Kristen Bell still hasn’t addressed the very valid criticism of her children’s book

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Kristen Bell has been promoting her new children’s book, The World Needs More Purple People. It’s been criticized as an antiquated way of looking at race by ignoring differences and telling children we’re all the same. Plus the title is very similar to a white person’s way of dismissing criticism of racism by saying “I don’t care if you’re purple. I don’t see color.” Kristen was working on it before the latest videos of Black men being murdered by police went viral and the Black Lives Matter movement gained so much steam. Given the content and message of the book someone at Random House should have realized it wasn’t a great idea to put it out now. At the very least she could issue a statement saying that she’s re-examining her beliefs and that she didn’t realize her message can be hurtful. She hasn’t done that. Instead, she’s ignored it, although she has tried to be an ally. She also posted an Instagram story about a Black children’s book author, Ibram X Kendi, who just published a book called Anti-racist Baby.

Kristen co-wrote the book with her friend Benjamin Hart, a white guy, and she explained how they came up with the idea.

We were so discouraged by all the cultural conversations we were having about the things that made us different. We felt that was the only thing our kids were over hearing, instead of highlighting all the things that bring us together as human beings. So we wrote a book about social identity and how kids can overcome all of the divisiveness that they see.

[From her archived Instagram stories]

Many of you have mentioned that Kristen might have intended to make some kind of political “let’s all come together” statement because blue plus red equals purple. That’s very possible, but it’s also so white privilegey to tell people to come together despite politics. We can ignore politics because our basic rights aren’t being infringed on every day. We don’t have to worry about our kids being murdered whenever they leave the house. (Or in our homes, frankly.) We don’t have to worry about not getting jobs, getting paid less, not getting mortgages or being denied healthcare.

Kristen and Benjamin felt uncomfortable having tough conversations with their kids. They wrote a whole children’s book helping other parents gloss over these tough conversations, got it published and heavily promoted and the publisher didn’t pull it or even issue an update despite a massive worldwide uprising against racism. That’s white privilege.

Kristen is now saying she’s having uncomfortable conversations with her kids though:

I’ve been having a lot of conversations with my children about what’s happening right now because I think part of the problem’s discomfort. Just because you’re uncomfortable, cannot be the reason a solution is not found. But I think a lot of people are uncomfortable as to how to talk to kids about it. We had a very honest, hard, uncomfortable conversation about what was happening right now because I will raise anti-racists. I will talk about it with them forever.

[via USA Today]

In her recent CBS this morning interview, Kristen repeated her talking points.

This isn’t a question of this is African-American, this is white, these are these problems, these are those. They’re human problems and we need to learn how to help speak up for each other.

We need to teach people to look for sameness first. You can disagree with as many people as you want, as long as you’re identifying you have more in common than we have differences. How do we create a label that’s exciting that doesn’t leave anyone out?

She also talked about white people holding other white people accountable. While she’s saying some of the right things it just felt off to me somehow. She’s so preachy and her message is muddled.

Is she sending a message with this tweet?
KristenBellInstagramStory

Here’s a clip from her interview with Gayle King. I watched more of this interview on Facebook and it’s just weird.

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34 Responses to “Kristen Bell still hasn’t addressed the very valid criticism of her children’s book”

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  1. Case says:

    “…it’s also so white privilegey to tell people to come together despite politics.” I can’t stand when people say “can’t we just put politics aside and get along?” If you voted for someone who I find morally bankrupt, no, we can’t do that, because we clearly value different things and have nothing of importance in common.

  2. Slowdown says:

    I was curious and leafed through the book on Amazon. It’s bad writing, bad thinking and bad drawing imo. Purple people? How could you not see how that would come out wrong any way you look at it?! Literally talking about how someone with a specific skin colour (be it purple) being better?! Also I can’t see any kid reading those ideas and understanding what the heck she is on about.
    Why don’t we leave the writing for the writers? How much more money do these grifters need?

    • Enny says:

      There are just so many more appropriate ways to teach kids about race than some confusing book about purple people. Eventually there are teachable moments, and kids learn by living and experiencing – you just have to give them the right environment to learn the right behaviors and have a good moral compass.

      We live very near NYC, but in a fairly white suburb. I remember when my kids were really little we didn’t really discuss race with them – they had a black babysitter they LOVED and would have play dates all the time with her son, they went to preschool with kids of all different backgrounds, some of their earliest teachers were WOC. They were just people, and some of their very closest buddies.

      I’ll never forget the day my (very white, red-headed) son was out shopping with me and wanted to tell me something (completely innocuous) about a woman nearby and loudly started telling me about “that lady over there – no, the one with the brown skin!” I was so mortified and froze. But she just smiled, and said, “You know what? I do have brown skin. He’s not insulting me, he’s stating the obvious, because he has no idea that anyone would ever think that was a BAD THING. And that’s a GOOD THING.”

      You don’t need a book. You don’t need to raise color-blind children. Just don’t ever give your children reason to believe that being any particular color is bad.

      • pottymouth pup says:

        I don’t understand the why of this book. She and a white friend were talking about uncomfortable conversations they had with their children (ostensibly about racism) and she never thought to try to reach out to a friend or co-worker who is a POC to ask them what their experiences were speaking to their children about the issue or having the talk with their parents just to see if, perhaps, they could make the book more universal and meaningful?

  3. Allz says:

    That still of Kristen preaching about race inequality to Gayle King is all sorts of wrong. I can’t stand Kristen.

    • LadySwampwitchGivsNeauxFux says:

      Yea she’s pretty horrible. She’s cringy extra too as my girls would say, But also i guess this is her showing her white woman fragility and privilege by making it all about her. Frankly she also just sounded like a lunatic. Maniac pixie

  4. Michelle says:

    Please read anything and everything by Ibram X Kendi. He won the nba for his book stamped from the beginning. For those with preteens and teens, I highly recommend stamped, a remix by Jason Reynolds, one of the most important and compelling voices in young adult and American fiction today. He rewrote Kendi’s stamped for a teen audience and it’s absolutely amazing and a great entry point to “uncomfortable conversations “. It should be required reading in every school in America.

    • Sienna says:

      Thank you Michelle for the recommendation. I just bought the book via kindle for our teenage daughters and started reading it myself. It is excellent to hear about resources for our kids, and ourselves… keep them coming!

      • michelle says:

        my pleasure! i work for a children’s book wholesaler selling directly to schools, and we see a lot of stuff pass our desks. reynolds is amazing-literally everything he writes is gold. he speaks to teens on their own level without being condescending. if you look him up, you’ll see how awarded he is, and i have to say he doesn’t win half as many as he should! i also recommend kwame alexander. i could honestly recommend books all day :) i’m so glad you picked up a copy of stamped! it’s big in children’s lit right now, and i wish it would find a bigger audience beyond the ya market. it’s something everyone could/should read.

  5. Mtec says:

    “Purple people”—like I wrote yesterday that’s a racist term used to describe dark-skinned people in the Dominican Republic. Maybe it’s just used in that small island, but now because of her and her White blinders some children in other parts of the world will be using it too. It offends me to now end. It’s such a horrible thing to call Black people, and even though she obviously didn’t mean it that way or is aware of this at all, it’s her responsibility, if she’s going to write about diversity and people’s skin colour, to do her research and consult with POCs.

    • Sofia no says:

      I’m not Dominican but have heard Mexican relatives describe dark-skinned people as “purple.” I have also heard Mexican-American and Puerto Rican-Anerican acquaintances use the word “blurple” (black + purple.)

      There are at least four Urban Dictionary entries related to the use of purple as a pejorative. Kristen and your white pal: Google is your friend. Better yet, collaborate with someone of color (or many someones of different colors!) when attempting something like this.

      • Mtec says:

        @Sofia No
        👏🏽 exactly, this. Thank you for sharing that, I felt alone in this calling her out for that.

  6. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    She’s the f*cking problem. “Black people don’t get to……,” don’t get to what Bell? What! Please tell ME what black people don’t get to do. Preachy little see-you-next-Tuesday. You don’t get to control the narrative. You don’t get to tell me how we should be looking at historical racism. I get to tell YOU to shut the f*ck up, sit down and listen and read and read and listen and then repeat it until you understand how wrong your purple shit truly is. You are not a bandaid. You’re the knife. Want to make a difference? Write a book about how white families can educate other white families about living with hate targeting your soul every second of every day. Teach your kids to imagine looking in the mirror through tears of sadness, confusion, desperation…not flying purple people eaters. Your words minimize. Your words are shallow. Your words are white.

    • Original Jenns says:

      I’ve read comments in which people were saying that her message is dangerous, and I agree with their message. She’s telling children of color (all children really) to make themselves smaller, to ignore what makes us different, to not share our true selves. That strips away their blackness, indigenousness, their culture. And how much easier is it for some people to “be purple” when our entire American culture and system is based on whiteness.To be color-blind is NOT the answer.
      I’ve always found her exhausting. She gives me the impression of a very taught wire, and it stresses me out.

      • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

        Exactly. I was raised to not look at color. To not see it and have it define relationships. It’s been shown to me, that while these teachings’ intentions are good, they miss the all important mark–our differences ARE what makes us special. Color, heritage, culture…it’s a celebration of life and definition requires open-ended perspectives that live and breathe through time. It’s not a one-brush painting with one color by one artist.

        There comes a time, as adults, to recognize mistakes and course correct.

      • L4frimaire says:

        @Original Jenna, exactly this! She seems to give off this nervous, edgy energy, and like she desperately wants approval. I can’t stand it when people say, “ I don’t care if you’re black, green, purple”. It’s so dismissive and lumps Black people in with non existence. It grates on my nerves. A preachy person I know was trying to rope me into how she’s trying to be a good ally, how she tells her kids we’re all equal( when we have some of the biggest income and racial disparities this our city). It was like she wanted my approval but annoyed I didn’t feel like having this conversation and saying how great she was. Ugh,I told her that never say you don’t see color and Karl Marx was right. I just was not in the mood.

  7. Michael says:

    She has always been really preachy. I wonder if she has ever had a black friend in real life? She should have at least consulted with some POC before she finalized this book. She starred with Don Cheadle all those years. Would he not have helped her if she asked?

  8. Some chick says:

    She’s terrible. She doesn’t deserve to be called a see you next tuesday, because see you next tuesdays are NOT BAD THINGS.

    Don’t slam all women to attack this Becky, please. It’s unnecessary. She’s a steaming pile of horse manure. Even horse manure is useful in gardening – but see you next tuesdays bring life! I’m so tired of “woman” being used as an insult. Which is what that is.

    • Slowsnow says:

      I’m of two minds about this. As much as I know that See You Next Tuesday means vagina, it doesn’t connect to that in my mind. It’s the sound of the word that does it for me. Calling someone that is soooo satisfying. It’s like F**k – who thinks of the act when you say it? Also, does any one refer to a vagina as a See You Next Tuesday when making love?? I have more trouble with the word P**sy for cowardliness. Or saying ‘that’s so gay’ – that one drives me up the wall because it’s literal, it’s conscientiously offending a segment of the population.
      But this might be because English is not my first language and because I’m in the UK where I never heard it in a mysoginistic way and so many women use it.

      • Original Jenns says:

        Slowly, the C word hasn’t bothered me as much. I remember when I first watched Sons of Anarchy and discovered their substitute word for it (gash), and thought to myself, oh, that’s way worse.

  9. Deanne says:

    Just what the world needs. Another white saviour and a tone deaf children”s book with the magic ingredient to end racism. She’s so preachy and clearly didn’t do any research. Years ago I saw anti- racism activist and educator Jane Elliott talking about how offensive it is to use colours like purple to describe people and why it’s racist and dismissive as hell . Kristen isn’t into listening though, just making sure everybody knows her “woke” opinions about everything . It’s all just performative and a glaring example of white privileged at its worst.

  10. Jenn says:

    I’ve always liked her, but… that goodwill was seriously dampened when Kristen threw her full-throated support behind Ellen DeGeneres, who in turn was defending her own friendship with Bush. But then I realized that Kristen had an upcoming webshow or some sort of partnership with Ellen, and that made me even more uncomfortable — like “oh, maybe she’s just cozying up to this very powerful person. Wait, that doesn’t sit right either.” Anyway, I’m not into it. It isn’t courageous or noble to ferociously defend the status quo, you know?

  11. a reader says:

    The whole “I don’t see color” thing is so tone deaf.

    Please hear me out. My background is in political science.

    For literal years we’ve listened to a certain lefty politician and his base rail against “identity politics” and claim that solving economic inequality issues will magically solve racism.

    Personally, I’ve found it incredibly interesting to watch his base change their minds in real time over the past few weeks during the BLM protests. All of sudden these people seem to realize that you cannot solve systemic racism without identity politics. Why? Because if you “don’t see color” it’s impossible to acknowledge that systemic racism exists. Color exists and people suffer for it! That’s a fact. And it takes identity politics to tackle these issues at their root.

    I’m sure Bell’s intentions were good, but it’s so tone deaf and so ignorant. I hope she takes this opportunity to grow and learn and listen to the criticism, because it’s valid.

    • Slowsnow says:

      I’m actually starting to think that we may be believing her to be smarter than she is. I watched her interview with Gayle King and she had the idea of the book because she thought that grown-ups debating at the table sent a message of dissent and division – rather than one of dialogue and conversation?? I dunno, she’s seems rather dim. We are here assuming she was trying to talk about race, about the left/right division.
      She was just trying to tell children that we blabla bla word salad purple people etc. because she was afraid her kids thought that growing up was owning up to your opinions and having conversations with family and friends about issues. Or something.
      And now she is involved in identity politics and looks reaaaally out of her depth.
      Which I find hilarious because she does seem to be a closeted Karen afraid to spread her wings and the media did it for her. Oh and the book.

    • Naddie says:

      I’m part of a marxist group and there was this narrative about solving economic disparities as the ultimate, main goal, and we should stop with the identity talk because it wouldn’t lead us to equality. When one of us highlighted the problematic issue of porn industry, suddenly an hord of offended men came up defending their right to “enjoy” and started to accuse the women of “derailing the big issue”. Leftists can be pretty discriminatory as well.

  12. Frida_K says:

    Cloaked in sweetie-pie whiny mommy voice or no, this is an attempt at cultural genocide. It’s not innocuous or “Well, she means well and this is how people were taught in the 90s.” It’s an attempt at erasure and revisioning. That she’s grandly ignoring the many of us who protest it says a lot about her and her motives.

    Kristen Bell is a Karen. This is a comforting book for overt racists who want to pretend otherwise at worst and for monolingual and monocultural white women (tacit racists) like her at best. Both are groups that have had their say for way too long.

    I’m trying to not get so angry about her but it’s a challenge. People like her are almost worse than open, unapologetic racists who attack openly. At least when you see a fist coming you can put up a hand and try to stop it. This oozing treacle just sucks the air out of anything it touches and is exhausting.

    I hope she will pull the book and apologize, but I will not waste time in hopeful anticipation of such integrity from a Karen such as this one.

    • Alex Schuster says:

      Frida your rhetoric is flawless, thank you for such an intelligent comment not because I am at the same level in writing nor knowledge as you but it broadened my thought process. Btw there are so many other great commenters here with a genuine knowledge of what is to be of a different race. I do lack writing skills but I do understand the message

  13. GoogleIt says:

    She says: “These are human problems” not African-American problems. But that’s exactly what the issue is. It’s not humans dying at the hands of police and it’s not humans who are being called 911 on. There is a certain demographic being targeted and it’s not rich, white people.

    It’s an incredibly privileged attitude to be able to want to avoid tough conversations with children. At what age are black children given “the talk” about how to survive? Certainly it’s almost always as young as her children. These are normal conversations in a Black family.

    And that Tweet/posting is one passive aggressive gesture. She’s going to hold tight to her stance that she’s a woke mama, but the reality is she doesn’t shut up and she doesn’t listen and learn. My guess is she has at least one loud voice in her ear telling her not to apologize.

  14. Coco says:

    This is her way of admitting she voted for Gary Johnson.

  15. Rosie says:

    White woman cringing over here.

  16. Jay says:

    I have a lot of leftover affection for Kristen Bell that’s tied up in the tv series Veronica Mars, but this is insufferable behaviour, and I’m honestly surprised nobody at this publisher was like ehhhhh maybe we need to workshop this a bit. What makes me more exasperated is a failure to recognize the privilege inherent in saying “let’s all agree to disagree!”, because your life and freedom won’t be affected, and “everybody needs to just get along” only works if both sides share a common goal. Like, I want to order pizza for dinner, but my partner wants to just burn the entire house down. You know. Valid opinions on both sides.

    Ultimately, you know some poc is going to get stuck with the unpaid emotional labour of “educating” Kristen, and the narrative will continue to be about herself and how she learned. Maybe she’ll get a second book deal out of it!

  17. Robin says:

    I mean, Kristen plays a mixed race-but not white passing-teenage girl on Central Park who specifically uses her natural hair as part of her superpower so I wouldn’t be surprised if she throws out the “I played a mixed character!!!” excuse when her statement come out. 🙄

  18. Marie says:

    Even though she may have intended the book to be about “social identity” or politics, the fact is the book is about purple people. What’s purple about them? Their skin. How can she not see this being about race? Overall, this book seems like a “first idea” concept — which is rarely the best. It doesn’t look like they thought it through or tried to flesh out an original concept. There are so many ways she could have approached the subject creatively, but since she has an inflated sense of herself (i.e., she’s in every conversation lately), she probably just patted herself on the back with her initial idea.

  19. LadySwampwitchGivesneauxfux says:

    But