Constance Wu, Margaret Cho, Padma Lakshmi among celebs denouncing book ban in open letter

Constance Wu, Margaret Cho, Padma Lakshmi among celebs denouncing book ban in open letter
CAPE (Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment), Peacock, Good Morning America
Bryan Ke
By Bryan Ke
September 20, 2023
Several celebrities of Asian descent have signed an open letter to condemn the widespread book bans across school districts in the United States.
Key details: The effort, a partnership between “Reading Rainbow” host LeVar Burton and MoveOn Political Action, was launched to coincide with National Banned Books Month, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The effort was also launched nearly two weeks before the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week, which starts on Oct. 1.
“Far-right politicians like Ron DeSantis are championing draconian laws to ban books and the teaching of accurate multicultural American history in favor of upholding a homophobic, transphobic, and white supremacist vision of our nation,” the campaign’s webpage states.
Over 150 artists, writers, activists, organizations and more have signed the open letter, which claims that the book bans are “antithetical to free speech and expression” and have “a chilling effect on the broader creative field.”
Who signed it: Some big names who have signed the open letter include Constance Wu, Margaret Cho, Padma Lakshmi, poet Fatimah Asghar, archivist Sunny Singh and Kamala Harris niece, Meena Harris.
Other signatories include Ariana Grande, Mark Ruffalo, Chelsea Handler, John Leguizamo, Roxane Gay, Gabrielle Union, Sarah Paulson, Ron Perlman and Zooey Deschanel, to name a few.
What they are saying: MoveOn Executive Director Rahna Epting said in a recent statement that there is a “growing consensus among the majority of Americans that book bans take our country backward.”
Burton, the executive producer of the 2023 documentary “The Right to Read,” said the effort to ban books “in this country, in this culture, in this day and age” is “embarrassing,” adding that it is “dangerous” that just a few people are “deciding that any book with Black and queer people is divisive.”
Banning books: PEN America reported in September 2022 that over 2,532 individual books were banned across several school districts in the country between July 2021 and June 2022. The books that were banned featured subject matter such as LGBTQ+ themes, protagonists or prominent secondary characters (41%); protagonists or prominent secondary characters of color (40%); sexual content (22%); titles with issues of race and racism (21%); titles  with themes of rights and activism (10%); biography, autobiography, or memoir (9%); and stories with religious minorities (4%).

 
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