[Libs-Or] A response to critics of my post about "American Dirt"

Colin Rea crea at fernridgelibrary.org
Wed Feb 5 09:42:10 PST 2020

Curious as to why an Oregon librarian is posting such criticism to Libs-Or
without mentioning that he works at PCC?

Colin M. Rea
Director, Fern Ridge Library District
PO Box 397
88026 Territorial Road
Veneta, OR 97487
541.935.7512     fax 541.935.8013

-----Original Message-----
From: Libs-Or [mailto:libs-or-bounces at listsmart.osl.state.or.us] On Behalf
Of Marci Jenkins
Sent: Wednesday, February 5, 2020 9:13 AM
To: Tony Greiner; libs-or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us
Subject: Re: [Libs-Or] A response to critics of my post about "American

Once again sir, this has nothing to do with Mrs. Cummins, her book, or
censorship. I acknowledge it is VERY difficult for a white man to understand
what means be rejected and ignored due to the color of your skin, your
nationality, your accent despite all the talent you bring to the table.

I wish your suggestions for Latinx authors to seek other publishers or self
publish their books were as easy as it sounds. Once again, let me be clear,
a person of color that dare to challenge the system of oppression the same
system that is being fed by centuries of colonialist mind set, is
automatically good for nothing, unless he/she/x  leaves their identity and
dignity behind to assume the "white wanna be" stereotype and embrace a life
time of denial.

You probably also never met any talent Latinx authors that open the trunk of
their cars and sell their amazing books after church mass because their
accent is too "thick" and they were denied an interview to promote their
book that by the way (as you suggested) was self published with the help of

Sir, I urge you to spend some quality time with a co-worker of color and
expand your knowledge of what means to be a BIPOC in this nation beyond
Oprah and Sandra Cisneros. This is NOT politics, this is OUR life on a daily
basis and when we decide enough is enough we receive opposition from men
such as yourself that perhaps never experienced oppression and hatred and
that was certainly never sabotaged due to the color of your skin.

Please allow us to fight OUR fights with the respect we deserve.


From: Libs-Or [libs-or-bounces at listsmart.osl.state.or.us] on behalf of Tony
Greiner [tony_greiner at hotmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, February 4, 2020 11:13 PM
To: libs-or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us
Subject: [Libs-Or] A response to critics of my post about  "American Dirt"

This message originated outside of the City of McMinnville.


The range of responses on my post about how libraries can protect themselves
from the censors of American Dirt makes me think that the writers of some of
these posts didn’t bother to read mine, just as I doubt that all the people
who signed the letter to Oprah read American Dirt in the week between its
publication and the sending of the letter. But I will respond to the main
statements in opposition to my idea that we should defend American Dirt
should the censors come to our library doors,  and to stand up for Cummins
or any author from being mobbed by those who seek political gain at her

First, some respondents made of point of saying that their library had
bought copies, of the book, and that no library had burned or banned it.
That's true- but I never said that those things occurred.   I do anticipate
that there may be those that call for libraries to remove or not buy the
book.  If that happens, I offered an argument that libraries can use in
defense of having books where an author of one race writes about another.
That is a defense of libraries, and I do not understand why some librarians
reject that idea.

Nick Schiller put forth the idea that censorship can only be done by a
government. That is a common idea, but it is incorrect.  For years,
including my childhood, the Catholic Church published a List of Prohibited
Books, commonly called “The Index.” Practicing Catholics were told they
needed to get permission before they could read them- and I remember my
mother consulting the list one day after mass. My understanding is that this
list had a chilling effect on publishers, who tended to avoid publishing
books that would be avoided by members of the largest denomination in the
country. That’s censorship.

The “Motion Picture Production Code” also known as the “Hays Code” was a
voluntary creation of Hollywood Studios that prevented directors from making
films that had vulgar words, passionate kissing, cursing, homosexuality,
miscegenation, and other things.  This code lasted until 1968, when the
present ratings system was adopted. The “Comics Code Authority” served a
similar function. Censorship can be practiced by non-governmental bodies.

In this case, the attacks on author Jeanine Cummins have the clear intent of
chilling future authors who want try writing a book with characters from
another culture, and publishers who are willing to distribute their work. To
say this is not a form of censorship is disingenuous.

If some people are unhappy with how books by Latin writers are promoted,
then they have the option of working with publishers, or starting their own
company. Dragging down an author who has had success in the business end of
publishing doesn’t elevate anyone else.

As for the “Cultural Appropriation” claim, that is a Potemkin Village. (Is
it cultural appropriation that I used a Russian term?)   I shared the list
of distinguished writers who wrote about another race and culture. Where are
the cries of cultural appropriation against those writers? An writer has the
right to telling the story they want to tell.  Publishers have the right to
promote and sell the titles they choose. We don't need another Index.  If
someone doesn’t like a book, they can criticize it on its literary merits,
but to attack the author, claiming that she does not have the right to tell
a story of her choosing because her skin is of the wrong color, or she was
born in a different country, or speaks a different language is wrong. The
name-calling and threats to disrupt a book signing is immoral, perhaps
criminal. Librarians should oppose efforts to silence anyone’s voice.

Lastly, my concerns about these attacks have nothing to do with “White
Privilege.”  They have to do with protecting any writers who are attacked by
the mob because they dared to stretch themselves and write a story of
another culture, or gender, or race. The color of my skin has nothing to do
with it.  My commitment to the core library value of supporting Freedom of
Expression has everything to do with it. I am sorry that there are
librarians who have abandoned that principal.

**tony_greiner at hotmail.com**


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