The American Library Association says books with antiracist messages climbed the list of most-challenged or banned titles in 2020
Booksabout racism were challenged more in 2020 than previous years, the ALA told Insider.
- The organization released its list of the 10 most challenged and
- It included a children's book about a police shooting, which caused controversy in Minneapolis.
More Americans were challenging and seeking to ban books about racism and antiracism in 2020 than previous years, according to the
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That book, which was a New York Times bestseller, detailed conversations between kids and their families after a fictional police-involved shooting of a Black man."Something Happened" attracted attention in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in the months before the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin over the killing of George Floyd.
The book had been recommended by the state's Dept. of Health and the Dept. of Education. But the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association - which Chauvin would later turn to for defense funds, according to Mother Jones - sent a letter to the governor in October asking for the book to be banned."This book encourages children to fear police officers as unfair, violent, and racist," Brian Peters, executive director, wrote in his letter. The list included other titles that dealt directly and indirectly with race in America, including "Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You," by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds.
In a statement, Kendi said: "The heartbeat of racism is denial, and the history of 'Stamped' will not be denied, nor will young people's access to this book be cancelled."
The 2020 list also included older books that were challenged for their use of racial slurs, like
The list was released as publishers begin to publicly reckon with racist or otherwise offensive content in their backlogs.
Earlier this year, Dr. Seuss Enterprises made
"I know that last week our program officer, who handles challenges, reports and provides support to librarians and educators giving them challenges, got 10 reports in one week," she said.Controversy about "Something Happened" was ongoing elsewhere, too. On Thursday, WOWT 6 News in Omaha, Nebraska, reported that the local school district apologized after a teacher showed "Something Happened In Our Town" to elementary school students.
"It's not a book that is representative of how we view our law enforcement," Annette Eyman, the school district's comms director, told the TV station.
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