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David Walliams Children’s Story Removed Following ‘Casual Racism’ Accusations

by : Julia Banim on : 04 Oct 2021 11:22
David Walliams Children's Story Removed Following 'Casual Racism' AccusationsAlamy

Harper Collins is set to remove a story from David Walliams’ book The World’s Worst Children following accusations of ‘casual racism’.

A new edition of the children’s book will be published in March 2022, with the story Brian Wong, Who Was Never, Ever Wrong set to be removed from the collection altogether.

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The publisher announced the decision after meeting with writer and podcaster Georgie Ma, who criticised the depiction of Brian Wong via social media in February this year

Speaking with The Bookseller, Ma said:

Wong’ and ‘wrong’ are two words that are commonly used in playgrounds to pick on someone if their surname is Wong. Even just the way Brian has been illustrated. He wears glasses, he looks like a nerd, he’s got small eyes… they’re all harmful stereotypes.

The overall character plays on the model minority myth where Chinese people are nerdy, swotty and good at maths, we’re not confrontational and we’re high achievers.

It was just really disappointing to read about that. Personally for me, because I have a toddler, I don’t want her being absorbed in these stories where Chinese culture is misrepresented.

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Adding that ‘it’s great that authors and illustrators want to do books on different cultures’, Ma urged those writing about characters from different backgrounds to their own to ‘consult those communities and do their own research to represent them fairly’.

In a statement confirming the changes, Harper Collins revealed that ‘the update will be scheduled at the next reprint as part of an ongoing commitment to regularly reviewing content’.

David Walliams (Alamy)Alamy

However, Amy Phung from grassroots organisation Britain’s East and South East Asian Network (besea.n) is reportedly ‘very sceptical’ about the changes proposed, likening the update to putting a ‘plaster over a problem’ rather than addressing ‘systemic issues around why this book came to be on the shelf’.

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Phung added:

It obviously passed through a lot of hands, agents, writers, publishers, buyers, even the people putting it on the shelf. I think everyone has a responsibility to really look into what content they are putting out there.

As highlighted by Ma in her interview with The Bookseller, there has been a significant rise in hate crimes against the East and Southeast Asian (ESEA) community since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, meaning it’s especially important to avoid such damaging stereotypes.

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact Stop Hate UK by visiting their website www.stophateuk.org/talk

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: Celebrity, Now, Racism

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The Bookseller
  1. The Bookseller

    HarperCollins to remove Chinese character from Walliams book after criticism