In the past years we’ve reached a high-point of consciousness about representation in the arts, from “#OscarsSoWhite” to videos reminding us of the long history of women being underrepresented in visual art. Now, Banned Books Week, which runs from September 25 to October 1 this year, is taking this social push one step further. Citing an estimate that more than half of all ‘banned’ or challenged books feature minority characters in major roles and/or deal with issues affecting diverse communities, the coalition announced that “Diversity” would be its nationwide theme.
For those of you who might feel this is an unnecessary gesture, remember that there is a quorum of people that are profoundly involved with the week. Thousands of libraries, schools, bookstores, and communities recognize and celebrate the week, hosting events and readings. Most of the participants are schoolchildren, those who may have never read a book by an important author or have had complex themes and issues presented to them in a way they’ve been able to relate to before. Still not convinced? Take the fact that Toni Morrison, a longstanding, almost universally-beloved writer, still had the fourth most challenged book of 2014.
“It’s alarming to see so many diverse voices facing censorship,” Charles Brownstein, chair of the Banned Books Week Coalition, said in a statement. “2016’s Banned Books Week is an important moment for communities to join together in affirming the value of diverse ideas and multiple viewpoints. By shining a light on how these ideas are censored, we hope to encourage opportunities to create engagement and understanding within our communities, and to emphasize the fundamental importance of the freedom to read.”
How do you feel about this year’s theme? What will you be reading for Banned Books Week 2016? Let us know in the comments below!