Books have taken centerstage for good, bad, and, some would say ugly reason.
This post will examine:
After the murder of George Floyd, interest in books on Black people and the Black experience skyrocketed. Never in our 28 year history in business has Afriware Books, Co sold books by the hundreds without having an author present. And our story was duplicated around the country by over 100 other Black owned bookstores.
During the Jackson Confirmation Hearings, "Critical Race Theory" books were offered up as educational fodder to the Supreme Court nominee. Ketanji Brown Jackson was asked repeatedly if she agreed with or practiced the theory .
Sales Soar for Books on Black Experience in Aftermath of George Floyd Murder
A story is told just by examining the sales of our top 2 titles, "White Fragility," and "How to be AntiRacist" in the wake of George Floyd's murder. We sold 1200+ and 700+ copies respectively. The NY TImes reported in June 2020 a similar phenomenon in "People Are Marching Against Racism. They’re Also Reading About It." They reported that 5 of their top 15 best sellers address racism, whereas in May, there were none.
In the wake of the murder of George Floyd, many were moved to reeducate themselves about the Black experience. Of the Outpouring of Orders we received, some of the comments were so revealing:
The murder of George Floyd exposed the how far up the racist support structure went up.
Hoping to unlearn racism and do my part to make lasting change. Supporting you from San Antonio, TX!
Thank you for helping people educate themselves and others. Black lives matter.
Thank you so much for all you are doing. I stand with you.
It was refreshing to get a boost in sales, though it was also bitterly sweet in the way it occurred. Black booksellers, have long identified the importance of these books. Now that the general public is actively seeking them out adds an unprecedented urgency..
"Critical Race Theory" Accusations during Jackson Confirmation Hearings
One of the many take-aways from the hearing for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson were the accusations about "Critical Race Theory" from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. He mentioned the term 5 times during the Jackson Confirmation Hearings and even brought out boards showing the illustrations from "Antiracist Baby" by Ibram X. Kendi. The books he referenced were:
"Critical Race Theory" was used as a political buzz word. Kruz made several attempts unsuccessfully to entrap Jackson into aligning herself with the word/theory or prove that she was in agreement with it. It became obvious that if she was caught using or practicing it, that in his opinion, she would not be fit to be a Supreme Court Justice.
In our previous blog post, "Books on Critical Race Theory - Primary Resources," we mentioned that Derrick Bell was viewed as one of the founders of "Critical Race Theory" when he was at Harvard Law School. It is interesting to note that in a recent online interview with the author of "The 1619 Project" Hannah Jones indicated that she was not a "Critical Race Theorist" and that it was part of a propaganda campaign to misuse and confuse the two. Both are being fused and misrepresented as a curriculum that teaches kids to hate their country. 
It is interesting to note that one of the titles Kruz mentioned, "How to Be an AntiRacist," was one of the best sellers for Black booksellers. Also, "The 1619 Project - A New Origin Story" was a NY Times Bestseller for over 18 weeks, and its author Nikole Hannah-Jones received a 2020 Pulitzer prize for her introductory essay in the NY Times magazine handout that preceded the book. The book, "1619 Project commemorates the 400th anniversary of the beginning of slavery in what would become the United States by examining slavery's modern legacy and reframing the way we understand this history and the contributions of black Americans to the nation," according to the author's website. There's a curriculum provided with the book as well here.
In spite of this notoriety, some politicians have decided to use their position as a bully pulpit to castigate these titles. Their efforts are growing. We reported about Black banned books in 2020 in a previous blog post, "Black Banned Books." Unfortunately, as the election season grows nearer, it doesn't seem likely this will let up. [2,3,4,5]
Challenged Books as of 2/3/2022
Of the 100 challenged books listed on supplier Ingram Book Group's website as provided by the American Library Association, as of 2/3/2022, twenty-seven are categorized as African American. They include:
*The complete list contains 850 books from Texas State Representative Matt Krause according to a CNN video, "Librarians fight back against push to ban books from schools." A copy of the letter from Rep. Krause can be found on the Freadom.us website.
We join Librarians and all civil minded individuals around the country in support of our basic human right to the freedom to read and encourage everyone to speak out through social media/letters/protests against it. Since April is National Library Month, we encourage you to join in the campaign of "Drop Everything and Read Banned Books www.freadom.us/campaigns-actions " as detailed on the website.
As always, I appreciate that you have read through this blog post. I hope that you’ve become curious to read more books about Banned Books, books on Critical Race Theory, and ways to support the freedom to read We ask that you consider purchasing your books from our Black owned bookstore, Afriware Books, Co. If there is a title you’d like to purchase that is not mentioned here, or could not be found on the website, feel free to email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
1 A Bittersweet Moment For Black Bookstore Owners
2 WATCH: Sen. Ted Cruz questions Jackson in Supreme Court confirmation hearings - Youtube video
3 "Ted Cruz gave the nation a lesson on misreading kids books" https://www.washingtonpost.com/books/2022/03/23/ted-cruz-ketanji-brown-jackson-books/
4 Freedom to Read Roundtable in Texas Zoom Call hosted by Booklist - fill in registration and you can access the previously held zoom call. State Rep. Erin Zwiener says, "...I think this has been a way to rile up the right wing base as we go into Republican Primary Season."
5 MSNBC - Nikole Hannah-Jones Links Critical Race Theory Backlash To Spread Of Voter Suppression
Blog Resource Guide
How to Fight Book Bans - a Tip Sheet for Students
Texas "Critical Race Theory" Laws
Map on States with "Critical Race Theory" Laws and those seeking to restrict or expand education on racism, bias, the contributions of specific racial or ethnic groups to U.S. history, or related topics.
Texas Right to Read Statement
1619 Project Curriculum Materials
Here is the link to the ALA with the complete list by Decade/Year:
Freedom To Read Organization - Not for profit arm of American Library Association
https://www.freadom.us/ @FreadomFighters - Twitter account for librarians for support when accused of forcing pornography/obscene content on students.
“Book Ban Efforts Spread Across the U.S.” by the NY Times, 2022. According to the article, challenges are being made to libraries and school boards “at a pace not seen in decades.”
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