With this week being Banned Books Week, I wanted to discuss censorship in books and in other art forms. I am a huge proponent of the arts and freedom within them to express creativity and states. That is why Banned Books Week an event that is close to my heart. For those unaware, Banned Books Week is a week devoted to bringing awareness to the censorship of books. It started in 1982 due to an increase in the number of books being challenged in many schools and public libraries. Several books each year are challenged or banned from libraries for the content they have, and it is something that really needs to come to an end.
Books and all forms of art for that matter are mediums in which people can express themselves and the ideas that they hold dear. It allows people who see the possibilities of the world share those possibilities with us, and in that way, help change the world. However, when people censor or ban these books, it prevents the artist from getting their message across in its original form. What is worse is that a lot of these bans come from school libraries. This not only denies students access to education on difficult topics such as sex, racism, gender equality, etc. but also denies them from opening their mind to new ideas, experiences, cultures, and people.
This is not a foreign problem either; it hits much closer to home than one might think. Just last year the books like "To Kill a Mocking Bird" and "Thirteen Reasons Why." Both of these are major books that have made a huge impact on society. In fact, "Thirteen Reasons Why" held the top spot in ALA's list of the Top Ten Challenged Books of 2017, while "To Kill a Mocking Bird" was number seven. It is also important to note the reason for banning these books. "Thirteen Reasons Why" was banned because it discussed suicide, and "To Kill a Mockingbird" got banned because it depicted a lot of violence and used racial slurs. However, those are real problems that face our society. If people, especially children, are not taught about these issues and prejudices in some form, then they will not know how to deal with it in their lives when they inevitably encounter these issues.
Censorship does nothing to solve these issues, it just makes them even more taboo than they already are. The only way to cure this is to allow art to bring up these topics so the discussion can be had about it. These stories that are being censored may also be the only thing a person can relate to. A lot of the topics covered in these books discuss problems people have and may feel alienated because of. Books can speak to people in a way that no other person can, and it can help some people to know they are not alone.
I implore you to look into and participate in Banned Books Week. This is a major problem we face with our entertainment, and we are the only ones who can speak out against censorship. There are many many more books that are in danger of being banned than just what I mentioned above. Art must live on and inspire us to do better, and it can't do that if we can't see it, read it, watch it, play it, or experience it.