Where the Crawdads Sing Is Racist

March 7, 2024
David Sunnyside

With millions of copies sold and a film adaptation produced by Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine production company, Delia Owens’ best-selling novel “Where the Crawdads Sing” was catnip. Its eclectic mix of historical fiction, romance, and legal drama with nature illustrations centered around a young spirited girl and her dark past made for a story that grabbed attention. The movie, which opens in theaters July 15, stars Daisy Edgar-Jones as Kya, who has been derisively referred to as Marsh Girl and is the center of a murder case in North Carolina. David Strathairn and Will Dillahunt are slated to play Jumpin’ and Mabel, who take care of her and help her learn to read and take care of herself.

Owens is a 73-year-old white woman who studied zoology and went on to earn a Ph.D in animal behavior and spent time studying wild animals in Zambia and Botswana. She has since written non-fiction and memoirs on her experiences abroad. However, it is clear from the way she talks about Black people in her books that she holds backward views of them based on her experience overseas.

In an article for The Atlantic, writer Jeffrey Goldberg dissects the ways in which Owens frequently infantilizes the Black characters in her work by using the word “colored” as a synonym for Black and writing dialogue that portrays them as if they have no knowledge of modern civilization or even a decent education. She also makes the mistake of making a Black character, whose name is Sunday Justice and who works as a cook for the family in the book, speak like an idiot.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
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