A few months ago, I posted about a firestorm over Justine Larbaleister's Liar cover. The protagonist of that book is biracial, but the cover featured a white girl. Surprisingly enough, people noticed, and after the story got blogged and tweeted a few hundred times, the publisher agreed to change the cover.
You would think if you were that publisher, you might say to yourself, "Self, we really looked bad there. Maybe we should check to see if we've turned any other characters white on any upcoming books. Boy, wouldn't that be embarrassing?"
Well, funny story...
That character isn't white. And, surprisingly enough, somebody noticed. A book review site made an off-handed reference to the discrepancy in their review, somebody connected the dots, and pretty soon the internet exploded.
From Editorial Anonymous:
Bloomsbury, something is wrong in your house. Something that makes you think your Caucasian readers (and no argument, they're the majority) wouldn't be interested in reading about anyone of another color. And something that makes you feel it's ok to make your minority readers feel marginalized; to make them feel that whatever they look like, they ought to be white.
From Reading in Color:
I'm sure you can't imagine what it's like to wander through the teen section of a bookstore and only see one or two books with people of color on them. Do you know how much that hurts? Are we so worthless that the few books that do feature people of color don't have covers with people of color? It's upsetting, it makes me angry and it makes me sad. Can you imagine growing up as a little girl and wanting to be white because not only do you not see people who look like you on TV, you don't see them in your favorite books either.
From Justine Larbaleister's blog:
"Boost the signal on this," one blogger urged. They asked their readers to make phone calls and write emails, the story landed on Facebook and Twitter. Some urged a boycott of Bloomsbury, others said the best thing to do was just make noise.
Sticking a white girl on the cover of a book about a brown girl is not merely inaccurate, it is part of a long history of marginalisaton and misrepresentation. Publishers don’t randomly pick white models. It happens within a context of racism.
And they were right. Yesterday, Bloomsbury announced that they were changing the cover. It was less than one week from the post that seems to have started it all.
Now, some bloggers are turning their attention to the bestselling The Mysterious Benedict Society series. So, the question is, how long before the signal is boosted loud enough for Little, Brown to hear?
I can't imagine either of those covers ever would have been changed without the internet. It's nice to see it's good for something besides sucking away my soul.
(Parenthetical Addendum: for the record, one of the main characters in my trilogy is biracial, and in one cover sketch he was portrayed as white. I mentioned this, and they said, "Yeah, we're going to fix that.")