Black authors are removed from school libraries for fear of critical race theory

Black authors have said their books have been banned and pulled from library shelves due to Republican Party fears over Critical Race Theory (CRT), which examines the ways race and racism intersect with politics, culture and law.

CRT is the academic framework that racism has existed in many structures and systems throughout American history, including the justice and political system. However, Republican lawmakers appear to have given the term a broader meaning, applying it to any education that involves teaching about race and intersectionality. Dozens of bills are pending or have been passed that ban the teaching of theory in schools, and Republicans have also cracked down on texts they deem too controversial to teach or read.

A disproportionate number of authors who appear to have been impacted by these movements are writers of color and authors from LGBTQ+ backgrounds.

In October 2021, Republican Texas State Rep. Matt Krause released a list of approximately 850 books that he said “make students uncomfortable” because of their content about race and sexuality. Krause urged school libraries to report if they had any of the books.

He did not explain what the next steps might be, but his request mentioned several pressures to remove the books from libraries and classrooms if they dealt with issues ranging from transgender identity to critical race theory. .

Among the books was the non-fiction book by Mikki Kendall hood feminism, and Kalynn Bayron’s 2020 novel Cinderella is dead. Ovidia Molina, president of the Texas State Teachers Association, decried Krause’s decision, calling it a “disturbing and political outburst in the classroom” and potentially illegal, at the time, according to a statement.

Talk to Newsweek about Krause’s crackdown on books about race and sexuality, Kendal said: I’ve spent exactly enough time figuring out that the people clamoring for these book bans have largely never read the books and have stopped taking them seriously as reviews. Like Krause, many of the people pushing for these bans run in local elections and have nothing substantive to say, so they chose to attack the books in hopes that no one will notice they are hacks. who run a political crook hoping to win. a desk.”

Hood Feminism argues that mainstream feminists rarely talk about meeting basic needs as a feminist issue, and that white feminists can sometimes be blind to how race, class, and sexuality interact with feminism.

Kendall said many people who accuse him of writing about CRT don’t understand the theory or know where it’s taught, mostly in college and law school.

“Children who can think for themselves and analyze information are the biggest danger to fanatics who are desperately trying to cling to an imaginary past,” Kendall said. “As for the idea that I could be accused of teaching critical race theory, it’s not a crime to have information or to share it.”

She said America has always struggled with the idea of ​​free speech for marginalized people, but it’s just more visible now in the age of social media.

“It’s an old fight, and I certainly don’t intend to lose it. More importantly, I certainly don’t intend to rely solely on school libraries. Children use the internet, so I I will talk about these concepts on Twitter, TikTok, at conferences in schools and bookstores.”

When asked if she plans to appeal the removal of her books, Kendall said, “I will be joining a lawsuit with the ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union] or another similar organization if necessary, but I do not ask that children have access to education. I demand it.

“Whether it’s my books or those of someone other than real experts who have read the books and whose job it is to set curricula have chosen to include in a school library, I don’t think a whiny parent or political hack should never have the right to restrict access to information for all children in a neighborhood.”

Bayron discovered that Cinderella is dead was on the list on social media at the end of 2021.

“I read the list of over 800 books that Krause was targeting and realized it wasn’t specifically about critical race theory, but about racism, homophobia, and misogyny. Stories started flowing of my work being removed from libraries in Texas and some other states as well,” Bayron said. Newsweek.

Addressing critics, she said she would challenge them to define for her how CRT is applied to her work.

“I would ask them if they know who Kimberlé Crenshaw is. [CRT pioneer] is and if they can quote it. Many people supporting these bans do not have a solid understanding of what critical race theory really is and how it is applied. They use the term like a dog whistle,” Bayron said.

She added that the removal of the books set a “terrible precedent”, but that she did not fear “willful ignorance”.

“It directly harms young readers by narrowing their view of the world. Not everyone in this world is white, straight, cis [cisgender] and heterosexual. You can cultivate empathy and compassion by fostering a learning environment rich in inclusion. Isn’t that what we want? To enable our children to be compassionate and helpful and genuinely interested in the welfare of others?

“The fear and ignorance that drives these efforts is based solely on white supremacy and patriarchal ideologies that have dominated our social and political landscape for generations. It hurts me as a creator, yes, but it also hurts young readers and that, in my mind, is absolutely unacceptable.”

A photo of Kalynn Bayron, who wrote the 2020 young adult novel ‘Cinderella is Dead’. Republican Texas State Rep. Matt Krause urged school libraries in the state to report the book if they have it, as he claimed it was one of 850 books which “make students feel uncomfortable”.
Bloomsbury/Kalynn Bayron

She is working with her publisher to deal with the withdrawal of her books.

“I worry that people will give in to pressure, but I’m much more worried about my young readers who seek representations of themselves in the books they read. I understand what it’s like to searching through the pages of an epic adventure and finding nothing is an incredibly isolating and discouraging experience.

“If I had my way, I would never allow another young reader to feel the pain of deliberate exclusion based on race, gender, or sexual identity. I will continue to speak loud and clear for my readers and the librarians and educators who support them.”

Tiffany D. Jackson, who wrote the 2018 novel Monday doesn’t come faces a similar situation. At a school board meeting in May 2021 in Loudoun County, Va., parents demanded that the author’s book be banned for “sexual content,” according to the Loudoun-Times mirror.

The book discusses friendship, dyslexia, healing and mentions sex, although it is not practiced, she said.

jackson said Newsweek that her book had been “on the hit list for some time now”, but in May 2021 she chose not to speak about the school board’s reaction because she was mourning the death of her aunt.

She said a lot of people who accuse her of teaching CRT don’t even know what the theory is, and “that seems to be the biggest problem.”

Jackson said her accusers probably haven’t read her book, which she says aims to shed light on missing black children.

“It barely fits the qualifications of the current CRT. So one would assume that the only reason it’s banned is because it features black children living in our current society. And that makes the silent racism of those parents incredibly strong. .”

She does not intend to appeal the school board’s decision.

“My next book The weight of blood talks about microaggressions, racism and segregation. It will probably be banned too. I have a long, hard road ahead of me as a black author.”

About Karren Campbell

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