Report Details How Book Bans Are Targeting Work by Black Writers

Book-banning, in general, is a practice one would think we'd no longer have to hear about in 2022. The targeted censorship, however, persists in the modern age.

A school library is pictured

Image via Getty/Aditya Shukla/EyeEm

A school library is pictured

Censorship, it should go without saying, is a culturally erosive practice that should have been left behind eons ago. Still, it persists to this day, including in the form of book-banning targeting writers of color.

A recent NBC News report, for example, highlights how dozens of Black writers have had their art pulled from school libraries. The argument often made by conservative groups, predictably, exists under the intentionally misconstrued guise of positing certain books as falling under the critical race theory classification.

Among those quoted in the report is Jerry Craft, a writer and artist whose catalog includes New Kid and Class Act. Last year, Craft was informed that some of his work was being pulled from a Texas school library. A virtual school visit was also postponed by the Katy Independent School District. 

“I know what my school visits do. … I felt bad if there was going to be some kids that would not be able to take advantage of that,” Craft said when reflecting on the targeting of his work in the recent NBC report.

Other authors mentioned in the report include Tiffany D. Jackson (Monday’s Not Coming), Mikki Kendall (Hood Feminism), Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely (All American Boys), and Kalynn Bayron (Cinderella Is Dead). As the report makes clear, the majority of works being hit with bans don’t actually teach critical race theory. And even if these books were intended as literature focused on critical race theory, which is simply a framework focused on the reality of systemic racism, that still shouldn’t result in any such banning.

Rep. Matt Krause, a Texas Republican, made headlines last October after sharing a list of hundreds of books that—in his words—made students “feel discomfort.” Quite obvious here, though, is that such moves have nothing to do with the students themselves and everything to do with a larger co-opting by Republicans and similarly ideologized groups of critical race theory. In short, the aim seems to be to shut down any and all discussions of systemic racism, typically to the benefit of those who already see gains in connection with the current infrastructure.

In December, Sen. Rob Standridge—an Oklahoma Republican—proposed legislation that would give parents the ability to have books banned in public schools. Additionally, the proposed legislation would implement a daily penalty of $10,000.

For additional insight on recent book-banning tactics, consult the recent NBC News report, as well as this handy breakdown on how to discreetly report instances of challenged materials to the American Library Association nonprofit organization.

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