It's Not Censorship

Responses to the Scholastic #SlaverywithaSmile Book Recall Being Labeled Censorship

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  1. Following the recall of "A Birthday Cake for George Washington" after a public protest this month, there have been various spins on the story that are important to challenge. The first spin, in much of the mainstream press, is that Scholastic one day realized this was a bad book and recalled it. (Just like the traditional narrative of the Civil Rights Movement that says, for example, that the Supreme Court ruled against school desegregation one day in 1954--leaving out the decades of organizing that led to Brown v. Board.) The "enlightened Scholastic" narrative can be challenged by using every media outlet we can access to share the story of the widespread protest that led Scholastic to recall the book to protect the market value of their trusted reputation. (Some of that protest is documented in "Under Pressure.")
  2. The other spin is that the recall was equivalent to censorship. This accusation has been made in the conservative blog, InfoWars, "SCHOLASTIC PULLS CHILDREN’S BOOK DEPICTING GEORGE WASHINGTON’S SLAVE COOK: Social justice organizations celebrate book's censorship" and by a statement from the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), the PEN American Center, and the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) called A Birthday Cake for George Washington: The Problem with Banishing Books.
  3. In response to the censorship spin, we recommend two key resources. One is a series of tweets and retweets by author Daniel José Older, listed below. Also, see the Reading While White blog by Megan Schliesman called "No Book is Sacred." Older's tweets, the RWW essay, and the articles Older references would make great readings for discussion in a high school history or language arts course and in any teacher/librarian ed program.
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