Each year my employees have the opportunity to choose a charity that is meaningful to them and Tales of the Kitty makes a donation on their behalf. We’ll be highlighting each charity over the next few weeks. We’re starting off with Denise and the National Coalition Against Censorship.
The National Coalition Against Censorship promotes freedom of thought, inquiry and expression, and opposes censorship in all its forms. As a writer and teacher whose life work involves helping people to stop censoring themselves, Denise knows the importance of standing up for the right to ask questions and to express ourselves, whether other people like or approve of it or not.
Growing up in Pittsburgh, Denise saw her aunt send letters and care packages to their relatives behind the Iron Curtain in Poland. “Aunt Stella told us they might not get them because they’d be opened first by the authorities, in case we were trying to help them escape. She said people’s phones were tapped and neighbors ratted out neighbors for having ‘troubling’ views. This made a deep impact on me. I was anti-authoritarian before I knew what those words meant.
“Books helped me be even more curious and open minded in a time and place where we were all supposed to think one way and have ‘shared values’. Books showed me that other people talked about things I was told not to talk about and had feelings I wasn’t supposed to have. Books helped me see I wasn’t alone.”
Denise mentions some of the books that inspired her: The Bell Jar, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Go Ask Alice, The Lonely Doll and Bastard Out of Carolina. Books that ruffled the feathers of others. “Bastard Out of Carolina was banned by a school board in California for not having a happy ending,” she says.
“Freedom of speech and thought and the ability of each individual to be able to read and decide for themselves is vitally important to me. I’d rather face the truth than hide from it. I support the National Coalition Against Censorship because I want all voices to be heard whether or not I agree with them.”