National Public Radio (NPR) posted a tweet Saturday urging every reader to begin “decolonizing your bookshelf.
According to NPR, “white voices have dominated what has been considered canon for eons.” The public broadcaster advises fans to begin “decolonizing your bookshelf” by removing the works of white authors.
“In essence, “decolonizing your bookshelf” is about actively resisting and casting aside the colonialist ideas of narrative, storytelling, and literature that have pervaded the American psyche for so long”.
“Your Bookshelf May Be Part Of The Problem”
Anti-racist reading lists are making the rounds right now — and they can be useful if people do the work of reading. But critic Juan Vidal suggests you look closer to home, to your own bookshelf.
If you are white, take a moment to examine your bookshelf. What do you see? What books and authors have you allowed to influence your worldview, and how you process the issues of racism and prejudice toward the disenfranchised? Have you considered that, if you identify as white and read only the work of white authors, you are in some ways listening to an extension of your own voice on repeat? While the details and depth of experience may differ, white voices have dominated what has been considered canon for eons.
On April 14, 2017, the Daily Beast referred to book burning as “perhaps the oldest form of censorship.”
The Daily Beast notes that “the Babylonians and their allies burned the library of the scholar King Ashurbanipal in 612 BC when they sacked the Assyrian capital of Nineveh.” They trace burnings into the 20th century: “On May 10, 1933, Nazi youth groups burned some 25,000 “degenerate” books at a large bonfire in Berlin, with radio broadcasts to publicize the event to those who could not attend in person. Books by such authors as Albert Einstein, Bertolt Brecht, Helen Keller, Sigmund Freud, Thomas Mann, Karl Marx, Ernest Hemingway, and H.G. Wells were tossed on the flaming heap.”