A fresh, urban twist on the classic tale of star-crossed lovers.
When Brittany Ellis walks into chemistry class on the first day of senior year, she has no clue that her carefully created “perfect” life is about to unravel before her eyes. She’s forced to be lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the other side of town, and he is about to threaten everything she's worked so hard for—her flawless reputation, her relationship with her boyfriend, and the secret that her home life is anything but perfect. Alex is a bad boy and he knows it. So when he makes a bet with his friends to lure Brittany into his life, he thinks nothing of it. But soon Alex realizes Brittany is a real person with real problems, and suddenly the bet he made in arrogance turns into something much more.
In a passionate story about looking beneath the surface, Simone Elkeles breaks through the stereotypes and barriers that threaten to keep Brittany and Alex apart.
Topic of choice: White Savior Syndrome
Okay, I'm going to try something a bit different on this blog. But before you go screaming off in a direction cursing the word change, just hear me out.
Basically, I want to use books as a diving board into assessing and understanding western (mostly American) culture better. Sometimes for better or for worse.
Now, I know this may seem weird. Odd. Or even plain downright uncomfortable, but bear with me.
This isn't exactly my comfort zone either. Even though it feels right, I don't know how many of you will stick around after this.
Now onward with the interesting yet completely out of the blue topic: Perfect Chemistry.
As you can tell from the blurb and probably from the cover, this is a romance between an interracial couple: Alex who is Mexican-American, and Brittany who is European American. Now they both struggle and go through a troubled life. They both have secrets they are hiding and they both are completely different from one another.
And even though I gave a mostly favorable review for this book (seen here).
I still have a major problem with this book, which will be addressed today as the topic: White Savior Syndrome.
For those who don't know what this is, I'll break it down in lamest terms. It's basically when a minority is usually in some sort of trouble (it can be temporary or deep trouble) and they get "saved" by a white person (usually an European American woman) from the situation.
In this case with Perfect Chemistry, Brittany "saves" Alex (or Alejandro which is his real name which he doesn't use, might have that as a topic later on) from destroying his life in a gang.
Okay, now that we have broached this topic, let's expand.
Now you may think, "Huh? White savior syndrome? Is that even a big deal in American culture or even western culture?"
Unfortunately, it is.
You would think in the twenty-first century that this problem of the stereotypical viewpoint that white is good and black is bad, that we would grow as humans to evolve past these stupid things.
But that is not the case. You might think that this is just one instance that doesn't touch our culture.
Oh, but I beg to differ!
Think about movies and television shows. I can list quite a few television shows that use this "white savior syndrome" a lot.
Let's start with this:
The Proud Family
That's So Raven!
Sonny with a Chance
I could continue on and on and on and on, but the list could really do on forever and still very current and pervasive in the culture.
And this is seen as okay?
So it's okay that in Freedom Writers, a European American female "saves" a whole class of minority students?
So it's okay that in Sonny With a Chance, that every time that two guys get into trouble that Sonny has to "rescue" them?
So it's okay that in most traditionally-published romance novels that with every white woman there is a Native American clinging to her side that use to be bad but turned "good"?
Granted, Freedom Writers is a true story, but did anyone ever sit back and think about the last time a teacher movie was inspirational with an African American (or any other minority) teacher as the savior?
When was the last time a movie was released in theaters where a superhero was black? And became a blockbuster hit and deemed a classic?
When was the last time where an African American (or any minority, for that matter) female saved an European American male from doing something "bad"?
So let's think this through: Hundreds of thousands of dollars are pumped into this media machine (by us), and who does it cater to?
The books, the movies, the television shows, even the radio, who does this cater to?
Yeah, I don't think so.
Yet, minorities are the backbone of America and yet we are poorly represented as the hero. And if we are represented as the hero most of the time it's with the same actors like Lucy Lui, Will Smith and many others I could list.
So what's the point?
My point is to look at what is being produced. Look closely. Do you really think a white female showing off her legs in a commercial is simply trying to convince you to buy a lotion product?
No, it's something deeper. It's a lifestyle, it's an ideology that European American females are sexy.
And if you want to be just like them (the hero, the person that everyone wants them to be) that you should buy this lotion too!
And yes, I went there.
I could spout off good points about commercials but I won't. I might write another post, however.
My main point is (she says with determination, hoping to actually stay on point this time), be careful about what you read, buy, and retell to everyone else.
Behind every story there is a message. Sometimes that message is just so clouded, like Twilight, that you really don't get it the first time. Or even the second.
But after some analyzing it, rereading it, pouring it over in your brain, you might just realize what the author is REALLY saying, believing, and trying to influence you to buy in too.
Well, I'm here to help you out and to hopefully dissuade you from being convinced that white savior syndrome is okay as long as the writer writes nicely and shows some poetic justice.
I'm here to decode the message and slap some harsh reality on it.
If you let me. :D
Anyway, let me know what you think about this post. Informational? Boring? Fun? Interesting? Or some other adjectival phrase that properly describes this message? I would love to hear your thoughts!