Purple Lives Matter? Kristen Bell children’s book preaching tolerance savaged for ‘colorblindness’ & ignoring real racism
American actress Kristen Bell’s debut into the world of children’s literature has gotten off to a rocky start, with her story about a “purple person” widely condemned for trivializing racism – despite having nothing to do with it.
Bell says her first children’s story – ‘The World Needs More Purple People’ – is meant to encourage kids to “look for similarities before differences” and to be inquisitive and open minded toward different viewpoints. Taking ‘purple’ to be a thinly veiled reference to skin color, however, netizens soon came out in force to denounce the story for brushing racism under the rug, and Bell herself as a “privileged white woman” ignoring the plight of real people of color.
@KristenBell is part of the problem. Writing a children's book that proclaims "Purple Lives Matter" negates the struggle of real people of color. Dear privileged white woman, please stick to things you understand. https://t.co/Ca6b2v6Fbb— Xander Cage (@mr_xandercage) June 12, 2020
Why are all these racism stories about empathisizing with marginalized groups that don't exist? It's always "purple people are oppressed!" Or "bees are oppressed!" But unless it's written by actual black people, then it's never about...actual black people...— #⃝Seven Hearts⁷ (@lemmethinkonit) June 12, 2020
Though the story itself makes no reference to race, containing no discussion of skin color and no purple-skinned characters, critics overwhelmingly interpreted the book as a tone-deaf lesson on ‘colorblindness’ – apparently not having read it.
Purple people don’t exist. They aren’t oppressed and actual BIPOC aren’t asking for white people to find the similarities with them in order to be humanized. Also BIPOC don’t get to dance around the topic of race to their own kids. 🙃— autumn (@autumnrbell) June 12, 2020
Fellow children’s author Kate Schatz even went as far as to imply that Bell is a racist, condescendingly inviting her to “talk” about the supposed transgressions of the book.
👋 @KristenBell. Let’s talk. White lady to white lady. Relatively experienced children’s book author to first-time children’s book author. Anti-racist to... let’s just talk. Calling you in. https://t.co/E5DX1AtkhK— Kate Schatz (@kateschatz) June 12, 2020
More ‘purple’ netizens, however, countered the critics, pointing out that the book is not about race but rather overcoming political and ideological differences, slamming the detractors for their “petty” criticism.
The book isn't about race, if anything it's more about political ideologies.— a ♡ (@marsitzy) June 12, 2020
When she referenced how people like to debate in her interview, I took this to mean that she meant political differences, not racial differences. Like when people talk about "blue" states and "red" states and "purple" states.— Jeffrey (@sosumi2) June 12, 2020
Uhoh, people fired up that Kristen is telling people to love and accept each other. For shame kristen, for shame— JP (@jpenuel83) June 12, 2020
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