The Disgusting Whitewashing of YA Books

High school librarian and writer Annie Schutte has written a really damning post about young adult book covers and the publishing industry: “If a YA book features a white, female protagonist (and this accounts for a not insignificant portion of YA released each year), it seems inevitable that the book cover will display an idealized and airbrushed masterpiece of her on the cover. And when a YA book actually does have a protagonist of color, too often one of three things seems to happen: 1.) The cover is “whitewashed” and shows a Caucasian model instead of a person of color; 2.) The cover depicts someone whose race seems purposefully ambiguous or difficult to discern; 3.) The character is shown in silhouette.”

The examples she showcases are infuriating. The comments are really enlightening, especially one from a writer named Abby McDonald. Her upcoming book features a biracial protagonist. Initial cover designs featured “a lot of silhouettes, and figures in the distance: ambiguous ethnicities, and photoshopping of Caucasian models.” She was nervous to push back but did, and ultimately “we were able to find a great photo with an African-American girl on it — and her face, no less!”