Wednesday, February 6, 2019

When you don't want trouble but it finds you anyway

In 2015 and 2016 I felt stuck. This is not a unique thing; I was at an age and a period in my life that would do that to most people. Reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo was one of the things that helped unstick me, and one of the things it helped me do was walk away from social media. As I wrote in that post, I did feel the lack of stimulation, and one of the things I used to fill it were Google Alerts about subjects I was interested in, including Kondo.

I've groaned in the last month and a half as the world has discovered Kondo through her Netflix show. There were the publicity pieces from the middle of December to early January, but then the think pieces arrived. I rolled my eyes at a lot of it, as I'd already been through the "no, she doesn't want you to throw away everything" dance a few years before, albeit on a much smaller scale. But what happened on Monday made me gasp.

Journalist and author Barbara Ehrenreich, who has written on such topics as poverty, healthcare, feminism, and a bunch of other things I heartily approve of, decided on Monday to take a shot at Marie Kondo, not for getting rid of books or telling you to become a minimalist (things Kondo hasn't done but is frequently accused of), but for not speaking English. You can read the story here at USA Today.

The original tweet was deleted, of course, but then followed up by what should have been an apology but instead...

Everyone can look up Ehrenreich, Pollitt, and Showalter, but let's say this isn't what you expect from people with their resumes. And after just finishing Stamped From The Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X Kendi, I'm even less inclined to excuse this. This is racism, and a bunch of these writers' fans proclaiming that this is a "joke" that many of us aren't getting because we're not tuned into irony or culturally literate enough just isn't doing it for me. Also, as the daughter of someone who speaks two languages fluently, I'm going to say what I always say in these situations: Her English is better than Ehrenreich's Japanese. We can discuss later if this is one of the reasons empires fall.

Guys, be better.

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