It was recently called to my attention that on the ALA’s list of the “10 Most Challenged Books,” And Tango Makes Three is listed as being challenged not only for the to-be-expected reasons such as “homosexuality” (although at least one of those penguins could probably be considered bi), being “anti-family” (ironic, yes, when alleged regarding a book about a young family, but not unexpected), and “religious viewpoint” (because we all know those penguins can have pretty strong views on religion), but also as being. among other things, anti-ethnic.
Anti-ethnic, I thought. Hmm, that seems odd.It’s a non-fiction story about penguins. I wasn’t aware that penguins even *had* ethnicities.What does anti-ethnic mean, anyway? Is it the same as racism?
And so began my little search, which is currently in-process.
The source of the information that Tango is allegedly anti-ethnic is the aforementioned ALA list, which says:
The “10 Most Challenged Books of 2007” reflect a range of themes, and comprises the following titles:
1. “And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
Reasons: Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group
Interestingly, if you dig up the 2006 top 10 challenged books list, Tango had a much shorter list of offenses:
The “10 Most Challenged Books of 2006” reflect a range of themes, and consist of the following titles:
* “And Tango Makes Three” by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, for homosexuality, anti-family, and unsuited to age group
From this, I assume anti-ethnic must be a new-ish allegation (along with religious viewpoint and sexism).
2) Where did the term “anti-ethnic” come from?
Source of the allegation documentation pinned down, I wondered if perhaps “anti-ethnic” was just something someone made up in a fit of anger about the book. “It’s not just homosexual and against my religious viewpoint, it’s also, uh, em, sexist! And…uh….anti-ethnic! Yeah, anti-ethnic, that’s what.”
However, I found “anti-ethnic” as a checkbox category on the ALA book challenge form (PDF here).
Anti-ethnic’s checkbox on this form is a separate category from racism, which has its own checkbox. Now I really want to know how this distinction was drawn, and how library staff all over the continent are supposed to know which box to check for what type of complaint!
And I am still curious about what makes penguins anti-ethnic.
3) What else is “anti-ethnic”?
I thought that maybe if I found what other books had been challenged as anti-ethnic, perhaps that would shed some light on the allegation.It turns out that anti-ethnic is not a common challenge category, comparatively. However, there are other examples.
And Tintin – specifically The Adventures of Tintin: Cigars of the Pharaoh in Canada. (Interestingly the same 2007 Canadian survey lists Tango under the categories of homosexuality, anti-family, religious viewpoint & age inappropriate, but not anti-ethnic. Maybe next year?)
I’ve sent a query to the ALA OIF and will update when I hear back about the detials of the anti-ethnic allegation in general and as it pertains to penguins in particular.