Covers and Contents

veritas curat
4 min readMar 17, 2022


I needed to write an essay about ducks and, therefore, I figured I’d go to the local library and check out some books. When I arrived at the building I saw, on a large sign, these words:

“We have changed! For the better! Check out our New Progressive Catalogue!”

Going inside, I was greeted by an impressive new arrangement of books. There were shelves of books featured at the front that all had black covers and next to them books with brown and red and yellow covers and wayyyy in the back were shelves of books with white covers. “Interesting” I thought, “I wonder how they were able to catalogue the contents of those books.”

“Hello. I’d like to find some books on ducks, could you help me?”

“Sir, did you not see our sign about the New Progressive Catalogue?”

“Yes, I did. But I’m interested in finding some books about ducks.”

“Well, sir we no longer catalogue according to contents; it is the color of the covers that matters. As you can see we are featuring our covers of color prominently at the front and, if you must, the white covers have been moved to the back.”

“But how will I find books on ducks?”

“Well, sir, I hope you will choose from our covers of color to find what you are looking for.”

“But, I’m not interested in the color of the covers, I’m interested in what is inside the books.”

She rolled her eyes,

“Oh please, we’ve all heard that before.”

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“You claim the color of the cover doesn’t matter to you, but you and your kind have been marginalizing covers of color in favor of those with white covers for hundreds of year. It’s time that changed. Get used to it.”

“OK. Fine. You have a point. It is true that in the past books with white covers were preferred over others. However, even so, what was in the books mattered very much more than the covers. It was only mean-spirited shallow individuals who obsessed about book covers while ignoring the content. Even in those times, however, books tended to be catalogued according to subject matter, even if the preferred covers were all white. That is how libraries have always worked. Or so I thought.”

“You need to update your thinking; cataloguing according to content is one of the cornerstones of white cover supremacy. It is now imperative that we dismantle oppressive ways of thinking and give those books with covers of color the centering they deserve. We now have a new diverse catalogue that features many more colors of cover. That is how we choose our books now. White cover oppression is a thing of the past. Get used to it.”

“But diversity in the color of book covers is meaningless. It is the content that matters.”

“Fine sir; go on and take your fragility back to the white cover section. You can see it, way back there in the back. I’m through with you and your bigotry.”

“But, but…don’t you know the old saying ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover?’”

“Yeah, well you people have been judging covers of color for hundreds of years, it’s time now for the white covers to step back and know their place.”

“I see. So diversity means colors of the cover, not viewpoints contained between the covers. Can’t you see that if you have a shelf of books with the same content but with different color covers then you have a superficial kind of diversity that really doesn’t help anyone.”

“Look. Here’s a brochure about some workshops that might enable you to overcome your bias and start choosing covers of color over your old prejudicial judgment of preferring white covers. Be better! Do the work!”

So, after several hours of tedious and painstaking searching through books catalogued according to cover color, I managed to find several books about ducks. I brought them back to the counter and got out my library card.

“I see you have 6 white cover books and only 2 covers of color. I hope you realize how your privilege is showing in your choice of books. I would hope that when you cite the source for your essay you have a more equitable distribution of books. I think you should go back and look through the covers of color. Otherwise, I can’t be responsible for the negative reception your essay could receive.”

“Look, I have been here far, far longer than I anticipated trying to deal with your ridiculous cataloguing system and I am not about to go back and spend more time sorting though your absurd and useless arrangement!”

“I am offended sir! I am offended at the harmful, hurtful way you are speaking to me! I will not assist someone so steeped in white cover supremacy! Put those books down and leave immediately, or I will call security!”

Soon, there was a group of people nearing us, looking at me and shaking their heads. Amid them were a couple of library accountability assistants who approached me menacingly. I looked around, realized that this was an absurd situation and nothing of any constructive value could be salvaged. I put the books down and walked out the door as the group around the librarian sympathetically listened to her tale of woe, shaking their heads at my hurtful treatment of her. One of the patrons around her hurried out the door after me and angrily thrust the brochure about inclusivity workshops into my hand.

“Do better!” They yelled at me. “Do your work!”



veritas curat

seeking to walk lightly upon the earth in a sacred and humble manner