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Banned Book Week runs from September 18-24, and in 2022 America it’s more crucial than ever. According to Pen America, over 1600 book titles in over 5000 schools across the country have been censored this year.
Meanwhile, the topics of most banned books include racism and LGBTQIA+ issues. 40% of banned books include characters who are Black or Brown, while 20% take issue with race and racism.
And the bans have not been done equitably, or with student input. According to Pen America, over 95% of the bans were enacted without using best practices as drafted by the American Library Association.
In fact, it is mostly scared White parents who are raising the alarm bells about “indoctrination” of their children at school. Last year, an all-White school board in Pennsylvania voted to ban books that included a biography of Rosa Parks.
Meanwhile, according to Susan Nossel, CEO of Pen America, “We all can agree that parents deserve to and are entitled to a say over their kids’ education. That’s absolutely essential.”
She continued “But fundamentally, that is not what this is about when parents are mobilized in an orchestrated campaign to intimidate teachers and librarians to dictate that certain books be pulled off shelves even before they’ve been read or reviewed. That goes beyond the reasonable, legitimate entitlement of a parent to have a give-and-take with the school.”
Banned Book Week
PEN America noted that at least 50 conservative organizations across the country have been responsible for book bans. These groups include organizations like Moms for Liberty, which has over 200 local chapters.
According to Tiffany Justice, a founder of Moms for Liberty, the issue is simple. Justice believes the banned books are tantamount to pornography.
“I think that the book issue has been used to try to marginalize and vilify parents,” said Justice. “And the truth is there is no place for pornography in public schools.”
Justice did not explain how a book about Emmett Til, for example, is pornographic, nor Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s “How to be an Antiracist.”
In fact, it is groups of Black parents who are pushing back against book bans and censorship in schools. The Round Rock (Texas) Black Parents Association was able to successfully keep another book by Kendi in Round Rock schools.
And Black parents are fighting back for all students. According to Ashley Walker, 33, one of more than 400 members of the Round Rock Black Parents Association, “Taking away that book would have completely whitewashed history, and that’s not what we are for.”
For more information about pushing back against banned books, visit Pen America’s How to Fight Book Bans.