Florida Is Banning Children's Books That Merely Mention Racism
Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Florida Is Banning Children's Books That Merely Mention Racism

A children's book based on the life of late baseball icon and humanitarian Roberto Clemente is the latest to be shunned from classrooms

A picture book titled Roberto Clemente: The Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates was removed from schools in Jacksonville, Florida, because it mentioned that he once faced racism. That's where we are with the battle to censor the atrocities of American history from being taught in classrooms.

The entire passage of the children's book where the heinous mention occurs is here—boldface mine, because it's easy to miss:

  • “On an island called Puerto Rico, there lived a little boy who wanted only to play baseball. Although he had no money, Roberto Clemente practiced and practiced until — eventually — he made it to the Major Leagues. As a right-fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates, he fought tough opponents — and even tougher racism — but with his unreal catches and swift feet, he earned his nickname, 'The Great One.'”

Clemente died on New Year’s Eve in 1972, when a cargo plane that was carrying earthquake-relief supplies to Nicaragua crashed. The star athlete had personally arranged for the supplies, purchasing many of them. The aforementioned book based on his life was removed from curriculums to ensure compliance with the Stop Woke Act heralded by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“Each school district is tasked with ensuring that the materials offered in school libraries and classrooms offer educational value and comply with Florida law, said Bryan Griffin," DeSantis' spokesman.

Those old enough to remember Clemente on the field knew him to be a star. Those who benefited from his regular off-season acts of humanitarianism knew him to be a hero. His legacy is one to be promoted, not removed. The Duval County library system says the removal is possibly temporary and in an abundance of caution; Florida teachers could face third-degree felony charges for sharing improper material.

“I feel very bad for the children in these counties that they’re victims of this nonsense," said Jonah Winter, author of Roberto Clemente: The Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates, in response to his book being banned. He called the censorship a game of "political football" played by politicians who only want to score "political points."

"[Children are] being deprived of the opportunities to read certain books that would have important information in them," he continued.

Roberto Clemente: The Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates is one of 176 pulled by Duval County Schools within the past year, alongside Henry Aaron’s Dream by Matt Tavares and Barbed Wire Baseball: How One Man Brought Hope to the Japanese Internment Camps of WWII by Marissa Moss and Yuko Shimizu. Who knew all this time that baseball was woke?

DeSantis desires to be president in 2024. He intends to get there by exhorting social issues that appeal to his base. Heaven forbid children get anything other than a whitewashed version of American history. I recently watched 42, the story of how Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball. DeSantis would have that story told without mentioning racism; good luck with that. Perhaps Netflix should bring back Fahrenheit 451, which is based on the Ray Bradbury book about burning books and the temperature they burn at. It somehow seems timely and relevant.

This post originally appeared on Medium and is edited and republished with author's permission. Read more of William Spivey's work on Medium. And if you dig his words, buy the man a coffee.

More From LEVEL: