I thought that it was innocent enough. On my Facebook author page, I like to post inspirational items that promote books and writing. After all, reading is on the decline as a leisurely pastime in this country.
The photograph of a cute little African-American girl seated on a park bench reading, fit my criteria. Her broad smile echoed the joy of reading.
Little did I expect this image to create controversy. It did. From the moment I posted it, the negativity began.
I was apparently promoting a book title that people found offensive. What? Quite honestly, I didn’t notice the book the child was reading. On closer inspection, I saw that the cover was an image of a woman. Oops! You’d really need a magnifying glass to make out the face and title. I saw that people were offended because the book was Michelle Obama’s.
How dare I post a photograph if an African-American girl reading the memoir of the first African-American First Lady?
I was being political!
Okay, I admit that on my personal Facebook page, I AM political. After all, I take freedom of speech seriously as the right of a citizen. I do avoid politics on my author page … so I thought.
What I saw as an inspirational photograph was viewed as promoting a political agenda.
I’m far from being a best-selling author, and had to remove the post, lest I be bombarded with more negative and possibly threatening commentary.
Are we to return to the days where we must hide book jackets, as to not offend anyone? Must we read electronic books to mask our reading material from a sensitive public? Will books be banned because they don’t meet a specific agenda, or because they offend someone?
An innocent picture sparked controversy. I saw a little girl joyfully reading. I now see much more. An adorable African-American girl was reading a book that offered her hope for the future. That IS innocent.
From the divisive hate in this country, as an adult, I am losing hope.
Innocence is lost.