Community Post: Young Adult Novel Uses Blackface To Drive The Plot
The plot of Save the Pearls hits many of the same notes as previous post-apocalyptic stories. It takes place on a dramatically altered Earth landscape where solar radiation has driven humans to the brink of extinction. For survival, they’ve congregated in an oppressive, omnipotent city state where opiates keep the populace docile while the elite ruling class live like kings. Throw in some arbitrary expiration date for usefulness and you’ve got a mash-up of Logan’s Run, Brave New World, and Soylent Green. Where the book diverges is in how the society is split. While socioeconomic class and luck play a role, the most important thing about a person in Save the Pearls is skin color.
Brace yourselves for what I hope is an elaborate dystopian exercise in trolling.
At the top of the class chain, you have the Coals with the darkest skin and therefore the most resistance to solar radiation and best hope for humanity’s survival. Next come the Tiger-Eyes, or the Latino community, followed by the Asian populace known as Ambers in this universe. At the bottom are the Pearls, or Caucasians with only Cottons (Albinos) being seen as less desirable and ugly.
The plot follows Eden Newman, represented in the video above, as she tries to claw her way out of her station in life before her time is up. If females have not been mated by the age of 18 they are unceremoniously dumped outside the safety of the city where The Heat will cook them slowly from the inside over the course of weeks. Since Pearls are so susceptible to radiation in this novel, they are unwanted. Even if they mate with another Pearl, the government restricts them to one child in a passive attempt to wipe them out. To make herself more attractive (and to keep from getting radiation poisoning) Eden covers herself in Midnight Luster aka blackface, in order to catch a Coal mate before she is killed.
The novel was written by Victoria Foyt, who’s previous writing credits include the YA novel The Virtual Life of Lexie Diamond and the feature films Going Shopping and Last Summer In The Hamptons.