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Readers respond to ‘Tintin’ controversy at Amherst’s Jones Library

  • A panel from "Tintin in the Congo."

    A panel from "Tintin in the Congo."

  • A panel from "Tintin in the Congo."

EDITOR'S NOTE: In recent weeks we've received numerous letters from readers about parents' efforts to have "Tintin" books, which contain racial stereotypes, relocated from the children's section at the Jones Library in Amherst, and library officials' subsequent refusal to do so. These letters are collected below.

Judith Eiseman: Help kids be kids a little longer

Protecting children is not censorship. A picture is worth a thousand words and the more I think about it, the more I think these books belong in the history section rather than the children’s room. (Read more...)

Frank Gatti: Parents should read ‘Tintin’ books

Young children understand stories from a moral perspective that reflects their developmental age, good versus bad. When bad is associated with one race or ethnic group and good with European ancestry, early values are being learned. (Read more...)

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

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. (Read more...)

Ambreen Hai: Disgraceful that Jones Library didn’t move books

We all suffer as a community if racism is purveyed as normal, only a thing of the past or applicable only to a few. (Read more...)

David Thomson: Moving books would be ill-conceived, unfair

I commend the Jones Library for their difficult but absolutely necessary and correct decision not to remove these books from the children’s shelves where they belong. (Read more...)

Janet Aalfs: Racist stereotypes quietly do major harm

We sanction aggressive behavior when we do not clearly identify racist images, nor interrupt the violence they portray. (Read more...)

Andrew Grant-Thomas: My adventures with ‘Tintin’ at Amherst’s Jones Library

It is not coincidental that those of us who spoke to the board all have kids of color. Do we care about censorship? Yes! We also care for the welfare of our children. (Read more...)

Susan Triolo: 'Tintin' controversy evokes thoughts of ‘Little Black Sambo’

I applaud the Amherst parents who are concerned about what their children see and read. We are so fortunate that we live in an area where many of us are aware of the scourge of racism, and where many of us struggle toward greater understanding of white privilege. (Read more...)

Related

‘Tintin’ comics to remain in Amherst library children’s room despite parents’ objections

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

AMHERST — A graphic novel series containing racial stereotypes that some parents argue is inappropriate for pre-teens will not be removed from the children’s area at the Jones Library as a group has requested. But library officials are pledging to be part of a community dialogue focused on racial issues and to better inform the public about the children’s room … 8

Sarah Lambdin: Censorship? Moving library books is just responsible

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

To the editor: You reported that the director of the Jones library and the board of trustees have taken the position that moving the “Tintin” books from the young children’s section is tantamount to censorship. I am confused as to why the moving of these books from the young children’s area would be considered censorship. I don’t know what age … 0

Amy Pybus: You can’t hide what’s ugly from children

Thursday, February 13, 2014

EASTHAMPTON — I have enjoyed reading the lively debate over the placement of “Tintin” books at the Amherst library and considering valid points on both sides. I wasn’t surprised the library board chose not to move the books. Librarians are well trained for the complexities of their job and censorship is a slippery slope no matter whose “side” you’re on. … 1

And here is the letter I had sent: To the editor: I support Andrew Grant-Thomas (“My Adventures with ‘Tintin’,” January 24, 2014) and the parents who want the Tintin books in Jones Library moved to the young adult or adult section. I fear that all-white library staff members and trustees are using the issue of censorship to avoid the real issue: racism. No on asked the library to remove Tintin books from its collections. Some did ask that very young, vulnerable readers not be exposed to extremely racist depictions without a word of caution. If librarians insist on providing early readers with racist images, they have a responsibility to also tell them those images are wrong. A sign placed near the area or a statement inserted in the book may be something to consider. Minus that, librarians are treating the book's content as if it is normal. I curate the Sexual Minorities Archives, which also has a no-censorship policy. However, we place anti-LGBT books in one area and label them as such. At the same time that people are forewarned, we make a statement against hate. Jones provides an example of how institutional racism works: an all-white body made a decision that affects and harms the lives of people of color. Librarians and scholars of color ought to be consulted and have a voting say. Jones is the Amherst public library. Is it for everyone? Then why not serve all of the children – of color and white, too – who need education, not indelible racist stereotypes, in their formative years. Bet Power Northampton, MA

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