As you're probably all aware, the depiction of characters of color/non-white characters as white on book covers and film adaptations is a pervasive problem in America. (Very likely in other majority-white countries as well, but the USA situation is the one I'm familiar with.)

Just a few of the many examples of this include the film adaptation of the TV show Avatar. In the show, all the characters are Asian. In the movie, the villain is Asian and all the heroes are white.

In Ursula K. LeGuin's book A Wizard of Earthsea, all the characters except for a few minor villains are dark-skinned. In the TV movie, all but one wise mentor are white.

Until quite recently, Octavia Butler's novels, which feature black protagonists, were stuck with white folk on the covers.

Most recently of all, YA fantasy author Justine Larbalestier wrote a book with a black protagonist. The cover depicts a white girl.

Justine has a good explanation of exactly what's wrong with this. But in short, refusing to depict protagonists of color says that people of color are a shameful thing to be hidden and concealed, not heroes to showcase. This is despicable.

Authors do not have any control over the covers of their books. In many cases, they are not even consulted. If they do protest, they are almost always overruled, unless they have the stature of Stephen King.

However, protests can be directed to the publishers, who do control what the covers look like. The publisher of Larbalestier's book is Bloomsbury. They can be contacted here:

ETA: Looks like more direct contacts are Deb Shapiro and Melanie Cecka at and

It is true that covers are often inaccurate in ways that do not involve race. However, especially in the world of fantasy, the depiction of heroes as color as white people is a pervasive pattern of racism. Can you think of a single example of a white hero depicted as non-white on a book cover? I can't.

I also note that while all of Justine's books have protagonists of color, not a single one of her novel covers depicts a character of color.

ETA: Except for the hardcover edition of How to Ditch Your Fairy.

Most Popular Tags

Powered by Dreamwidth Studios

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags