At The Root, we’ve previously reported on the growing trend of book bans and how the act seems to be laser focused on works by writers of color. You can check out our list of banned and challenged books written by Black authors here. But if you haven’t been keeping up with what’s going on, you should know that the problem is only getting worse.
In honor National Library Week, The American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom just released some disturbing data around conservative’s ongoing efforts to ban books from libraries and schools around the country. According to their report, 2022 saw the highest number of appeals to ban books in the 20 years they’ve been keeping track.
And it should come as no surprise that most of the books in the conservatives’ crosshairs were written by writers of color or those who identify as LGBTQ. At the top of the ALA’s list of 13 Most Challenged Books of 2022 are frequent targets, “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison and “All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M. Johnson, a fact that is not lost on the American Library Association.
“By releasing the list of Top 10 Most Challenged Books each year, ALA recognizes all of the brave authors whose work challenges readers with stories that disrupt the status quo and offer fresh perspectives on tough issues,” said ALA President Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada in a statement. “The list also illustrates how frequently stories by or about LGBTQ+ persons, people of color, and lived experiences are being targeted by censors. Closing our eyes to the reality portrayed in these stories will not make life’s challenges disappear. Books give us courage and help us understand each other.”
But while conservatives are ramping up their efforts to take books off shelves, the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom provides support for libraries facing censorship, including workshops and programs around the First Amendment.
As Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom told NBC News, “Everyone is entitled to find books that reflect their interests, their experiences, their backgrounds, their identities on the shelves of a publicly funded library that’s there to serve everyone,”