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Author rejects demand to remove word “racism” from book

Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s book Love in the Library is the story of her grandparents meeting and falling in love at the Minidoka Incarceration Camp. As much as the story is about a romance, it also reflects the harsh reality of living behind barbed wire and the irony of love blooming under such horrid conditions.

Tokuda-Hall described with elation the moment she opened a letter from Scholastic Educational Division to license the book as part of its Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander Heritage Collection. Such an offer from the largest publisher of children’s books in the world would undoubtedly lead to a surge in sales.

BREAKING: This story is updated here: Publisher sorry after demanding AsAm author “minimize racism”

However, just as fast, her heart sank when she went on to read the second paragraph. Scholastic demanded she remove references to racism in her author’s notes.

“They wanted to take this book and repackage it so that it was just a simple love story,” Tokuda-Hall wrote in her blog Pretty OK Maggie. “Nothing more. Not anything that might offend those book banners in what they called this “politically sensitive” moment. The irony of curating a collection tentatively titled Rising Voices: Amplifying AANHPI Narratives with one hand while demanding that I strangle my own voice with the other was, to me, the perfect encapsulation of what publishing, our dubious white ally, does so often to marginalized creators.”

Those who agree with Tokuda-Hall don’t need to wait for the book to make Scholastics list to purchase it. It’s already on sale and if you buy the book from the link below, a small percentage will come back to support AsAmNews.

So far Scholastic hasn’t responded to the author’s very public rejection. AsAmNews reached out to Scholastic this afternoon Pacific Time, but did not respond by our deadline. If it does eventually respond, we will add their comments here.

Hall-Tokuda’s rejection is already generating a lot of discussion on Reddit.

“The White-washing of history is horrible,” wrote one.

“It shouldn’t be considered controversial. The US should take accountability for our past,” said another.”It shouldn’t be considered controversial. The US should take accountability for our past,” said another.

“We are not responsible for the crimes of the past unless we participate in hiding them. It’s sad watching this happen,” wrote a third.

The passage Scholastic wanted to cut read as follows:

“As much as I would hope this would be a story of a distant past, it is not. It’s very much the story of America here and now. The racism that put my grandparents into Minidoka is the same hate that keeps children in cages on our border. It’s the myth of white supremacy that brought slavery to our past and allows the police to murder Black people in our present. It’s the same fear that brings Muslim bans. It’s the same contempt that creates voter suppression, medical apartheid, and food deserts. The same cruelty that carved reservations out of stolen, sovereign land, that paved the Trail of Tears. Hate is not a virus; it is an American tradition.”

One commenter on Reddit said she understood the decision from a business point of view.

“It’s very reasonable to cut the passage – why keep an extra passage in an author’s note talking of an “American tradition of racism” that will make the book controversial when without it it’s much easier to stock in school bookshelves across the country.”

Yet she went on to say she hopes that mentality will change.

“Some part of me wishes that companies and the people who run them would be more than about ruthlessly making money,” she said.

In explaining her decision, Hall-Tokuda says she hopes those that worked on the book so tirelessly with her will support her decision.

“It’s a deeply offensive offer,” she wrote. “To say yes, we’d like to publish your grandparent’s story but not in a way that connects them to the suffering of those just like them now for fear of potential ban is, to put it lightly, cowardly. They will not have the right to sell this story because they’ve proven to me they’re not up for the responsibility of it. Nor do they have the right to tell me and the people like me that our families stories must stay in the past where they’re deemed no longer political.”

AsAmNews is incorporated in the state of California as Asian American Media, Inc, a non-profit with 501c3 status. We are currently funded by our readers and the California Library Commission’s Stop The Hate program under the State Dept of Social Services. See their funded resources for direct, prevention and intervention services here. Find additional content from AsAmNews on Instagram , TwitterTiktok and FacebookPlease consider interning, joining our staff, or submitting a story, or making a tax-deductible donation.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Don’t quite understand. Did scholastic publish the book after the author refused their request to remove a passage from the editor’s note?

    • Another publisher had already released the book. Scholastic wanted to license the book as part of its collection of AANHPI authors. She declined the offer, even though it would have likely have signficantly increased her sales.

  2. There are no races. Only two people exist. Children of God and children of the devil. It’s appointed toman once to die and then the judgment. God won’t ask your race. He will ask if you know Him.

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