White Backlash Over Renaming Laura Ingalls Wilder Award Due to Racism

The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) has changed the “Laura Ingalls Wilder Award” to the “Children’s Literature Legacy Award.” As a result, accusations of whitewashing history, ignoring or erasing history and censorship have followed.

Laura Ingalls Wilder is best known for her book “Little House on the Prairie.” Wilder has been criticized for her treatment of American Indians in her writings. In the original version of her book, Wilder described one setting as a place where “there were no people. Only Indians lived there.”

And characters like “Ma” and “Pa” echoed that “the only good Indian is a dead Indian.”

The association said in a statement: “Perceptions matter, along with the very real pain associated with her works for some, and year after year ALSC gives the impression of upholding Wilder’s works through an award that bears her name.”

But the right-wing media and Twitter fans do not agree:

@TraciBohannon: Tree Shakers Genealogical Research loves and supports Laura Ingalls Wilder and all of her wonderful, historically accurate books. Never has there ever been a collection of books that give us such a clear glimpse into the lives our ancestors lived. #westandwithlauraingallswilder

“Wilder’s work is considered ‘controversial,’ because of how she speaks of her family’s fear of Native American attacks.” Daily Wire

“Denying an honor to such a superb chronicler of history as Wilder does more of a disservice to her fans and the practitioners of her legacy than it does a service to the people hurt by her characters’ words.” PJMedia

“To disappear someone, to disappear Laura Ingalls Wilder is lazy and un-American.” Breitbart

Harvard Professor James M. Noonan, who is white, recounts in a column about finding the racism in “Little House on the Prairie” when he read it to his own daughter:

“Because the stories are so colorful and told with the wide-eyed wonder of a child, it’s also easy to be blindsided by the racism … It’s how racism gets perpetuated That is, by children soaking up the prejudices of people they love, laid bare in unguarded moments.”

The vote to remove the author’s name on Saturday, after months of deliberation, was unanimous, and they’re now also investigating other authors whose namesake has been used on awards, like Dr. Seuss (Theodor S. Geisel) and several other authors, to determine “if there’s consistency between the legacy of the honoree-in-name, the purpose of the award, and ALSC’s core value.”

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