Banned Books Week

The Performant: I’m With the Banned

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Since practically every single calendar day of the year has been appropriated by some cause or another (in this month alone we celebrated Labor Day, Patriot Day, National IPA Day, National Seat Check Day, World Rabies Day, and National Grandparents Day, to say nothing of Suicide Prevention Week, Constitution Week, and National Emergency Preparedness Week), it can be hard to keep them all straight. But one week that stands out, at least for myself is Banned Books Week (Sept 22-28), a 30 year-old tradition spearheaded by the American Library Association.

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This year, Banned Books Week matters more than ever

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Have you ever listened to KPFA's “Flashpoints”? A friend described it to me, as we listened to an episode featuring San Francisco's newest poet laureate – our first Latino laureate – Alejandro Murgía, as a “very pointed” radio show. The host, poet Dennis Bernstein, asked a very pointed question about Obama and Romney's reactions to the anti-Muslim video that's causing uproar in the Middle East. 

But Murgía changed the subject. What about the racism of the Tucson Unified School District, he asked? Why doesn't its removal of the Mexican American studies program, and with it books like The Tempest and Pedagogy of the Oppressed, and other books that “emphasize students’ ethnicity rather than their individuality” get talked about more? The more he talked, the more I became convinced that yes, this was a very big deal. 

Luckily, the country has an opportunity to talk about the issue of free speech repression via next week's 30th annual national celebration of Banned Books Week, Sun/30-Oct. 6. Read more »