It has been hot. It has been speak-in-cliches-that-compares-the heat-to-hell/Miami/Lucifer’s balls kind of hot. And I, of course, have been ringing the death knell about how the warm winter coupled with this even warmer summer is signaling the beginning of global warming.
Not that I am a scientist, but I do like to play a scientific alarmist in real life when it comes to the environment. I don’t wish for a new millennium dust bowl or for people to fall out from heatstroke but my interests gets piqued when the burning hell I was foretold would consume the earth might soon come to past when the thermometer starts to creep up. Years ago I got into a heated debate about whether global warming was indeed true or just a government conspiracy (which he believed it was) and I retorted that the best bet for his future progeny would be for him to marry someone like me or darker so they can survive the coming heatwave. Two weeks later he brings to me an article that hypothesized the earth was heading into a second ice age and that the best bet for my future children would be to find a hirsute pale male like himself to give them a fighting chance.
As I swelter in the heat I smile as I think of how I am winning this debate.
It seems that someone else has had that same apocryphal outlook and has done what anyone would do with such an idea: write a dystopian teen book about it.
Revealing Eden: Save the Pearls Part One by Victoria Hoyt tells the story of Eden Newman. Newman lives in a post-apocalyptic world where global warming has left the world dangerously hot. In the U.S. the racial class system has been turned on its head with the fair-skinned whites, referred to as Pearls, now on the bottom and the darker skinned Blacks (coals) on the top. By the age of 18 the young women need to be matched with a mate. Thought of as genetically inferior, no one wants a pearl for a mate.
I’ll just let the character speak for herself:
As you can see Eden tries to pass herself off as a “Coal” order to marry up. She has two potential suitors who are black.
Back in November, before the release of the book a blogger for the Huffington Post gave the “Revealing Eden” a favorable review.
Eden is smart, funny, feisty and fearless. Ronson Bramford is her Rhett Butler and we watch them fight and fall in love all while they deal with “The Heat,” humanity’s probable demise, and the experiment that may allow humans to adapt. While reading this I felt like I was watching an Avatar type film. It’s very visual and futuristic with a tender love story at its core.
Foyt covers interracial issues, what beauty means culturally, and environmental destruction, all while entertaining the reader with one twist after the next. Although the book is young adult/fantasy/sci-fi/romance, I, as an adult who mostly reads non-fiction, loved it!
I have yet to read the book myself, but with just a cursory look over the synopsis and reading of a couple of reviews I have a few quibbles. One: the choice of monikers for the racial groups. I suspect that in a world where blacks are on top and whites are on the bottom, we are going to think of something better to call ourselves than the Coals and something more derogatory for whites than the Pearls. When you think of Coal you think of something dirty, that get’s on everything and if you touch it, it leaves a mark. A pearl is something precious, elusive and rare. Even the other racial groups get analogies that compare them to gemstones with Latinos being Tiger Eyes and Asians referred to as Amber. But blacks are coal? As my daughter surmised we can’t even get Opal?
My feelings are similar to the questions that was raised on this blog:
Turns the tables on racism. Really now? How’s that exactly? Because it sure seems rather exploitative to me and it makes me wonder if they really understand how racism works. Sure put the Black people at the top in your story and the White people at the bottom. Then call the White people pearls and the Black people coals and explain to me how exactly that turns the table on racism.
And I will confess, I have not read the book. We haven’t purchased it in my library system and usually we get galleys of pre-published books and I checked to see if we had been given one. None was on our shelves but then I remembered we have given away a lot of those books to teens over the last few months because our free book shelf runneth over. I wonder if a teen had picked up the book and how would they interpret it? Would they see this book as a racialized Hunger Games with Katniss in blackface?
To me it’s coming off more as a new Birth of the Nation. Fight Global Warming or Your Daughter will either have to marry black or be cast out into the sun!
It’s not just the names of the two separate groups or that the main character darkens herself up to pass, but I also have an issue with the way two of the characters are handled. Spoiler alert (although no one gave me the heads up to this spoiler) one of the black males that decides to pursue Eden undergoes surgery to become a human/animal hybrid. I am cool with WW/BM swirling but WW/BM -self-imposed wolverine? Black men are often portrayed as subhuman and unrelatable creatures in the media. And even though it seems that this is a guy who is nice, sweet and gentle, my initial feelings is to feel uncomfortable with anything that is going to sell black men (especially those black men) as anything other than human.
I gotta get my hands on this book. I don’t want to buy it, but I feel I should read it before I reject it out of hand.
But for now I guess I will just try to not fry in this heat and urge my children to marry black; I guess the blacker the better. Because when us Opals or Onyxes or Blackberries take over the US in the first major decision we will have to make is what to call ourselves because I guess just being Black or African-American or human will be so passe.