Readings — From the November 2012 issue

Color Correction

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From a message posted in July by Victoria Foyt on the website for her young-adult novel Revealing Eden: Save the Pearls Part One, which Foyt describes as a “sci-fi fantasy adventure romance.” In a promotional video for the novel, a white actress playing the title character, Eden, appears with her face painted brown.

I would like to address the recent accusations of racism that have been aimed at my young-adult novel.

While it is a work of fiction, the premise is all too believable. If global warming results in a meltdown of the ozone layer, many things would change, including the ability 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 percent.) If she doesn’t find a mate by the time she is eighteen, 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. 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, postapocalyptic 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 realizes that she has misjudged her Coal boss, Ronson Bramford, and they fall in love.

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.

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