I have received a reply to my query about the “anti-ethnic” allegations against “And Tango Makes Three” (for background see previous post on the topic).
The ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom was kind enough to explain to me that the OIF compiles their reports based on both newspaper reports of book challenges and the forms people send in when an item is challenged. My understanding from the email is that the only info that can be made public from the forms (most is confidential) is: the state and type of institution in which the challenge was made, item title, and the categories of the challenge. Hopefully we can find out a little bit more about the specific challenge(s) in which “anti-ethnic” was selected as an objection to “Tango” (e.g. did someone just challenge in every category possible, or what).
Second, Angela from the OIF also gave me some more examples of books that have been challenged under “anti-ethnic” grounds, such as: The Good Earth, Little Black Sambo, The Summer of My German Soldier, Song of Solomon (which happens to be one of my favourite books of all time), Little House on the Prairie, and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. You might notice that all of those books, unlike “Tango” actually deal with ethnic and/or racialised portrayals of human beings. In my follow up query I have also asked whether she knows of any items other than “Tango” and “Maus” that have non-human characters and have been challenged as anti-ethnic.
Finally, I’ve gotten quite curious about the evolution of the ALA challenge report form. How did the categories develop/evolve? I understand that there is no guidance as to how to interpret the different challenge categories, but I am now quite curious as to how the form was made, revised, etc. I’ve asked the OIF, but I know they are quite busy at ALA central, so if anyone reading this has any scoop on the history of the report forms, please let me know.