A parent in Virginia has concerns about schools assigning The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird. As a result, both books are now temporarily banned from use in the classroom until some kind of hearing can take place. The rationale behind her concerns is that the N-word is used quite a bit in both, which leaves students focusing on its repeated use rather than on the book. I couldn’t disagree more.
I, like just about all of you, have read both books. And though I absolutely have a problem with the language and offer no justification during any time period for its use, I can’t help but scratch my head. Why? I actually found a quote from the parent in which she backs her argument about how divided the country is. To me, it sounds like her concerns about the language are just a front for her political motivation.
I’m curious as to whether she thinks books written in the 19th and 20th centuries and taught to teens in school actually contribute to that division she speaks of. I’m curious as to whether she believes highly educated teachers are incapable of teaching books such as these two because of the language within each of them. I’m curious as to whether she would rather kids be taught books written in the 21st century with absolutely no historical element. And I’m curious as to whether she utilized her ability to opt out of the assignment of particular books in school. Because I know schools and teachers always make it 100% clear BEFORE an assigned book is started that parents can choose to have their son or daughter read something else if they have a problem with a title.
But doing this and causing these two books to be banned from classroom use does nothing positive for anyone. I’m sitting here thinking about what my reaction to some of the events in To Kill a Mockingbird would have been had I read the book in class.
A question I’d have wanted to discuss is what I thought would have happened at the jail had Scout and Jem not showed up alongside Atticus. Because we all know what that mob group intended to do. And we all know why they intended to do it. That discussion taking place amongst friends and a highly educated teacher who has likely read and studied the book several times is where I want it to take place. Because parents don’t always know what to say about certain things.
As you can see, I have strong feelings about any book being banned for any reason. But this parent’s argument simply doesn’t hold up under the weight of its own words.