Thursday, August 2, 2012

Save the Pearls: Victoria Foyt still doesn't get it

If you've been following the Foyt drama lately, then you're probably up to speed on everything. If not, here's a quick rehash of what's going on:

Foyt tried to write an anti-racism book where the racial roles of blacks and whites were swapped, in an attempt to make it hit home more to clueless white kids. Unfortunately Foyt is incredibly clueless herself, so instead of her book being the next Noughts & Crosses, it came across as incredibly racist to pretty much every reader. Especially readers of color. Especially after uploading tons of videos with people wearing what resembled blackface to many. Unwilling to admit that she wrote a racist book (even if it wasn't on purpose), Foyt railed against her accusers, saying that they all misinterpreted her book, that she's not racist, hinting that the people calling the book racist are racist themselves... She pretty much alienated most of her readers by saying things on her Huffington Post blog such as "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. The first young African American reader who responded to me loved the book. But then, she's the kind of free spirit who would eschew limiting herself to a single category."


Why I'm posting all of this again and not letting it rest is that Foyt recently posted another Huffington Post blog where she tries yet again to defend herself against what everyone is saying.

In this blog she tries to defend the previous positive reviews she'd gotten (some of which have disappeared off the internet). Since pretty much every minority group that's heard of or read the book was aghast at the book, many were asking if the people who left the positive reviews were predominantly white. Foyt pretty much calls everyone racist for asking the race of the reviewers. I admit that it's conceivable that a black/Asian/Hispanic/etc could've reviewed the book and given it a positive rating, but given how widely condemned Save the Pearls: Revealing Eden has been among readers of these groups, it's easy to see how people would view it as unlikely.

Also in the blog she tries to defend the usage of the term "Coals" by saying the following:

Why are whites called Pearls, while blacks are called Coals? Imagine a gritty, post-apocalyptic 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.
The problem with her explanation is that she never ever explains any of this in the book at all. All we're given in the book is the explanation that various races are called different things and even then it's just a listing of what label is given to which race. At one point in the book Eden says the following, which goes against Foyt's attempts to explain everything away:

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 of me, you damn Coal!”
In the book the term "Coal" is used as a slur. It's never really explained as to how this term is supposed to be positive in the slightest.

Foyt goes on to say that the book couldn't possibly be racist since it won some awards, such as the Eric Hoffer Best Young Adult Novel. Well, a little bit of research brings up that it's an award program that you have to pay to enter and it's not really seen as that big of an award and pretty much most of the writers out there consider it to be a scam. (Click here) I'm going to guess that the rest of the awards are along the same lines, things that people come up with in order to get money out of unsuspecting writers or are awards that aren't really considered mainstream enough to get a ton of nominees. I could be wrong, I'm aware that there are perfectly legitimate small awards out there but I'm also aware that there's more awards out there that are less about awards and more about getting your money. If anyone can vouch for any of the awards the book has won, please do so. I don't want to besmirch an award, but having read how awful the book is (and I'm not talking about racism in the book, but that it was just mediocre at best) I find it hard to believe that it'd really win awards on its own merit.

Foyt tries to finish the blog up by saying that the book also has a message of "save the environment". Bull. The whole reason the world is messed up is because of a solar flare from the sun. Even if the planet had a full ozone layer, if you had a solar flare hit the earth that was so strong that people get cancer almost instantly then there's no preventing that. No amount of ecological preservation (aside from contributing to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault) is going to make a difference in keeping plants and such alive under such an extreme outside force. It's like trying to say that the dinosaurs totally could've survived the meteor (or whatever it was) that hit the earth if they'd recycled more. Science doesn't work that way.

What irritates me the most is that Foyt has this "I don't think I'm racist so I'm not racist, all of you guys must be racist or misguided" mentality to her. Much like how science doesn't work the way Foyt thinks it does,  racism doesn't work that way either. If all it took to remove racism was to say that the person doing the act/book/whatever didn't mean for it to be racist, then there wouldn't be any racism at all nowadays. The thing about racism is that a lot of times the people performing the racist act doesn't realize it. It's just "how things have always been" mixed in with a healthy does of ignorance about how your actions are perceived by others. If someone sees a black teen with a nice jacket and assumes that he got it by stealing it or selling drugs, that's racist. Even if that person tries to explain it away by saying that the kid was in a poor neighborhood, it's still racist to assume that the only way the kid got the jacket was through illicit means. It doesn't matter if the person never makes any obvious racist gestures, donates to the NAACP, and has a ton of black friends. Things like that can still be perceived as racist. They're just not usually seen as such because it's the "everyday racism" that tends to fly under the radar. There's better analogies, but I'm not really sure how to type those out as eloquently as they would need to be. (Lesson there, Foyt: if you can't type it out properly to get your point across, then don't.)  The point is that you can be racist without realizing it and that even though you don't think you're being racist, that doesn't mean that what you're doing isn't racist or couldn't be seen as such. And it certainly doesn't mean that the people saying "hey, this comes across as racist" are wrong or "misguided" or whatever Foyt wants to tell herself at the end of the day to keep from realizing that she made a huge mistake with this book. I just want to say that I don't think Foyt is racist or means to come across as racist, but the way she continues to talk just comes across as incredibly ignorant. It's just very arrogant of her to assume that all it takes to dispel claims of racism is for her to cry that she isn't racist. Sometimes you can be a person who isn't actually racist but still says things that come across as racist and misguided. When you have so many people telling you "hey, you're sounding really racist", maybe it's time to stop telling other people they're wrong and start looking at what you're saying.

I don't think that Foyt will ever realize that she's doing herself a huge disservice by being so closeminded about what people are trying to tell her. I don't even think she'd realize that if she'd said "huh, I didn't realize that, sorry!" from the beginning rather than lashing out at her critics, this never would've gotten as much attention. In the long run the only person that will be hurt by this will be Foyt, as I'm fairly certain that publishers will remember this public relations nightmare and will either avoid signing a contract with her or will use this to get her to sign a contract that isn't as good as she'd have wanted.

In any case, Foyt's best course of action would be to silently retreat from the internet and for God's sake, stop trying to defend herself because she only makes herself seem more inept in the process. I think that this will probably be the last post I make on Foyt because I'm just tired of her continuing to stick her foot in her mouth.

Further reading:


*Victoria Foyt: Judging a book by its cover

5 comments:

  1. Here's the problem: There's no such thing as bad press. The more she talks, the more she gets in the news cycles, the more she writes on the HuffPo, and the more people talk about her book.

    And talking means inciting curiosity. And that turns into sales. She can disappear into the ether of the internet when this has run it's course and she's not getting lambasted in the media. But as long as she is, she is best served by keeping the conversation going. Think of all the sales she made to people who found out about how racist her book was and had to see for themselves.

    Exposure to 10,000 people with a 3% buy rate is exactly the same as exposure to 600 people with a 50% buy rate.

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  2. Also.. my captua for the above was 'butchap'. Thought you should know that your security software has a fetish.

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  3. LOL, as long as it has a fetish to love I won't judge it?

    As far as bad publicity goes, I'm not so sure of that the short term sales would really be worth it. I mean, you'd want people to read your stuff again in the future so you don't want to run the risk of not being able to get readers in because of past events. Look at Candace Sams: she went from being published through Dorchester (a pretty selective major publisher) to going through a very small press that seems to put out just about everything it gets. I'm going to guess that her past behavior definitely hurt her when it came to getting published again.

    The only way bad behavior is really profitable in the long run is if you manage to keep the sensationalism alive ala Snooki.

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  4. Her Amazon book reviews are also almost totally bad so I'm not sure this will lead to sales. The kindle edition is over $7 it says it's normally 9.99. I checked out the publishing company to find it seems to be her. People can get a free sample to read before spending that much and with a 2 star ratin... I just don't see her getting sales.

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  5. I'm fairly late to the party here, but some internet reviewers were tweeting about the book(insert plug for www.chezapocalypse.com here) recently, and that led me here through a HuffPost article.

    Isn't bad press exactly how the whole "50 Shades" thing took off like a rocket? I refuse to believe that book made it to the top of the sales charts on its own merits... although I also question why it was published and marketed in the first place, so I could be completely misreading the reading community.

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