But part of the joy, art, practice, hallmark of reading is making these connections when we see them.
If you don’t want to see them, you won’t see them.
If one of my students came to me with some symbolism theory with evidence from the text to prove it, then I would be super proud that kid took the time to exercise the critical thinking it took to make that connection. I would not slam hir and say, “Gosh, the shirt’s just blue, kid.”
I find it funny on tumblr, the land of fanfic, users will headcanon something they see on here for a favorite show, like SuperWhoLock. Some piece of contextual evidence is used and a conclusion is drawn. Every one shrieks and says, “HEADCANON ACCPETED!”
But the MOMENT one of your teachers does the EXACT SAME THING in your classroom with a piece of classic literature, students roll their eyes and say, “Gosh, the shirt’s just blue.”
"I just don’t see how non-white characters would fit into my book. All the characters in my head are white."
I see this excuse as a crisis of imagination. Particularly if you’re writing SF, often set in a future when anything can change. When everything can be different than it is now. We’ve already seen our first black president. We’ve seen women in ever more powerful roles. Gays and lesbians are coming out in nearly every corner of society, and universal marriage equality is becoming more and more imaginable.
You can’t imagine a black genetic engineer as your main character? An Hispanic lesbian piloting a starship? Then your imagination needs some revamping. You need to start thinking outside the box. Open up your corner of the world to more possibilities.
It’s not too hard. I remember hearing somewhere that silk was used as a bandage material for a long time, but I can’t find the source because “heavy silk bandage” is apparently a hot item on World of Warcraft.
Natural fibers are generally pretty easy to rip along the grain (and especially if the rip is started by something sharp).