The head of the century-old American Bookseller’s Association apologized profusely for accidentally including a cover graphic of conservative author Candace Owens’ bestselling book “Blackout” in a post on the group’s website promoting black authors.
CEO Allison Hill referred to Owens’ book as “racist” while saying it is akin to spreading “violence” in response to the July 7 post on the ABA’s website to promote black fiction writers.
She said that book the organization actually wanted to promote a teen romance collection book with the same title written by authors Dhonielle Clayton, Angie Thomas, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon.
Hill implored those angered by the inclusion of Owens’ title to forgive her, calling the error an “egregious, harmful” mistake that caused “violence and pain.”
“I am working with our team to determine the root cause as well as the steps ABA needs to take to be held accountable and to make changes,” Hill said. “It is the next actions I take and that the ABA team takes that are critical now.”
Continuing, Hill explained the number of steps the organization’s “Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee” is planning in order to ensure that members don’t see book covers by black Republicans and conservatives moving forward.
“The process to inform those steps will include listening to impacted members; conferring with members of ABA’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee; institutionalizing more of our diversity, equity, and inclusion work; revising our internal procedures and checks and balances; discussing with our team the impact of this violence on our members and our colleagues; changing the submission, vetting, and distribution process for the box mailing program; automating some of our online content to eliminate unconscious bias; reviewing all of our programs and communication; and more,” she wrote
“Though we know the harm these actions caused is obvious to those impacted and many others, we will also share resources that speak to why these acts are violent,” Hill added.
Hill also apologized in the same email for including a book by Abigail Shrier called, “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters,” in a retailer promotional mailer.
“An anti-trans book was included in our July mailing to members,” said the ABA in a statement. “This is a serious, violent incident that goes against ABA’s ends policies, values, and everything we believe and support. It is inexcusable.”
For her part, Shrier clapped back in an interview with the Daily Caller.
“No one was forced to read it or display it. But ABA’s groveling, performative, hyperbolic apology, in which they call their mailing of a book a ‘serious, violent incident’ displays their contempt for an open, liberal society tolerant of a diversity of viewpoints,” Shrier said. “That’s a tragically misguided position for a bookselling organization to take.”
Interestingly, the ABA, which was founded 121 years ago, claims to be an ardent defender of the First Amendment’s freedom of speech and expression provisions.
The group supports a similarly aligned group called The American Booksellers for Free Expression, an organization claiming as part of its mission to “promote and protect the free exchange of ideas, particularly those contained in books, by opposing restrictions on the freedom of speech; issuing statements on significant free expression controversies; participating in legal cases involving First Amendment rights; collaborating with other groups with an interest in free speech; and providing education about the importance of free expression to booksellers, other members of the book industry, politicians, the press and the public.”
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