Barbara Ehrenreich Called Racist Over Tweets Criticizing Marie Kondo for Not Speaking English
The Nickel and Dimed author is facing backlash on Twitter over tweets some are calling 'racist' and expressing 'xenophobia'
Update: Ehrenreich has apologized on Twitter, writing, “Sorry to anyone offended by my tweet about Marie Kondo! Sometimes my attempts at subtle humor just don’t work.”
The prominent author and activist Barbara Ehrenreich is receiving backlash on Twitter after a tirade against Tidying Up guru Marie Kondo.
In a now-deleted tweet, the author of Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America wrote, “I will be convinced that America is not in decline only when our de-cluttering guru Marie Kondo learns to speak English.”
After deleting that tweet, she posted again, seemingly elaborating on the sentiment: “I confess: I hate Marie Kondo because, aesthetically speaking, I’m on the side of clutter. As for her language: It’s OK with me that she doesn’t speak English to her huge American audience but it does suggest that America is in decline as a superpower.”
Other users have replied to the tweets calling them “racist” and accusing Ehrenreich of “xenophobia.”
Representatives for Kondo and Ehrenreich had no comment about the tweets.
Marie Kondo and her KonMari method of organization first swept the U.S. with the American release of her best-selling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up in 2014. The Japanese author and organizer, who is now based in Los Angeles, re-entered the spotlight with the debut of a new Netflix series, Tidying Up, which premiered on January 1.
On the show Kondo speaks mostly in Japanese and uses a translator to communicate with the homeowners she is teaching to clean out their houses.
A number of Twitter users have responded to Ehrenreich’s messages with criticism. One wrote that they disagreed with the author’s views, and expressed that the show actually gave them hope for the future of the country, rather than marking its decline.
“Americans enthusiastically learning from a kind Asian woman whose first language isn’t English is one of the things that gives me hope in this time of rising xenophobia,” the user wrote.
Another expressed a similar sentiment, tweeting, “The capacity to welcome and learn from people who come [from] different cultural backgrounds, and speak a different first language, is actually a sign of a strong and healthy society, not a sign of ‘decline.'”
“I like how you deleted the first racist tweet and followed up with another racist tweet but this time with imperialism,” another user replied.
One individual wrote that Ehreneich’s statement about being “on the side of clutter” was not what the show was truly about and accused her of not watching it, to which she replied “I do watch the show!”
Ehrenreich is a prominent author and activist, who writes on the issues of women’s rights, social justice and poverty in the U.S. For her best-selling 2001 book Nickel and Dimed, she voluntarily lived on minimum wage, taking jobs as a waitress, hotel maid, and Wal-Mart salesperson among others to experience and shed light on the struggles of many low-income Americans.
Kondo spoke to PEOPLE in January about the reaction to her show, which at that time had only been streaming for a few days.
“This is my very first experience doing the lesson entirely in English, and through an interpreter no less,” she said via a translator. “So of course I worried if I would be able to communicate with my clients on a deeper level, but once we started the tidying became the medium that really bonded us, united us, together, so I was so happy to see them understanding my intention so well.”