Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Book banning is back, and it’s targeting Black folks

By Michael Arceneaux The Week

Book banning has returned to American schools. It’s targeting authors who deal with race, sexuality, and gender, and it’s moving with a fervency that should alarm not only anyone concerned about he plight of authors but ultimately anyone worried about how American history is taught, because this is an effort to erase some of us from sharing our stories. Hiding away these books will quiet diverse voices, diminish our education system, and sanitize American history for the comfort of white folks.

One of the latest victims of this trend, Toni Morrison, once argued about the dangers of book banning in response to past attempts to restrict access to Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, over its use of racial slurs. “The brilliance of Huckleberry Finn is [in] the argument it raises,” Morrison explained. Banning books, she continues, is a “purist and yet elementary kind of censorship designed to appease adults rather than educate children.”

Sadly, Morrison was not extended the same degree of thoughtfulness she applied to Twain by the Wentzville School Board, located in western St. Charles County, Missouri, last week. The board voted 4-3 to pull Morrison’s celebrated The Bluest Eye from the district’s high school libraries.

The Bluest Eye tells the story of a young Black girl, growing up during the Great Depression, who longs for blue eyes because she feels unattractive and oppressed due to her complexion. Morrison, who died in 2019 at the age of 88, said she wrote the book to highlight the psychological toll of racism. Yet, somehow, this is offensive material to the school board.

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