Singer-songwriter and global pop icon Pink, known for her powerful music and advocacy, has teamed up with the free expression organisation PEN America and Florida bookseller Books & Books to make a powerful statement against book banning. Pink has announced her plan to give away 2,000 banned books at her upcoming concerts in Florida, shedding light on the troubling rise of book bans in the state and across the country.
Pink takes a stand against banned books
As a mother of two children, she says she is deeply committed to education and the representation of all races and sexual identities. Pink whose real name is Alecia Beth Moore Hart, adds that the decision to give away banned books is a powerful response to the surge in book bans documented by PEN America, an organisation dedicated to defending free expression.
Pink expressed her passion for books, stating, “Books have held a special joy for me from the time I was a child, and that’s why I am unwilling to stand by and watch while books are banned by schools.
“It’s especially hateful to see authorities take aim at books about race and racism and against LGBTQ authors and those of color,” she stated, adding: “We have made so many strides toward equality in this country, and no one should want to see this progress reversed. This is why I am supporting PEN America in its work and why I agree with them: no more banned books.”
During her 2023 Trustfall Tour, Pink will distribute four books that have appeared in PEN America’s Index of Banned Books at her Miami and Sunrise, Florida concert stops on November 14-15. These books include “The Family Book” by Todd Parr, “The Hill We Climb” by Amanda Gorman, “Beloved” by Toni Morrison, and a book from “Girls Who Code,” founded by Reshma Saujani.
Pink announced this collaboration in an Instagram live session with PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel and New York Times number one bestselling author Gorman.
Pink began the conversation by acknowledging the importance of addressing book bans. She shared her personal connection to books and the profound effect they’ve had on her life. Her dedication to fighting book bans is rooted in her belief that everyone should have the freedom to read and access diverse perspectives.
Nossel highlighted the disturbing wave of book bans across the country, noting that these bans often target books that represent diversity and pluralism.
Gorman, who is a celebrated poet and author, discussed the emotional impact of seeing her inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb,” banned in some communities, despite its message of hope and unity. In addition, she emphasised the importance of young readers being able to see themselves represented in literature, calling the ban of her work “hard,” “heartbreaking,” and “devastating.”
The conversation touched on the alarming number of book bans happening in Florida, with Nossel revealing that 40% of all documented book bans occur in the state. Teachers in these communities often feel intimidated, fearing repercussions if they include certain books in their curricula.
Pink relayed her concern about the long-term consequences of such censorship, especially when it comes to empathy and understanding others. Hence, she questioned the logic of shielding children from certain topics, knowing that they will encounter diverse perspectives as they grow up.
Kasey Meehan, director of PEN America’s Freedom to Read Program, expressed her enthusiasm for this collaboration, stating, “We are thrilled to be working with Pink on this important cause. Every child deserves access to literature that reflects their lives. Rampant censorship is depriving kids of the chance to see themselves in books and learn about the world and its history.”
Alarming rise of book bans in Florida and across the nation
The urgency of this campaign is underscored by recent data released by PEN America, which reveals that Florida surpassed Texas during the last school year in the number of books banned in public school classrooms and libraries, making it the state with the highest documented bans. This alarming trend is part of a nationwide spike in book bans, with a 33% increase since 2021.
Florida’s restrictive laws and policies concerning free speech have also become a blueprint for similar actions across the country. Since 2021, PEN America has recorded nearly 6,000 instances of book bans, with black and LGBTQ+ authors and books addressing issues of race, racism, and LGBTQ identities disproportionately targeted.
As a result, PEN America has been at the forefront of documenting and defending against the unprecedented rise of school book bans nationwide. Depriving students of exemplary literary works goes against basic constitutional freedoms. In response, PEN America is taking legal action against Escambia County, Florida, over its book bans.
Fans can go to pen.org/pink to find out more about how they can fight book bans.
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