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Racism on Book Covers

If you follow a lot of agent and writer blogs, you've probably heard of this controversy, but if not, I'll reiterate. Cindy Pon wrote a novel called "Silver Phoenix", which was an excellent novel I greatly enjoyed. I've read a handful of books with Asian(-American in some cases) characters that either took place in Asia or America, or both, and honestly, I think "Silver Phoenix" is one of the top five I've come across. It takes place in China, has genuinely Chinese characters, and "is inextricably tied to Ai Ling's empowerment through her identity, not just as a woman, but as a Chinese woman." This is the original cover:

It's a beautiful cover, too, don't you think? I mean, the colors are gorgeous. The girl looks strong and powerful, just like the theme of the book, and she's also Chinese. Like she's meant to be. If I hadn't heard of this book and I saw this cover in a library or a book store, I would go over and look at it.

Apparently, the publishing company didn't quite agree. In an effort to make it sell more, they decided to change the cover. Obviously the issue is the Asian girl. Just obviously. So what's the solution? Easy! Let's go and make the Asian girl nice and white and safe! Because, obviously, the sort of people who don't want to read a book with an Asian on the cover are the sort of people who would want to read this story in the first place. This is the new cover:

To be honest, even without considering all the racism and things, I wouldn't like this book cover. It just doesn't look so attractive. The girl is sickly pale, the title doesn't seem to match the cover picture, and just what is that ugly green thing hanging around her neck? It looks like something my dog sneezed out. Oh, and it's not enough to violate one book. They brutalized the sequel's cover as well:

Okay, can you get any whiter and non-Asian that that? The girl looks like she just stepped out of Gossip Girl.

I honestly can't believe this. I'm surprised they didn't ask the author to change her name from "Cindy Pon" to "Cindy Williams". What's next? Taking a book on Martin Luther King Jr. and changing the photo to that of a white man?

What are your thoughts on this?


MissAttitude said...

Thank you for speaking out about this issue!

Your comment on the author's name is so true. They probably made it a lot smaller and put it at the bottom of the book because of how "different" (or "exoctic" a word I hate) the author's name is.

I agree the covers, putting race aside, look like everything else out there. I like the action feel of the dagger, but it looks awkward. And the halter top the girl is wearing is so random.

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