Red Wine and Blue Looks to Reappropriate the Term ‘Parental Rights’ and Fight Book Bans

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Conservatives have been strategic in their push to ban books. The need to hide information and knowledge from students is critical in their quest for power. And with these non-stop attacks on education, it often feels like the right wing has out-strategized us. As harmful as they can be in terms of human rights, they are smart in terms of messaging and playing the long game. But from the left’s perspective, one group is fighting back and choosing to build their own strategy. Red Wine & Blue is a left-of-center advocacy group that was founded in 2019. RWB began in Ohio and now has multiple local chapters across the country. I know in my area of Charlotte, NC, they have a very active group. RWB focuses on activating suburban women, a subgroup that is critical in elections and helped Joe Biden win in 2020.

RWB focuses on different key issues, including reproductive justice, fighting book bans, and addressing the culture wars currently dominating school board meetings across the country. They helped get a referendum on the ballot in Michigan to give state-level access to abortion, collecting well over the 425,000 signatures required. Here in North Carolina, they have worked with groups like Indivisible, as well as local campaigns with their get-out-the-vote efforts. While they do have in-person meetings over (of course) a glass of wine, they have also built a sizable online presence. For a group that isn’t composed of mostly Gen-Z or even millennials, they have smartly utilized the digital sphere to get their message out. They have expanded on Facebook and Twitter/X and even have a podcast. They have a whole section on their website dedicated to fighting book bans which is actually very well done.

Their official page labels them “Book Ban Busters” which I think is kind of neat! It makes them sound like superheroes. And let’s be honest, they have to be to do this kind of work. They talk about how extremists are trying to attack education, in some instances even banning books about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks. They state what I think could be a good tagline, saying “Suburban women aren’t having it.” A unique thing they are doing is sending ‘Banned Bookmobile’ kits out! This is a part of their new initiative called “Freedom to Parent 21st Century Kids”.

This name is brilliant because they are reclaiming a word that Conservatives love to abuse, “freedom.” The banned bookmobile kits contain: 20 banned or challenged books, bookmarks and stickers, a banned bookmobile sign, and information that can be handed out. On their site, you can also join the banned book club, buy a banned book, or host a read-in. They provide training and video content where they talk with authors who have had their books banned. From my perspective, they are doing quite a good job and countering the “anti-woke” agenda.  

Essentially, they are seeking to reappropriate the term “parental rights,” which I think is important. Zoe Bee made a great video explainer about what parental rights really mean in the scope of our political and educational landscape. She says that traditional parental rights groups emphasize transparency, which is important. But that transparency often leads to right-wing parents targeting books, teachers, and lesson plans they disagree with. These include topics like LGBTQ+ issues, racism, critical race theory, and sex education.

Bee brings up an interesting book called Keeping The Kids All Right by Barak Lurie. It seeks to teach parents how to indoctrinate their kids and protect against the left-wing agenda, without homeschooling! He even gives sample dialogues where they use personal attacks and of course, the kid always agrees with the parent. Lurie only accepts and approves of his kids BECAUSE they agree. Other opinions are not tolerated. So again, this is about control. These advocates don’t actually care what their child wants, it really is just about what the parents want. That may be fine on an individual level, but they want this kind of control over everyone else’s kids as well. Because … freedom?  

Bee’s video also addresses the extremist talking point that compares children to property. Senator Rand Paul claimed that parents owned their children just a few years ago. Own? Yikes. A PragerU member said that parents must “act accordingly” when school boards say parents DON’T own their children. How dare they treat children as people! For reference, PragerU is that horrible organization that is infiltrating school curriculums with insane themes and stories. She states that the level of control this movement believes in is actually dehumanizing. But we see this same kind of control all over conservative politics. These extremists are afraid that their children will be exposed to new viewpoints that will expand their worldview, so they won’t be as closed-minded and ignorant as their parents.

So if a group like Red Wine & Blue can rebrand “parental rights,” I think it will be helpful for our own movement. We cannot continue to let the right hijack terms like freedom and phrases like parental rights. I support this organization and think we need to support them! 

To learn more about who they are, what they do, and how you can be involved, CLICK HERE.

(featured image: screenshot/Red Wine and Blue)

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