Shavahn Best: Why no ‘Racist Children’s Literature’ section?

Last modified: Tuesday, January 28, 2014
To the editor:

There is no gray area where racism is concerned. Certain individuals, private and public institutions have created a situation where, at best, hiding under the politically correct cloak of “no censorship,” racism is condoned. The song and dance around “free speech” and censorship continues to cause incredible anxiety, pain and hardship for people; and it perpetuates cycles of violence and hate. It is unthinkable that the Jones Library, for instance, would take such a karaoke-like stance on this issue.

Wrestling with the histories of rape, lynching, torture and genocide, and of the abduction and decimation of entire cultures, is what we must be acknowledging here. For some teary-eyed Jones Library personnel it may seem like a “fair” and “right” decision to allow racist children’s books within easy reach of our youngest. However, the absolute correct thing to do would be to either put them in a special collection called “Racist Children’s Literature” way up high somewhere where adults doing research on racist children’s ‘literature’ could reach them. Or put them in that lovely glass display as one first enters the library with an aptly entitled sign: “Racist Children’s Literature.” The unimaginable horror that indigenous and so-called “people of color” have to endure on a daily basis is just that: unimaginable — to the average European (light-skinned) American. So why not take a true stand for free speech, and agree that racist literature is anything but free. The great cost to our society has been and continues to be astronomical; and this so-called literature does not cut it in our (so-called) democracy, much less in our public library’s children’s section.

Shavahn Best