Foyt’s Revealing Eden: Racist or Bad Writing? Or both?

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Some of you may be aware of the recent hoopla surrounding the book Revealing Eden by Victoria Foyt.  RE is book about an alternate future (is that an appropriate term?) in which we’ve essentially destroyed our environment and atmosphere necessitating life underground.  Those who are fair-skinned are in a sense, at the bottom of the food chain and are enslaved by those who have dark skin.  Okay let me make this easy here and just say it.  This book is supposedly about an extreme case of societal reverse racism.  For a complete synopsis, go here.

I’ve been following reviews of this book online for a few weeks.  Here’s one particularly entertaining post by the passionate folks over at the Requires Only Hate site.  Let me say, if I were Foyt I’d be looking for a rock to crawl under.  Reviews have been scathing and that’s putting it mildly.  I’m only into the second chapter myself and I intend to stick it out as long as my little ole heart and eyes can stand it.  Thus far I can say that the writing style is… distracting and that is actually my biggest problem with the book itself thus far.

Thus far…

Outside of the book, my biggest issue is with the promotional videos.  Have you seen them?  In old time minstrel form they are in blackface.  No lie.  BLACKFACE.  Ms. Foyt denies this, but come on, I can see.  I know blackface when I see it and there’s no way to make something as disgusting seem artistic and enlightened.  That said, even when I first saw the videos, which was prior to reading the negative reviews, I thought to myself, Hmm, maybe she doesn’t realize how wrong this is.  Maybe she is just trying really hard to make a point about racism.  Yeah, I said this despite the obvious poor taste in which they were produced.

Being an African-American (and  Muslim, which encourages a whole different degree of patriotic bigotry) who has experienced racism on multiple levels, I’m still not entirely convinced that Foyt is racist, at least not in the ways that she is being accused.

Can we be honest here?  Really honest?

Racism is alive and well and often so subtle and so ingrained we often don’t notice it unless we’re paying attention.  Racism is so deeply ingrained in the American psyche that people are racist and sometimes don’t even realize it.  If I were to be really nice, and non-judgmental and oh so PC, I’d clean up my last statement by saying that sometimes people say racist things but are not themselves racist.

I’m not inclined to be that nice about it though.  But let me be clear, I’m not on the hunt for the next racist, but I am more than willing to point it out and scream “FIRE!” when I see smoke.  The thing that is most important to me as regards racism isn’t claiming not to be racist, but being alert and conscious to potentially racist attitudes and doing your best not to perpetuate those ideas.  That is the job of every person who would like to stamp out racism.

I think Foyt may very well be racist, but I’ll save that judgment until I’ve finished the book, or as much of it as I can stand.  The writing really isn’t very good.  Even then, I may not be in such a hurry to call her such.  The reason being, I don’t know her heart, only her book (disgusting though it may be/seem), and her blackface videos (what in the world was she thinking???) and the comments she has posted on her Facebook page in defense of her book and the premise.

Let’s talk about one Facebook comment that has people in a tizzy.  In response to the absolute backlash, she made this comment on her Facebook page, “So what does the lack of any racial outrage or puzzlement or fervor amidst the tremendous rain of positive reviews possibly say? 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. ”

Hmm.  I say, hmm.  Again, I know racism when I see it, but I’m not sure this statement can be construed as such.  People are taking this to mean that she is saying that African Americans do not read.  I’m not seeing that.  It sounds to me that she is saying that African Americans are a broad eclectic group of readers and that there is no such thing as an African American who only reads literature by African Americans.  And this is pretty true in my estimation.

Let’s look at the flip side though.  Whether racist or not, Foyt’s book has received beaucoup attention and publicity, hasn’t it?  And that’s all you need to sell lots and lots of books, right?  (Hell if I could get more likes and reviews on my Amazon page I might be making an actual profit on my book, but that is another story altogether.)  I was given a copy of RE.  I was simply unwilling to pay money for a book I knew to very potentially be racist.  I didn’t want to give up my money for that, so had I not been given a copy, I likely would have never even attempted to read it in its entirety.

For the moment I’m inclined to take Foyt’s word for it, that this book was a provocative attempt on her part to expose and fight racism.  About that, I’ll just say it appears that she has failed miserably to make her point and has only succeeded in proving that she doesn’t really have a clue about how to go about doing that.  I’m all for breaking down barriers, especially the PC one, in an effort to reach those unspoken truths too many people are afraid to voice, but not all people are savvy enough to effectively challenge those boundaries.  Those who are not, should perhaps leave it to those who are.

That said, I believe that people have the right to hold the views they so desire and even to write about them as long as doing so does not harm others.  Is this book harmful?  Well that’s a subjective argument.  So far, it only hurts me in as much as I despise bad writing.  And, I can do something to alleviate the pain, can’t I?  I could delete it from my Kindle and forget it ever existed.

I’ll let you know what I end up doing.

*****

There are some who have made it their mission to stop the so-called literary bullies over at Goodreads.  They support RE.

Here’s what folks over at Goodreads thought.

Hated it!