While browsing through the news today, I saw that a school board in Washington voted to remove the classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee from required reading. The novel touches on sensitive issues such as racism and injustice during the Jim Crow era in the south.
School Removes To Kill a Mockingbird
The novel was removed from required reading after complaints that it was racially insensitive. Parents, students, and teachers strongly opposed the novel at a board meeting. The superintendent of the school supported the move.
While the novel was not “banned,” it was essentially hidden from plain sight. Teachers can still assign the book but that is pretty pointless when parents of those teenagers will complain again.
What I found most shocking about this news was that it was in Washington, just outside of Seattle. If you don’t know United States geography, then all you need to know is Washington is one of the more liberal states. There has been a lot of slashing of novels about slavery or focus on racial tensions.
The critical race theory argument is a intellectual and social movement by scholars and activists who examine the correlation of race and law in the United States. They call out mainstream American liberal approaches to tackling racial justice.
If you have seen the news on the past couple of years, you know that race and racism is still a big issue in the United States. The conservative movement that has grown in the past couple of years has been an anti critical race theory movement. This movement focuses on removing books from schools that promote critical race theory.
Who gets to decide what book even falls under this category is a big issue in itself. Book banning and book burning seems to be something that never goes out of fashion.
In this case, it wasn’t because of the conservative movement. The language used in the novel offended my parents and students. Some people had issues with the “white savior” narrative of the novel. One anecdote from a student said that it led to bullying.
Like most people, I read this novel in school for the the first time. It became a favorite of mine and I was moved by the novel. I had a really cool English teacher and that made the discussions about the novel fun. Not everyone is going to have great experience but the novel reminds us what America used to be like and it was not pretty.
Now, I am not happy that my first favorite novel ever got banned for being “racially insensitive.” If you read the novel, then you that it tackled all the racial issues without crossing the line, And I know different people will perceive things differently but calling this book racially insensitive shows you did not really read the novel. We all side with Atticus and agree with his train of thought (Not trying to spoil for anyone who hasn’t read it yet.)
Now, hundreds of kids won’t be able to experience one of the best novels ever written. I fear that in a few decades, people will question whether slavery or the Jim Crow laws ever happened or that sundown towns were a real thing.
All across the United States, books are being banned in conservative-leaning states. But when a liberal state also starts banning books, then I fear the worst. Books open our eyes to things that happened before our time.
There is not much good news to take away from this. But a good novel finds its way to the people who need it the most. I will keep recommending To Kill a Mockingbird and keep on reading it. They may ban it but they can’t stop us from reading it.