Congress holds second hearing, focuses on censorship in classrooms

(Fri, 20 May 2022 16:12:40 -0500)

Approximately six weeks after holding a hearing to investigate the recent surge of book bannings in public school libraries and classrooms around the country, the U.S. House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties held a second hearing in Washington, D.C., on Thursday morning. This hearing addressed, in Maryland Congressman and subcommittee chair Jamie Raskin's words, "the closely related nationwide assaults on the rights of teachers and students to engage in free speech in in the classroom," especially in discussions relating to race, racism, and LGBTQ issues.

After introducing into the record a letter condemning book bannings and censorship in public schools signed by 1,300 children's and YA authors and illustrators, including Judy Blume, Rick Riordan, Mo Willems, and Jacqueline Woodson, Raskin pointed out that the term often invoked by those supporting restrictions upon classroom discussions of race and racism—"critical race theory"—used to be taught in law schools to explain "the stubborn hold of white supremacy and racism" in the U.S., even after 1954 and the Supreme Court's decision in Brown vs. Board of Education.

Critical race theory was never taught in public schools, Raskin noted; right wing zealots co-opted the term to "make it the name of everything they wanted to purge from public schools in America—specifically the actual history of race and racism in our country, as well as teachings about gender, sexual orientation and gender identity." ...

Congress holds second hearing, focuses on censorship in classrooms

(Fri, 20 May 2022 16:11:22 -0500)

Approximately six weeks after holding a hearing to investigate the recent surge of book bannings in public school libraries and classrooms around the country, the U.S. House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties held a second hearing in Washington, D.C., on Thursday morning. This hearing addressed, in Maryland Congressman and subcommittee chair Jamie Raskin's words, "the closely related nationwide assaults on the rights of teachers and students to engage in free speech in in the classroom," especially in discussions relating to race, racism, and LGBTQ issues.

After introducing into the record a letter condemning book bannings and censorship in public schools signed by 1,300 children's and YA authors and illustrators, including Judy Blume, Rick Riordan, Mo Willems, and Jacqueline Woodson, Raskin pointed out that the term often invoked by those supporting restrictions upon classroom discussions of race and racism—"critical race theory"—used to be taught in law schools to explain "the stubborn hold of white supremacy and racism" in the U.S., even after 1954 and the Supreme Court's decision in Brown vs. Board of Education.

Critical race theory was never taught in public schools, Raskin noted; right wing zealots co-opted the term to "make it the name of everything they wanted to purge from public schools in America—specifically the actual history of race and racism in our country, as well as teachings about gender, sexual orientation and gender identity." ...

Texas librarians face harassment as they navigate book bans

(Tue, 17 May 2022 10:40:19 -0500)

For those librarians working at schools and at public libraries, the pressure to keep some challenged books off the shelves is growing. And some Texas librarians say the insults and threats through social media and the added pressure from supervisors to remove books are taking a toll on the profession...

The Texas Tribune spoke to librarians in two independent school districts that have been at the center of book challenges and bans: Keller, northeast of Fort Worth, and Katy, west of Houston. One from each district spoke to the Tribune, but both asked that their names not be published because they feared harassment.

In Keller, local Facebook group pages and Twitter accounts have included pointed comments about librarians being "heretical" and portrayed them as pedophile "groomers" who order pornographic books. After a particular book challenge failed, one commenter included the phrase "pass the millstones," a biblical reference to execution by drowning.

"It was heartbreaking for me to see comments from a community that I've loved and served for 19 years, directed towards me as a person," the Keller ISD librarian said.

Why do people, like, say, like so much?

(Sun, 15 May 2022 12:32:13 -0500)

According to an article in The Guardian, saying the word 'like' has long been seen as a sign of laziness and stupidity. But its use is actually richly nuanced, goes back to Shakespearean times, and is an indicator of, like, intelligence...

Robert Goolrick, whose books explored tragedy and endurance, dies at 73

(Sun, 15 May 2022 12:26:01 -0500)

Robert Goolrick, a New York advertising executive whose firing at 54 liberated him to write a lacerating memoir of childhood sexual abuse and other family secrets, followed by acclaimed novels about endurance in the face of suffering and tragedy, died April 29 at a nursing center in Lynchburg, Va. He was 73.

The cause was pneumonia and complications from the coronavirus, said the actor and producer Bob Balaban, a friend of Mr. Goolrick's since the 1970s, when they met on a Kool-Aid commercial.

Starting with his autobiography, "The End of the World as We Know It: Scenes from a Life" (2007), in which he wrote of being raped at 4 by his alcoholic father, then with "A Reliable Wife" (2009) and "Heading Out to Wonderful" (2012), best-selling and darkly sensual novels, Mr. Goolrick explored human connections that could turn violent and lurid.

Pulitzer Prize: 2022 winners of book prizes

(Tue, 10 May 2022 12:59:46 -0500)

The 2022 Pulitzer Prizes have been announced. See BookBrowse's awards page for winners of the book prizes including Chasing Me to My Grave: An Artist's Memoir of the Jim Crow South by Winfred Rembert, as told to Erin I. Kelly

Texas residents are suing their county after books were removed from public libraries

(Thu, 28 Apr 2022 16:31:47 -0500)

Seven residents in Llano County, Texas, are suing county officials, claiming their First and 14th Amendment rights were violated when books deemed inappropriate by some people in the community and Republican lawmakers were removed from public libraries or access was restricted.

"Public libraries are not places of government indoctrination. They are not places where the people in power can dictate what their citizens are permitted to read about and learn. When government actors target public library books because they disagree with and intend to suppress the ideas contained within them, it jeopardizes the freedoms of everyone," the lawsuit states.

Don Winslow announces retirement from book writing to focus on political videos

(Thu, 28 Apr 2022 06:00:00 -0500)

Bestselling author Don Winslow has announced that the two already-written sequels to his current novel City On Fire will be his last books.

Winslow says he will devote his time to launching digital campaigns supporting Democratic causes and opposing "Trumpism."

"It's time to do something else," Winslow said in a statement. "I want to continue on speaking out where I see what I think is wrong. It's a big deal. It's not a decision I made easily. Democrats have better ideas, better candidates, and a better vision for tomorrow. What they don't have is better messaging and I'm going to try and change that. I will be paying for everything myself and not accepting any donations."

A library's canceled romance book club calls attention to growing censorship

(Sat, 23 Apr 2022 06:00:00 -0500)

A censorship battle at an Oklahoma library is calling attention to what critics say is the hypocrisy of legislative attempts to prohibit discussions and materials about LGBTQ issues.

Literary circles were up in arms after the Enid Public Library in Enid, Oklahoma, canceled a romance book club and a sexual assault awareness book display in response to the city's library board narrowly voting to ban displays and programs that featured content about sexuality....

"The library director is tasked with implementing the policy as written," Ray told CNN.

Though library staff have not publicly specified any motivation, literary advocates have taken their actions as commentary on how widely such a ban can be interpreted, despite originating with specifically LGBTQ content in mind.

The artists of Ukraine find their voice in a cry of resistance

(Sat, 23 Apr 2022 06:00:00 -0500)

More than 200 years after Francisco Goya commemorated Spanish resistance to Napoleon's armies in "The Third of May 1808", his groundbreaking work on the horrors of war, Ukrainian painters, illustrators and cartoonists are trying to find an artistic expression as Russian bombs fall on their country.

Daryna Momot, 28, is an art expert and co-founder of Cittart, a Ukrainian organisation that helps fund and find shelter and resources for artists. She is trying to promote the country's painters, cartoonists and illustrators around the world, and has launched an app where people can buy the work of a Ukrainian artist with one click. Twenty percent of each sale goes to humanitarian relief efforts.

"Art helps us realise what we are going through," she said. "Art captures people's experiences … This is important for the preservation of memory and its transmission through generations in its true form, as art is much more difficult to manipulate than to rewrite history." ...

"Malevich, Burlyuk, Sonya Delone, even the Kharkiv School of Photography are mistakenly considered 'Russian'," Mamot said. "Ukrainian art is not known in the world and is associated with Russia.

"Ukrainian artists are finally able to speak to the world for the whole nation and create values that will be passed down for many years to come. The horrific events that Ukrainians have encountered, through art, are now taking shape."