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Hispanic Heritage Month and Banned Books WeekSeptember 19th, 2012 at Wed, 19th, 2012 at 10:10 am by José
In the spirit of Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15) and Banned Books Week (September 30-October 6), I thought I’d share an excellent article a colleague of mine wrote that incorporates Hispanic Heritage and intellectual freedom.
Author: Jessica McClinton-Lopez, Teen Librarian, Issaquah Library
Hispanic Heritage is celebrated from September 15th to October 15th every year. It is recognized as a month to honor and celebrate the accomplishments of Hispanics to U.S. heritage and culture. That time period also houses another very important event in our culture, society, and libraries: September 30th-October 6th Banned books Week. During Banned Books Week, American Library Association’s office of Intellectual Freedom office works to bring attention to titles of books commonly challenged or banned in our society, the consequences of censorship and banning of books, and to the importance and meaning of the freedom to read.
Why do people challenge or try to ban books? According to ALA, most of the time it is because well meaning people think they are protecting children from offensive language, language that is sexually explicit, or books that are unsuited for certain age groups. This year and in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, I wanted to raise awareness of a recent and different challenge to the freedom to read that took place in Unified School District in Tucson Arizona.
In January of this year, under Arizona House Bill 2281, politicians removed books that supposedly taught about the suppression of minority groups by white people. On the list included titles such as Sherman Alexie’s Ten Little Indians, Paolo Freire’s The Pedagogy of the Oppressed Matt de la Peña’s Mexican White Boy, Rodulfo Anaya’s Bless Me Ultima, Sandra Cisnero’s The House on Mango Street, and Ronald Takaki’s A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America. Reports indicated that books were confiscated from the hands of students despite protest from students and teachers in the program. In the state of Arizona, the effort to disband the Mexican American Studies program and remove books from the classrooms was and is largely reflective of political issues in the state.
Whether you agree or disagree with the politics in Arizona, our ability to provide books from many perspectives is something libraries and a democratic society need to uphold. In fact, it is the mission of the King County Library System is to provide free, open and equal access to ideas and information to all members of the community. When things like this happen in other states, it is a good reminder of the importance of our mission. We as librarians and library staff strive to defend access to our collections every day so that what happened in Arizona will never happen in our libraries.
For a list of Banned Mexican Studies Books visit http://www.newstaco.com/2012/01/31/a-copy-of-tucsons-banned-book-list/
For ALA’s list of commonly challenged or banned authors by year, visit http://www.ala.org/advocacy/banned/frequentlychallenged/challengedauthors
For more information on Banned Books Week, visit http://www.ala.org/advocacy/banned
For more information on Hispanic Heritage Month, visit http://hispanicheritagemonth.gov/
For more information and details on the Tucson book banning and a video, visit http://www.oif.ala.org/oif/?p=3904
And for information on the Librotraficante Caravan, which took a stand and smuggled Banned Books back to Tucson visit http://librotraficante.com/