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Black Books Matter — A Part of the HUES BOA Story

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Books by Black Authors Under Fire

In recent years, the conversation around the books that are allowed in schools has sparked hot debates, bringing attention to an unsettling trend: the removal of books from school libraries and curriculums. As the education framework referred to as “critical race theory” gained attention in the media throughout 2021, nationwide, parents and concerned groups countered by removing selected books they believed supported this framework.

HUES BOA wants to shed light on this issue and encourage our socially aware readers to get plugged in on the issues that matter in our society. One of those issues is promoting Black stories and Black experiences because Black books truly matter!

Whose Stories Are Allowed To Be Told?

 

Over the past few years, state legislatures have brought bills to direct how teachers and classrooms could discuss race in early educational settings. As a result, library books that told stories from other, more marginalized points of view were under scrutiny. This issue has been the subject of heated disagreement among those who hold different views.

The controversy has centered primarily on books written by Black authors representing Black experiences in America and the world. These authors and those who support their books believe that every voice has a right to be heard.

HUES BOA’s Commitment to Inclusivity in Education and Literature

HUES BOA wants to be part of the solution to this issue. We acknowledge that readers of all races benefit from understanding the perspectives of people who are different from them. Hearing diverse perspectives can only uncover the important truths that unite us all as humans.

Empowering Marginalized Groups Empowers Everyone

As socially aware readers, it’s important to recognize that marginalized communities will remain marginalized unless they can have their voices heard through books and media. Though not always happy or uplifting, stories from all voices ensure the respect and understanding of the whole breadth of the human experience.

Many books written by Black and other minority authors bring uncomfortable subjects to light. These authors, from many different races and ethnicities, have written about their personal experiences encountering racism in all forms. Though these are difficult topics to acknowledge, the solution is not to deprive readers of the chance to read these stories.

Without access to a broad understanding of real human experiences that are lived today, we remain blind to the injustices taking place in society today.

Examples of Banned Titles by Black Authors

Here are some books by Black authors that have been removed or faced criticism recently:

 

Ghost Boy, by Jewell Parker Rhodes.

This young adult novel features a young Black boy who is shot and killed by a policeman who thought the toy gun in his hand was real. The story is told from the point of view of the boy’s ghost, who tells about his family’s pain after he is dead. The book drew fire from critics for promoting the idea that police officers, as a whole, were racists. While some have conceded it is appropriate for high school, critics have voiced that it paints white people in a bad light.

 

All American Boys, by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

This story explores two teenage Black boys coming of age in America and their encounters with law enforcement. It is a New York Times Best Seller, a Coretta Scott King Honor Award-winning novel, and a recipient of the Walter Dean Myers Award for Outstanding Children’s Literature.

 

The Color Purple, by Alice Walker

The Color Purple, published in 1985, won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. It explores the lives of two Black sisters, separated at birth. However, it is often banned for “language and explicit content” and racist content.

Class Act, by Jerry Craft

This graphic novel is about an 8th-grade Black boy and the exclusion he experiences in his mostly White private school. The book won the 2020 Newbery Medal, the Coretta Scott King Author Award, and the Kirkus Prize. However, some school districts have criticized it for promoting “critical race theory.”

 

Beloved, by Toni Morrison

This acclaimed book is the story of a woman who escaped slavery by fleeing to Ohio but who lives constantly reminded of the horrific events that took place while she was captive as a slave.

Beloved is challenged for its sexually explicit and violent content.

 

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X Kendi

Stamped is a nonfiction work that explores racism from the founding of the U.S. through chronological events. The book also focuses on inspiring readers to hope for and create a nonracist future.

 

The 1619 Project, by Nikole Hannah-Jones

The 1619 Project is a book about the first cargo ship that brought a group of slaves from Africa to Virginia. It is a book of essays, fiction pieces, and non-fiction writing that examines the history of slavery during the founding years of the US. It has been banned in Florida’s schools for promoting critical race theory.

 

The author, Hannah-Jones, has responded to criticism of her book, saying, “If we really want to serve students, we should be doing everything we can to help them understand the true, complete history of this country.”

 

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas

This book is about a 16-year-old Black girl whose childhood friend is killed by a police officer while he is unarmed. The author, Angie Thomas, wrote the book as she was inspired to give voice to real-life stories about police violence against Black teens. She views writing books as a form of activism.  The Hate U Give was criticized for promoting an anti-law enforcement stance.

 

 

Fighting Back Against Banning Black Books

Teachers and librarians have organized protests and filed lawsuits regarding books banned from school libraries. Advocacy groups have spoken against censorship and launched public campaigns to raise awareness. Many teachers and educators believe that the effort to ban certain books suppresses different beliefs and narratives that are worth exposing children to.

“Education should be the space where you can learn about everything and anything that you want,” Derek Ramsey, co-founder of Young, Black & Lit, said. “There should be no limits to the creativity of the ideas and the dreams that you inspire in every child.”

As socially aware readers and a company striving to be the change we want in the world, HUES BOA will champion awareness of Black authors and marginalized voices in literature.

It is vital to read titles frequently banned in schools and buy and read works by Black authors. These books provide personal perspectives from an important minority group, fostering understanding and empathy.

Join HUES BOA in Taking Action To Promote Black Books

HUES BOA aims to always present solutions, and ways anyone can help Black books continue to matter. If you want to be more active, here are a few ideas:

  • Purchase from a Black-owned bookseller. Here is a list.
  • Share your favorite Black author with others, especially young children.
  • Attend events in your community that host Black writers and speakers
  • Offer to read to young children in your life and read stories by Black authors and stories about being Black.
  • Offer to donate a few books by Black authors to your local elementary school or community center
  • Promote Black books on your social media
  • Donate to organizations that counter the book-banning narrative, like Young, Black & Lit, a 501(c)3 which distributes books to schools and youth organizations.

By reading stories from the perspectives of all people, we learn of others’ struggles, heartaches, hurts, triumphs, injustices, and the full breadth of the human experience. In doing so, as humans, we may discover: “Wow, maybe at our core, we’re not so different after all.”

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