Texas parent wanted book by Burnt Hills author about former first lady banned from Texas schools

Heather Schwartz, author of Michelle Obama: Political Icon
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Heather Schwartz, author of Michelle Obama: Political Icon

BURNT HILLS — A Burnt Hills author is speaking out about a Texas parent who tried to ban her biography about Michelle Obama written for children.

According to NBC News, a parent in Katy, Texas, asked to have the biography “Michelle Obama: Political Icon,” banned at every grade level because the parent said it promoted reverse racism.

The book was written by Heather Schwartz.

The unnamed Texas parent said the book unfairly depicted former President Donald Trump as a bully and Obama’s reflections on race gave the impression that “if you sound like a white girl you should be ashamed of yourself,” according to published reports.

Other media said the parent’s effort was part of a push by conservative parents and school officials, “driving a new wave of book bans, ostensibly in an attempt to battle Critical Race Theory, which is not taught in K-12 schools.”

In an interview, Schwartz said the book, which was published last year, described the former first lady’s life from childhood until just after her husband served two terms as president, until 2016.

“It rose to the top of some of the headlines, I think, because it’s sort of outrageous,” Schwartz said of the effort to ban the book. “Because it’s not a controversial topic at all. It’s a nonfiction book about a real person, based on facts.”

The description of the book on amazon.com reads: “Growing up on Chicago’s South Side, Michelle LaVaughn Robinson loved school and her family. Driven by her parents’ passion for education and her own desire to succeed, she graduated first from Princeton and then Harvard Law School and landed a job at a prestigious law firm, where she met her soon-to-be husband, Barack Obama.”

Said Schwartz: “There’s really not much you can object to in a book like this — and then somebody found something to object to.”

Schwartz suggested that the parent “dug deep” in determining the book promoted reverse racism.

“It’s not about President Trump, who figures in very little, and it’s not at all anti-white,” said Schwartz, who’s white. “It happens to be about a Black public figure who is very influential — she’s probably an inspirational person to Black young people in particular.”

Schwartz said she was assigned the topic by her publisher as part of a series called Boss Lady Bios. Some of the series’ other subjects are “Kylie Jenner: Makeup Mogul,” “Malala Yousafzai: Heroic Education Activist,” and “Misty Copeland: Ballerina Principal.”

“The idea is to give readers different examples of successful women that they could see as role models — see themselves in, in some way,” said Schwartz, who’s served as a correspondent for The Daily Gazette, Albany Business Review and Saratogian, and has contributed to Times Union specialty publications. She’s written approximately 200 children’s books.

Schwartz said she doesn’t agree with banning books because it’s important to give kids information and let them see other perspectives and explore the world in a way that’s safe.

“They’re just reading. But at the same time, it feels like kind of an honor to be on a list of books that people want to ban because it means that the book had an impact and inspired feelings in someone, and it also draws attention to the book and the topic of Michelle Obama,” she said. “And I think that’s great because that means more kids will read about her and learn about her.”

Schwartz provided a list of resources on behalf of her publisher to help librarians and teachers fight censorship https://lernerbooks.blog/2021/11/be-prepared-censorship-resources.html.

Following are links to articles about the effort to ban Schwartz’s book.

Contact reporter Brian Lee at [email protected] or 518-419-9766.

Categories: News, Saratoga County

1 Comments
ChuckD February 3, 2022
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Thank you, MAGAts and Republicans, for wearing your racism on your lapels so we can all see where and who you are.