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“Save The Pearls”: Eden Newman, White Privilege, & Interracial Dating

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While browsing the internet for current events, I happened upon some buzz of the “WTF?” variety regarding an independently published YA novel written by Victoria Foyt called, “Save the Pearls Part One: Revealing Eden.” A quick Google search led me to an interesting list of results; which included dismay from bloggers, Amazon stats [the book was rated poorly], and its official site. The cover art for the book features a young woman whose skin and hair color are split bilaterally, down the middle [black skin, raven colored hair on one side, flaxen haired and pale skin on the other]. An official synopsis [from the “Save the Pearls” site] reads…

In a post-apocalyptic world where resistance to an overheated environment defines class and beauty, Eden Newman’s white skin brands her as a member of the lowest class, a weak and ugly Pearl. The clock is ticking: if Eden doesn’t mate before her eighteenth birthday, she’ll be left outside to die.

If only a dark-skinned Coal from the ruling class would pick up her mate option, she’d be safe. But no matter how much Eden darkens her skin and hair, she’s still a Pearl, still ugly-cursed with a tragically low mate-rate of 15%.

Just maybe one Coal sees the real Eden and will save her-she has begun secretly dating her handsome co-worker Jamal.

I haven’t read the entire book, but based on the generous excerpts I’ve been able to without having to pay and Foyt’s own misguided views on what constitutes anti-racism and racism, I’ve gleaned all that I need and then some, so more than enough to offer a critique on Foyt’s work.

To reiterate: Eden is a young “Pearl” [white woman]; part of an endangered “minority” race, struggling to survive in this dystopian underground civilization where another group of people identified as Coals [read: Black folks] reign supreme, due to having survived some cataclysmic event in greater numbers. The catastrophe left the earth’s surface radioactive and the Coals immune to the heat, due to the high levels of melanin in their skin. However, it’s unsafe for those with pale skin to be above ground. Survivors have been overtaken and reduced to the lower class and are trying to pass [in blackface].

Time is imminent for Eden because, unless she finds a male Coal to mate with before her 18th birthday, to dilute her own DNA, she’ll be cut-off from receiving government resources, relegated to the hot surface above ground, and left to die. Not to mention the privilege, reassurance that she’s desired, and protection that’ll be restored to her if she’s successful in her quest to be mated with a Coal.

As if the synopsis weren’t dubious enough; the book’s YouTube page is a treasure trove of foolery consisting of a trailer showing the Eden character in blackface, lamenting her plight as a genetically undesired, but rare and delicate Pearl; as well as mock dating profiles featuring over-eager Ambers [Asians],  oversexed Coal women with little else to offer beyond freaky relations, and Coal men who believe dating a Pearl from the lower end of the totem pole still outweighs having to date a female Coal on his same social level.

I’m not sure what Victoria Foyt was trying to convey with this particular plot twist  and marketing campaign; but I do know that her patronizing, self-administered pat on the back in a Huffington Post article from February— commending herself for believing she successfully “tackled” the issue of race and the politics of interracial dating just because she received little to no backlash from critics, Blacks, or social media (‘til now)— is arrogant and is demonstrative of how some White liberals eschew awareness about marginalized groups, because they’d rather peddle post-racial rhetoric about “colorblindness”, for their own comfort. Foyt not only described her book as an “interracial relationship in a post-apocalyptic world”, but put on her colorblind stunners and urged readers to do the same and simply think of her story as a variation of Beauty and the Beast, and we all know who the Beast represents…  so NO!

There are so many troubling things wrong with the tired tropes about people of color and interracial relationships Foyt trot out in her book and follow-up responses to critics, I don’t even know where else to continue from…

… Perhaps an incident from her childhood, where she was “slandered” by a Black boy hurling an unspecified racial slur “usually targeted at Blacks” from a school bus when she a young girl, saying vile things about her “bee-stung lips”, is what inspired “Save The Pearls”; her weak attempts at trying to romanticize “passing” and explain away blackface while having implemented a plot device where Eden smears body paint on her face called “Midnight Luster” and applies red lipstick to make her lips look fuller; her fetishizing of the “Coal” males, reducing them to nothing more than sexual commodities to be approached with the utmost caution by female “Pearls” and manipulated into being “mated with” for status; dark equaling smarmy and dangerous; “Pearl” equaling delicate and rare;  this sentence describing the book, from her site: “this captivating novel set in a terrifying future, which is all too easy to imagine” — because apparently a world where Blacks are the ruling class is a world she or her readers shouldn’t have to fathom; the fact that the female protagonist seems to bemoan the loss of her White privilege and White female desirability, which is no longer pedestal-ed– [Ms. Polka Dot bikini was Eden’s kind, right down to her long blond hair and big blue eyes. And yet, according to the antique Beauty Map, she had been prized for her beauty—which meant, if Eden had been born in an earlier time, she too might have been beautiful.] — And of course there’s the author’s puzzling classifications and traits she uses for people of color versus the non-offensive slur she ascribes to Whites.

For all of Foyt’s “color free” anti-racism rhetoric, what she fails to realize is that she still seems to equate darker skin as something negative, to be tip-toed around. I’m not sure if it’s prompted by residual feelings from her encounter with the Black boy from her youth, but she definitely stokes the long-held trepidation some White people have towards Blacks, and any denials to the contrary is complete nonsense as evidenced in her delusional HuffPo post…

“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.

Or perhaps — and this is what I hope — the YA generation sees race in a way that is unique to them, unique in our history. After all, they have arrived on the scene decades past the integration of schools and Jim Crow, even well past the days of The Cosby Show.

Soap-mouth-washing words that were forbidden in my youth now populate rap songs so often I wonder if, happily, they have lost their vile connotations.

I have endeavored to raise my children with a color-free mentality. My son once mentioned that his color was white while mine was tan. This was said with no more feeling than if he’d been describing the different colors of our bedrooms.” [Oh.]

It seems as if Foyt has been actively deleting the backlash she claims she hasn’t been receiving, from threads on the book’s Facebook fan page and suggesting that critics are engaging in reverse-racism. Her denial about the world around her runs deeper than I could ever imagine, and ignorance is a blissful and serene vacation for folks like her.

Her desire that people buy and read her book seems to come with strings attached; and those strings dictate that folks [read: Black readers] need to extol her narrow views on interracial dating, race, and race-relations and hopefully renounce their identities and personal experiences with racism in the process … sort of like the “free-spirited” African-American who offered her positive feedback, because she doesn’t seem to grasp that Eden’s narrative serves as a voice of condemnation of the Coals, despite her plotting ways to “be mated” with one. Victoria Foyt’s delusions about race, racial identity and  interracial dating has her thinking that she has the right to decide how people of color should and shouldn’t feel about race, dating across racial lines, and blackface; so no thanks. I don’t like having my intelligence insulted.

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  • J. Bridger

    And of course, she even so far as admits that she based the Bramford character on Sir Richard Branson, white billionaire – = I cannot EVEN with this woman. What is wrong with her?

    • Coffey

      She’s extremely delusional, arrogant, and has a warped view of what does and doesn’t constitute racism. She claims the book is about the importance of saving the environment- (
      – o__O Ok, but she had to use gross racial stereotypes and language to talk about it, apparently. Also, any person calling her out on the book’s obvious racism or daring to express dismay over the caricatures of blackface are racist themselves and don’t care about the environment, according to her.
      She also accused Black people of not having read the book beyond its cover; which is b.s. Black folks are not the *only* people calling her out on her ignorance. People have *read* the book either in its entirety or large enough portions to *realize* what’s what.
      She underestimates and insults the intelligence of her readers, which is what pisses me off the most.

      Here’re some hilarious reactions:

      • J. Bridger

        Sorry just noticed this! Oh yeah, been following it. Her essays (read: shameless book shilling) at The Huffington Post disgust me. If you read them they’re racist, sexist, misogynist, and anti-“feminized men.” She says she means that in the context of metrosexual but her stereotypes there and assumptions read like homophobia to me. Her assumptions about race just floor me and it’s EVERYONE who looks bad. She makes all white people look like ignorant jack-asses. She uses every conceivable awful stereotypes of blacks. The one Asian, of course, has to have a dragon tatoot. Then there’s the treatment of native people in her book which is about on par with Avatar at best. I was furious with her “White, and in the Minority” article not just for being ridiculously idiotic and biased but for mentioning “latinos in their peak fertile years.”

        Lady, STOP TALKING.

        But the more I see of her the worse she is. She’s gone to the Stop Good Reads Bullies, a site which has been disowned by any anti-Bullying organization for posting personal information about women reviewers at Good Reads to implicitly promote real life stalking and phone harassment (as well as spreading libel about alcoholism). They’re flagging any reviews that mention racism on good reads, socking fake positive ones on both there and Amazon, harassing people on twitter and their personal blogs, and just being insufferable on comments sections. Add in that they’re like “she’s scared of you all” and “she doesn’t see the point in dealing with the ‘rational ones'” and it’s just too much hauteur to deal with.

        CTV infuriates me the most. CLEARLY, she called in some favor from an L.A. friend who moved to that station (she claims to be an “indie film start” but is the self-pub equivalent there too). The comments are heavily, heavily screened to self serve/support her and NOW she’s trying to back pedal like crazy and be like “Oh it’s just about the environment.” Bull it is. The science is nonsensical. If you actually cared about the environment, you’d have RESEARCHED IT and left race out of it.

        Frankly, with her interview about Branson. I think she had a bizarre fantasy about being whisked away by a Thundercat/Manpanther!Richard Branson and retooled it to be a Mary Sue, self-insert fiction and then tried to latch onto the YA market (it’s not even appropriate for that, all horrible social issues aside, because of bestiality) and ride the Hunger Games/Twilight coat tails.

        I honestly believe, the more I read about her and her old interviews (yay internet never forgets), that she honestly was doing a cash grab and threw racism into it for HEADLINES. I mean, I don’t think she’s KKK/Stormfront. I think she really, really thinks she’s “liberated” and “post-racial” which is just as bad, ignorant, and insulting, ugh. Still, she wanted the headlines and the controversy and now that she has the press (all bad except what she has access to at Huff Po and CTV), she’s running away from it, preaching at people, and using a goon squad.

        Oh and having people on twitter fake/non-verified accounts pose as famous people to praise her book, no kidding –

        This woman has no soul, I swear.

        • Coffey

          Wowwww! Also, she’s absolutely is basking in all of the press her book has gotten… even though it *is* negative. Sets the stage for her to release part two… smdh. And most def regarding: “If you actually cared about the environment, you’d have RESEARCHED IT and left race out of it.”
          This book has fuck all to do with the environment. Likely excuse to came up with though.

  • Anon

    1-310-459-3399 1-310-990-1660
    Victoria Foyt
    609 E. Channel Road
    Los Angeles-Pacific Palisades, California

    • Sarah Hannah Gomez

      That is totally inappropriate. You are inviting stalking and threats, and that’s uncalled for. Attacking Ms. Foyt’s safety doesn’t achieve anything, nor does it help those of us who are tirelessly trying to explain how, regardless of her intent, her work is harmful. We are using such things as evidence, logic, and critical thinking; stalking her at her home is not necessary.

      • Coffey

        Did *not* see this o_O. I definitely *do not* endorse posting someone’s personal contact information and address on a post. Encouraging harassment and stalking undermines the discussion about the issues with Victoria Foyt’s book. Thanks for catching this and calling it about @mclicious:disqus.

  • Jason Peffley

    Only uneducated people think that this is racist. Did it occur to anyone that in this fictional future coal has much more value than pearls? Holy fuck it’s sad to see this many dumb people. How many butt hurts actually read the book? /thread

    • Coffey

      You seem to be the only uneducated and dumb person in this thread. Anybody with any ounce of awareness, realize the book is nothing more than racist tripe by a woman who is as out of touch as you seem. The Coals have more value than the Pearls, you suggest? Yet and still, Foyt went out of her way to write their story in the most vile way via Eden’s narrative and ridden with some of the most racist stereotypes [mostly about Black men], had the nerve to include minstrelsy (blackface) under the guise of “Midnight Luster”, then tried to offer up some muddled excuse, claiming her book was about saving the environment… yeah, likely story… while insulting the intelligence of her readers and detractors in a lot of her deluded, follow-up responses, defending the book.

      In fact, none of the minorities in her short-sighted, p.o.s. plot device fared all that well. And you don’t have to *like* or agree with that *fact*. Folks who live with their head buried up their ass are often loath to see a glaring truth. Good day.

      • Jason Peffley

        Coffey. It saddens me that you feel fictional story telling is racist. I suggest you eat a few mushrooms and read the book. Things like racism disappear when you’re looking at the universe.

        • Coffey

          “Things like racism disappear when you’re looking at the universe.”

          –And on that myopic note, I’ve already said what I needed to say to you regarding Victoria Foyt’s book. You can’t vote the down arrow however many times you want. I suggest *you* check your privilege and condescension and don’t tell me, a person of color, how I need to view racism, because it *never* disappears *ever* for people of color. I don’t care that it’s framed within the pages of fiction.

  • Mwatuanghi

    How the hell did I miss this article? I still find it hilarious that the author had the gall to have the superior race refer to themselves as Coals. Like how the fuck is that empowering? Not to mention that the main character actually uses “coal” as a racial pejorative. I really hate it when Dwight folk try to tackle racial issues in such a hamfisted way.

    • TiffJ

      Ha, this was a hot ass mess. And her “statement” on her Facebook wall and passive-aggressive, dismissive responses to people calling her out on her obvious racism, was a trip 1/2. Some “Dwight” (I like that) folks don’t get it, because unpacking their privilege and racism seems to be too laborious of an effort for them.