The American Library Association (ALA) will feature critical race theory (CRT) proponent Ibram X. Kendi as the opening speaker at their annual LibLearnX conference later this month.
The ALA is a national organization with state-level branches that claims to provide “leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services.” The group came under fire earlier this year for defending school libraries that kept sexually explicit books on their shelves.
The organization’s upcoming conference, LibLearnX: The Library Learning Experience (LLX), offers workshops for library employees at all levels, including school librarians. The ALA will hold this year’s conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, from January 27 to January 30.
Kendi and Nic Stone, the authors of “How to Be a (Young) Antiracist,” will open the conference with a talk focused on how their book encourages teenagers to “build a more equitable world.” The work is a “reimagining” of Kendi’s “How to Be an Antiracist,” which teaches that people are either inherently oppressed or privileged based on the color of their skin.
Kendi promoted the book as a way for teenagers to learn about “antiracism,” an idea based on CRT principles, and become activists.
“In this moment, teenagers of all backgrounds are vulnerable to all sorts of racial pressures, from teens of color reporting multiple instances of racism per day, to White teens being routinely targeted online by White supremacists,” said Kendi. “Teens are being told to ‘not be racist.’ But they need a more affirmative and active vision if we want them to leave the nest champions of equity and justice for all.”
CRT proponents claim that racism is ingrained in all American institutions and systems because they are based on “white privilege” and that people identified as belonging to certain groups should be treated differently to make up for past injustices.
The LLX conference also features sessions promoting CRT, including “How to Start Conversations about Justice and Equity,” “Intersectional Justice in Libraries,” and “Decolonizing Library Shelves through the Rise of Indigenous Children’s Authors.”
After citizens across the country raised concerns over explicit and inappropriate materials in libraries, the ALA encouraged librarians to “fight censorship” and keep controversial books on their shelves, including at school libraries.
In fulfilling their responsibilities, public schools must not only provide knowledge of many subject areas and essential skills, but must also educate students on core American values such as fairness, equality, justice, respect for others, and the right to dissent.
Several conservative lawmakers have filed legislation this session calling for restrictions on children’s access to explicit materials.
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