With Ron DeSantis’ “moral crusade” trying to outlaw anything that might be offensive to white Christians men, Florida is becoming a pretty scary place. What makes it worse is that he wants to be President and what he’s doing in Florida now is what he wants to do to the entire United States. Because of this, his actions and actions taken by officials in Florida counties and cities deserve close attention.
Among his worst offensives is his rampage on books in schools. PEN America a literary freedom advocacy organization published a list showing 176 books that had been banned in Duval Country, Florida. This list was published on December 6th, 2022, so there may be more books on it now, as if the current list isn’t long enough.
PEN America on Tuesday presented a joint letter with We Need Diverse Books and authors and illustrators of 176 books removed from classrooms in Duval County, Florida, in January 2022 for “review.” They have been kept in storage for 10 months with little indication of when they might return to classrooms.
The removed titles were part of the Essential Voices Classroom Libraries Collection, purchased by the district in 2021. This collection “features characters representing a variety of ethnicities, religious affiliations, and gender identities,” and includes children’s picture books such as Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o, Dim Sum for Everyone! by Grace Lin, and Berenstain Bears and the Big Question by Stan and Jan Berenstain.
Looking through the titles, I keep wondering what could be offensive about some of these books. Yes, they celebrate the lives or accomplishments of women or non-whites, talk about how non-white or non-Christian families might celebrate certain holidays, contain stories about non-white families or families that might look different than the so-called “ideal”, or relate tales from other countries. But why should that be considered offensive? Right, it shouldn’t.
This is just one example of the new fascism that right-wing extremists want to force us to live under. If we don’t find ways to stop what’s happening in Florida, even if Ron DeSantis himself never become President, others with his same ideals just might, with disasterous results. If you’re part of a school board or are a parent active in your schools, fight for your kids to be able to read books like those on this list. And even if you’re not, do whatever you can to help defeat candidates who want to bring this kind of creeping fascism to the US. We have too much to lose.