“[I]t’s not just the books under fire now that worry me. It is the books that will never be written. The books that will never be read. And all due to the fear of censorship. As always, young readers will be the real losers.”
Call to Authors: Submit by May 1
Plus, Save the Date for the Author Showcase Book Festival
Celebrate the Freedom to Read in Duval Count
They are banning books here in Florida. And it’s not just about the content. Who, exactly, wrote the books that are being banned? You guessed it. The majority are women, LQBQTIA authors, and BIPOC writers. Here’s a list if you want to check yourself; the number is even greater since this list was published. This is called discrimination.
Women’s voices and ideas are being shut down
Right now in Duval County, the situation has gone from bad to grim. Teachers are covering their book shelves while awaiting review of their books under fear of felony charges. Approved book collections have been pulled from school libraries for “review.” Children are being prevented from reading books for their own education, in the one place that they SHOULD be getting educated. And who are the majority of these teachers that we just can’t trust to provide appropriate reading materials for their students? Women. This is called sexism.
Our children’s freedom to read is denied
And who are the majority of the children denied access to these books? According to the Freedom To Read Project, “nearly 70% of the students in the district are of color (whereas Florida as a whole is predominately white.”) This is called racism.
First they came for the librarians
The FTR Project also notes that “For many years the district did not prioritize its libraries. In fact, at the start of this school year, they had 52 media specialists and none were assigned to a secondary school. At the elementary level, the few media specialists they have are assigned to cover the needs of multiple schools.” (full article here)
Got that? There is not ONE SINGLE LIBRARIAN in our high schools! Their job was phased out. At the elementary level, the schools are covered by roving media specialists with only some schools having full-time librarians. And who, primarily, are librarians? Women. And who will suffer? Children. See Judy Blume’s quote, above. This is called discrimination, sexism, racism, and childism.
So, women authors: Please REGISTER HERE to showcase your books at our book festival. It matters! And everyone else, please SAVE THE DATE for our Second Annual Author Showcase and Book Festival on June Sunday, June 4, 2023, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Winston Family YMCA at 221 Riverside Ave. We will be featuring local women authors and other marginalized writers on a variety of topics. Our community partners will highlight banned books and talk about what’s happening. We will have a children’s reading room as a safe and fun place to read, and ongoing author readings, and even workshops. So join us! (More details on this to come; let us know if you want to be the first to know! SAVE THE DATE)
Resources: From Pen America: Florida Books Bans are No Hoax, Pen America: Banned in the USA: The Growing Movement to Censor Books in Schools. Miami New Times: All 200 Books Banned in Florida. If you want a laugh, take a look at what passes for FLDOE’s website content these days.
Public ReadAround on May 6 for Spring Writers
Meanwhile…celebrate women, college, and high school writers on Saturday, May 6, from 2-4 p.m., at our annual Spring Public ReadAround, including our high school interns to long-time writers in our semester-long classes. Come out and support these writers as they lift their voices and shape their own stories. We’d love to see you.
Women Writing for (a) Change Jacksonville
p.s. tickets below
Get Tix for the ReadAround
What We’ve Been Up to Lately
Women’s HERStory Month Was Busy!
We had a great time connecting in our community
Our Spring Programs kept us super busy this month, from attending a Banned Books Protest led by the Florida Freedom to Read Project and others; the opening of our first-ever Art Exhibit and ReadAround at FSCJ on the Deerwood Campus, featuring artwork from our latest (a) river rising Anthology, Vol 4: Rivers and Oceans, curated by artist Tatiana Phoenix and FSCJ curator Lynn Lewis; attending Generation W’s amazing conference with Women’s Center of Jacksonville’s Unsung Shero award-winner LaTresa Henderson, a civilian Certified Sexual Assault Advocate for the Department of Defense; watching the inimitable Gen W founder Donna Orender interviewing the inimitable Dr. Edie Eger, author of The Choice; lunch conversation with students of Angela Spears; the debut of Board President Shani Hall’s first book, Kobi Travels to Spain, at the First Coast Poetry Showcase; a joyful evening with Taryn “Love Reigns” Wharwood for the Young Men Rising celebration at the Performer’s Academy; an evening with Emily Cargill and Dancers and the debut of a two-voice poem by Anna Jacobson and Tyla Chambers; writing in nature with Mayo doctors for the Humanities in Medicine Program; hanging out with dangerous women and giving away anthologies at the FSCJ Wellness Fair; open mic night at Rain Dogs for the What’s in a Verse Open Mic; and holding a poetry writing circle for the Jax Poetry Fest (get more free classes this month!) from the studios of Soluna Yoga and Spa. Whew! A fantastic month, for everyone. Now, we rest. (Yeah, right. Now it’s National Poetry Month!)—JW
The Last Word
“Ignorance is not bliss, it’s stupid. Banning books shows you don’t trust your kids to think and you don’t trust yourself to be able to talk to them.”