When Tennessee’s Chattanooga Public Library put a Black Lives Matter activist in charge of “decolonizing” the political science section of one of their branches, he was supposed to do it quietly. Instead, he held a White author book burning on Instagram. Now, he’s upset that he’s the one who got scorched. The library actually fired him for it. “I was treated as a token Black man, but as soon as I speak forcefully for Black people, they essentially tried to assassinate my character.”
A burning obsession
Cameron “C-Grimey” Williams, age 35, “started as a part-time library specialist at the downtown branch more than two years ago.” Since then, he’s been “helping to manage a computer room.”
He also conducts “outreach campaigns encouraging residents to take advantage of the resources.” He takes that job seriously. He posted a video “burning books he’d taken home authored by former President Trump and columnist Ann Coulter.”
The BLM activist was well prepared and observed safety rules. “In a video posted temporarily on Instagram on Tuesday, Williams appeared to burn copies of Coulter’s ‘How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must)’ and Trump’s ‘Crippled America’ in an outdoor fire, spraying each with lighter fluid. ‘FDT,’ a Trump protest song by YG and Nipsey Hussle, played in the background.”
Censoring the collection, he insists was part of his job but burning the books was his idea. He likes fire.
When he got arrested last year for blocking an emergency vehicle during a police brutality riot, he was also charged with “taking the Sheriff’s flag from the county jail and burning it at Miller Park.”
Decolonizing White thought from the public library was part of his job though. He claims he was chosen for the job in the first place because he is a Black activist. The library administrators keep their distance from those remarks by ignoring them.
History of activism
Williams claims he was “instructed to look for damaged, outdated or untruthful books.” Specifically, because of his “history of activism,” his branch manager “asked him to weed through the political science section.” He was told to “take down titles that contained misinformation or where views, attitudes, or information had changed.
Books more than 10 years old could also come off the shelves.” If he had done it quietly, all the liberals would be happy. Williams chose to go off the plantation. Burning them wasn’t part of the assignment but he’s not happy to get thrown under the bus.
“Time after time, we’ve used old books for art projects. Time after time, employees have been encouraged to take books. This is a BS rule that doesn’t exist. They’re just using it to persecute me.” Burning books is now an “art project.” Williams is stunned.
“This is not the precedent on how this stuff is handled. To be frank, it’s because I’m a community member that’s been speaking for the betterment of Black people for several years.” He thinks he’s getting the shaft. “I was treated as a token Black man, but as soon as I speak forcefully for Black people, they essentially tried to assassinate my character.”
Liberals running the library may agree with his choices for the books he started burning but they know better than to endorse censorship. They’re furious. Not because of what Williams did, but that he got caught. They admit that they “trained Williams in the “rigorous and thorough stand practice” for how to deal with the books, adding that the process for book removal is dependent on publication date, circulation date and physical condition.”
They say he went too far by taking anything he found offensive off the shelves. “personal feelings” should not have played a part in what books were retained by the library. “It’s our job to ensure that all walks of life have access to information without judgment or prejudice.”
Unlike the fact checkers who defend NPR, at least the library officials know that the censorship is the same no matter what form it takes. Decolonizing is exactly the same as a good old fashioned book burning.
“Whether these materials were actually destroyed in a fire or even if they were just removed, that does go against our policy. Because at the end of the day, we believe that censorship has no place in a library.” Someone needs to tell that to Associated Press Fact Checkers.