(Above: How can Frederick Douglass continue his best work if he is banned?)
In this the third year of the drumpf maladministration my personal levels of anger and disgust are so red-lined that it takes a story of particularly spectacular levels of stupidity and iniquity to pierce the drumpf-glut and make me incensed about something else.
Enter the Danville Correctional Center in Illinois and its administration.
“When she found out that staff at the Danville Correctional Center had removed more than 200 books from a library inside the prison’s education wing, Rebecca Ginsburg said she felt a pit in her stomach.
“I felt sick,” she said. Ginsburg directs the Education Justice Project, a college in prison program that offers University of Illinois classes to men incarcerated at the Danville prison in east-central Illinois. In late January, prison staff removed dozens of titles from two rooms that serve as the program’s library.
Those titles include books like “Visiting Day,” a children’s book about visiting a parent in prison by author, Jacqueline Woodson. Also included among the removed books are two titles written by African-American scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., a book by philosopher Cornel West, “Up From Slavery” by Booker T. Washington, and “Mapping Your Future: A Guide to Successful Reentry 2017-2018” written by the college in prison program’s reentry team.
A majority of the books removed from the program’s library are about race.”
A full listing of the banned books can be found here.
Below are the first ten titles on the banned list:
Crossroads, Directions, and a New Critical Race Theory — Francisco Valdez Jerome McCristal Culp,
Angela P. Harris
Varieties of African American Religious Experience — Anthony B. Pinn
The New Rulers of the World — John Pilger
Violence: Six Sideways Reflections — Slavoj Zizek
Violence and its Alternatives: An Interdisciplinary Reader — Manfred Steger Hannah Ardent, Robert
Wolff, Jacques Derrida, et al.
Teaching Black Girls: Resiliency in Urban Classrooms — Venus E. Evans-Winters
Don’t Shoot: One Man, A Street Fellowship, and The End of Violence in Inner-City America — David M. Kennedy
Letters & Papers From Prison — Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Drug War Heresies: Learning from Other Vices, Times & Places — Robert J. MacCoun, Peter Reuter
The Stickup Kids; Race, Drugs, Violence and the American Dream — Randol Contreras
What could possibly be the reason to remove these books, none of which cost the state a dime and many that were already approved for inclusion in the Education Justice Project’s privately supported library, from the access of the prison population?
Michael Tafolla, from Chicago, a former inmate who used books to learn his way out of the belly of the beast, thinks he has an explanation.
““Prisons are filled by mostly black and brown (people),” said Tafolla. These books seem to be empowerment for not only black and brown, but directed towards black and brown, learning their history, learning who they are, giving them self identity, self worth and awareness of what their people, their generations have been through.
If people like me that come from poverty stricken neighborhoods learn how to be much more and value ourselves, we’re going to be less likely to be breaking the law or doing other at-risk things,” Tafolla said. “If that happens, then less people are going to go to prison. Less people go to prison, that means there’s going to be less prisons… That means that a lot of people are going to be out of jobs in the future.””
What a travesty.