Free unpublished books with dark and divisive themes that portray whites as hopelessly racist are being given out to youths at a public library in suburban Kansas City, a parent has notified The Heartlander.
“Perfectionism is rooted in white supremacy, and it’s an ideal that is set up to make us – Black people especially – feel like we will never be good enough, productive enough, rich enough, etc.,” proclaims one such advance-copy young-adult book, Forever is Now by Mariama J. Lockington.
“‘We shouldn’t have to watch the hood burn to keep it as our home,’” advertises the back cover of There Goes the Neighborhood by Jade Adia, which appears to lament white people moving into a black neighborhood. “Burn, no. But maybe some heat could work in our favor … White people ‘round here still see the color of our skin and cross the street or call the cops – that’s never changed. Racism is surely alive and well. The only difference is that now, there’s enough other white people around to make them feel ‘safe,’ which is why they’re so obsessed with colonizing the neighborhood. It’s crazy, I know, but maybe there’s a way to work with their racism. To use it against them.”
An online description of the book reads:
“Fifteen-year-old Rhea and her best friends, Zeke and Malachi, are South L.A. born and raised, but a recent wave of gentrification has been transforming the place that they call home. When an eviction notice from a greedy landlord threatens to split up the crew, Rhea and her friends manipulate social media to form a fake gang in hopes of scaring off developers. Their scheme appears to work at first… until a murder is pegged on the nonexistent gang. Yikes.”
Both books were brought home from the Gardner Public Library in Johnson County by Jennifer Williams’ daughters, 13 and 11. Williams homeschools her daughters and allows them some freedom to peruse the Gardner library, while keeping an eye on what they check out.
“That helps me to kind of see if something questionable comes through, while still giving them a little bit of freedom to make their decisions,” she tells The Heartlander.
But there is no such record for a parent to check on when a book is given away outside of the library’s circulation system, she says.
“To me, as a parent, I feel that it’s sneaky. I feel that it’s pushing an agenda and creating problems that may not even be there in someone’s mind. The more you push it and talk about it, then they hear that over and over again. And I don’t know if we continue to have this problem because our kids are stuck in these institutions that keep perpetuating that, or where the answer lies. But it’s not in continuing to do these kinds of books and pushing them behind the parents’ backs.”
Moreover, the free books at Gardner Public Library, she says – which youths are encouraged to review for the publishers – seem to cover “every single topic” on the left’s agenda involving race, gender and climate change.
Johnson County Commissioner Charlotte O’Hara provided these summations of some of the books being given away to youths by the Gardner library:
- Self-Made Boys: homosexual and transgender themes
- Forever is Now: homosexual and anti-police themes: “Black queer Sadie Dixon confronts police brutality while contending with her own mental health challenges in this lyrically written verse novel.
- The Undead Truth of Us: Content warning: “Profanity, blood, gore, body horror, grief, loss of parent, abandonment, discussion of death … underage drinking, underage smoking, mentions of anxiety and depression.”
- Venom & Vow: transgender prince and a bigender assassin.
“You can quickly see, on reading, the agendas that are being pushed. (The books have) a very liberal, divisive agenda. It’s LGBTQ, DEI, CRT – all of this stuff is very prominent in the topics. I mean, it’s getting them all – at the age of the kids (who are) being mentally affected by it the most, 7th to 12th grade, middle to high school. I mean, you’re messed up enough hormonally, without a whole bunch of other stuff being thrown at you.”
Williams says of all the far-left themes promoted in the books, it’s the “white people are bad” narrative “that breaks my heart so much. I graduated in ’97. My generation said racism stopped with us. Many of my friends have mixed children, and love came from that, in more ways than one.
“Yeah, we have a history as humanity, but you’re never going to get better if you keep hate (alive). My goal was for my children to never hear the ‘N’ word, to never hear that racist talk, and to be in an environment that we want to create, and not continuing to focus on that hate and division. And they were 10, 11 years old before they ever heard that word, and they heard it from Cardi B on the radio flipping through the stations. And I thought, ‘How can we stop this if you, yourself, that hate it are continuing to perpetuate it?’”
Having scanned the other books on the rolling cart at the Gardner library, Williams noticed a complete lack of different voices other than from the left.
“It’s obvious this is a leftist agenda being pushed on the kids, because there were no books about happy people. There were no books about all of us getting along and working together and being a community. There were no books about Christianity or the Constitution or any of these things that have to do with all of us (being) equal. But you know, that ruins the narrative, right?
“If we’re going to hand out free books like this, shouldn’t we be handing out free books so they can see both sides of the story?”
The Heartlander reached out to library leaders asking such questions as whether free books are available at other libraries in the JoCo system; what ages the books are intended for; and if it’s problematic that the books can be distributed to minors without their parents’ consent or even knowledge, since they don’t appear to be in the library system and obviously aren’t on checkout lists for parents to monitor.
The Heartlander also asked whether library officials can see how several of the books’ passages would be considered racist and, at the very least, whether the promulgation of such racist stereotypes is healthy, particularly for developing minds, and what level of scrutiny the giveaway books are given by the library system.
In a statement to The Heartlander late Tuesday, a library spokesperson wrote that the unpublished books, often called “galleys,” are part of the American Library Association’s “Young Adult Library Services Association” teen book reviewers program in which teens can give publishers feedback on upcoming books. Johnson County neither curates nor promotes the books, writes Elissa Andre, the county library’s external communication manager. “They are simply available on a cart if teens are interested at a few of our locations.
“Though advance copies are not part of our collection, our Collection Development Policy supports the library’s stance that patrons can — and should — form their own opinions on issues. We encourage parents and children to have regular and open communication with each other about their reading material.
“The library does not promulgate particular beliefs or views nor is the selection of any given material equivalent to endorsement of the creator’s views. The library tries to provide materials representing all approaches to public issues of a controversial nature. … The library recognizes its responsibility to make available a representative selection of materials on subjects of interest to its users, including materials on various sides of controversial questions — religious, social, political, or economic — to enable patrons to make up their own minds about controversial subjects. Variety and balance of opinion are sought whenever available.”
O’Hara’s not buying the lack of a leftist agenda.
“This is not an isolated incident,” maintains O’Hara, who says she has detected similar left-wing themes in county employee training. “This is just a continuation of indoctrination of the community, whether it’s at the business level or the county level or the school level or the library level. They are pushing these agendas of CRT — Critical Race Theory — and DEI. And this is what is being driven in these in these galleys that are being given out to our kids. I mean, this is ridiculous. …
“I don’t think that these are the types of books that we should be handing out to young teenagers without parental consent. And they don’t have to sign anything out; they’re just given the books. And it just shows that parents cannot trust allowing their kids to go into the library unaccompanied. And that’s sad. I certainly wouldn’t have wanted my children to have read these titles. And I certainly don’t want my grandchildren reading these titles. It’s just unbelievable.”
For her part, Williams doesn’t accuse the Gardner library, or even the Johnson County library system, of propagating leftist propaganda, but adds, “I do believe 100% that it’s pushed intentionally from a larger agenda, maybe even outside of our state.”
Nor does Williams harbor any ill will toward anyone. But she doesn’t appreciate such a racy and racist agenda slipping under parents’ notice.
“I am not anti-transgender, I’m not anti-gay. I am not anti- any of that stuff. I believe people have freedom to do their thing. I am against agendas that force things on people that are not who they are, and that are not true and wholesome and Godly.”
Williams says she has friends who are gay and transgender, and that she has taught her daughters to love them and all of God’s people.
“I said, ‘We love people. God loves people. Because they’re doing this doesn’t mean that’s what we do. It doesn’t mean that’s what we participate in. It’s not what we feed our minds on. But we’re not going to hate. We’re going to still know that God loves people, and someone else’s walk is their walk. It’s not our walk.’
“I never want to be portrayed that I was saying anything negative against any of my friends that have made a choice that maybe I disagree with. But I will always stand against the hate of this racial division, because that’s all they’ve got left to keep us divided. They know the moment we hold hands in love that God wins.”
O’Hara said she plans on raising this issue with her Johnson County Commission colleagues in their meeting Thursday.
“The library is bringing in a political agenda. And this is not what tax dollars should be paying for,” she said.