“Deleted the worst of the racist tweets received today as a result of the Sky article. Should’ve left the tweets for all to see,” Tweeted U.K. Children’s Laureate and Noughts and Crosses author Malorie Blackman on August 24th.
Less than twelve hours later, she announced that she would be taking a break from Twitter.
Sky News interviewed Blackman about diversity in children’s literature and Blackman’s worries that a lack of diverse characters could lead non-white readers to avoid literature. The topic isn’t a new one in the young adult literature universe as of late. We Need Diverse Books, which started as a grassroots movement and grew into a non-profit organization, took to the Internet so authors and readers could share why they needed diverse books. Authors began to call out events that featured only white male authors, with some pledging to never again sit on panel of exclusively white men.
Blackman’s article and subsequent Tweets had fans sharing a #WeNeedDiverseBooksUK hashtag to share their agreement with her and share their love.
— Susie Day (@mssusieday) August 25, 2014
When my mum taught me to read, she allowed me to hear voices other than mine. What have you gained from reading? #WeNeedDiverseBooksUK
— karen ball (@karenball) August 25, 2014
Encouragement to continue the discussion while Blackman takes a break from cruel messages came from Patrick Ness. The author of the Chaos Walking series and an openly gay man, Ness’ fury over the treatment of Blackman encouraged many fans to continue to share their need for diverse books. “I adore Malorie Blackman. I think she’s a brilliant Laureate. I’m seething. Why have we agreed we’re okay with this? I’m bloody well not,” Tweeted Ness. He launched into a series of Tweets on the necessity of diverse books for multi-racial children and gay children.
Blackman is not the only female author to be harassed online recently. Lauren deStefano, among others, recently took heat from many after refusing to participate in international scavenger hunt Gishwes.