Children’s laureate Malorie Blackman has said she will not be silenced following a barrage of abuse on social media after an interview in which she argued for greater diversity in children's books.
Blackman yesterday (25th August) temporarily left Twitter after receiving racist abuse over an article published by Sky News.
On Saturday, Sky News ran an interview with Blackman where she spoke about the lack of diversity in children’s books, with an accompanying article.
The story was first published with the headline “Children’s Books ‘Have Too Many White Faces’” leading to several angry comments underneath the article and on Twitter.
Sky News then changed the headline to "Call For More Ethnic Diversity In Kids' Books" but not before the headline had been reprinted on other news sources.
On her Facebook page, Blackman said: “I talked about the books for our children being more diverse so that we see more stories featuring children/YA with disabilities, travellers, LGBT, protagonists of colour, diverse religions, classes and cultures. Not once did the phrase in the banner headline pass my lips because I don't think in those terms.”
She added: “Just received an apology from Sky News on Twitter with a promise to change the headline. Will I now get an apology from all those racists who spewed and continue to spew their poison on my Twitter feed?”
There were concerns that Blackman had been off social media for good by the abuse. Authors showed their support for Blackman on Twitter using the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooksUK. Patrick Ness tweeted he was “seething”. He said: “How can you write a story about real life and NOT have it be diverse? It's what the world is, unstoppably.”
Matt Haig said he was “Disgusted that the wonderful Malorie Blackman, one of the great forces for good, has had to come off Twitter because of racist abuse”, while Francesca Simon said: “We read to see the world through different eyes. Malorie Blackman [is] 100% right to encourage diversity in children's books.”
But on Twitter this morning, Blackman said: "Hell will freeze over before I let racists and haters silence me. In fact, they just proved to me that I was right to speak out." She added: "I only meant to take a few days break to write an article about this whole issue. Racists and haters will never make me run away. Ever!"