Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Whitewashing...I almost can't believe it.

I learned something new today.
Some YA literature features something called a "whitewashed" cover..and it really disturbs me.
Apparently, when a YA book has an international protagonist or a character of color who appears on the cover, someone in charge of book covers or marketing or editing...someone...makes a rather peculiar decision.
The cover gets "whitewashed"...that is, the cover depicts a Caucasian model.
To counter the obvious racist undertones of this decision, something else can happen...the cover shows a character whose race isn't really clear.
or...and this one made me angriest of all because of I could think of a book immediately that this is true of...the Vietnamese character in Inside Out & Back Again (a recent favorite of mine) is shown as a silhouette.  As you can see from the cover, it won a Newberry Award, a National Book Award, among many other adulations. A significant portion of my anger is directed at myself...because I did not notice it, and never have.
It makes me feel as though I am unobservant or insensitive to the issue. Now that I have read about this issue, I plan on scanning my book shelves in school to see if I catch any of these "whitewashing" techniques at work.
This blog post by a librarian was the first I read about whitewashing.
This blog post by a favorite YA author of mine, Mitali Perkins, addresses the challenges of race in YA literature and is well worth reading. Very illuminating and thought-provoking.

No comments:

Post a Comment