I’m interrupting my normal Sunday Post routine to ask the following question:
What the actual fuck is happening in the United States?
I’m horrified at the overt attempts at book banning and historical white-washing that are being perpetuated and perpetrated right now in the U.S.
Texas, for example, is a hotbed of parental activism seeking to ban books:
In Austin, Texas, which is a curiously blue stronghold in a ruby red state, a parent is demanding that the police arrest the librarian, because Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evinson is on the shelves. According to Goodreads, Lawn Boy, which won the Alex Award in 2019:
For Mike Muñoz, a young Chicano living in Washington State, life has been a whole lot of waiting for something to happen. Not too many years out of high school and still doing menial work—and just fired from his latest gig as a lawn boy on a landscaping crew—he knows that he’s got to be the one to shake things up if he’s ever going to change his life. But how?
Jonathan Evison takes the reader into the heart and mind of a young man on a journey to discover himself, a search to find the secret to achieving the American dream of happiness and prosperity. That’s the birthright for all Americans, isn’t it? If so, then what is Mike Muñoz’s problem? Though he tries time and again to get his foot on the first rung of that ladder to success, he can’t seem to get a break. But then things start to change for Mike, and after a raucous, jarring, and challenging trip, he finds he can finally see the future and his place in it. And it’s looking really good.
The book is available to be checked out by junior and senior aged students – 17 or 18 year olds, one to two years away from college. Imagine what they see when they open their internet browsers, and then ask yourself, are these parents delusional, dumb, disingenuous, or all three?
See: Leander Police Are Investigating Parent Complaints About Library Book
Representative Matt Worth, R-Ft. Worth, recently announced a probe of school libraries, demanding that they account for the presence of any of a list of 800 books, covering subjects including human sexuality and race on their shelves.
His list of titles includes bestsellers and award winners alike, from the 1967 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Confessions of Nat Turner” by William Styron and “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates to last year’s book club favorites: “Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women that a Movement Forgot” by Mikki Kendall and Isabel Wilkerson’s “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents.”
In addition to these race-related titles,
Other listed books Krause wants school districts to account for are about teen pregnancy, abortion and homosexuality, including “LGBT Families” by Leanne K. Currie-McGhee, “The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Notes to their Younger Selves” edited by Sarah Moon, and Michael J. Basso’s “The Underground Guide to Teenage Sexuality: An Essential Handbook for Today’s Teens and Parents.”
In an effort to completely break irony, Krause is a founding member of the Texas House “Freedom Caucus.” Apparently “freedom” only extends to majoritarian, white, Christian, heterosexual viewpoints in Texas.
See : Texas House committee to investigate school districts’ books on race and sexuality
But it’s not just Texas where this type of disturbing activism is on the rise. Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Virginia have their own tiny reactionaries claiming the right to decide, not just what their children (many of whom aren’t even enrolled in public school, by the way) read, but what all children read. The issue may actually have won the Governorship of Virginia for the Republican candidate.
You can read more in this Washington Post article, or this LA Times article or this one or this one or this one.
These are really just a small smattering of the attempts to ban/suppress books written by authors of color and LGBTQ authors who want to present characters and viewpoints that supplement the majority, white, Christian, heterosexual characters and viewpoints that continue to be well-represented in school districts nationwide.
The fact that are afraid to expose their children to those viewpoints cannot and does not mean that they are entitled to impose their narrow, terrified perspective on the rest of us and our children, nor does it mean that they should be able to purge the world of that which they fear. Because, at the end of the day, that’s what this is – it’s fear.
These books are not pornography. A book that acknowledges the real world that our children are required to navigate, and that is all children: privileged and unprivileged; loved and unloved; safe and unsafe; white and of color; heterosexual and queer/LGBTQ+ – those books should be celebrated and not condemned. Books can be windows or they can be mirrors, depending upon the perspective of the reader. All children deserve to have their perspectives represented within the walls of their school libraries, and reactionary parents should be shamed and not empowered when they seek to control representation to only their children and only things with which they are comfortable.
Book banning never leads a society in a positive direction.