Report from Louisiana: “Not Universally Embraced” is the new standard

by Pat Austin | June 25th, 2018

Readability

Report from Louisiana: "Not Universally Embraced" is the new standard

By: Pat Austin

SHREVE­PORT – I abhor cen­sor­ship, espe­cially when it comes to books and things like banned books lists and instances where peo­ple who deem them­selves more for­ward think­ing than all the rest of us in their deci­sions to “pro­tect” us from offen­sive material.

You will have no doubt heard by now about the deci­sion to strip Laura Ingalls Wilder’s name from a pres­ti­gious book award title:

A divi­sion of the Amer­i­can Library Asso­ci­a­tion has voted to remove the name of Laura Ingalls Wilder from a major children’s book award, over con­cerns about how the author por­trayed African Amer­i­cans and Native Americans.

The board of the Asso­ci­a­tion for Library Ser­vice to Chil­dren (ALSC) made the unan­i­mous deci­sion to change the name on Sat­ur­day, at a meet­ing in New Orleans. The name of the prize was changed from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal to the Children’s Lit­er­a­ture Legacy Award.

The asso­ci­a­tion said Wilder “includes expres­sions of stereo­typ­i­cal atti­tudes incon­sis­tent with ALSC’s core values”.

The first award was given to Wilder in 1954. The ALSC said Wilder’s work con­tin­ued to be pub­lished and read but her “legacy is com­plex” and “not uni­ver­sally embraced.”

So this is my ques­tion: why must some­thing be “uni­ver­sally embraced” for it to be acceptable?

As a child I read every one of the Lit­tle House on the Prairie books; I loved them. They trans­ported me to that fron­tier era and taught me a lot about how those early set­tlers sur­vived. I was fas­ci­nated by them.

I never read the books as a child and thought, “Well, my good­ness, that’s an awfully racist way to depict Indians.”

The Asso­ci­a­tion for Library Ser­vice to Chil­dren has the right to make deci­sions about their own award, cer­tainly. What con­cerns me, and always has when it comes to things like this, is where does it stop? Are we now to go back and revise every piece of lit­er­a­ture that men­tions Indian vio­lence on the frontier?

What else in our Amer­i­can lit­er­ary canon might offend some­one? The list could be pretty extensive.

This is so closely related to those peo­ple who want to ban To Kill a Mock­ing­bird or The Adven­tures of Huck­le­berry Finn from read­ing lists and libraries because they con­tain lan­guage we no longer use today.

Some­body cue Guy Mon­tag…he can han­dle this.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreve­port. She is the author of Cane River Bohemia (Oct. ’18). Fol­low her on Insta­gram @patbecker25 and Twit­ter.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – I abhor censorship, especially when it comes to books and things like banned books lists and instances where people who deem themselves more forward thinking than all the rest of us in their decisions to “protect” us from offensive material.

You will have no doubt heard by now about the decision to strip Laura Ingalls Wilder’s name from a prestigious book award title:

A division of the American Library Association has voted to remove the name of Laura Ingalls Wilder from a major children’s book award, over concerns about how the author portrayed African Americans and Native Americans.

The board of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) made the unanimous decision to change the name on Saturday, at a meeting in New Orleans. The name of the prize was changed from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal to the Children’s Literature Legacy Award.

The association said Wilder “includes expressions of stereotypical attitudes inconsistent with ALSC’s core values”.

The first award was given to Wilder in 1954. The ALSC said Wilder’s work continued to be published and read but her “legacy is complex” and “not universally embraced.”

So this is my question:  why must something be “universally embraced” for it to be acceptable?

As a child I read every one of the Little House on the Prairie books; I loved them.  They transported me to that frontier era and taught me a lot about how those early settlers survived.  I was fascinated by them.

I never read the books as a child and thought, “Well, my goodness, that’s an awfully racist way to depict Indians.”

The Association for Library Service to Children has the right to make decisions about their own award, certainly.  What concerns me, and always has when it comes to things like this, is where does it stop?  Are we now to go back and revise every piece of literature that mentions Indian violence on the frontier?

What else in our American literary canon might offend someone?  The list could be pretty extensive.

This is so closely related to those people who want to ban To Kill a Mockingbird or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from reading lists and libraries because they contain language we no longer use today.

Somebody cue Guy Montag…he can handle this.

 

 

 

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.  She is the author of Cane River Bohemia (Oct. ’18).  Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter.

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