Publisher apologizes for narration of Black professor’s essay with racist accent

Pablo Defendini, the publisher, admitted that he didn’t listen to the recording before he posted it

Pablo Defendini, a publisher of Fireside Fiction, posted a lengthy apology on Twitter after a white man was hired to read the work of Dr. Regina Bradley and used a fake Black accent while reading it.

“That was ridiculously careless, and frankly, racist — it’s blackface, it’s violent, and it’s insulting. I apologize,” said Defendini. Defendini also said that he reached out to Bradley and apologized to her directly.

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Before the acknowledgment from him, Bradley, an English professor at Kennesaw State University, took to Twitter to express her outrage.

“WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?!?! @FiresideFiction @KevinRineerVO This is what you think I’d sound like? What BLACK WOMEN AND SOUTHERN BLACK FOLKS SOUND LIKE?!?!?!,” said Bradley on Twitter. Along with the tweet, she posted a clip of the reading. 

Many on social media echoed Bradley’s outrage. One user wrote, “I’m bemused as to why they would not hire a Black, Southern woman VO artist to narrate a woman’s story that starts with those words… It doesn’t make any sense…”

“I would read a long form essay about how this happened. An oral history of this foolishness. How did they hire him? How did he sit at home rehearsing this and no one said anything?? How did they listen to this recording and hit send??? How how how????,” wrote another user.

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The essay in question, called “Da Art of Speculatin’,” is about Antwan “Big Boi” Patton and André “3000” Benjamin and how their music played a part in the lives of many Black southerners, including Bradley.

Defendini admitted that he didn’t listen to the recording before he posted it and says he hired one narrator to voice record multiple stories. He has since said he will be implementing new procedures. 

“Starting with the Winter 2021 issue, I’ll send the final audio of each story to its author, in the same way we send them proofs of the print issue before it goes to press,” Defendini wrote in an essay on his site.

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