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The Three Musketeers are now black: New York City’s biggest bookstore markets blackface for diversity’s sake

Sophia Narwitz
Sophia Narwitz

is a writer and journalist from the US. Outside of her work on RT, she is a primary writer for Colin Moriarty's Side Quest content, and she manages her own YouTube channel. Follow her on Twitter @SophNar0747

is a writer and journalist from the US. Outside of her work on RT, she is a primary writer for Colin Moriarty's Side Quest content, and she manages her own YouTube channel. Follow her on Twitter @SophNar0747

The Three Musketeers are now black: New York City’s biggest bookstore markets blackface for diversity’s sake
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. 

The whole ordeal is a strange marketing gimmick, given the publisher and retailer could have easily used Black History Month to promote non-white authors or characters. It appears as if, in their clamor to virtue-signal, they didn’t think things through, as even the woke crowd they’re trying to cater to are questioning the move. All outward appearances suggest few are buying into the ploy. 

There is a valid argument to be had that good books should be put on a pedestal regardless of whether the author is white, black, or whatever else. Alice in Wonderland is a great novel, not because the character is Caucasian, but because it’s a whimsical fantasy that ignites the imagination, something it would achieve no matter the ethnic origins of its author or protagonist. Yet if companies are going to insist on celebrating Black History Month, then they should at least try.

The two companies are supposedly pushing for representation, but the only thing being represented here is the disingenuous mindset behind corporate America’s diversity agenda. Time and time again they raise the flag of various causes and tout the importance of [insert whatever identity here], yet rarely do they live up to their own publicly held ‘ideals’. 

Also on rt.com Doctor Who introduces a black female Doctor, making history... and throwing up a diversity smokescreen against bad ratings

Be it LGBT issues, poverty causes, or inclusivity initiatives, far too often the people being put on display are nothing more than tokens to the actors claiming righteousness. Thankfully this time people were quick to see through the facade, but who knows? Maybe next year they’ll move beyond literary blackface, and a new iteration of Moby Dick will feature Ahab hunting a brown whale instead of a white one, and the woke side of the net will clap. 

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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