Duluth school district to drop literary classics, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ so as not to offend readers. Education and racism in America.
In the latest chapter of American society in a desperate bid not to offend itself (code word- demarcate and divide), an eastern Minnesota school district has announced that it will be shelving two classic literary seminal books for fear of potentially offending students. Which is to wonder if the very act of shelving is more offensive than the thing one school district wishes to ‘protect’ us all from?
According to the the Star Tribune the Duluth school district deemed that seminal American classics ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ (as authored by Mark Twain) and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ (Lee Harper)– novels/books which explore the sensitive themes of entrenched racism in American society, will no longer be required reading in English classes next year on account of ‘offensive language’.
What offensive language you wonder? The n word. Or to be blunt, ‘nigg*’ – an often pejorative description to historically describe people of color in the USA, steeped in racist, discriminatory undertones and violence. Themes that Mark Twain and Harper Lee set out to explore and expunge in the first place!!
According to the school board, the specific reason offered to can the books as required reading comes as an effort not to offend, particularly people of color.
Which begets the question, isn’t it more offensive not to challenge where such pejorative expressions come from and the history leading up to such toxic themes and times, then and now- as opposed to sweeping such thought provocative American drama aside- for fear of being misinterpreted as a racist oneself? Or at the very least a conduit of racism?
But then again, isn’t it more detrimental and in the long run more racist to deny wider society consideration of difficult themes? Or is image more substantial than what actually takes place outside of school books in the real world?
Then again that might all depend what one means by the term education and whether one agrees with the notion that sometimes, often times, the best education involves grappling with troubling realities of what takes place day to day outside the classroom.
Michael Cary, the director of curriculum and instruction for Duluth School District, explains decision to remove ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ …https://t.co/IjpWqjtVkB
— Meritt ☕ (@merittandrews) February 8, 2018
In its report the the Star Tribune cites District Director of Curriculum and Instruction Michael Cary saying that the decision to scrap the books follows years of concerns shared by parents, students and community groups.
Explained Curry via Foxnews: ‘Based on years of feedback and the desire in building leadership, our hope is to no longer be putting our students in a position that they are being humiliated or marginalized racially in our schools.’
Adding, ‘The feedback that we’ve received is that it makes many students feel uncomfortable,’
‘Conversations about race are an important topic, and we want to make sure we address those conversations in a way that works well for all of our students.’
In a way that works well for all of our students? By removing the very thing that challenges and espouses wider, critical thinking and real time snap shot of what actually took place yesteryear and what takes place every single day outside (and inside) the school classroom window?
Isn’t it sometimes and often more wiser and realistic to show one’s children what takes place in society and by showing them such things, point out how such descriptions and realities have imperiled a cohesive society- as opposed to blocking it out and by osmosis only perpetuating such racial inequities?
Do you agree with the removal of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and ‘Huckleberry Finn’ from Duluth school district’s curriculum due to a racial slur? Post your comments below⬇ https://t.co/pEylLr3Uyg
— Kurt Vonnegut Museum (@VonnegutLibrary) February 8, 2018
Duluth school district following a national trend not to offend in identity politics?
The reason? Educators deemed Harper’s novel which deals with racial inequality in a small Alabama town as ‘too uncomfortable’.
Stephan Witherspoon, president of the NAACP’s Duluth chapter, said the move to remove Lee’s and Twain’s exposes was ‘long overdue’ (is it?) because the literature has ‘oppressive language.’ Instead, Witherspoon countered there are other novels with similar messages that can be used instead.
‘Our kids don’t need to read the ‘N’ word in school,’ Witherspoon said. ‘They deal with that every day out in the community and in their life. Racism still exists in a very big way.’
The district hasn’t yet determined what books will replace the classic novels.
In the interim, for those of who still have the courage to face what actually takes place in the real world, ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ will still be available for optional reading. At least for now….
This is exactly what #KatyISD is doing. Censorship via new selection policies. @KatyISDSupt and #Duluth this is still censorship. School district drops ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and ‘Huckleberry Finn’ over use of the n-word https://t.co/VY7vZFx7VB #bannedbooks #censorship @alaoif pic.twitter.com/OpDdoxe7ng
— Courtney Kincaid (@ckthelibrarian) February 8, 2018