Banned Books Week comes as Republicans in NC, US fight to censor classrooms, ban important texts
We are in the midst of Banned Books Week, a week meant to celebrate the freedom to read and to remember and talk about some of the important works that have been banned in America’s school districts and libraries.
This year’s theme is “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.” It’s a fitting theme because Republicans in North Carolina and throughout the United States are censoring classrooms, targeting our educators for the books they want to teach to their students, and silencing the voices of Black, brown and LGBTQ+ authors by banning their books in school libraries.
- According to a banned book report by PEN America that looked at the 2021-22 school year (July 2021-June 2022), there were 2,532 instances of individual books being banned in the U.S. That number includes 1,648 unique titles by 1,261 different authors, 290 illustrators and 18 translators. Nearly 4 million students are enrolled in the districts included in the report.
- These bans, which are being organized by Republican lawmakers and right-wing activist groups, are denying millions of children the opportunity to learn about important and sometimes difficult to understand themes, as well as the truth about America’s history – both the good and the bad.
- Of the books banned this past school year, 41% had LGBTQ+ themes, 40% had prominent characters of color, 22% had sexual content and 21% had titles addressing issues of race and racism. Many books addressed more than one theme. Students should be learning about these themes but Republicans are focused on making sure they don’t.
Instead of using the vast amount of money available to fund our public schools and pay faculty and staff fair wages, Republicans in North Carolina are more focused on politicizing classrooms and fighting against things that aren’t even being taught.
America has a rich history of people standing up against ignorance and hate. Republicans know that being informed about our past through books and other writing is one of the best ways we can learn from previous mistakes and create a better future – and it appears they don’t want that.