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Usually, this blog is about unpleasant realities that can seem insurmountable. I think the following news proves that just talking about race is enough to affect an entire industry. Corporations can and will do the right thing if enough people put up a fuss and speak out.

Bloomsbury USA is going to change the cover of its leading Young Adult fiction title this fall, Justine Larbalestier’s Liar. It was another case of whitewashing, where the white girl on the cover was supposed to represent the biracial black protagonist in the story. Many bloggers and readers expressed dismay at the misrepresentation of the main character and how the cover fed into the racist trend of sidelining both stories about people of color and authors of color (Larbalestier is white, but the conversation outgrew this one single instance), and how children of color so rarely find protagonists who look like they do on the covers of the books they are encouraged to buy. Justine took a professional risk and publicly criticized the decision to put a stock photo of a white girl on the book over her protests.

For those of you not aware, authors rarely have any say whatsoever in what the cover art for their work looks like when they are published at an old-school, non-print-on-demand publisher, the only kind of  publisher from which most books stores are willing to buy. If you want your print books to reach a large audience, you have to be willing to give up most of your creative control over everything: the audience to which the book is marketed, the language and vocabulary used in the story, the cover art, the marketing pitch, the blurb, etc. Having a contract not only with an agent but with a publisher with the clout of Bloomsbury is a big deal. Justine was brave enough to talk honestly on the Internet about a subject that could have cost her professional relationships vital to her career. She believed the risk was worth the potential cost to herself, to young readers, especially children of color if she did not. I agree with her.

It took less than two weeks of the story circulating between the blogs and publishing news media outlets for Bloomsbury to change its mind and order all of the old covers to be scrapped, conduct a photo shoot, and order new covers for the book. For a large print run like 100,000 copies, that must have cost them a significant amount of money, but the publishers decided to do it any way. The motivations behind doing this may not be as idealistic as Justine’s, and the new cover girl doesn’t actually have ‘nappy’ hair, but it is a vast, VAST improvement over the original cover.

Normally, I don’t approve of giving people ‘cookies’ for doing the right thing. But the reviews of Justine’s book make it sound fantastic, and I want this book to succeed beyond Bloomsbury’s expectations. Furthermore, Justine has recommended two authors of color who deserve as many accolades for their talents: Coe Booth, who has written Kendra, a coming-of-age story about a young mother and her teenage daughter afraid of repeating the past, and M. Sindy Felin’s Touching Snow.

Provided that this new face graces Liar when it hits the bookshelves in October, I will be one of the first to buy several copies.

Originally published at The Multiracial Muse. You can comment here or there.

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IMPORTANT NOTE: I’m so pissed off about this and various episodes of -isms this month that I had to take a step back. When I returned, this post was what came out. I hope you’ll be able to forgive me for my sarcasm. I’m trying not to throw things in frustration here, so I’m writing something for the sake of my furniture’s well-being. After all, I don’t even own most of it.

The Whitewashing of Liar )
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[cross-posted to dot_race_snark]

 So what’s a desperate Republican to do when his other racist smears aren’t working? Why, compare Obama to the most infamous black acquitted murderer in modern history, that’s what!

A banner slogan on the Pemberton Republican Club’s Web site that said, “Obama loves America like O.J. loved Nicole,” disappeared yesterday after local Democrats alleged racist campaign tactics.
The Web master, Ed Kuck, a recently elected Republican County committeeman, said he had seen the slogan on an Internet site and copied it onto the club’s Web page about a month ago as “a joke.”

Apparently, this ‘quote’ has been making the rounds on conservative blogs.

I just…have no words to describe how fucked up this is.

If I've enlightened, inspired or enslaved your mind, please consider buying me a tea. Hell, just buy me one anyway. I'm still poor.

Originally published at Folklore Fanatic. You can comment here or there.

folklorefanatic: (Default)

While I’m choking on the allergens and pollutants from our coal plants here in PA and can’t do any productive work, I just thought I’d share a few links at the Washington Post that I found depressing and upsetting interesting.

Knowing that people think you are somewhow less-than-human is one thing. It’s not fun, but it’s a daily fact of life.

Reading that there are bigots actually willing to go on record with their prejudices in front of both white and black campaign canvassers is quite another.

Highlights include:

Victoria Switzer, a retired social studies teacher, was on phone-bank duty one night during the Pennsylvania primary campaign. One night was all she could take: “It wasn’t pretty.” She made 60 calls to prospective voters in Susquehanna County, her home county, which is 98 percent white. The responses were dispiriting. One caller, Switzer remembers, said he couldn’t possibly vote for Obama and concluded: “Hang that darky from a tree!”

In a letter to the editor published in a local paper, Tunkhannock Borough Mayor Norm Ball explained his support of Hillary Clinton this way: “Barack Hussein Obama and all of his talk will do nothing for our country. There is so much that people don’t know about his upbringing in the Muslim world. His stepfather was a radical Muslim and the ranting of his minister against the white America, you can’t convince me that some of that didn’t rub off on him.

“No, I want a president that will salute our flag, and put their hand on the Bible when they take the oath of office.”

Karen Seifert, a volunteer from New York, was outside of the largest polling location in Lackawanna County, Pa., on primary day when she was pressed by a Clinton volunteer to explain her backing of Obama. “I trust him,” Seifert replied. According to Seifert, the woman pointed to Obama’s face on Seifert’s T-shirt and said: “He’s a half-breed and he’s a Muslim. How can you trust that?”

If you have a really strong stomach and a lot of spare time, you can read through the 3300+ comments on the article, many of them racist and nonsensical, others defensive of Obama because he’s half-white and they believe in ‘color-blindness.’ Oh, yeay.

Other posts and analysis of interest:

Transcript: Election 2008: Racist Incidents Rattle Obama Backers

Dark Side of the Campaign

Opinion: Misogyny I Won’t Miss

Oh, and McCain says, “Not to worry! When I’m President, almost all of our troops will be home by 2013!

…Um, yeah. NO.

The one bright spot today was that California’s Supreme Court overturned the gay marriage ban there because it relegated GBLT couples to “second-class citizenship.” Schwarzenegger has vowed to veto any challenges to the ruling, which is probably the most honorable position he’s taken on anything, ever. Pretty damn cool. I’m liking California more and more every day.

If I've enlightened, inspired or enslaved your mind, please consider buying me a tea. Hell, just buy me one anyway. I'm still poor.

Originally published at Folklore Fanatic. You can comment here or there.


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