The president of the American Library Association (ALA) called the backlash to a tweet where she called herself a “Marxist lesbian,” regrettable in an interview with NBC News.
In July, Emily Dabranski’s tweet calling herself a “Marxist lesbian” in celebration of being elected ALA president resurfaced, causing the Montana State Library to vote to leave the association. Since then, GOP lawmakers have called on their state libraries to leave the ALA, a reaction that Dabranski “didn’t anticipate,” according to NBC News on Monday.
“I was excited to highlight and celebrate two aspects of my identity that are really important to me, and are often under a lot of scrutiny,” Drabinksi told the outlet. “I didn’t anticipate these kinds of targeted attacks being used as a bludgeon against library workers across the country. I really think that is regrettable, and I wish that wasn’t happening right now.”
Drabinski, a former City University of New York Graduate Center librarian, was elected president of the ALA’s 2022-2023 term in April 2022, according to The College Fix, an outlet that reports on higher education. Drabinski’s campaign for ALA president included several platforms such as “collective organizing for collective power,” implementing a “green new deal for libraries” and working towards “equity and justice central to global exchange,” according to the American Libraries magazine.
“I just cannot believe that a Marxist lesbian who believes that collective power is possible to build and can be wielded for a better world is president elect of [ALA],” Drabinski wrote in the now deleted tweet, according to the College Fix. “I am so excited for what we will do together. Solidarity. And my mom is so proud I love you mom.”
Since the tweet resurfaced, Republican legislators in Idaho, Illinois, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Louisiana have demanded that their state libraries leave the ALA over concerns of its “Marxist lesbian” leadership. On Thursday, executives from the State Freedom Caucus Network, the American Principles Project and the Association of Mature American Citizens Action penned a letter demanding that states separate themselves from the ALA.
“My own personal political viewpoint is a target right now, but my personal agenda doesn’t drive the association,” Dabranski told NBC News. “It’s the agenda of all of us together.”
I believe that we will win.
— Emily Drabinski (@edrabinski) July 21, 2023
The ALA provides access to professional development courses as well as “access to top-notch resources [and] tools” to its more than 50,000 members, according to its website. The World Library Association launched in competition with the ALA in July to back parents involved in legal battles over sexually explicit content within public and school libraries.
The association celebrated its efforts in April to defend pornographic books in schools, releasing a list of the most challenged content in an effort to recognize the “brave authors.” The ALA is also tracking anti-porn legislation, encouraging grassroots members to kill legislation that would prohibit librarians from distributing sexually explicit material to minors.
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