Obama y el neo-racismo proyectado a la censura de las bibliotecas escolares
Julio 28, 2023

Obama speaks out against ‘profoundly misguided’ book bans in school libraries

Former president writes open letter to American librarians and appears in TikTok video decrying rightwing censorship push

Martin Pengelli in Washington, The Guardian, 17 July 2023

In an open letter to American librarians, Barack Obama has criticised “profoundly misguided” rightwing efforts to ban books from libraries in public schools.

“Some of the books that shaped my life – and the lives of so many others – are being challenged by people who disagree with certain ideas or perspectives,” the former president wrote.

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“It’s no coincidence that these ‘banned books’ are often written by or feature people of colour, Indigenous people, and members of the LGBTQ+ community.”

Obama’s letter on Monday supported Unite Against Book Bans, a campaign led by the American Library Association (ALA).

Obama also appeared in a TikTok video posted by the Kankakee Public Library, from Illinois, which has found success with viral videos.

The 44th president appeared at the end of the short video, which otherwise featured staff reading books subject to bans or attempted bans. Obama was shown reading and sipping from a library-branded mug. More videos are set to be released.

The ALA has found that in US public schools last year, “a record 2,571 unique titles were targeted for censorship”, often by parent-led groups, “a 38% increase from the 1,858 unique titles targeted for censorship in 2021”.

It adds: “Of those titles, the vast majority were written by or about members of the LGBTQ+ community and people of colour.”

In his letter, Obama also cited “unfortunate instances in which books by conservative authors or books containing ‘triggering’ words or scenes have been targets for removal”.

He added: “Either way, the impulse seems to be to silence, rather than engage, rebut, learn from or seek to understand views that don’t fit our own. I believe such an approach is profoundly misguided, and contrary to what has made this country great.”

Obama is the author of his own bestselling books: Dreams from My Father, The Audacity of Hope and A Promised Land, the last named the first volume of his political memoirs. His wife, Michelle Obama, is the author of the hit memoir Becoming and a recent follow-up, The Light We Carry.

In his letter, Obama said writers “like Mark Twain and Toni Morrison, Walt Whitman and James Baldwin taught me something essential about our country’s character.

“Reading about people whose lives were very different from mine showed me how to step into someone else’s shoes. And the simple act of writing helped me develop my own identity – all of which would prove vital as a citizen, as a community organizer, and as president.”

Regarding school book bans, the former president also said it was “important to understand that the world is watching.

“If America – a nation built on freedom of expression – allows certain voices and ideas to be silenced, why should other countries go out of their way to protect them?

“Ironically, it is Christian and other religious texts – the sacred texts that some calling for book bannings in this country claim to want to defend – that have often been the first target if censorship and book banning efforts in authoritarian countries.”

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