Books on racism and LGBT issues are the most censored in the US

15 minutes. Books on racism, racial justice and the Black Lives Matter movement are, along with those on LGBT themes, among those that were most censored in some way in the US in 2020, according to the country’s Library Association.

The ALA (American Library Association) published as every year around this time its list of books removed from the shelves or censored, what it calls “questioned books.”

They are books that address “controversial” topics.says Puerto Rican Loida García-Febo, former president of ALA who heads a committee related to women in that entity.

The good news for 2020 is that there were fewer “questions.”

As those who most ask to censor books are parents with children of school age “perhaps the decline was due to the closure of classes.”

According to the report prepared by the Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF) of ALA, there were 273 “questions” of books and printed materials; in 2019 there were 566.

Number one on the list is George by Alex Gino. This LGBT-themed book was questioned, banned and restricted, because it does not reflect “the values” of the community.

The second Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds, suffered the same fate, due to public comments by its authors, including mentions of incidents in a biased way and not considering racism in general.

Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice, an illustrated book by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins and Ann Hazzard, uses “divisive language” and promotes opinions against the police, according to those who asked to censor it.

Among the books “challenged” on racial grounds is a classic, To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) by Harper Lee. In this case they allege the use of racial epithets and that the fact that the main character is white – a lawyer defending an African American accused of raping a white woman – has a negative effect on the students.

John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men for racial stereotypes and Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye for sexually explicit content are on OIF’s list of censored books for last year.

All American Boys, by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely; Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson; Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give are also on the list.

COVID-19 and libraries

On the occasion of National Library Week, ALA published a report on how COVID-19 affected libraries. They also point out how an unprecedented situation was resolved to continue operating despite its physical closure and fill the void produced by it.

The report highlights the role libraries played in bridging the digital divide and helping families, low-income or marginalized communities, students, and rural dwellers in online learning and interactions.

It also notes that librarians had to fight misinformation and false information around COVID-19. In the same way they fought against xenophobia, “especially Sinophobia (Chinese phobia)” that awoke the disease.

Throughout 2020 they had to respond to misinformation about vaccines, the census, the Black Lives Matter Movement and the presidential elections, he adds.