by Cheryl Cumings
For me, as a blind person, books are my lifeline. Through books I can learn how to build a garden, what it’s like to live in a Parisian neighborhood, climb a mountain, dive in a submarine to explore the sea floor, start a business, and much more. As a blind person, it’s not farfetched to express that books are oftentimes my eyes. Through books I meet people, delve into situations and see worlds that my biological eyes do not.
Yet, we are living in a time when many people are scared of books. Parents claim they are concerned about the messages books expose their children to. Politicians claim they write legislation banning books because they are responding to the concerns of their constituents. The really confident politicians make it clear that they are banning books because they disagree with the information in the books. We know there are states that are actively facilitating and encouraging banning books.
How is this possible in a country which proclaims freedom of speech and freedom of thought? As blind people, why should we care about this issue? No one is banning books that affect us. To date, although there has been some controversy over the existence of Helen Keller, books about her life have not yet been banned. But here is a sample of some of the books on BARD which are banned:
The Odyssey, by Homer, DB88961, BR12113
Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume, DB37405, BR07171
The Color Purple, by Alice Walker, DB58842, BR12265
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou, DB24959, BR15665
Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck, DB12212, BR01093
The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood, DB24695
Beloved, by Toni Morrison, DB 26026, BR16707
The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, DB87441, B 21874
Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer, DB62066, BR18146
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, by Erika Sanchez, DB89358
Nineteen Minutes, by Jodi Picoult, DB64175
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky, DB75897, BR12551
Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin, DB78523
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie, DB6540, BR00585
There are so many more books that can be on this list. The reality is that the majority of books being banned deal with race and racism, people of color and LGBTQIA+. Throughout the history of the United States, books were banned, and now it is our turn to fight back. Read the books listed above. If they made you see the world differently, made you uncomfortable or question an assumption, take action. Find the group in your neighborhood, city, county, state that is fighting against book banning and get involved. As blind people we can and must contribute to making America the place where freedom of speech and freedom of thought are truly valued and a reality.