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!