Thursday, March 01, 2012

Freedom to Read Week in Ottawa and Boxing Books in Tuscon

From the Frozen North (okay, from Ottawa), my VCFA faculty colleague Alan Cumyn reports that he is participating in Freedom to Read Week. To observe the week against book censorship, banning, and challenge, the Ottawa Citizen asked several Ottawa writers to read from works that have been censored, banned or challenged. Videos of those readings are posted on the Ottawa Citizen web site.

Alan's reading from a YA novel, Mexican WhiteBoy by Matt de la Peña, a book that ran into a little trouble in Tucson Arizona some time ago. So was it banned? Challenged? Censored? Come on, that's so 90's. With the recent events in Tucson, a new word entered the banned-books lexicon: boxing.

Yes, that is correct. Matt's book is one of many that were "boxed" and taken off shelves in the Tucson Unified School District. Apparently Arizona has banned ethnic studies programs in its schools. As if that were not enough (heavens! Those people might just learn the truth about their own histories!) the district sent out a list of books to be removed from classroom shelves. Here's the list. It includes works by Leslie Marmon Silko, Paulo Freire, and Shakespeare.

Is this bizarre enough already? Shakespeare? Wait. I thought he was part of the Dead White Guys' Canon! If you're as confused as I am, check out Debbie Reese's comprehensive series of posts on the developments in this ongoing saga over at American Indians in Children's Literature.

In this video, teacher Chris Acosta talks about the now dismantled Mexican American Studies Program.

Read the American Library Association Resolution Opposing Restriction of Access to Materials and Open Inquiry in Ethnic and Cultural Studies Programs in Arizona.

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