issues with this novel that just has me shaking my head.
First, the names given to the different races and the pseudo-science about race and melanin that draws from old stereotypes. White people are called “pearls,” hence the book name, Asian people are referred to as “ambers,” Latinos are “tiger-eyes” and then most obnoxious is that Black people are “coals.” Not “onyx” or “obsidian,” but “coal,” an exploited substance that when put under heat and pressure turns into a diamond. Why do the light-skinned races receive nicer names if the lighter ones are considered uglier in the story. The names also compartmentalize the races; there are various shades and amounts of melanin within each race. Race does not work on a spectrum. Additionally, melanin may help somewhat against the rays of the sun, but that doesn’t mean darker skinned people would not be affected by the increased heat of the sun at all. Raising eyebrow already.
Next, the character Eden, in order to find a mate, since white people now have a low mate-rate, puts on “midnight luster” to pass as a person of color. I myself might have let that one pass if the story was better, but not with the idea that just putting on makeup will change her features and protect her from the sun. It comes to close to images of blackface. And this description of the story does not help:
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.
“Beastly man?” Foyt even had the nerve to compare the story to Beauty and the Beast. Also, according to chelseabigbang‘s letter, she gave the coal characters names likes Nate Dogg and C-Money. Again, she is relying on stereotypes for her story. Nothing about this sounds original or clever so far.
Her complete ignorance of how she thought African-Americans would react and ignorance of our present situations just adds fuel to the fire. It feels like another attempt to call black people animals. It feeds into the ongoing theme of a fear of us ruling the world and enacting revenge because to them we are animalistic. More, it is a projection of their own animalistic behaviors of the past and present, and the fear that they will have to pay in the future.
This is another example of trying to hold onto a golden past that never actually existed and to control the present to stop a future that will force them to deal with the consequences. But we don’t have time for that. We don’t have time for your pity parties, guilt-tripping projections, and revenge fears. We want justice, we want healing, and to stop the world from falling apart. That is what a proper dystopian novel would teach us, not this.
Here are some ways to voice your opinion on the book.