First off, thanks to everyone for the awesome Mockingjay discussion this past week! I never feel like I can properly process a book until I talk about it with other people.
And now for something completely different.
This year there have been several events and conversations that have made me think very hard thoughts about the topic of racism. Before I get into the thoughts themselves, I want to show you what prompted them.
1. Cover Discussions.
In the past year, there's been a lot of cover controversy in the world of young adult books. Books with main characters who are darker-skinned or Asian have been released with covers that do not reflect the characters. Sometimes the initial cover was inaccurate, and then changed after people protested.
In one instance, a book initially released with a culturally-appropriate cover was changed for the paperback version, in order to draw more sales.
The hardback for the sequel is planned to look more like the second version than the first.
I have personally read all of these books, and they were all fabulous. I even did a wildly enthusiastic review of Silver Phoenix last year on this blog. I know that none of this is under the author's control, and I encourage those of you who love to buy books to buy these books and share them. They are all worth it.
That being said, the whole topic of race, both in books and in cover art, has been a huge ongoing discussion in my corner of the world. You can read many opinions here, here and here. While there are a lot of complicated reasons for this sort of thing, it certainly made me think.
2. People Who Say Stupid Things.
I try to avoid it. I get my news from the newspaper at work, and from BBC online. I don't listen to radio talk shows, follow ranting people on Twitter or get involved in yelling matches on blogs.
But unless I stuff marshmallows in my ears and close my eyes and sit in a closet for the rest of my life, I'm going to hear the stupid things that people say. And right now a lot of people are saying a lot of stupid things about race.
But then, there have always been people saying stupid things about race.
I realized that while watching a M.A.S.H rerun a while back. In the episode, Pierce was trying to help a fellow soldier officially marry his Korean wife so he could take her and their baby back to the States. Pierce was also trying to get friendly with this nurse he really liked. At the end of the episode, when he told her what he was doing for his friend, she objected.
NURSE: I think we should help Koreans, but I don't think we should marry them
PIERCE: Who's we?
NURSE: You know. White people.
Needless to say, the relationship didn't work out.
So because of all these things, I've been thinking a lot about the relationships between people of different cultures and skin colors. And for the past year, I've been trying to figure out what exactly racism is.
Then I stumbled onto a blog called Tea Party Jesus, which takes quotes from people involved in the Tea Party movement and puts them on pictures of Jesus. Some of them are ironic and some of them are sad, but this one stopped me in my tracks.
It was that logic "I'm not a racist, but..." that finally pulled all my random thoughts together for me. Add in a traumatic experience with a spider (details in next post) and the Spider Theory was born.
To be continued...