Tag Archive for: banned books

Banned Books and Tip Lines to Snitch on Teachers by Juliana Aragón Fatula


1990’s Cast from Su Teatro Intro to Chicano History 101 by Anthony J. Garcia 

Dear Reader, 

I woke at 4:30 a.m. and realized that I’m losing my mind. I thought about the state of the country and I began to cry and laugh simultaneously. I wondered if I’d gone insane to be able to laugh about the news that Governors were not only banning books but creating tip lines for parents to call in to report/snitch on teachers teaching history, culture, art, music, etc. that offends their students by revealing the atrocities perpetrated against women, people of color, religions, gender fluidity, whatever. I began to cry again at the absurdity of our nation and the political turmoil that surrounds us because the left and right are strangling each other with hate against anything they don’t like. 

I watched last night’s DVR recording of my favorite journalist, Ari Melber, and his guest the world renowned astrophysicist, Neil Degrasse Tyson. I love them both. I watched the interview and couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Neil was speechless several times because the clips that Ari showed him from the new blockbuster movie, Don’t Look Up, showed Meryl Streep as the President of the U.S. telling her supporters lies. They believed her lies instead of the scientists who were telling the world that an asteroid was hurling towards Earth and would destroy everyone and everything much like the extinction of the dinosaurs. He laughed at the clips but explained that it was frightening because it paralleled what the previous leader of the U.S. had done by lying to the world and claiming that he had won the election and lying about the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th saying it was a peaceful protest of patriots. wtf.

I listened to the two men, who I respect, talk about this movie that explained how we are headed for doomsday because SCIENCE and facts/truth no longer matter to people. I wondered what the fudgecicle happened to people to make them so easily duped. 

I had a good cry and remembered that books were being banned because they were teaching students to open their eyes and learn about how this country was stolen, how indigenous people were slaughtered, how Africans were kidnapped, and made to work for those same people who slaughtered the indigenous and forced to work as slaves and make those murderers rich. Students’ books and libraries are being listed as books to ban because they tell the truth about how this country came into being and how people were beaten, hung, murdered, raped, humiliated because they were other. LGBTQ books would be banned, books written by people of color about their culture would be banned, religious books would be banned if they didn’t teach Christianity. I threw up a little in my mouth and began to sob. 

I must have cried, laughed, puked, shat, farted, broke into hysterics for hours. Then I drug myself off the bathroom floor and began to write this post. My books would be banned because I dared to write poetry about drug addiction, child molestation, rape, genocide, alcoholism, cultural appropriation, religious persecution. I felt sick again and dragged myself back into the bathroom to purge the negativity out of my soul and watch it swirl down the toilet.

I for an instant thought, I don’t want to live in a world where books are banned and then I realized that if I flushed myself down the toilet and died nothing would change and THEY would win. I made a pact with myself that I would keep writing my stories, poems, plays, novels, essays and telling my truth because the truth matters. And I know that when I was teaching I would have been one of those teachers that was snitched on the tip line for teaching the truth/science/facts/history/world culture/world peace because the haters gonna’ hate and the only way to fight them is with the truth, and books that are banned are the ones the students need to read. FREEDOM.

Juliana Aragón Fatula’s ancestors indigenous to Aztlan, migrated from New Mexico to Southern Colorado. In 2022 she was awarded the title of Corn Mother for the Return of the Corn Mothers Project funded by the Colorado Folk Arts Council, Chicano Humanities Arts Council, Metropolitan State University of Denver and US Bank. She is the author of The Road I Ride Bleeds, Crazy Chicana in Catholic City, and Red Canyon Falling on Churches (winner of the High Plains Book Award in 2016.) She has been a Macondista since 2011, was a Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities ambassador and Director of Creative Writing for las mujeres unidas de CSU Pueblo and she conducted writing workshops for Colorado Writers in the Schools K-12, Bridging Borders, Cesar Chavez Academy, and Cañon City Middle School. She performed in the nineties with Su Teatro Cultural Performing Arts Center and after Operation Desert Storm, she toured in the Persian Gulf for the Department of Defense with the Latin Locomotions. She is shopping her first mystery, The Colorado Sisters, for a publisher. She believes in the power of education to change lives.

Books Not Recommended

By AB Plum

Years ago—I
can remember exactly how many but can’t grasp when the days flew by, as the
cliché goes—I worked in my county library. I was sixteen. An avid reader. A
card-carrying patron from grade-school days. Working there was the best job in
town. I earned minimum wage, got vacation, and experience that later helped me win
a job in the university library. Two decades later, I received my MLS degree and worked in a large, urban public library system. 

Of all the
wonderful memories I can resurrect in two minutes about the county library, one
stands out most vividly.

Picture a floor-to-ceiling front window with
sunshine flooding the comfy couches, the New Books shelves, and the magazine
nook. Mysteries occupied the wall with the periodicals (yes, we subscribed to The New York Times and the New Yorker). Westerns
required a third of the same wall. Science fiction didn’t merit its own spot.

A large study section at the rear of the building separated the adult and children’s collections as well as our small, local museum dedicated to a local nineteenth-century opera

janitor kept the nearby public and staff restroom spotless. Graffiti never appeared on any public spaces
in our quiet little town.

A right-turn
from the restroom took patrons past the office the librarian shared with the
staff to process new books, repair damaged ones, fill boxes for year-round
bookmobile deliveries. Large windows at ceiling height added to the ambiance of
space and light. Five
 bookcases sat under the windows. 

The shelves bulged
with “forbidden” books. 

Forbidden to anyone under twenty-one.
Forbidden to the “older ladies” who came in weekly for novels by
Faith Baldwin, Bess Streeter Aldrich, Georgette Heyer, Agatha Christie, and so
many other writers whose pages those ladies devoured. Forbidden to anyone who
didn’t explicitly know the secret collection existed. (I certainly had no
inkling before working there).

But … did I,
five years shy of the required age, read Huck
Finn, Catcher in the Rye, Of Mice and Men,
Ulysses and dozens more banned books in my small, Southern town?

Absolutely. Within
the first six weeks of my employment. It took me that long to work up my courage. I worried
about going to jail. Or maybe directly to hell.

Of course I
never admitted my jaded tastes to any of my co-workers. I sneaked the books off
the premises—usually on Saturday afternoons when I was left to close up. And 
I never
checked the books out.

I felt guilty about my subterfuge but not guilty enough to stop reading from the
forbidden shelves. I rationalized that my caution was okay since the library’s
treasurer, Mr. Schneider—a septuagenarian and the first vegetarians I’d
ever met, entered the “Forbidden Chamber” and removed more than one
book every week without stopping by the front desk on his way out.

I suspect
the librarian knew what I was doing. I suspect she never confronted me because
she knew me from my previous years of reading eclectically from the general
collection. I suspect she realized I would read most of the “Forbidden
Books” during my Freshman year in college–still three years short of twenty-one.

Lots of
ethical issues skim the edges of my dishonesty. Thoughts for another day. I’ll
simply say I’m grateful I benefitted from censorship and an open-minded librarian.

What about
you? Did your library ban books? Did the library have a special place for
“mature audience” books? Did you, as a teenager, read any books in
that category?

*****AB Plum
writes books that might well have gone into the “Forbidden Chamber.”
She keeps sex and violence and offensive language to a minimum. (Well, the
language might be a stretch). She lives in Silicon Valley with her husband and
alter-ego, Barbara Plum). She enjoys hearing from readers, so catch up with her

Twitter:  @ABPlumWriter