In a recent development, LeVar Burton, best known for his role as the host of Reading Rainbow, has added his name to a letter denouncing efforts to block children’s access to sexually explicit books. This letter, signed by 175 other artists, including well-known figures such as Andy Cohen, Alyssa Milano, Ariana Grande, Bill Nye, Chelsea Handler, Judd Apatow, Judy Blume, Mark Ruffalo, Zooey Deschanel, and Ron Perlman, argues that such attempts are examples of “white supremacy.”
The campaign against book banning is being spearheaded by MoveOn, a far-left organization. MoveOn’s website explicitly pins the blame on “far-right politicians like Ron DeSantis,” accusing them of promoting laws that ban books and restrict the teaching of accurate multicultural American history. The organization argues that these politicians are working to uphold a vision of the nation rooted in homophobia, transphobia, and white supremacy.
The artists who signed the letter assert that the actions being taken against these books not only go against the principles of free speech and expression but also have a chilling effect on creativity in general. They argue that the government should not interfere or dictate what people can produce, write, generate, read, listen to, or consume.
Displaying concern for the future, the letter warns that censorious efforts will not end with book bans. The signatories predict that regressive ideologues will eventually target other forms of art and entertainment to further their oppressive agendas and scapegoat marginalized communities, particularly BIPOC and LGBTQ+ individuals. Taking a united stand, the artists express their refusal to remain silent, emphasizing the importance of defending artistic expression in all its forms.
The letter concludes by calling on everyone to join the fight against book bans and support free and open creative industries, regardless of personal or ideological differences. It encourages individuals to use their voices at the local level to oppose these bans in school districts. The letter emphasizes the power of artistic freedom and rejects the notion of allowing draconian politicians to diminish it.
LeVar Burton, who has long advocated for reading and education, has also offered his own statement on the issue. He finds it embarrassing that books are being banned in today’s society and believes it is dangerous to label any book featuring Black or queer people as divisive. Burton expresses his pride in being surrounded by countless artists and MoveOn members who stand against censorship. He urges everyone to raise their voices in defense of artistic freedom, embrace multicultural history, and put an end to book bans once and for all.
It is worth noting that this is not the first time Burton has spoken against book banning. In a 2002 appearance on The Daily Show, he encouraged children to read banned books, believing that they often contain valuable content.
As the discussion surrounding book bans continues, it remains to be seen how society will navigate the delicate balance between freedom of expression and protecting children’s welfare. However, one thing is clear: artists and advocates like LeVar Burton are committed to defending artistic freedom and preserving access to a wide range of literature for children.