You recall the recent bananas attack-poodle non-apology strategy employed by the children’s literature journal VOYA, after the publication ran a review that many critics, authors, readers and librarians found offensive? (Catch up here.) Well, today on Twitter, author and unofficial SorryWatch Senior Children’s Literature Journal Apology Correspondent Saundra Mitchell shared a similar offense committed by School Library Journal (a far more influential publication than VOYA)…with a very, very different outcome.
The offense: This review of Tim Tharp’s 2013 book Mojo.
The problems: Same as with VOYA’s review of Run: The mere existence of LGBT characters in a book does not warrant a content warning. The review equates “lesbian characters” with “alcohol and drug use,” “swearing,” and “strippers.” Surely one can see that one of these things is not like the others. It is a false equivalence, and also super-duper-dismaying. In most schools and communities, LGBT kids already feel plenty marginalized. Telling them they inherently belong with foul-mouthed meth-addled drug fiends on the pole is not kind, or accurate.
THAT IS A GOOD APOLOGY (even though it does not actually use the terms “sorry” or “apologize,” which would have made it a PERFECT apology).
Why is this a good apology? Because it acknowledged and named the mistake (“nothing that ever ‘warns’ or cautions against a character’s sexuality or gender should serve as a means of limiting readership”), took ownership, demonstrated awareness of WHY what SLJ did was wrong (something that VOYA, in all its stillborn semi-apologies, never did), took action (“we are issuing a correction of this review”) and is working to ensure that similar offenses don’t occur again (“a recent 8-week course for our reviewers on diversity and cultural literacy” and “overhauling our written guidelines for reviewers”).
Well done, Kiera Parrott and SLJ.
Read it, learn it, love it, VOYA.
And thank you, Saundra Mitchell, for permission to link. Follow Saundra on Twitter unless you are a crazy troll person.