It’s impossible to put a price on what Tokuda-Hall may sacrifice from rejecting the deal with Scholastic, a trusted, powerhouse publisher in the children’s market that affords authors exposure. She feared that speaking publicly about the offer could harm her reputation and career.
“Children’s book authors — we’re fighting over nickels. It’s not exactly gangbusters, this industry,” she said. “So, when you’re presented with any opportunity to get your story, and particularly a story that you deeply believe in, in front of more eyes, it’s a huge opportunity.”
But she thinks kids and their families have the most to lose from situations like this.
“I think they’re losing the opportunity to talk about the truth, to learn the truth, to discuss it,” she said. “No substantive change for the better can be made without reconciliation with the truth.”
Since going public with her experience, the author says, she’s heard from other marginalized writers and people in the publishing industry — largely people of color and queer people, she says — who have also had to make difficult choices about their work and how its presented.
“My DMs have been absolutely full,” she said. “People sharing pretty horrific stories that they’re just too afraid to share in public.”
Some authors and others in the publishing world responded publicly in support of Tokuda-Hall.
“By refusing to let this story be situated in context of government oppression and enslavement of other marginalized groups, past and present, It makes it safe for them to say ‘historically, mistakes were made, but look at how successful Japanese American communities are now,’ ” literary agent DongWon Song tweeted. “This is white supremacy. This is how it operates.”
Author Martha Brockenbrough has collected close to 400 signatures on a letter to Scholastic calling on the publisher to feature Love in the Library without edits.