I have had cause to learn that the ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom is sheik-geek cool.
They are the the Watchers, the Slayers, the Knights, the Rebels, the Rule Followers, the bada*s women and men ensuring (among many things) that books do not get counted out.
They are the investigators of censorship and all things banned. They are the rockstars to teachers, children and especially authors for young people.
Last month, a middle school visit in Small Town, TX was canceled four days before I was to appear to present my book Fat Angie and my film At Risk Summer.
Four days before I planned to tell their young people, “Writing Is Freedom. Writing Is Power. Writing Is Voice. And no one can take that away from you.” Well, someone DID take that away from them.
After a beyond enthusiastic invitation and months of planning emails from the school librarian, the visit was canceled and the independent bookstore order of over 200 books for Small Town, Texas kids was returned.
Silence from the school followed. After unanswered calls from the Office of Intellectual Freedom and unanswered calls to the principal by my public relations consultant K-Rock (code name, of course), the principal emailed me that there was a “scheduling conflict” and “We are not interested in rescheduling.” Given that K-Rock gave him an entire year to reschedule, what do YOU think happened?
This cancellation shortchanged every kid in Small Town, TX of an experience that could excite, inspire and empower. I love small-town Texas because I am the product of one. What I hope is that this school can evolve beyond this moment to see that all kinds of books and speakers can be game changers for youth. What I hope is that this school can see that small-town Texas kids like me needed to know they were counted in, rather than counted out.
It is thoughts not yet imagined that redefine the landscape of our hope, our innovation and our future. Let’s continue this dialogue of being silenced, of “unofficial” censorship of a book titled Fat Angie.
To ensure that authors and librarians are NEVER SILENCED, I’m gonna ask you for a favor. I ask you to donate $5 to the Freedom to Read Foundation. In the “In Honor of or In Memory Of” section, type “Fat Angie.”
Let’s be heard!