To Kill a Mockingbird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are arguably two of the most important books in American history. But children in some Virginia schools may never get to read them after Accomack County made the controversial decision to suspend the books from the curriculum after a parent complained about the use of racial slurs.
The two books have been temporarily suspended, pending a decision on whether to make the suspension permanent, after the mother of a biracial teenager complained about the frequent use of the N-word in both titles.
The woman told the school board that the language made it difficult for her son to read the book:
“There’s so much racial slurs and defensive wording in there that you can’t get past that. Right now, we are a nation divided as it is.”
Of course, both books are products of their time but have been hailed by academics as excellent commentaries on the country’s race relations. The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) slammed the board’s decision to suspend the books, writing:
“By avoiding discussion of controversial issues such as racism, schools do a great disservice to their students.”
“Each book enables readers to gain a historical understanding of race relations in America and invites them to examine race in the present day. Although discomforting to some, the racial slurs realistically depict American history and should be addressed under the guidance of a teacher.”
Unfortunately, this kind of attempt isn’t exactly rare. In November, a Tennessee mother attempted to get history books discussing Islam banned claiming that they were “indoctrination” and “promoted Islamic propaganda.” And in Washington, a group of parents attempted to ban Where the Wild Things Are and several other children’s classics from being read out in nurseries as it was “potentially frightening.”
What makes this case particularly frightening is the decision to suspend the book even though a final decision is yet to be made
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