Kate Clanchy’s Book May Be Updated to Remove Racial Stereotypes After Criticism | Books
Picador, the publisher of Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me, an award-winning book by Kate Clanchy, is in talks to update future editions of the book after several of Clanchy’s descriptions of her students, especially children. color, have been widely criticized.
The Orwell Prize-winning book, about the time poet and teacher Clanchy worked in public schools, was first published in 2019. Most recently, it has been criticized on Goodreads and Twitter, where passages in which Clanchy described children of color and autistic students were shared. .
In particular, readers criticized the inclusion of racial stereotypes such as “almond-shaped eyes” and “chocolate skin”, and references to one student as “African Jonathon” and another being “so small and square and afghan with his big nose and premature mustache ”.
Another passage in which Clanchy describes two autistic children as “subconsciously strange” and “of jarring companionship” has also been brought to light, in which Clanchy writes “probably, more than an hour a week” in their company “me” would irritate also, but for that hour I like them very much ”. Diary of a young naturalist author Dara McAnulty, who is autistic, shared the passages and tweeted, “Some people didn’t believe me when I shared some of my education experiences and what the teachers thought of me… We can understand how you really feel about us. “
Clanchy first reported the review herself last week. In a tweet that has since been deleted, she wrote that she had been wrongly accused of racism on Goodreads by critics. She later claimed that the quotes were “all compound”, then that the descriptions had been taken out of context by critics, with writers such as Philip Pullman and Amanda Craig coming to his defense. Meanwhile, writers of color who criticized Clanchy’s response, including Chimene Suleyman, Monisha Rajesh and Sunny Singh, continued to receive racist abuse from social media users.
After days of criticism, Clanchy shared a statement Friday in which she described the experience as “humiliating”.
“I have had the privilege of learning every day from wonderful students who have taught me about the world through their eyes,” she wrote. “As any teacher knows, education is never complete. Many of the responses to excerpts from my book, especially those taken out of context, were difficult to hear; but I am grateful to those who took the time to challenge my writing and present me with other lenses through which my words could be read. I will continue to strive to learn more about my role in the classroom and the privileges I enjoy. I will also take the time to reflect on the perspectives of the many readers of color who have responded to my writing to put these learnings into practice in my work as a teacher and writer.
Picador also responded on Friday with a statement, in which he said he was “grateful for the information this exchange has given us and that we as a company continue to strive to become ever more inclusive.” They also announced that they are “discussing how best to update the book for future editions.”
On Monday, the publisher released a second statement in response to public anger over its initial lack of response and lack of apologies. “We realize that our response has been too slow. We strongly condemn the despicable online bullying of many who have spoken out. It has no place in our community, ”they wrote, and apologized“ deeply for the harm we have caused ”. A spokesperson confirmed to the Guardian that discussions on future editions of the book will begin on Monday.
Suleyman thanked Picador for finding a solution, but asked “why content of this nature has even reached the shelves of libraries, schools and has been celebrated with prestigious awards.”
“The disturbing escalation we have witnessed is not just due to an author’s book, but an alarming and heartbreaking reaction from our peer editors when they are engaged on this subject,” she said. at the Guardian. “Likewise, I would like to ask the publication how it will reach out to writers and peers who have contributed to the heinous racism and continued harassment against writers like myself, Monisha Rajesh and Sunny Singh for speaking out on the matter. “