A Caucasian mom with a child in the Fairfax Country, Virginia school system has spent half a year trying to get a violent, disturbing book pulled from the school’s reading curriculum – but it may actually be all the minorities that are bothering her, not necessarily the violence.
When parents get upset over the books that their elementary school kids are reading in class, we can understand them being upset if some of the literature had some questionable content. After all, every parent raises their child differently and sometimes they don’t want the school to be the one responsible to exposing them to violence and sex.
We get that.
What we don’t get is when the hypothetical elementary school children are actually teenagers in high school who are taking an AP class which is supposed to prepare them for college level courses.
What we also don’t get, is when the questionable content is only questionable when it’s a minority author telling the true stories of historic events that just happened to be pretty violent.
Racialicious.com shed some light on the situation as they revealed Laura Murphy had dedicated six longs months to trying to get Toni Morrison’s Beloved yanked out of her 18-year-old’s classroom because it gave him nightmares.
Apparently, this isn’t even the first time she’s found an issue with a book such as Beloved. This incident only came after she also fought to get Joy Kogawa’s Obasan pulled from the schools curriculum as well.
In case you haven’t heard of either of these works, realize that Beloved tells the tragic story of “a mother who would rather kill her children than be forced to have them grow up as slaves.”
Morrison does indeed go into explicit details about the violence and even adults find the book difficult to read so perhaps we would have been able to be on her side if she hadn’t also become so irate over Obasan – which tells of the “Canadian government’s internment of Japanese-Canadians during World War II.”
While the events that Obasan recalls are horrifying, the literature itself isn’t unusually tragic compared to a lot of the other literature that still finds its way into the classroom.
As Racialicious mentioned, Hamlet and Lord of the Flies weren’t exactly happy-go-lucky books either, but there is much less fuss about those violent stories than there are the novels with minority authors – and those novels don’t even educate children about true events.
Shielding children from senseless violence is one thing, but at what point do we look at parents like this and say, “Hey, this really happened. Life wasn’t always the way it is now and children need to learn about what really happened.”
Let’s face it, some kids make it all the way to college before they are taught that Christopher Columbus was actually an incompetent, serial rapist and not some heroic pioneer who single handedly founded America.
Murphy swore that she had no problem with her child learning the truth about historical events including slavery and even the Holocaust, but that these two works simply crossed the line.
The sad truth is, these two books were shockingly accurate depictions of a troubling history.
Is there really a way to truly educate someone about slavery and not include the violence that African Americans were forced to endure? And the Holocaust? Is there a happy way to write a novel about ethnic cleansing?
When it comes down to it, it seems like even violence has a color for some people. White violence is perfectly okay, but how dare we show children the way minorities suffered throughout the years. Makes perfect sense right?
It’s about time parents realized that you can’t keep your child shielded from the truth forever because it will only give them a distorted view of the world they live in.
With these novels and many others falling under scrutiny in the school systems, we need to stop trying to sugar coat the truth and hiding from our history.