If you’ve been reading my recent posts on book bans and censorship then you probably have sensed me really working through all this. It’s so complex! I’d wanted to view it just like the book banning that’s always occurred but, it really doesn’t take much digging to realize this is part of a larger misinformation strategy that has hit various areas of the information sector from tech companies to news media outlets and to high education. Knowing about this and ending it has to be important to all of us because controlling media, messages and information erodes our democracy.
Now, K-12 is being targeted and, it’s a widespread, well targeted strategy to control messages and information in textbooks and library books. We’re seeing much greater interest in school boards and library boards with some candidates running with specific agendas in mind. As an example, legislation is being proposed or has passed in states that work to restrict what can be taught in classrooms. One such proposal is SB167 in Indiana.
I wonder what those in power are doing while the rest of us fight this fight. I honestly do believe that the 1% is staying out of this, letting the 99% fight among ourselves so we don’t realize who is the real oppressor here. Race is a distraction.
In the meantime, I’ll fight this good fight!
Work is being done to eliminate books written by marginalized authors from school curriculum as well as from school and public libraries. The threat is real! Legislation like the one mentioned above will make it possible to prosecute librarians and teachers for introducing students to materials that will bring them harm. Blacks, Latino/a/x/e, Asian and Pacific Island Americans, LGBTQIA+ and people with disabilities are referred to as ‘marginalized for’ a reason: because we have been relegated to life in the margins. Take a close look at this page of text. Where is the power, knowledge and attention centered? It’s not in the margins, is it? Those 1” borders that serve to define the space for the text seem to be empty. But just like that glass is never half empty, neither are those margins. While no group of people should be oppressed in ways that confine them to border and edges, please know that existing in the margins is not the same as marginal existence. Bringing full, complete and vital stories from the margins to the main text doesn’t disrupt the paragraph, not even if the font or language is different. It simply enriches the paragraph. No doubt, it will take some juggling and re-arranging to move those stories, some disrupting! It might even take some listening to those stories. But, it can be done. Who gets to decide what voices need to be banned to the side and which get go be heard front and center? In a democracy, should any voices be shunned?
How are you using your voice?
I’m planning to use mine. About all I really have is this platform and, I’m planning to use it for the good by raising awareness to the assault to our basic American freedoms while also shining a light on some good people and some outstanding work. I’ve reached out to a few authors who have books on the most recent banning list in Texas. It’s mishmash of 850 titles that one of their state legislators wants removed from both school and public libraries. Personally, I think a person should have to read every page of every book they want to censor but, the process doesn’t matter. It shouldn’t be done at all.
I’ve contacted as many MG & YA BIPOC authors of color and Native American authors on that list as I could and asked if they’d like to be interviewed for this blog. As I began doing the research to build each set of questions for them, I continued to learn about remarkable people who are crafting such unique and compassionate stories for young readers! I’m hoping the interviews I publish will give you a sense of the authors, the reason they write what they do and to give you an idea of what it feels like to be a marginalized writer, whether that marginalization is for reasons of racial, ethnic, disabilities, gender or sexual orientation identities.
If I’ve not reached out to you and you’ve found your book on someone’s challenge list and you’ve got something to say please, feel free to email me so we can set something up.
Let’s end the oppression.