Books banned in US schools


Jorge Dastis |

Arlington (USA), September 26 (EFE).- The culture war is also being waged in American schools. Over the past year, more than 1,600 books have been banned from thousands of schools, thanks in part to the efforts of organizations linked to conservative groups. The Arlington, Virginia Public Library has said enough.

“I certainly respect a parent’s right to say, ‘Not for my kid, that. What I don’t respect is a parent’s right to come and say, ‘This isn’t for anyone,'” says Diane Kresh, director of libraries in Arlington County, a small, segregated urban enclave in Washington. by the waters of the Efe Potomac River.

Diane Kresh, director of the Arlington County Library. EFE / Jorge Dastis

Kresh attends Efe for Banned Books Week, an annual celebration that this year serves as a response to the recent wave of parental censorship in the country, directed, above all, at stories with racial themes or with characters. LGBT.

As part of the celebration, the Arlington Library encourages its readers to check out a banned or challenged book in American schools. Texts like “The bluest eye”, by Nobel Prize for Literature Toni Morrison, or “Gender Queer: A Memoir”, by Maia Kobabe.

The message seems to have passed: this week, all “banned” library books are on loan.

Nothing new

forbidden book cage
Cage with several censored books during Banned Books Week celebration. EFE / Latif Kassidi

In many cases, school book bans are encouraged, promoted, or enforced by conservative politicians, such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis or Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

Even if it has intensified in recent years, censorship linked to the defense of morals has always been a source of controversy in a country where the mention “We trust in God” adorns banknotes, public buildings, even schools.

According to data from PEN America, an NGO that fights book bans, 40% of the more than 1,600 books censored in US schools over the past year have protagonists or secondary characters who are not white.

critical race theory

Banned Books Week
Banned Books Week celebration at the headquarters of the Arlington Public Library (USA). EFE/Jorge Dastis

For Nikole Hannah-Jones, journalist at the New York Times and author of “The 1619 Project, a literary project on the history of slavery and its contemporary echoes, vetoing books is a practice always associated with a form of repression .

“Reading is liberating. Reading opens up your world and your perspective, and leads you to question existing hierarchies in a society,” the writer explained to Efe, minutes before taking part in an event at the library of ‘Arlington.

Hannah-Jones’ project has been contested virtually since its inception.

It began to be published in 2019 in the pages of the New York Times, and immediately drew criticism from then-President Donald Trump, who went so far as to order an educational commission to draw up a ” Patriotic Curriculum,” in response to schools beginning to use journalism to teach American history.

Arlington's Banned Books Week
Last year, more than 1,600 books were banned from thousands of schools. The Arlington, Virginia Public Library has said enough. EFE/Jorge Dastis

Some states pass laws prohibiting texts

Some states, such as Florida or Texas, have passed laws prohibiting the teaching of text in public schools.

The history of reading challenges in America is inextricably linked to slavery and racism. Southern states not only prohibited slaves from reading, they prevented the publication of abolitionist literature, preventing whites from being exposed to anti-slavery ideas.

At the center of the controversy: critical race theory, a kind of generic label that almost automatically applies to any historical work that examines the role of slavery and racism in the birth of the country’s institutions.

Banned Books Week
Journalist and writer Nikole Hannah-Jones, during the Banned Books Week celebration. EFE/Jorge Dastis

“Would anyone have thought two years ago that ‘critical race theory’ was anything?” Kresh asks, half incredulous, half joking.

The term, which few know how to define exactly, has become a constant in debates about education and indoctrination, and is continually used by conservative media and pressure groups to point the finger at teachers who address racism. in their classes.

“The faculty in the United States is made up of 80% white women. It defies logic to think that white women are teaching white children that they are oppressors,” Hannah-Jones says.

Web editor: Nuria Santesteban


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