Hi, my name is Camille Slack and I own Calamity Books here in Sheridan. I graduated from Sheridan High School in 1997, and I have three kids in the district. I am also a third generation resident of Sheridan County. I want to extend my deepest compliments and gratitude to the School Board and School District 2 Staff who continue to do an exemplary job under difficult circumstances.
My relationship with books is as a private small business owner in the used book market.
Also, before I begin, I want to reassure ALL parents in town, that I am very serious about making ALL of my customers feel safe. My job is to sell books, and I certainly don’t want to sell anyone a book that makes them feel scandalized or uncomfortable, especially to children. As a small business owner, I rely very heavily on return customers. I will not push anything onto anyone that they don’t want. But, please respect, too, that I provide books that you may not like, and there are people who may really need that book in their life. Also, I will keep relevant titles as long as there is a demand. And, there is a demand.
Books are people. Yes, they are objects made of paper, ink, thread and glue, but their object-hood merely provides the vehicle through which a human, either alive or dead, still may exist in relationship with the living. The author translates their experience into voice, then voice into words, then words into pages.
Now, this silly-sounding metaphor, is KEY in this situation. In fact, from now on, I want everyone to use this as their rule of thumb; Books are people. They are voices of lived human experiences, they are knowledge, they are witness, they are the writing on the wall. They are VALID.
According to PEN America, a national organization that was formed by authors after the fall of Nazi Germany,
“…the large majority of book bans underway today are not spontaneous, organic expressions of citizen concern. Rather, they reflect the work of a growing number of advocacy organizations that have made demanding censorship of certain books and ideas in schools part of their mission…The vast majority of the books targeted by these groups for removal feature LGBTQ+ characters or characters of color, and/or cover race and racism in American history, LGBTQ+ identities, or sex education.”
Books are people. Thousands of people have been banned across the country. Thousands of LGBTQIA+ people, people of color, and people from religious minorities have been, and are continuing to be, banned across the country.
These bans are harmful; far more harmful than any exposure of general sexual content can do to kids. We can all feel how insistent and pernicious the nationwide book bans have become as we see a swell of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation follow hot on their trail. They don’t serve the children they are claiming to protect half as much as they aim to destroy the children who belong to LGBTQ+, BIPOC and other minority communities. The bans aren’t here to protect children. They are here to publicly reiterate trigger words and phrases until they paint a clear, insidious target on scapegoat communities who have and will continue to have the brunt of physical, economic, and emotional violence across the country.
My friends and neighbors and honorable school board members, I implore you to see the greater harm, that implicating anyone in these claims of pornography, obscenity, or deliberately evocative sexual content is to bear false witness. It is to create scandal where there is none. It is to bring verbal and existential abuse to thousands of innocent, valid voices, and hundreds of school librarians and educators across the country. The collateral damage of these actions is profound and deeply injurious to those who are being banned, as well as to all of us.
Please take a step back and reassess your sources, and what their motivations are, and more importantly, what their end goal is. These are not book bans, they are people bans, and you are becoming complicit in that. Please vote against the removal of books from our library shelves. Please don’t let yourselves be recruited by the wrong side of history.