Representation matters. It matters in a civil society. It matters in our own nation. It matters around the globe. Representation matters in all its forms–formal and informal. It matters in legislation. It matters in popular culture. It matters in how we exist as a civil society. And it matters in the books that we read and the movies that we see. People, all people, deserve to see themselves represented as a part of the human patchwork.
If we choose to deny representation to other humans in books and film, if we choose to negate their existence in our society, we cannot deem ourselves to be either civil or inclusive. Banning books does just this. It solidifies the world view of a few at the sacrifice of the many by denying people’s right to exist and thrive. By removing their stories and experiences, we tell them loudly and clearly that they simply do not matter and that some people deserve representation and some do not. In short, we negate other humans because they do not fit with the world view that we want to hold. And that is not okay.
Representation has been a part of the American mythos since before we were a nation. The Declaration of Independence cites “Taxation without representation” as a leading cause of the rift with England. Our Founding Fathers included the issue of representation in the US Constitution–who has representation, who gets representation, and how much representation people get. People have fought for representation in our society and by our government. We have fought for the right to vote, the right to be recognized as a citizen and the right to marry whom we choose.
Banning books and relegating stories to the dumpster is unacceptable and should be found so by everyone. A civil and open society embraces all people and gives each and every one of them the representation and voice that they deserve.