Local Black Author Fights for Diversity at Wauwatosa Public Library

By Karen Stokes

Dr. Shon Lewis is the author of over 21 faith-based books for adults and children (Photo by Dr. Shon Lewis)

Dr. Shon Lewis has written over 21 religious books for adults and children. His question is why the Wauwatosa Public Library (WPL) is not accepting his children’s book.

Lewis, a professor at Doctor of Divinity Theology College, a professional life coach in crisis and trauma, says the WPL discriminates against African American children’s books and literature.

A discrimination complaint was filed by Lewis with the State of Wisconsin Division of Equal Rights.

A few years ago, Lewis met Robert Trunley, an adult librarian, who ordered three of Lewis’s adult books for the adult department without a formal selection process and without issue:

• “Weapons of Love”
• “The marvelous wig”
• “Weapons of the Mouth”

It was stated that the WPL had no problem and purchased the books without controversy or comment. The WPL found no awkward wording, subject matter, tense and tone in his works.

Her experience with her children’s book was very different. Lewis said she was abused by staff.

Coco’s Courage was the children’s book refused by the Wauwatosa Public Library (photo by Dr Shon

“A staff member said she would highly recommend an editor,” Lewis said.

The library also questioned the tone of the books. Which was said to be one of the reasons he was denied.

Lewis and her husband publicly complained to the Council that the WPL had turned down her book because of her race.

“I’ve had this issue with this library for over a year for a couple of my children’s books, ‘Coco’s Courage Meeting The Dentist’ and ‘Coco Braves The Dark,'” Lewis said in an email.

Lewis said there is no diversity in staff or board members at this library that concerns her.

After meeting with the Wauwatosa Public Library Board and raising the issue of lack of diversity and racial bias, the discrimination persists.

According to the most recent ACS, Wauwatosa’s population 48,387 and racial makeup is:

White: 84.30%
Black or African American: 5.70%
Two or more runs: 4.33%
Asian: 4.18%
Other race: 0.77%
Native American: 0.70%
Hawaiian or Pacific Islander: 0.02%

Lewis’ book “Cocos Courage” has been accepted into the Shorewood Public Library and can be found at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

A statement from the City of Wauwatosa communications officer, according to TMJ4, said, “We deny that the decision not to include her children’s book was racially motivated.”

“My purpose in sharing this story is to promote diversity in the Wauwatosa Library of African American, Latino, Asian, and other librarians and for the library board to fairly judge book selections and policy changes for fair public housing,” Lewis said.

To date, the problem is not resolved.

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