Unfortunately, there are some of our fellow humans who are still searching for the moon’s green cheese, hoping to find facts to bear witness to the earth being flat, convinced that we have never traveled to the moon, refuse to accept that our sweet little children were and continue to be slaughtered in their elementary school classrooms, proclaim that the Holocaust did not happen, and enslavement of Africans was some type of work program. They are the folks who can engage the conversation that concludes with banning books as a remedy for ridding us of the truth that we are a country of diverse people who bring a large, beautiful array of ways to live and think to the table.
Many of these folks occupy our gated silos that are filled with homogeneous groups who believe that their way of being in the world is the best way and those who do not engage in life as they do, look like them and think like them have no place here. The support of banning books goes a step further and supports the notion that differences in opinions, ways of being in the world, cultural heritage, and ethnicity can be erased by simply not talking about it, refusing to acknowledge the people who are diverse and getting rid of books that talk about them or address their way of life. What a pity to be unconscious and so frightened of difference.
The 21st Century proponents of banning books have come to the planet about ten centuries too late, we have already done this, I think we called it the Dark Ages and it is almost unimaginable that we find ourselves in 2023 talking about banned books and having to organize to stand against that negative, destructive and quite frankly evil energy that wishes to see us go backwards in this way.
As a little girl growing up in rural Arkansas without any access to a public library and a very inadequate bookshelf of old books in my elementary school, I remember the absolute glee that I felt when I learned that the bookmobile would come in the summer, and we could check out books. This was a van filled with all kinds of wonderful books and we were allowed to check out up to ten of them and while it seemed that months passed in between its visits, I think that it came every two to three weeks. When I think of the hungry heart that I brought to the doors of the book mobile and how that hunger grows stronger every day and is fed by having access to books on so many topics, I am delighted and deeply grateful.
When I think of my enslaved ancestors being willing to risk physical harm such as beatings, fingers being cut off and other atrocious actions against them as they sought to learn to read and write, continuing to take that chance in spite of the threat, I am so thankful. But it makes me quite angry to think of those who would like to have the power to determine what all of us can have access to as we embrace our desire to know more about many things.
Make no mistake, this is not just DeSantis’ idiocy, there is a wind afoot in the country that is happy to have him spouting off about “wokeness” and book banning. For the “green cheese seekers” this is a happy word because there is security in trying to control everything and everybody and also in trying to find a way to let those who are different know that they are truly not welcome here.
But I think that there is a majority that is not looking for green cheese and who know full well that the earth is round, and that the truth will find a way to have a life whether we like it or not. I believe that there is a large collective of folks, some of whom are in gated communities themselves, who are willing to widen their circle and who believe that the mind deserves to have a life.
The Center for Racial Healing and I are inviting you to join us in organizing a banned book library which will be housed at the Center. But in addition to that we want to ask you to organize such libraries in your own communities. We would appreciate your sending us books or funds to purchase books because we want to create the library as well as share the books with anyone who wishes to have a copy.
In addition to this, please share with folks in your sphere of influence that difference needs to be embraced and that it cannot be erased by simply putting your head in the sand and refusing to acknowledge its presence. The truth is that People of Color and LBGTQIA folks are here and plan to stay. All of us with our wide range of diversity have been here a long time and we are not going anywhere.