Sunday, 22 July, 2018

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Name Removed From Award Over Racism Concerns

Wikimedia Commons Laura Ingalls Wilder's name removed from book award over racism concerns
Diane Mills | 28 June, 2018, 09:16

"Even in her own lifetime Wilder apologized for her thoughtlessness and amended a line in Little House on the Prairie that said Kansas had 'no people, only Indians.' It now reads 'no settlers, only Indians'".

This decision was made in consideration of the fact that Wilder's legacy, as represented by her body of work, includes expressions of stereotypical attitudes inconsistent with ALSC's core values of inclusiveness, integrity and respect, and responsiveness. Most notably, the repeated injection of the racist adage, "The only good Indian is a dead Indian", has been sharply criticized. "Only Indians lived there", The Washington Post reported. Wilder was presented the first award in 1954, after which it was named for her and presented every five years between 1960 and 1980, every three years between 1980 and 2001, every two years between 2001 and 2015 and annually since then.

Now, after years of complaints, the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, says it voted Saturday to strip Wilder's name from the award.

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Despite the tremendous success of the semiautobiographical series, the Chicago-based American Library Association over the weekend chose to rescind Wilder's Medal for Excellence in Children's literature, a prestigious designation in the children's literary world.

A number of commentators disagreed with the change, with one, history and economics author Lori Ann LaRocco, saying Wilder "inspired me to be an author and to be fearless".

The cabin at the "Little House on the Prairie" site is a re-creation built in 1977. At the forefront of the argument is her handling of black and Native American characters, both in namecalling and characterization. In 1952, she apologized amid criticism for the opening sentences of "Little House on the Prairie", which state, "there were no people". Previously, the organization had noted the "anti-Native and anti-Black sentiments" in Wilder's writing. As the critic Ann Romines wrote, "Indians become a code for everything that seems to threaten the settled, white life she wants for her daughters". The ALSC, which is based in Chicago, said her work continues to be published and read but her "legacy is complex" and "not universally embraced". She wrote that they smelled of skunk, had hard, glittering eyes and came constantly to the little house demanding food and tobacco.

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