There may be seven of them. There may be three. Who knows anymore?
In an effort to celebrate Black History Month, and in a push for ethnic inclusiveness, book publisher Penguin Random House and retailer Barnes and Noble are turning white literary characters black.
For a promotional event in one of America’s largest cities, twelve classic novels are being given a facelift as covers swap characters’ races as a means of giving representation to individuals of varying ethnic backgrounds. Nothing in the novels themselves is being changed, so white characters within the so-called ‘diverse editions’ are still Caucasian in the text, making the move the literary world’s version of blackface.
Among the titles sacrificed on the altar of hollow pandering are Romeo and Juliet, Frankenstein, The Three Musketeers, and Moby Dick. Grabbing the most social media attention, however, is the updated cover to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, as many believe it is dripping in racial stereotypes. The image depicts a black Dorothy, but instead of elegant ruby red slippers, the iconic shoes are replaced with a pair of sneakers.
And this is why Castalia Library is not only important, it is downright necessary. Because it is only a matter of time before Amazon starts deleting the non-updated versions from your digital libraries.
The amusing thing is that black authors are rightly irritated that Penguin and Barnes are attempting to use Black History Month to sell books by dead white authors instead of live black ones.