Sunday, January 17, 2010

More whitewashing, just in time for MLK Day...

Remember the Liar cover controversy?

Well, we've got another whitewashing instance on our hands and guess what? It's the same publisher!

Bloomsbury USA published the December debut Magic Under Glass with a white girl on the cover when the character in question is described as a dark-skinned girl from the Far East. Mmmhmmm.

The Book Smugglers brought this up in December,  Bookshop urges us to stop buying Bloomsbury titles, Editorial Anonymous writes an open letter to Bloomsbury, Reading in Color asks "Where is all the outrage?" (I suspect that it's about to be unleashed in a big way...). Bookish Blather says that bloggers "have an obligation to comment when a cover egregiously doesn't match the main character".

And while I agree with all that and Bloomsbury really should have learned their lesson, I can't help but think that this is still all a symptom. Why is Bloomsbury publishing this book with this cover? Because they think it will sell more copies.

We vote every day with our credit cards and we need to be the change we want to see*. So we should all keep that in mind the next time we're at the book store and the next time we're choosing which book to publicize on our blogs. I'm not any better than anyone else when it comes to promoting books by and about people of color, but it's time for a change.

* ETA (8:43pm) Let me clarify this - I'm not suggesting that we boycott a particular publisher or author. I hate that this controversy might adversely affect the sales of a debut author, especially since I know that oftentimes authors have little-to-no say about their covers. What I'm trying to say is that if we, as a community of readers, PURCHASE BOOKS by and about people of color, that is a surefire way to get publishers to publish books by and about people of color. We vote with our credit cards. I'm not urging you to vote against any particular titles, publishers, or book covers. I'm simply urging you to vote for books that feature people of color if you are, in fact, as outraged by this cover controversy as you claim to be.

(And yes, contacting the publisher may be an effective way to let them know you're outraged about this particular title, but until we are able to change publishers' ideas about what will sell, reacting on a book-by-book basis is only a bandaid.)  

Wondering where to start? Here are some blogs to add to your reader:

Reading in Color
Color Online
Black-Eyed Susan's
Paper Tigers
BrownGirl Speaks
The Happy Nappy Bookseller
The Brown Bookshelf

ETA (8:52pm) - And, AND the post at Jacket Whys reminded me that I don't even like this cover that much! To me, it looks like dozens of other teen fantasy books. I had seen reviews and talk about this title around and I hadn't bothered to find out more about it because it just didn't look interesting. If it had had a dark-skinned girl on the cover, you can bet I would have paid more attention. Especially because the story and book trailer actually sound pretty intriguing.

(Boy, am I filled with opinions tonight, or what?)