Allison Hill, the CEO of the American Booksellers Association (ABA), issued an apology for including a paperback copy of Abigail Shrier’s Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters in a mailing to booksellers.
In the same letter, the ABA confessed to the sin of accidentally showing the cover of Candace Owens’ book Blackout: How Black America Can Make Its Second Escape from the Democrat Plantation in the promotion for a young adult romance book with the shorter title, Blackout.
The apology reads,
This week we did horrific harm when we included an anti-trans book in ABA’s July box mailing to members. Last week, we did terrible and racist harm when featuring the bestseller Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nie Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon with the wrong cover image, conflating it with an image of the cover of a book by a different Black author, a right-wing extremist.
We traumatized and endangered members of the trans community. We erased Black authors, conflated Black authors, and put the authors in danger through a forced association. We further marginalized communities we want to support.
There is nothing that I can say that will make this right. This should not have happened. I want to apologize for both of these harms and for the pain that ABA caused. But I know only action matters. These were egregious, harmful acts that caused violence and pain. One negligent, irresponsible, and racist; the other negligent, irresponsible, and transphobic.
The CEO did not explain how using the wrong book cover “put the authors in danger,” nor did she explain how promoting Shrier’s and Owens’ books “caused violence and pain,” but said the ABA would “share resources that speak to why these acts are violent.”
The letter also stated that, because of its grievous sins, the association would be taking steps such as “listening to impacted members,” “conferring with members of ABA’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion [DEI] Committee,” “discussing with our team the impact of this violence on our members and our colleagues,” and “automating some of our online content to eliminate unconscious bias.”
But that apology and those actions are clearly not enough of a mea culpa to those so violently harmed by receiving a box with a book they don’t want to read. The ABA’s board issued a separate overwrought letter, that stated:
We the directors of the ABA board are angry and horrified by two equally harmful actions of the organization over the past week.
On July 7, the ABA committed a racist act by posting the cover of a right-wing extremist’s book instead of the cover for the bestselling book Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nie Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon.
On July 14, the ABA committed a dangerous anti-trans act by including a virulent anti-trans book in the July ABA box mailing.
There are no apologies and no amount of explanations that are sufficient or satisfactory.
These incidents harmed booksellers, ABA board members, and ABA staff who identify as LGBTQIA+ and/or BIPOC, as well as the wider community. They also added to a toxic culture overall.
Neither letter named Shrier, Owens or the titles of their books.
In a tweet about the incident with Shrier’s book, the ABA said, “An anti-trans book was included in our July mailing to members. This is a serious, violent incident that goes against ABA’s ends policies, values, and everything we believe and support. It is inexcusable [sic].”
Publishers Weekly (PW) quoted bookseller Luis Correa, who is part of the ABA’s DEI Committee and “thought the apology was flawed.” Correa “identifies as a queer, Latino, and fat-bodied person” and said, “I’m disappointed with the use of the passive language at the beginning of the statement and the shift in blame. They really should say that ‘we included this book.’”
The ABA has now made tweets about the incident unavailable on Twitter.
Shrier’s book, as we’ve written in The Daily Citizen, offers an important critique of the “troubling and antihuman trend” that uses drugs, hormones and surgery to try to turn adolescent and young adult women into men – a movement that irreparably harms these young women.
For discussing this truth, Shrier has been castigated by activists and her book has come under attack. Target and Walmart refuse to sell Irreversible Damage, and Amazon rejected advertising for the book.
It’s ironic that Owens’ book, published by Simon and Schuster, is being called “racist” and “extremist,” as the author, a conservative black woman, seeks to help the black community “rise above poverty, live independent and successful lives, and be an active part of the American Dream.”
It’s also hypocritical, as Rod Dreher points out, that the ABA and its activist arm, American Booksellers for Free Expression (ABFE), won’t even mention these books, when the organizations sponsor and advocate for “Banned Books Week,” which pushes back against “challenges” to books in schools, bookstores and libraries.
Such organizations scream “censorship” whenever parents complain that a book is inappropriate for their children, believing kids should be able to read whatever they want. The groups disregard parents’ rights to raise children according to their own values and beliefs. The organizations list books that include profanity, drug use, alcoholism, rape, anti-police views, LGBT content, and racial slurs – as if all of them should be available for children of any age.
THE ABFE says its mission is “to promote and protect the free exchange of ideas, particularly those contained in books.”
Yet books with conservative messages, of course, are traumatizing and dangerous. Such titles and authors should not even be named and must be banished to outer darkness.
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