Over in Virginia an angry mother started yelling about the books and To Kill a Mockingbird and Huck Finn. Both are now currently banned in the school district until further review. Excerpt from news article here;

A Virginia school has temporarily banned two American classics after a parent said her high school-age son was negatively impacted by the racial slurs they contain.
 



The decision to remove “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain and “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee came after a parent filed a complaint, WAVY reported. The parent cited excessive racial slurs as the reason for wanting the books banned, Superintendent Warren Holland told the news station.

 The parent, whose son is biracial, said that her concerns are “not even just a black and white thing.”
 
“I keep hearing, ‘This is a classic, This is a classic,’ … I understand this is a literature classic. But at some point, I feel that children will not — or do not — truly get the classic part — the literature part, which I’m not disputing,” she said at a Nov. 15 school board meeting. “This is great literature. But there (are so many) racial slurs in there and offensive wording that you can’t get past that.”
 
The parent said her son, who was reading “Huckleberry Finn” for a high school assignment, couldn’t get past a certain page in that story on which the N-word appeared seven times. 
 
A racial slur appears 219 times in “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and 48 times in “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
 
“So what are we teaching our children? We’re validating that these words are acceptable, and they are not acceptable by (any) means,” the parent said, also noting psychological effects language has on children. “There is other literature they can use.”

 

This of course is ridiculous. But much more common than people think, this happens regularly across the country. I wrote about  a case from a while back here (ok, that might be more of a love letter to One Hundred Years of Solitude…), but there are plenty similar cases in the past few decades.

 

One of the coolest things about being a tax payer whether or not you have children in the school district is that you get a say in what is taught in schools. But in order to do that you have to show up at school board meetings occasionally. This was one of the most passionate Presidential elections we have had as a nation. Everyone had strong opinions on it, but few have strong opinions on their local school board committee. Having stopped by a few school board meetings over the years I can attest to them being boring and frustrating. But if people who care about kids being exposed to all literature were showing up as well it’d be harder for these cases to get by. What happens is one self-righteously angry parent shows up and starts yelling, there is no one to push back against them so all the committee hears is one side.

 

It is nearly impossible to cause change at the Federal level, but it is easier to cause change at a local level. But to do so you have to be involved slightly at the local level. Maybe the school board isn’t what interests you; maybe it is chamber of commerce or city council in general.Maybe you can’t get to every single meeting, or maybe you can’t be overly involved, but you can be at least a little involved. Because if you’re not; this angry parent here in Virginia is involved and she will win.

 

A Virginia school has temporarily banned two American classics after a parent said her high school-age son was negatively impacted by the racial slurs they contain.

 

Well I certainly hope she doesn’t let him listen to rap music then.

 

We’re validating that these words are acceptable, and they are not acceptable by (any) means,” the parent said, also noting psychological effects language has on children

 

Having students read books with these words is not validating them even a little. If printed words in a book have such a deep psychological effect on a child then the parent has not raised them to be very strong and other children should not suffer for it.

 

“There is other literature they can use.”

 

No. Just no. There simply is not other literature that can be used to replace Huck Finn or To Kill a Mockingbird. I don’t even like To Kill a Mockingbird, but it is blasphemous to suggest that there is anything to replace either of those books.

 

I’m a reading teacher. I’ve worked in a few different school districts in the USA and abroad. I’ve also worked with various age levels. I hear about these complaints from parents on a semi-regular basis. It’s not shocking to me anymore. It’s frustrating, but not shocking. If you are upset about this and or shocked about it, maybe stop in a school board meeting sometime to see what people are up to.
Advertisements