By Karen Stokes
Dr. Shon Lewis has written over 21 faith-based books for adults and children. Her question is, why isn’t Wauwatosa Public Library (WPL) accepting her children’s book.
Lewis, a Doctor of Divinity Theology College Professor, Crisis and Trauma Professional Life Coach states that the WPL discriminates against African American Children’s books and literature.
A discrimination complaint was filed by Lewis with the state of Wisconsin Equal Rights Division.
A few years ago, Lewis met with Robert Trunley, Adult Librarian, who ordered three of Lewis’ adult books for the adult department without a formal selection process and without issue:
• “The Weapons of Love”
• “The Wonder Wig”
• “The Weapons of the Mouth”
It was stated that the WPL had no problem and purchased the books without controversy or comment. The WPL did not find in her works any awkward wording, subject matter and tense and tone.
Her experience with her children’s book was much different. Lewis said she was mistreated by the staff.
“A staff member said that she would strongly recommend an editor,” Lewis said.
The library also questioned the books’ tone. Which was said to be one of the reasons it was denied.
Lewis and her husband publicly complained to the Board that the WPL refused her book because of her race.
“I have been experiencing this issue with this library for over a year for a few of my children’s books, “Coco’s Courage Meeting The Dentist,” and “Coco Braves The Dark,” said Lewis in an email.
Lewis said that there is no diversity on the staff or Board members at this library which concerns her.
After meeting with Wauwatosa Public Library Board and raising the issue of lack of diversity and racial bias, the discrimination is still happening.
According to the most recent ACS, the population of Wauwatosa 48,387 and the racial composition is:
Black or African American: 5.70%
Two or more races: 4.33%
Other race: 0.77%
Native American: 0.70%
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander: 0.02%
Lewis’ book ‘Cocos Courage’ has been accepted at Shorewood Public Library and can be found at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.
A statement from the city of Wauwatosa communication manager, per TMJ4, said, “We deny that the decision not to include her children’s book was racially motivated.”
“My purpose of sharing this story is to promote Diversity in Wauwatosa Library of African Americans, Latino, Asian and other races of librarians and for the Library board to judge book selections fairly and policy changes for fair Public accommodations,” Lewis said.
As of this date, the issue has not been resolved.