Yesterday I received a package that has me feeling very emotional, indeed. It was a box of books from Amazon, purchased by Lyn, a friend I haven’t met face to face. I met her through my blog, and she often leaves such well thought out comments, full of insight and advice and encouragement and life experience, that I genuinely wish she’d write a blog herself. But yesterday she did something even better.
Let me start at the beginning. Recently, Lyn shared an article with me entitled, “Students fight back against a book ban that has a Pennsylvania community divided”.
This article was extremely upsetting. It is about a school board in York, Pennsylvania that has banned a list of books for an entire year, simply because there has been such a backlash against Critical Race Theory, which isn’t even taught in the K-12 curriculum in the first place. The only thing these books have in common are the fact that they are all by or about people of color.
It seems that some parents are supportive of this all-White school board’s decision because they don’t want their white children to grow up feeling guilty that they’re white. Therefore, they are thrilled that any books that remind children that there are other races, or that racism exists, are no longer obtainable in their schools.
This is outrageous and absurd. Those kids in York have a right to be exposed to the real, diverse, multicultural world in which we all live. And all the children, not just the white ones, should be allowed to be proud of who they are.
It is frustrating when a school board can’t even bother to be educated itself. I hope the community votes in a much different set of people at their earliest opportunity. If I had a child, I certainly wouldn’t want them in that school district, where they’re only taught a whitewashed version of the truth. I’d want them to learn all across the color spectrum.
Lyn and I shared our frustration and anger over this situation, and our feelings of helplessness about changing it. I genuinely assumed it would end there. I’d fire off yet another rant of a blog post about it, and that would be that. We are only two individuals, after all. How on earth could we make a difference?
But then Lyn thought of my little free library, with its purpose of getting books into the hands of people who need them and don’t otherwise have access to them. And right then and there she decided that she would buy some of these banned books and send them to me for my library.
I don’t live in York. I don’t even live in Pennsylvania. But this ignorance is spreading throughout the world. My mother used to say that the best way to fight against a book ban was to get that book any way you can and read it, and then share it with others. Any time she heard about a book being banned, I could count on a copy of that book making its way to me. My mother would make that her mission.
So I opened this package from Lyn yesterday, and I got tears in my eyes. I read all of the books today except the amazing Baldwin essays, which I have already read. And now I’m proud to say that these books are sitting in my little free library, just waiting for someone to come along and claim them. And when they do, they’ll include a copy of this blog post, so they’ll understand just how special and important these books are.
Sometimes activism can be very, very subtle, but it still makes a difference. This whole event, and the way Lyn chose to deal with her frustration, makes me very, very proud of her. And I’m also proud of me for being able to facilitate it.
Thanks Lyn! I’ll leave you with a quote from one of the banned books, I Am Enough by Grace Byers: “I know that I may sometimes cry, but even then, I’m here to try.”
If you would like to participate in our subtle activism, buy these books, print out this blog post, slip it inside the front cover, and then leave these books in the little free library nearest you. You can find a map of these libraries here.
*****Update***** This particular book ban is rescinded! More details here. But don’t get complacent. Books get banned all the time, all over the world.