Stack of books on table against bookshelves at a library

This New School Board President Chose To Do Her Swearing-in on a Stack of Banned Books

It’s a dark time for marginalized authors everywhere, as conservatives nationwide ramp up their book-banning and book-burning sprees. Luckily, some people are fighting back, such as this new school board president who taunted the far-right hate group Moms for Liberty by getting sworn in on a stack of banned books.

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As reported by The Pink News, Democrat Karen Smith recently won the Central Bucks County, Pennsylvania school board’s election, and is now president of the board. This move is pretty big. Conservatives have been waging war on the libraries of Central Bucks County to restrict books they find ideologically dangerous.

Book banning has been happening across the country. Books deemed to fall under the extremely large and flimsy umbrella of “sexual” material have been the primary target, as well as those centering marginalized experiences like Art Spiegelman’s Maus. This campaign is also funded by lawmakers who want to ban anti-fascist media and anything related to “critical race theory,” queer theory, and feminism. But this usually kicks off a Streisand effect, as sales of Maus shot up afterward.

Like many of us, Smith also seems to be troubled by these zealous right-wingers and their growing anti-book fervor. She chose to express her opposition to that movement starting on day one of her new job, opting to be sworn in not on a bible or other religious tome, but on a stack of books that conservatives have tried to ban. What a boss.

Smith explained her choice to the Philadelphia Inquirer, saying, “I’m not particularly religious. The Bible doesn’t hold significant meaning for me, and given everything that has occurred in the last couple of years, the banned books, they do mean something to me at this point.”

The moment itself went viral on social media, with hundreds of thousands of people viewing the photo of Smith’s swearing-in. While many people are applauding her badassery, Smith says she wasn’t trying to come off as a “baller,” telling the Philadelphia Inquirer, “I didn’t really think of it that way.”

Smith did, however, provide detailed reasons for the specific six books she chose to be sworn in on: Flamer, by Mike Curato, Night, by Elie Wiesel, The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison, Lily and Dunkin, by Donna Gephart, All Boys Aren’t Blue, by George M. Johnson, and Beyond Magenta, by Susan Kuklin. She cites targeted attacks on LGBTQ+ and BIPOC characters and authors, GOP censorship of stories of historical oppression, and the profound impact reported by readers of these stories as her motivation for choosing them.

(featured image: Kenishirotie/Getty Images)

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Michael Dawson
Michael Dawson (he/they) writes about media criticism, race studies, intersectional feminism, and left-wing politics. He has been working with digital media and writing about pop culture since 2014. He enjoys video games, movies, and TV, and often gets into playful arguments with friends over Shonen anime and RPGs. He has experience writing for The Mary Sue,, Bunny Ears, Static Media, and The Crimson White. His Twitter can be found here: