FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - April 14, 2023
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The Japanese American National Museum Condemns Scholastic’s Request to Remove Racism from Author’s Note
LOS ANGELES, CA – The Japanese American National Museum (JANM) condemns the request from Scholastic’s Rising Voices Library to remove the words “virulent racism” and a paragraph about racism throughout American history from the author’s note in Love in the Library, an illustrated children’s book by Maggie Tokuda-Hall about the World War II Japanese American incarceration. Rising Voices Library pairs diverse books with teaching materials for the classroom. Scholastic’s Education division offered to license Love in the Library for a Rising Voices Library collection called Amplifying AANHPI (Asian Americans and Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders). Tokuda-Hall wrote about the publisher’s censorship on her blog. The president and CEO of Scholastic Books has since issued a statement of apology.
“To deny that racism is a part of this nation’s legacy and drove historical events like the Japanese American incarceration during World War II is to deny that white supremacy, hate, and systemic oppression have and continue to create inequality and inequity in marginalized communities. Censorship of American history has no place in literature. It smothers freedom of expression, erodes democracy, and contributes to historical revisionism. In 1981, Japanese Americans began to tell their stories during public legislative hearings of the Commission for Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC) as part of the commission’s investigation of the incarceration experience. The CWRIC’s findings noted that the incarceration of Japanese Americans was systematically conducted by the US government without evidence of espionage or sabotage. Those findings led to the passage of the Civil liberties Act of 1988 when President Ronald Reagan issued a formal presidential apology and symbolic payment of financial reparations to surviving Japanese Americans. Scholastic’s request does a grave disservice to the official acknowledgement of racial prejudice and to the survivors who shaped the historical record by sharing their stories on the national stage,” said Ann Burroughs, President and CEO of JANM.