Eden Newman must mate before her 18th birthday in six months or she’ll be left outside to die in a burning world. But who will pick up her mate-option when she’s cursed with white skin and a tragically low mate-rate of 15%? In a post-apocalyptic, totalitarian, underground world where class and beauty are defined by resistance to an overheated environment, Eden’s coloring brands her as a member of the lowest class, a weak and ugly Pearl. If only she can mate with a dark-skinned Coal from the ruling class, she’ll be safe. Just maybe one Coal sees the Real Eden and will be her salvation her co-worker Jamal has begun secretly dating her. But when Eden unwittingly compromises her father’s secret biological experiment, she finds herself in the eye of a storm and thrown into the last area of rainforest, a strange and dangerous land. Eden must fight to save her father, who may be humanity’s last hope, while standing up to a powerful beast-man she believes is her enemy, despite her overwhelming attraction. Eden must change to survive but only if she can redefine her ideas of beauty and of love, along with a little help from her “adopted aunt” Emily Dickinson.
It’s not every day I get to review a book whose series title is literally “Save the Whites.”
It’s also not quite every day that I encounter a YA dystopia whose basic premise comes down to “white girls must ‘mate’ with black men by eighteen or they’ll be executed.” Victoria Foyt, incidentally, believes herself to be an enlightened human being who wants everyone to live in a “color-free” world. Oh, if you’re wondering why the girl on the front cover is one half Aryan and the other half black (literally), be puzzled no more: she’s wearing blackface. Yes, that’s a promotional video. I understand there are forty-nine of those on youtube.
When I first read one of those blog entries my initial thought was, “Well, that’s kind of crypto-racist, isn’t it?” On further reading though, it turns out this is just plain ol’ racism with nothing crypto about it. Revealing Eden, you see, is a white supremacist fantasy written by a white person who has the vapors when she contemplates what’d happen if things went upside down and POC get the chance to treat whiteys the way whiteys have been treating everyone else since times immemorial.
The answer, for Foyt anyway, is “Black people will rise up and oppress the shit out of everyone, including other POC, but mostly white people.” (Is this called “Black Peril”?) In interviews and blog posts, Foyt calls the black love interest in her book “beastly” or “bestial” about ten thousand times. He turns into a jaguar-man with hairy arms. The cat eyes against the jungle background on the cover are meant to represent him. Is anyone getting uncomfortable here?
I’d joke about Foyt’s KKK club card, but she considers herself liberal. If there was a dictionary entry for “fauxgressive,” then a link to her blog ought to be it. Foyt, incidentally, self-published this dreck but she’s otherwise a “real author” in the sense that her other work was published by HarperCollins. Inverarity has covered some of it, but I’ve read further–some 100 pages out of 250–so it, I guess, falls to me to venture beyond the first chapter. Fucking fuck.
Had Peach forgotten that Eden’s skin only had a dark coating? Maybe she was passing, after all.
Oh me oh my. I don’t think Foyt’s insight into whitening creams and straightening hair is as deep as she thinks. I’ll pause here and note that Foyt decided to name a “plump” black woman “Peach.”
In that quiet, treasured space, she allowed herself one small but true thought: I hate them.
And yet, if only Eden were one of them, she’d be beautiful and safe.
The “them” that she hates is black people. Remember that the character is a blonde blue-eyed girl and the author is white.
A familiar rush of pleasure, mixed with fear, coursed through her at the sight of the white girl. Images of Pearls in natural coloring were forbidden. If they caught Eden looking, she would be punished.
And yet, she couldn’t resist watching the pale, slim girl bounce a multi-colored ball over to a young man who was also white-skinned. She wore a polka-dot bikini—all that skin exposed! Nearby, other whites lounged on thick towels or cabana chairs, or played cards at tables out in broad daylight!
She’s… literally celebrating a picture of white people. Because it depicts whites. Recall that the series’ title is “Save the Whites.” Now here I’m going to ask: why do these images even survive? For what reason are they kept, if they’re illegal? Why are they accessible to a “lowly” white? Why doesn’t Victoria Foyt have a brain?
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.
Me? Eden Newman, beautiful? No matter how often she studied the precious map she couldn’t imagine it. She was a lowly Pearl, worth nothing in a world ruled by dark-skinned Coals.
And, again, why is there a “Beauty Map” to chronicle beauty standards throughout the ages? Did the white imperialists make one and hand them to the POC they colonized? Just a hunch: they didn’t. And, again, this obsession with people’s “kind.” This particular passage becomes very specific–blonde and blue-eyed is Eden’s kind. Basically, her “kind” is the Aryan ideal. This is a world where white girls who don’t mate by eighteen (preferably to blacks) are thrown out to cook in “the Heat.”
There’s also the contrast which gets reiterated throughout the text between the slurs “Pearl” and “Coal.” Why would the ruling class give devolved whites a semi-precious gem for a slur? Why does the ruling class in turn get called “Coals”?
That bitch Ashina was now fifteen minutes late and Eden wanted to take her break. She glanced around the lab, hoping for a sign of the haughty Coal.
Eden calls a black woman “bitch” a lot. More about that when I get around to a close textual analysis.
Because of his high intelligence scores, they had overlooked his race and given him the position of lead scientist at Resources for Environmental Adaptation, or REA. [...] With smug satisfaction, she considered the dozens of assistants—gorgeous dark-skinned Coals, every last one of them—who labored in a warren of workstations below the operating theater.
Does this make sense to anyone? Whites are the lowest of the low in this setting. Yet magically her white father’s given a leading position where he supervises a bunch of black scientists. There’s also the implication that a white man stands out as a singular genius so amazing that no black researcher may compare, because otherwise there’s no way in shit he’d have gotten the position. So the smartest person around in this setting? A white man.
She smoothed a hand over her long black hair to reassure herself. Like her skin, the layers of dark coating—Midnight Luster—she’d worn since birth had turned it dry and crackly. A small price to pay for beauty and for protection. She had to cover her white skin or risk antagonizing the Coals.
Annnnd blackface. This is just fucking tiresome, and not really how it works IRL for POC trying to conform to a white supremacist beauty standards. There’s just no subtlety to this, no understanding.
a glance at her nemesis, envious of the beauty’s easy confidence. Voluptuous, with raisin-colored skin, everything about Ashina screamed ruling class.
We’ve got the protagonist, a virginal blonde blue-eyed girl on one hand, pitted against her “nemesis”: a voluptuous, sexually confident black woman whom said Aryan protagonist repeatedly calls “bitch.” Anyone getting uncomfortable? And what the fuck is “raisin-colored skin”? How does that work? Does Foyt think black people are purple? Has she never seen one and just decided they look like this?
How many times had Eden heard it? White people were lazy good-for-nothings with weak genetics.
Uh, but in this setting they are genetically predisposed to weakness since they can’t survive against “the Heat” (never mind that the science of that is shot all to hell), so… what? It’s an objective truth. Whereas, you know, a similar racist statement about black people in our world is not. Unless Foyt thinks it is and therefore analogous.
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!”
Wait, what? In this world black people are the epitome of beauty, desirability, and all-around wonderfulness. But instead Eden reacts like a white person living in an apartehid–the moment one of them touches her she freaks the fuck out and screams a racist insult at them, she’s just that disgusted by blackness. Shit like this is why Foyt’s idiotic “BUT I AM CHALLENGING RACISM” has zero credence.
The workers jerked to their feet, the screech of chairs against the floor raking across Eden’s heart. She looked around the room in a panic. Even those whom she thought tolerated her presence hurled racial epithets.
The angry mob lurched towards Eden, just like in her nightmares. The Coals were going to kill her. They would drag her outside and leave her to cook in the sun.
So, we’ve got a scene where a bunch of black people attempt to lynch a white girl, a scene in which moreover is a nightmare come true for her suggesting that she’s been fixating on this a lot. Note, again, that their idea of a slur against white is “Pearls” when it could’ve been any number of actual derogatory words–even “honky” and “whitey” have more power than fucking “Pearls,” which is–you know–a SEMI-PRECIOUS STONE. Your bias is showing, Victoria Foyt. Stop lying; go apply for a KKK club card.
She searched for the right words when Ashina strode up beside her.
“She attacked me, sir,” the bitch said, acting the injured party.
To Eden’s surprise, Bramford questioned the little actress. “Is that so, Ashina?”
A Coal’s word outweighed a Pearl’s. Always. And yet Bramford hesitated.
There we go again with “bitch.” We then learn that, for some reason, girls have to “mate”–that obsession with the word–by eighteen, men by twenty-four. This makes no sense, particularly in light of the world-building sketchiness about how resources are scarce (“oxy pills”, water, etc). Why does the “Uni-Gov” urge people to reproduce? Why are whites even allowed to reproduce? Shouldn’t they have become extinct ages ago? The real reason obviously is that Foyt genuinely cannot imagine a future in which blonde blue-eyed whites are completely gone, since she’s a giant racist, but by internal consistency this is such shit logic.
“Shen,” Bramford called his bodyguard, a mixed Asian, or Amber, as the racist term went.
[...] Only true Coals were allowed to hold security positions. Of course, Bramford could use his clout to bypass such rules. Still, why not pick a Tiger’s Eye, or Latino? They ranked higher in the race wars than Ambers, who stood above Pearls. Was it the touch of Coal in Shen that gave him an edge?
Why is there a “race war”? Why does everyone but black people have a “racist term” attached to them that’s a semi-precious stone? Come to that, how come there are still purebred whites running around–let alone ones with recessive traits like blonde hair and blue eyes?
Eden thought Jamal was special. Unlike most of his kind, he was color-blind.
See this is funny because people who say they are “color-blind” tend to be fauxgressive crypto-racist whites. Jamal turns out to be a high-ranking member of “the dreaded Federation of Free People, a militant organization of Coals that vowed to rid the planet of Pearls.” OHOHO.
The hair on the back of Eden’s neck prickled. Did the nosey bitch suspect her hidden connection to Jamal? Coals often killed Pearls who seduced their kind.
There we go again with–never mind, I give up.
“I see your mate-rate is below average,” she said. “And yet, a few of your kind have offered to pick up your option. Tell me, Eden Newman, why have you refused them?”
[...] Was it the low level of oxy in Eden’s system or her lingering anger over Bramford’s lies that drove her to speak her mind for once in her life?
“Because I don’t want my child to be all Pearl. I’d rather be dead than mate with one of my kind.”
If Eden’s internalized this, then the sentiment she expresses must be fairly common–which, again, prompts one to ask: just how is it possible that purebred whites like Eden are still around? Does there exist some sort of underground movement to keep the Aryan ideal alive?
A Pink Pearl, she was fairer than Eden, and therefore even more susceptible to The Heat. But she’d been lax about coating. Minor rebellions keep the heart alive, she would say.
—Austin is colorblind, Eden. He responds to love and kindness. Remember what Aunt Emily said? ‘That Love is all there is, / Is all we know of Love.’ Promise me you won’t forget. Love is like a gentle wind that will open your heart if you let it.
How have “Pink Pearls” survived, if apparently their red-haired whiteness is even more susceptible to death than the blonde-haired blue-eyed type? How many fucking times “colorblind” will come up in this book (and they’re talking about a dog here, so double the laughter)?
He often skipped meals, which, along with his genetics, made him rail thin. If Eden weren’t careful she’d be just as skinny, and even less desirable.
So, this is Foyt’s ham-fisted, abortive attempt at engaging with today’s beauty ideals–in Eden’s future, the “voluptuous” black woman is the ideal, the one that “screams ruling class.” Except that’s the dystopian part of this awful, terrible dystopia where the uppity black folks have risen up to oppress the whites: like the deal with Eden being oppressed, this is presented as a harrowing condition. The nostalgia Eden expresses towards the holograms of white girls suggests that that is how the world should return to being, by implication if not explicit statement. There’s no attempt to engage with that beyond “the way it is now, for me, is bad and makes it so hard to be a thin blonde blue-eyed girl.” There’s no acknowledgment that in our real world, right now, it’s pretty fucking hard to be a “voluptuous” black woman. There’s no effort at empathy, despite the fact that Eden has access to the “beauty map” that chronicles beauty standards throughout the ages.
Victoria Foyt, your colors are showing through that “midnight luster,” if you know what I mean, and it’s oh so white.
Now, the good stuff, she thought, dialing in a fresh coating of Midnight Luster. Her spirits lifted as her skin and hair darkened to a lustrous shade of black. Water would cause the coating to streak, which was easy enough to avoid in her dry, tunneled world. And in a few days the coat would turn dull and gray—a dead giveaway she was a Pearl.
But for now, she looked beautiful.
Applying her makeup, Eden expertly shaded her face to appear Coal-like. She refreshed the brown caps in her eyes with darkening drops. Red lipstick, smoothed over the lines to make her lips seem fuller, was the last touch. She let her long black hair dip over one eye and smiled.
“Definitely passing, right?”
So we’ve got a world with limited resources, based underground. How is this stuff being manufactured? How can a “lowly Pearl” like Eden get access to it–shouldn’t it be expensive and viciously sought after by whites? And isn’t this terrible and devoid of nuances? Imagine how much better it’d have been handled if a writer of color wrote it. “Definitely passing, right?” No, Foyt, you aren’t passing for shit except as a giant racist dingbat.
I get it. You don’t think I like your blue eyes, right? You’re wrong about that. Maybe some day you’ll let me see the real you, Eden Newman.
It is so hard to have the bluest eye. I’d like to think Foyt is aware that Toni Morrison’s book exists, but it’s hard to imagine her being aware of anything but how enlightened, progressive and “color-blind” she is.
Never mind, she simply had to reach the regional plaza where her Dark Prince waited.
If dark is the norm–the ruling norm even–why does she call him her “Dark Prince” instead of just her prince? Nobody calls Prince Charming in fairytales “the Aryan Prince.”
Luckily, she found a few inches of space to hold onto the overhead bar in the back section reserved for Pearls.
Oh hoo boy. “See,” Victoria Foyt seems to crow, “I understand racism! Eden Newman is my blonde-haired blue-eyed Rosa Parks! Do you understand racism now? DO YOU????”
She felt a malevolent current coursing through the riders on the transport. Not only from Coal to Pearl, or from Tiger’s Eye to Amber, but within each racial group. The Uni-Gov got it wrong. The monthly Moon Dance usually left a wake of mayhem throughout each zone.
Jesus, is this what she thinks present-day racial relations function? Save us from her writing lengthy essays on horizontal oppression.
Possibly, man’s only hope lay at Eden’s very own doorstep. She recalled the thrill of piecing together the puzzle of her father’s experiment. Each researcher had been given one small part of the process to prevent the very discovery she had made. Eden, being the best interpreter of her father’s notes, had filled in once too often for ill coworkers and the result was inevitable.
Remember, “man’s only hope” is something a white man is cooking up and the best high priestess to interpret this work is his daughter, a white girl. Because everyone else is too dim to appreciate his genius (and indeed no POC is ever as smart as he, white man).
The primary genetic donor was the ultimate jungle predator, a jaguar, Panthera onca. Even better, a melanistic cat with a black coat had been found. Its coloring would not only increase resistance to solar radiation, but also minimize the appearance of camouflage spots, for vanity’s sake. The jaguar’s only natural enemy, the green anaconda, Eunectes murinus, contributed its cold-blooded resistance to heat. The third donor in this potent cocktail was the Harpy Eagle, Harpia
harpyja, the most powerful raptor in the world. It could spot a bug from a hundred yards in the air, and its keen vision had been added to the mix.
Land, water, and air—a brilliant killing machine.
If her father’s work succeeded, a Pearl might be able to withstand solar radiation as well as, or even better than, a Coal. Maybe then Pearls would no longer be treated like garbage. And maybe—did Eden dare think it—even she might be beautiful.
That’s not how it works, you fucking dolt. Today whites are already the numerical minority, and whites are more susceptible to some sickness than others. Guess what though? They still haven’t become the underclass. As has been pointed elsewhere, when “the Meltdown” happened the people with the best access to protection/medical care… would have been white westerners. This scenario assumes power predicates on physical fitness, when that’s never been the case among humans. Next, what the fuck is this? The white man’s genius plan is to mix a bunch of random animal DNA with a human’s to create a super-being, which will somehow save them from being killed by… radiation?
How does that even fucking work? Are these particular animals able to survive in radiation? What the fuck is this shit?
Little Pearly whirly,
lost inside the mines;
tossed from Coal to Coal,
in fear, she whines,
“I’m sorry, Mother,
he said he only wanted
to see my white skin shine.”
We’ve gone from the previous scene where a bunch of black scientists tried to lynch a white girl to a poem about how a bunch of black miners are sexually assaulting a white girl. VICTORIA FOYT, PRESENT YOUR KKK CLUB CARD THIS INSTANT.
Giant smiled, his eyes roving over her body. He leaned over her, and Eden felt sick as his wet mouth landed on her neck. He pulled back, smiling again when a crazed look came into his eyes. She knew that look all too well; every Pearl dreaded it. Her hand flew to the spot on her neck where the seam in her dark coating had cracked open. Mother Earth, her white skin showed.
And now, we have a huge black man–”Giant”!–who literally sexually assaults the Aryan girl. Remember what Foyt said about being “color blind”?
From the corner of her eye she saw the hopeful beauties shift impatiently. [...]
“Thank you for your help, sir,” Eden said, trying to pull away. “You can go now.”
Bramford seemed amused and held her tight. “Are you dismissing me?”
Why did he always make her feel so small?
“I said thanks.”
“You don’t want to dance with me? Is that it?”
She felt tongue-tied with his warm body next to hers. “Those women are waiting for you,” she managed to say.
“Let them wait. Unless you’d rather we stopped?”
So far, every woman in this book except Eden is a “bitch” (Ashina), slow (Peach) or desperate to ensnare a rich man. To be fair, Eden is also desperate to get a black man to “mate” with her–but note how every other woman is presented as vapid, vicious, slutty, or in some way inferior unlike the wonderful, genuine Eden who’s driven to desire “mating” with black men only due to her awful circumstances.
Even here, Bramford had stamped the upholstery with his ego-driven logo. How had he obtained the leather, anyway, when the world treated its scant remaining livestock like gods?
Yeah, how? And we’re back to that point about scarcity. Why are the whites, if they’re so despised, given anything? Remember how in the real world black people were enslaved, raped, and treated as subhuman–and that’s when they were considered free labor? In this world whites literally have no goddamn use and only take up valuable space, oxygen and water. By all rights they should’ve already been wiped out or disallowed to breed. “The image of her dying mother, desperate for a drink of water, burned in her mind,” quoth Eden. Why is any white at all ever given any water whatsoever?
Eden watched as a mob tied the screaming albino to a funeral pyre. It was the only time she’d seen Coals and Pearls united in action. The Cotton’s white skin and hair stood out among his attackers; his pinkish eyes pleaded for help. Strange how she didn’t feel deep hatred for the albino, as she had been taught in school. She might even feel sorry for the poor boy.
Do you see, it is so hard to be pale. The paler, the harder. And… cotton? Shouldn’t a world in which resources are scarce values cotton? Why would you use that as a fucking slur?
The book’s been given a good thrashing on the Racebending tumblr. One Mark has also subjected himself to a reading. Victoria Foyt has desperately tried to fend off all charges of racism on Facebook, though without much success since the comments are 90% people telling her to fuck off to the far end of a cliff. She’s now said that judging a book by its cover is exactly like racism. Stay tuned for part two, whenever I can be arsed to pick up this vapid tripe.