Op-Ed: Clinging to old classics can go hand in hand with banning books, says Toni Morrison
The United States has a long and storied history of intellectual and cultural freedom, a legacy that’s often undermined by censorship, cultural appropriation and censorship of ideas. For centuries, people of color and women of color have been marginalized in academia, in the arts, in religion, in the media, in the church and in the nation’s capital, where their voices are stifled.
Today, we’re not only being silenced, we’re being threatened with physical violence: “Don’t be a hashtag,” they say in this culture. “Be a real person,” they say in the culture that worships celebrity, not inclusivity.
And we’re not just being silenced. We’re being denied any opportunity to reach our full potential, to be who we are, to create who we are to the best of our ability, and to be who we want to be.
And so, with censorship and violence in America, we turn to books, which we used to believe couldn’t do anything but protect our freedoms. We turn to books, many of which are now banned or are under threat of being banned.
When we turn to books to find our voice and to bring our voices to the world, we’re not only turning to books with a message, we’re turning to books with a message that has been under attack for centuries. These books are now under attack, and we need to reclaim them as our own, to find their strength, and to use it to defend the lives of our people, to ensure that books are not only a voice, but that they are our voice.
Books have always been a powerful and important part of our culture as people of color and women of color. We’ve been using books to express love, to create justice, to bring a message, and to share hope through the years. Books, we believe, have become an intellectual and cultural space for us to express ourselves in the United States. They have become a space to not only build community, but to create community around our struggles.
We use books as a place to have discussions, create conversations about challenging issues, and to share