Texas School District withdraws books from acclaimed black author amid critical claims about race theory


A school district nearby Houston canceled the appearance from an award-winning children’s illustrator and author, whose books tell stories about black children struggling to fit into unfamiliar environments, amid the assertions of critical race theory.

Writer Jerry Craft was scheduled to appear before students and staff at Roosevelt Alexander Elementary School virtually Monday until Katy’s Independent School District pulled the plug after some parents objected.

In response to a question about why his books were “banned,” Craft tweeted last week: “Apparently I teach critical race theory.”

A school district spokesperson said Craft’s appearance can be rescheduled and her books have been “temporarily” removed as the district reviews them over the next 15 days.

“Katy ISD’s library books are regularly reviewed during this process and the district encourages parents to do so,” the representative said in a statement. “The event was not canceled; it was postponed. To date, the district has received only one formal challenge and has followed council policy regarding such requests.”

The dispute over Craft’s book comes as school districts across the country face protests from parents and conservative groups over lessons on racism, fairness and discrimination. In Southlake, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, parents rallied to block a diversity and inclusion plan that would have brought new lessons and disciplinary rules to the Carroll Independent School District.

Craft’s graphic novel “New Kid” has been awarded the John Newbery Medal last year. This tell the story of Jordan Banks, seventh grade, and how he navigates his worlds at home and at a prestigious private school where he is one of the few minority students.

“This is inappropriate educational material,” said Bonnie Anderson, a white parent. “The books don’t say we want white children to feel like oppressors, but that is absolutely what they will do.”

Anderson started an online petition, which was deleted, to have the event canceled.

Jerry Craft’s “New Kid” graphic novel.Feather tree books

American Library Association on Wednesday released a statement from Craft in response to the petition. He said the dissidents “claim that the book teaches critical race theory and therefore should not be taught in schools.”

Craft said in his statement that nothing would deter him from his goals of “helping kids become the kind of readers I’ve never been; letting kids see themselves on my pages; and showing kids of color as ordinary children “.

“As an African-American boy who grew up in Washington Heights, New York, I hardly ever saw children like me in any of the books I was given at school,” the statement said. “Books for children like me seemed to only deal with history or misery.”

Some parents and conservative activists view Critical Race Theory, the academic study of the pervasive impact of racism, as leftist indoctrination.

Educational material that focuses on the role race and institutional racism play in the daily lives of Americans is crucial, said Darius Benton, assistant professor of communication studies at the University of Houston-Downtown.

“Critical race theory is certainly not about teaching white children that they are inherently racist,” Benton said. “It’s really about understanding how institutional racism is instituted in society.”

About Stuart M. McFarland

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