#BannedBooksWeek: I Celebrate Diversity!
From September 25th to October 1st, authors, readers, publishers, and constitutional right advocates will celebrate books that have been banned for whatever reasons. This year, Banned Books Week is looking at diversity. Although diversity isn’t a new word, some may imagine diversity as a person of color. Diversity, however, includes people who are of different appearance, ethnicity, religion, gender and gender identity, age, physical and mental ability, sexual orientation, military status, and economic status.
The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom has shown that 52% of the books challenged or banned in the past 10 years were from diverse content (Association of American Publishers).
“It’s alarming to see so many diverse voices facing censorship,” says Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) Executive Director Charles Brownstein. “By shining a light on how these ideas are censored, we hope to encourage opportunities to create engagement and understanding within our communities, and to emphasize the fundamental importance of the freed to read. (Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Spring 2016)
As an artist, writer, and reader of color, banning diverse books makes my mouth go dry. I understand that parents–who make the biggest fuss in censoring books–want to protect their children from offensive language, violent content, nudity, sexual content, and other themes, but completely shielding them won’t help them transition into the real world. Literacy is a learning opportunity to read and hear different voices who’ll they may encounter in their lifetimes, to cultivate resourceful, imaginative, and creative individuals.
And banning a book doesn’t guarantee that they won’t read it. All in all, if there is a book that screams, “I should be banned,” look for something else to read.