August 22nd, 2012, 02:17 PM
Much ado about nothing.
One of the authors I really enjoy, C.J. Cherryh has a book following a similar theme concerning preceptions and discrimination.
The Cuckoos' Egg
Just want to qualify, this is an excellent book that does not promote or encourage racism, quite the opposite.
What I meant by similar theme is that it addresses perceptions concerning physical differences and how this impacts individuals and societies on a micro and macro level.
Last edited by kshRox; August 22nd, 2012 at 02:19 PM.
August 22nd, 2012, 02:21 PM
To all of which, even the not-having-read-the-book, I simply say, one can read her blog entry and reach one's own conclusion as to whether this is someone who has the insight to write profoundly about race.
It may not be wise to judge a book by its cover, but in most cases, you can judge a book by its author.
Edited to add: this is in reply to Alchemist.
August 22nd, 2012, 02:28 PM
That's a pretty big interpretive jump there, KatG, and a bit incongruous with the first portion of your post. Are you saying that Weird Tales is intentionally hanging that sign or that some people view them as doing so? Let's just say for a moment that WT doesn't find the book to be racist or anything more than edgy (again, I'm not saying that this is true, but let's just say for the sake of argument). Is them publishing the story essentially hanging a sign telling non-white authors and those who support them that they aren't welcome?
Originally Posted by KatG
My point being that your assertion assumes that the story is racist and that WT published it out of racist inclinations. Even if there are subconscious racists inclinations on the part of WT, it doesn't necessarily follow that they are hanging that sign up.
Again, I'm not defending WT or making a statement about whether I think they or Foyt are racist. But when we say things like you did above (in bold) we are accusing them of racism, and not just a low grade clueless variation but deliberate and intentional malice. If, on the other hand, the book was meant to intentionally play with ideas like flipping and other race-related social issues, and WT was publishing it to be edgy, then we cannot accuse them of racism or say that they are hanging that proverbial sign out. We might be able to accuse them of bad PR or lack of sensitivity or cluelessness, but that's a very different thing than the intention of pushing away non-white authors and their supporters.
August 22nd, 2012, 02:28 PM
Being falsely accused can be an aggressive tool of discrimination that can ruin lives and destroy families. Discrimination is also not limited to race or even gender for that matter and it exists in all dynamics (imho). I think it is absolutely silly to get into a heated debate because you want to create arbitrary degree's of suckiness (and if they aren't arbitrary please give me your scale of reference for suckiness).
Originally Posted by Alchemist
Someone who has experienced both would probably agree yes, they both 'suck' (to use Alchemists technical term)
Quite frankly I appreciate Alchemists non-emotional and reasoned stance. I think sometimes when we start getting a little shrill in our tone, even those who agree with us may start feeling a bit alienated.
Last edited by kshRox; August 22nd, 2012 at 02:32 PM.
August 22nd, 2012, 02:32 PM
Prof. G can correct me if I'm wrong (or even if I'm right), but I think she was referring to the quote that essentially said there's no African American readership. In its full context, the quote was about marketing categories, and so not as racist as it sounds, but in its full context it was just as dunderheaded.
Originally Posted by Alchemist
August 22nd, 2012, 02:37 PM
I just read the blog entry and did not find anything in it that makes me think that Foyt is racist. In fact, just reading that blog entry--without having read the book--makes me think that the book is NOT racist. But again, I haven't read the book and am just going on that blog entry.
Originally Posted by Mister
As to whether she "has the insight to write profound about race" or not, I'm not sure how one can make a judgment from her blog post (we're talking about this, right?).
August 22nd, 2012, 02:44 PM
I could spell it out more clearly, but I'm trying to respect the moderators and the lines they have drawn for this discussion.
Originally Posted by Alchemist
August 22nd, 2012, 02:47 PM
I read that blog entry and I didn't give me the sense one way or the other that she is qualified to write about race, nor did it give me the sense that she is racist.
Originally Posted by Mister
Anyone have a link to the excerpt of the book?
August 22nd, 2012, 02:53 PM
it could be worse
Just go to Amazon.com and search for Revealing Eden (Save the Pearls Part One).
August 22nd, 2012, 03:21 PM
1) An attempt to add context: The idea behind the book isn't all that original. There is a similar concept in the movie, "White Man's Burden." Haven't seen it, so I can't say how good it is.
2) One of the reasons there is such divisiveness when someone says something is racist is that the extreme behaviors are so well-mapped-out that even the majority of bigots are aware of them and avoid them. Mostly we are still defining the areas that are not extreme but may still indicate bigotry. Really, it's only been around 60 years since segregation began to crumble in the U.S. We've still a ways to go.
3) Marvin Kaye has been an editor for a long time and some of his anthologies of the 1980s helped keep a certain breed of weird tale/horror story/supernatural fantasy in the public eye. I'm sorry to see him embroiled in this.
4) Weird Tales is a venerable magazine, but it has died and been resurrected several times in the past. It will survive or it won't, but this is hardly the first controversy it's been in the center of. (See C. M. Eddy's "The Loved Dead")
5) The best that can come of this is a long discussion among readers and fans of sf/f/h about what does and does not constitute racism. It's a subject that genre fiction occasionally tackles -- Walter Mosley, Octavia Butler, come to mind -- and in so far as any form of writing is a reflection of its time, at a time when the U.S. has its first African-American President and some of the rhetoric around re-election verges uncomfortably on inciting racial distrust, it is not surprising that the subject is still being explored. It is possible that this author meant well. It's also possible that she is not a strong enough writer to carry off what she meant to do, falling so short of her goal as to seem to be what she was opposing. In a way, I would like to think that. But I can't work up any enthusiasm for reading the book to find out. I do look forward to the discussion the book may be starting, though.
August 22nd, 2012, 03:48 PM
A mere player
So after reading the blog and the small exerpt from the book on Amazon, I don't get the outcries, honestly. The blog entry is a relatively good explanation for what she was attempting, which didn't come across to me as a malicious intent to malign non-whites. As I read the excerpt, I wondered how it would read if you flipped the perjorative names, or substituted "buggers" (I'm reading Card's Shadow series so it popped up) or two starred Sneetches or Gorillas/Chimps/Humans or Jews or Aryans or any number of other colors or words or political agendas. Are people be up in arms about it simply because it's black vs white?
The world introduced seems like a racist society. The character introduced seems to have a clear opinion of the Coals as the book opens. But it's hard to say from that small excerpt whether the entire book is racist - though judging from the blog entry and the minor breakdown of the plot, I don't think it is.
As Randy suggested, she just may not be strong enough to carry off what she attempted. I wasn't in love with the prose, myself. I sort of equate it to a man or woman writing from the opposite sex's perspective - it takes creative role playing talent to make it work properly, and maybe she didn't get there to everyone's satisfaction.
As for Weird Tales publishing the excerpt, not having read the intro that was intended to explain - it seems they simply erred on the side of attempting some edginess or bringing up some controversial societal problems that might boost some sales.
August 22nd, 2012, 03:49 PM
OK, so I read the first few pages on Amazon and skimmed ahead with the "surprise me!" option a few times to get a sense of the book. From that brief reading, I can say that I have no interest in reading this book, but not because it is racist (or not) but because it isn't good, or at least I don't find this style of writing and story appealing (for one there is too much overt "telling").
That said, again, I don't see any clear signs that the author or book is racist or doing anything other than, perhaps clumsily, playing with reverse racism and similar ideas to write (what she perceives to be) an edgy book. A lot of the ideas in her book that critics have been calling racist aren't necessarily racist, but are tools the author is using and part of the story and world. For instance, I cannot agree with Foz Meadows who finds the very usage of Coals and Pearls to be offensive because, as he/she says, "coal is dirty and cheap, whereas pearls are beautiful and valuable."
Now the primary issue doesn't seem to be whether or not the book (or Foyt) is racist, but how people are reacting to it. My main concern remains the mob-effect that often accompanies this sort of thing, and the resulting bifurcation in the community (in this case, the SFF community). The important thing, I think, is that dialogue remains possible without resorting to personal attacks or accusations. Let's be careful about what sort of accusations we throw around, especially accusations of as ugly a thing as racism.
August 22nd, 2012, 04:17 PM
There are difficulties in the discussion taking place, in that it's been expressly prohibited for anyone to make personal attacks on the author, which means we can't argue that the author is racist, but people are free to argue that she isn't, or that there's no way to tell.
Her blog entry is so full of fourth-grade-level understandings of race that it's hard to approach it from any particular angle. And they're all presented as Absolute Truth, without demonstrating any awareness of any other viewpoints. "Judging a book by its cover gives birth to racism," she argues, and "the basis of all prejudice is judging a book by its cover." Does she seem the least bit aware that there are other arguments? For instance, historian Eric Williams' profound debate over which came first, racism or slavery. The argument there is that some people wanted to force some other people to labor for them, for free, but the slavers needed a standard to justify why it was ok to enslave one group of people and not others; thus racism was invented.
I'm not arguing in favor of Williams' interpretation, just using it as an example to show that the ideas around racism are not as simplistic as Ms. Foyt really seems to believe they are. I wouldn't fault the man-in-the-street for not having a working familiarity with the ideas of, say, Cornel West, but here's a woman who set out to write an anti-racism manifesto yet doesn't show any sign of having done any research into the subject.
She cites that a number of (possibly fake) reviewers have said positive things about her book, and then she says, "if you ask if all these reviewers are white then consider that you have a racist point of view." Her notion of racism is that acknowledging the problematics of race is racism. It's not an educated, reasoned, or balanced view.
She seems 100% confident that she understands all there is to know about race and racism, which is an inner beauty/colorblindess argument, and she's written a text whose manifest goal seems to be to "educate" people about the wrongness of racism, when she has demonstrated a lack of education and a stunningly superficial understanding of the subject.
Last edited by Mister; August 22nd, 2012 at 04:20 PM.
August 22nd, 2012, 04:24 PM
You should read Ms. Foyt blogpost on Goodreads which personally I find it quite offensive (even if unintentionally in the clueless limousine liberal way she claims herself to be); the book has been in crossfire for quite a while now btw - eg I heard of it weeks ago in the context of the vigilante Stop the Gr Bullies group (that's a long and loaded discussion by itself) - and I looked at it then and I still believe that the excerpt together with the author's posts that I've seen are damning
Originally Posted by Alchemist
Again it may simply be that if you grew up in this country in a white-Anglo only environment, you may find what V. Foyt says common place and innocuous, but from an outside perspective (eg I am white but of E European origins) it is quite offensive - read the many comments and you will get an inkling why but essentially this idea that permeates her whole post that "we the well off white Anglos are special and holy, molly we will be in a minority soon, what a tragedy" is quite telling
The issue here is though Weird Tales and their decision, and there as mentioned I am more ambiguous in the "their money, their choice" since obviously they would not have broken any laws by intending to publish crap racist stuff
Second issue is talking about this stuff or letting it languish in the obscurity it deserves; here same, I am more of a "don't feed the troll" opinion but the Weird Tales magazine seems to be well loved in the previous incarnation that when it turned troll, outrage came
August 22nd, 2012, 04:26 PM
But if it's clumsily done, as many are suggesting it is, it brings up another question - Why on Earth was it picked up over better pieces, especially when you consider its potential for controversy? Any editor worth their salt should have passed it over.
It's possible the author isn't a racist. I don't think many (sensible) people have quite gone as far as to say that they are, but it doesn't stop a work carrying racist overtones. From what I've read about this book, it's not just the Pearls/Coals bit - it's the portrayal of the Coals as animalistic and savage in certain regards, which harks back to things that were said about black communities to vilify them and keep them distant. Yet even if it is all resolved and the heroine changes her views at the end, that's not quite the point - what was shown was an extract. It, contextually, is different to the full book.
Race is, sadly, an issue in society. People are killed every week purely because of their race, violence is brought upon them due to it, they aren't as able to find success in life (look at the Time rich list if you don't believe me) and so on. If you're going to tackle racism and 'race-swapping', you need to be a certain calibre of author. You need to have the sensitivity to do it, otherwise controversy like this will happen.
Heck, remember The Hunger Games? People were outraged because the film portrayed Rue as black (as she was in the book, funnily enough). Racism is rife, and it's a problem.
Last edited by Loerwyn; August 22nd, 2012 at 04:28 PM.