why is to kill a mockingbird a banned book
from eighth grade curriculums in Biloxi, Mississippi, is the latest in a long line of attempts to ban the
-winning novel by Harper Lee. Since its publication in 1960, the novel about a white lawyerÁs defense of a black man against a false rape charge by a white woman has become one of the most books in the U. S. According to James LaRue, director of American Library AssociationÁs, challenges to the book over the past century have usually cited the bookÁs strong language, discussion of sexuality and rape, and use of the n-word. ÁThe most current challenge to it is among the vaguest ones that IÁve ever heard,Á he says. The Biloxi School Board Ájust says it Ámakes people uncomfortable. Á Á LaRue finds this argument unconvincing, contending Áthe whole point to classics is they challenge the way we think about things. Á One of the earliest and most prominent challenges was in Hanover County, Virginia, in 1966. In that instance, the school board said it would remove the book from county schools, citing the bookÁs theme of rape and the charge that the novel was The board walked back its decision, however, after residents complained about it in letters to local papers. One of the most prominent critics of the decision was Lee herself, who wrote a letter to the editor of the Richmond News Leader. : ÁRecently I have received echoes down this way of the Hanover County School BoardÁs activities, and what IÁve heard makes me wonder if any of its members can read.
Á Into the 1970s and 1980s, school boards and parents to challenge the book for its ÁfilthyÁ or ÁtrashyÁ content and racial slurs. LaRue says that over time, attempts to ban the book shifted from removing it from school libraries, as was the case in Hanover, to removing the book from school curriculums, as is the case with Biloxi (the city will keep the book in school libraries). LaRue disagrees with the recent decision, arguing that the book, though imperfect, can spark important discussions among students about racial toleranceÁespecially in light of the increased targeting of libraries. á Over the last year, he says, there have been 36 reports of hate crimes in libraries. These incidences, he says, Átypically include vandalism. Someone is writing graffiti on a library wall, and very very often they are racial epithets and anti-Semitic comments. Á In at least two of the hate crimes, perpetrators threatened Muslim women who wear the hijab. ÁIn a couple of cases,Á he says, Áwe had people that destroyed the Quran and ripped it up and shoved it in toilets, that sort of thing. Á To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee. (Credit: Donald Uhrbrock/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images) Moving Beyond the Ban Discussion Many have denounced BiloxiÁs ban by citing, as LaRue does, the bookÁs message of racial tolerance. Still others have taken a slightly different approach. Writer Kristian Wilson argues that although the novel shouldnÁt be banned from schools, its use as a teaching tool should be reassessed.
ÁLee s is not the best book to teach white kids about racism, because it grounds its narrative in the experiences of a white narrator and presents her father as the white savior,Á. Atticus Finch, the father and lawyer at the center of the novel, received a lot of attention in 2015 when LeeÁs only other novel, was controversially publishedá several month beforeá her 2016 death, at age 89. In the book, seen as something of a follow-up to, the main character Scout is shocked to spy her father at a Ku Klux Klan meeting. Though many readers were dismayed, scholars have from a racial justice perspective, itÁs clear that AtticusÁ defense of Tom Robinson, the black man wrongly accused of rape, that he favors changing the status quo of segregation. And in fact, his sympathy for the KKK is already present in the first book. ÁWay back about nineteen-twenty there was a [local chapter of the] Klan, but it was a political organization more than anything,Á Atticus tells his children at one point. When asked if he is a radical, an implicit question about his commitment to civil rights, Atticus Áabout as radical as Cotton Tom HeflinÁÁa white supremacist senator and member of the KKK. Again, this doesnÁt mean that shouldnÁt be taught in schools. But it does suggest that teachers should encourage their students to think critically about Atticus, not just the men who oppose him.
A school district in Mississippi decided to remove from its curriculum because the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, which deals with issues of race and civil rights, made people uncomfortable. The Biloxi, Miss. district s decision to stop assigning last week has revived a debate of censorship across the country. School administrators and faculty have not specified with prompted them to remove To Kill a Mockingbird from the eighth grade reading list, Sun Herald reports. There were complaints about it, school board s Vice president Kenny Holloway Sun Herald. There is some language in the book that makes people uncomfortable, and we can teach the same lesson with other books. To Kill A Mockingbird has been one of the most consistently challenged or banned books since its release in 1960, according to the. A number of those instances were over Lee s. Holloway added the book would remain in the school library, but the eighth graders would study another book Mockingbird lesson plan. Biloxi superintendent Arthur McMillan said the school teaching materials may change periodically, according to obtained by the Sun Herald. The decision has been met with widespread backlash with many taking to Twitter to express their outrage. Arne Duncan, President Obama s former secretary of education, rallied support on Twitter for reading To Kill a Mockingbird. And Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse wrote on Twitter that students are tough enough to read a real book.
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