In Texas, the hunt for works deemed “woke” is organized

A parliamentary committee is attacking books making schoolchildren aware of racism and gender identity, arguing “Let them make white children feel guilty”. No less than 850 works are currently in the viewfinder.

The school war is declared in Texas where the authorities of this conservative state in the south of the United States are attacking books educating schoolchildren about racism and “gender identity”, believing that they make white children feel guilty.

Illustration of this offensive, a comic book chronicling the unintentional micro-attacks that an African-American child suffers because of his skin color, was withdrawn in October from school libraries in West Houston. New Kid, by Jerry Craft, is part of a list of 850 works compiled by a parliamentary commission which investigates in schools the books evoking racism or institutional sexism. The debates on these books “Will multiply across the country in urban areas where there is conservative pressure at the state level but where we are more democratic locally”, explains Brandon Rottinghaus, professor of political science at the University of Houston.

“Witch hunt”

Across the country, the newly elected Republican governor of Virginia has promised parents will have a say in what books public schools choose. During the campaign, he broadcast the testimony of a mother shocked that her high school son had nightmares after studying Beloved, a classic by African-American novelist Toni Morrison.

Pulitzer Prize in 1988, it tells the story of a former slave who chooses to kill her child to avoid him in turn suffering the atrocities of slavery. The Conservatives also denounce the teaching of “Critical theory of race”, a school of thought analyzing racism in the United States as a system, with its laws and logic of power to the advantage of white people, rather than an individual prejudice against minorities. It is about fighting against woke culture, a term developed by the American left to designate the awareness of injustices particularly related to skin color or gender, and which has led to the blacklisting of books containing racial stereotypes.

The Texas Library Association regretted “increasing censorship“In this State, recalling that a”parent has the right to determine what is best for their child, but not for all children“. The Texas Teachers Association, for its part, called the parliamentary inquiry a “witch hunt” after the passage of a law framing very precisely the way in which subjects such as racial or sexual inequalities should be taught. In Spring Branch School Academy, The Breakaways, a comic strip in which one of the characters was born a girl but feels like a boy, has been withdrawn and placed on the commission’s list, which is based on several complaints from parents against the presence of certain books in libraries.

For its author, Cathy G. Johnson, “the book ban distracts media attention from (the) real evil that politicians like (commission chairman) Matt Krause perpetuate ”. She recalls that the Equality Texas association considers this Republican elected official in the running to become state prosecutor as “a prolific author of anti-LGBTQ laws“.

Prestigious award

The book New Kid has finally found its place in the shelves. It has been translated into ten languages ​​(New, in French) and crowned with prestigious awards. Drawing inspiration from his personal experience and that of his children, Jerry Craft delicately evokes the difficulties of an African-American college student in integrating into a predominantly white private establishment. “If we were working together and I unknowingly did something that offends you, you should be able to tell me without getting angry.”, he explains to AFP. His detractors “prefer to close the door and leave things as they areHe said. Before adding: “But right now my kids and I are uncomfortable all the time.

The tensions created by the book ban prompted New Yorker Alessandra Bastagli to launch a campaign to send copies of New Kid at dozens of Texas schools. “My kids were angry and didn’t want little Texans deprived of this book they love», Explains this mother of two children of eight and nine years of Italian-Puerto Rican origin. She sent for free two hundred copies of New Kid and Class Act, another work by the author, to libraries that request it. On Thursday, the African-American bookstore in Houston responsible for shipping the orders told AFP that all the books were gone.

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In Texas, the hunt for works deemed “woke” is organized

Hank Gilbert