Writer Barbara Ehrenreich is being criticized for xenophobic tweets against Marie Kondo.
Kondo is an organizing consultant from Japan, in addition to a best-selling author that writes about de-cluttering, who has a Netflix series Tidying Up.
In the now-deleted tweet, Ehrenreich slammed Kondo’s English-speaking ability. “I will be convinced that America is not in decline only when our de-cluttering guru Marie Kondo learns to speak English,” Ehrenreich tweeted on Feb. 4.
The tweet was quickly deleted, but about 40 minutes later, Ehrenreich decided to follow up with another message.
After much criticism, Ehrenreich apologized for the tweets, saying, “sometimes my attempts at subtle humor just don’t work.”
However, many Twitter users could not ignore the racism projected onto Kondo. Gene Park, the audience editor at The Washington Post, responded to Ehrenreich with a video of Kondo giving a 40-minute presentation in English at South by Southwest in 2017, proving that Kondo is competent with speaking English.
Furthermore, American poet Katha Pollitt replied to Ehrenreich’s tweet with her own fetishization of Kondo.
“I think her speaking Japanese adds to her fairy-like delicacy and charm,” Pollitt tweeted. Twitter users were irritated by Pollitt’s stereotype of Kondo as an East Asian woman, stirring up conversation about “white liberal feminism,” racism and the ease at which someone’s culture is pinned onto them as a costume.
Elaine Showalter, an American literary critic and a retired professor at Princeton University, tweeted in the thread following Pollitt.
“She is certainly a pretty little pixie, & I am keen on decluttering but I am immune to Tinkerbell teaching me how to fold my socks,” Showalter said in a now-deleted tweet.