After it had been held for "further review," *insert eye roll emoji here*, a Roberto Clemente children's book has returned to the shelves of a Florida school district
Florida's government has been under scrutiny recently for holding about 1.6 million books 'under review'. Of these millions of books, some have pertained to legendary sports figures, such as Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, Jim Thorpe, Kenichi Zenimura, and Pittsburgh Pirates' legend Roberto Clemente. One theme all these books, and the millions of others that were taken off of school library shelves had in common was that they storied people and characters of a multitude of racial and ethnic backgrounds, specifically the collection of 176 books (which included the Clemente book, as well as books on Aaron, Robinson, Thorpe, Zenimura) that were taken from Duval County District.
The specific books in question that involved the Roberto Clemente book, "Roberto Clemente The Pride Of The Pittsburgh Pirates," was 'held under review' for over a year. Unsurprisingly, many saw that as Florida's way of preventing the youth of this school district from ever getting this book back in their library and banning it without explicitly saying it was banned from the district. However, this book was recently put back on school library shelves in Florida in the Duval District.
The reason for all these books being held for review is because of a law that Florida's governor, Ron DeSantis, signed off on that required schools to "to rely on certified media specialists to approve which books could be integrated into classrooms'' as per NBC News. Overall, seven thousand have been approved, but there are still over 1.5 million that is being 'reviewed' by the Florida government.
No doubt, the outrage over the Clemente book has caused Florida to re-release it to public school districts. The book was held for review for over a year with little to no indication it would ever be reviewed, and all of a sudden, it's re-released to the school district after public outcry from critics of the law (including myself).
However, the overarching concern is that Florida is still holding over 1.5 million from public districts 'under review.' Sure, these books and the information in them aren't banned in the state and are still available for students and families to purchase at stores, public libraries, online retailers, or even look up online. But not every student or family has that option. For some students, their library might be the only way they are able to purchase or rent reading material and properly learn about Roberto Clemente's story, as well as the story of other baseball players from his era, their historical and cultural significance of them, and the cultural significance of other racial and ethnic heritages. It's criminal to withhold that kind of information from those who may not have the resources to obtain these books and information outside of free school libraries.
It's very clear why a book on Roberto Clemente or other books about Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, Jim Thorpe, and Kenichi Zenimura is being held for review. They all heavily deal with the topic of extreme racial oppression in one of America's darkest eras. Holding them for review and then giving no indication of when or if they'll be re-released for over a year is an ugly attempt to hide these stories of professional athletes fighting racial oppression.
At best, it shows that Florida is ignorant of how to teach the stories of Clemente, Robinson, Aaron, and others. At worst, they don't want to teach themselves stories because they see them as what some have described as 'woke', even if they are culturally and historically significant to the United States, and would rather hide them from the youth. Hopefully, more books will be re-released to the Florida school districts, but there's no doubt that seeing over 1.5 million books being held hostage by the state's government is very upsetting.