“To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Huckleberry Finn” removed from school district reading list over concerns of racism

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    • #378747
      jerry611
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      • Total Posts: 1,184

      BURBANK, Calif. — The iconic novel “To Kill A Mockingbird” is among five books on race that have been temporarily removed from the required reading list in the Burbank Unified School District after complaints from parents.

      Among many issues, several of the books include the “N” word.

      Carmenita Helligar raised a red flag when her daughter, the only Black student in her class, was confronted and berated by another student after studying one book.

      “The boy said, ‘I now know how to count you. And he started saying, ‘One, ‘N-word,’ two ‘N-word,’ three ‘N-word,’ just to make her feel bad,” said Helligar, who is a member of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee.

      The district says the five books are still available in schools, but they are not on the list of core books that all students must read.

      Also removed from the list: Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn,” John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men,” Theodore Taylor’s “The Cay,” and Mildred D. Taylor’s “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.”

      Protests have been raised by the National Coalition Against Censorship, a freedom of speech organization called PEN America, and students themselves.

      https://abc7news.com/to-kill-a-mockingbird-ban-book-bank-burbank-unified-school-district-books-on-race/7988800/

      Maybe instead of banning books we need better teachers and parents?

    • #378748
      Hobbit709
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 2,170

      Canada and Mexico.

      I don't waste my time teaching pigs to sing.

    • #378753
      Cold Mountain Trail
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 10,664

      Not the first time any of those books have been removed from school libraries or reading lists.

      • #378904
        Ohio Barbarian
        Moderator
        • Total Posts: 18,651

        Both books put the evils of racism on full display, and the Powers That Be didn’t like that. I remember protests at my Texas high school when my English class had To Kill a Mockingbird as required reading. My dad went to the PTA meeting and let the racists have it with both barrels. I was so proud of him that night.

        Then it was the right wing racists who didn’t want kids reading those books. Now it’s virtue-signaling liberals, who have proven themselves just as contemptible as their erstwhile adversaries by calling for censorship.

        It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.--Eugene Debs

        Show me a man that gets rich by being a politician, and I'll show you a crook.--Harry Truman

    • #378778
      NV Wino
      Moderator
      • Total Posts: 6,465

      And I don’t mean the black student.

      “As we act, let us not become the evil that we deplore.” Barbara Lee
      “Politicians and pro athletes: The only people who still get paid when they lose.” William Rivers Pitt

    • #378788
      GZeusH
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 3,295

      and students will soon be as well-read as Trump.

    • #378806
      Babel 17
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 4,157
    • #378819
      ArtfromArk
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 1,179

      Nothing stimulates a teen’s curiosity in a book more than telling them that it’s banned!

      “There’s a new spirit abroad in the land. The old days of ‘grab and greed’ are on their way out. We’re beginning to think of what we owe the other fellow, not just what we’re compelled to give him. The time’s coming… when we shan’t be able to fill our bellies in comfort while others go hungry, sleep in warm beds while others shiver in the cold.... And God willing, we’ll live to see that day…” Basil Rathbone,"Sherlock Holmes Faces Death" (Universal 1943)

    • #378834
      eridani
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 7,455

      eom

      Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction

    • #378875
      Red Cloud
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 1,527

      an obvious dig at liberals who didn’t pitch in when the fast bullets started to fly.

      Pulled by ain’t got no time to think past a few seconds crowd.

    • #378895
      Fasttense
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 1,450

      But in a more advanced class, it should be taught as a display of our historical attitudes and mores.

      When I read all those Victorian novels with their run on sentences and obvious abuse of women in advanced high school literature classes, no one said kids shouldn’t be exposed to the abuse of women. The Gothic novels alone would be enough to scare off any little girl from marriage and men. And all those women who dared have sex outside of marriage dying and committing suicide while the abusers go off happily ever after was enough for me to realize how women were the punching bags of Victorian attitudes.

      But I’m glad I got that sneak peek into Victorian norms. If you read them carefully, there is a ton of hidden physical abuse. I was dumb founded when I read “Wuthering Heights”. It is filled with beatings and abuse. And to think those women had to depend on these same abusive men just to eat. They sure prettied it up when they made the movie.

    • #378959
      Robot X
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 484

      Sorry, these books are way past their sell date as required reading in high school. The novelization of racist characters repeatedly using the n-word in casual conversations is offensive and unnecessary. Would you want your Black child the only Black kid in class hearing their White counterparts reading selections aloud from this book in class? White savior fiction novels may be popular with White liberals but required reading should be historically accurate and prioritize Black authors and the perspective of the oppressed.

      Slavery was the state sanctioned systemic kidnap, rape, and torture of men, women, and children. I’d much rather see factually accurate depictions of slavery including photographs, told by those who actually suffered it. Not fictionalized accounts by White bystanders. As well intentioned as these stories might be they still soft sell the horrors of slavery.

      The White savior novels of Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mocking Bird are painfully outdated, insufficient, and inappropriate for teaching the realities and horrors of slavery and Jim Crow. I find it hard  to believe reading fictional racist characters using offensive racist language is the only way teach about racism. In fact it’s probably the worst way.

       

       

    • #378970
      Cold Mountain Trail
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 10,664

      Atticus Finch may fit the description of ‘white savior’ but i dont think huck finn does, nor is Jim without agency in the book.

    • #378995
      Robot X
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 484

      I don’t know any Black people who praise To Kill a Mockingbird and Huckleberry as great novels they love to read over and over again and share with their children. I never hear them claim how they learned so much about racism from those novels and should be shared with everyone. The fetish for these White savior novels is really exclusively a White liberal thing. Never once have I heard a Black person get upset about censorship because their children aren’t compelled to read stories where White characters routinely use the n-word.

      • #379042
        PolecatHollerer
        Participant
        • Total Posts: 1,310

        Better yet: don’t.

        You’ve proven that you don’t understand the novels under discussion. Several times.

        If you give a man enough rope, it will be six inches too short. This is not the nature of rope- it is the nature of man.

        • #379105
          Robot X
          Participant
          • Total Posts: 484

          Sorry. These books are not divine texts. Not  being a Black person you don’t understand just how offensive the use of the n-word is. This is a perfect example of just how out of touch elite, pseudo intellectual, White liberals are and the privilege that goes with it.

          Carmenita Helligar raised a red flag when her daughter, the only Black student in her class, was confronted and berated by another student after studying one book.

          “The boy said, ‘I now know how to count you. And he started saying, ‘One, ‘N-word,’ two ‘N-word,’ three ‘N-word,’ just to make her feel bad,” said Helligar, who is a member of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee.

          You’ll never have to deal with this situation in your family. It’s just an academic exercise for you. Just another privilege of being White in America.

          • #379403
            PolecatHollerer
            Participant
            • Total Posts: 1,310

            You don’t have any actual facts or rational arguments to offer, just repetition of “that bad word hurts my feefees”.

            You display no understanding of CONTEXT…rather, you show a Trumpian contempt for intelligent consideration of complex issues.

            You sure have a lot of baseless assumptions about me, that’s for sure…but they add nothing to the discussion.

            NOTHING you have posted here has added ANYTHING to the discussion.

            My username is wryly ironic, yours appears to be wincingly descriptive. Life is too short to waste another moment pointing out your blatantly obvious conversational shortcomings.

            Good day.

            If you give a man enough rope, it will be six inches too short. This is not the nature of rope- it is the nature of man.

    • #379107
      Babel 17
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 4,157

      Abrahamic religions having such an interesting relationship with slavery from both perspectives.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_and_religion

      Who’s going to be the brave upright citizen to tell Black Muslims that their most scared book isn’t fit for children?

      They’ll be about as amused about that as devout Jews and Christians, but possibly even more willing than them to take issue with those wishing to censor their religion.

      • #379134
        Robot X
        Participant
        • Total Posts: 484

        What are you talking about? The Koran and Bible are not required reading in public schools. That’s the topic here. Required reading. Black parents are paying tax money so there children can be verbally humiliated by the n-word as a part of the “education”. You have no idea how disruptive and offensive this is. This doesn’t even cross your mind. It’s just an intellectual exercise to you. You won’t have to hear your 12 year old daughter crying herself to sleep. You won’t have to tell your son you’ll just have to take it as classmates laugh and joke about the n-word in his presence.

        Sweet Jesus. The hardest thing in the world is to explain White privilege to White liberals.

         

        • #379146
          Robot X
          Participant
          • Total Posts: 484

          These books are not sacred texts. We don’t use the science text books from 50 years ago. We don’t have students dissect live animals anymore. We ended use corporal punishment. The idea that only these two books can be used to teach race relations from now to eternity is absurd.

        • #379148
          Cold Mountain Trail
          Participant
          • Total Posts: 10,664

          if huck finn is required reading for 12 year olds in your district, i’d say the teacher/district has a big problem.

          no way can you teach whats actually of serious interest there to most 12-year-olds, no way is the reading level/style good for most 12 year olds, no way…a lot of stuff.

          i don’t remember mockingbird being scattered with the N-word but its been a long time.

          • #379150
            Robot X
            Participant
            • Total Posts: 484

            20th century literature in this case is not appropriate as required reading for high school students in the 21st century. It is creating more problems than it is solving. It is disrupting the educational process. Not enhancing it. The fact that there are numerous stories about this topic brings the point home. What is the end game here? Educating students on the history of race relations in the America or protecting the casual use of the n-word in public schools?

            The flagrant hand waving away of the concerns of Black students and their parents is especially concerning.

             

            • #379152
              Cold Mountain Trail
              Participant
              • Total Posts: 10,664

              “20th century literature in this case is not appropriate as required reading for high school students in the 21st century”

              I read 18th century lit & whatever century beowulf was from in high school. The ‘appropriateness’ of anything depends on a lot of things, not the least of which is how the teacher approaches the material w/ regards to the students. And I have no idea who created the “required reading” lists in the district under discussion — it may well be that Bill Gates Inc or one of his front orgs did as that’s what’s been happening in many locations.

              “The fact that there are numerous stories about this topic brings the point home”

              There have *always* been numerous stories about this topic (school reading lists, required books, books ‘appropriate’ for schools or school libraries, teachers being fired for teaching a ‘bad book,’ etc.) Always — it’s nothing new.

              “What is the end game here? Educating students on the history of race relations in the America or protecting the casual use of the n-word in public schools?”

              Of course, it’s protecting the casual use of the n-word in schools. (sarcasm alert)
              (though if kids listen to popular music these days, they’re no stranger to the casual use of the n-word, as even I have heard it many times)

              I’d think educating kids in the history of race relations in the US is not the *primary* purpose of a american lit class (especially a class for 12 year olds), though certainly one purpose of a good one.

              I also don’t think that your recommended reading about white people beating & torturing black people is good for 12-year-olds of any ethnicity, especially for boys (of any ethnicity) just coming into puberty.

              • #379195
                Robot X
                Participant
                • Total Posts: 484

                You ever notice that you can teach the history of Jewish struggles without humiliating and degrading language to the Jewish people? What’s the go to book to tell their story? The Diary of Anne Frank. A real woman, telling her story in her own words. Not a fictional account where her character is routinely degraded and humiliated by White characters.

                The total lack of concern for the feelings of the Black students and their parents is astounding. Instead of just dropping this book as required reading material and moving on to less divisive material we’re going to double down on the n-word and blame the teachers for not teaching correctly?

                I find it interesting those here use the same excuses as racists who defend the use of the word as historical, or it’s used in hip hop all the time, or Black people use it. And it sounds just as disgusting here as when  they put forward these stupid arguments.

                What would you tell a Black parent who just told you their child came home crying and doesn’t want to go to school anymore because she felt humiliated and degraded by repeated use of the n-word? Too bad for you it’s history. Your feelings don’t matter. Something else.

                 

        • #379160
          Babel 17
          Participant
          • Total Posts: 4,157

          https://www.modbee.com/news/local/education/article246229090.html

          Presumably it’s done in a way that highlights the positive aspects, but if that’s OK, then the same could be done for To Kill a Mockingbird. If it’s causing harm to some kids, then it’s not being taught correctly. I’ve had ethnic slurs thrown my way as a ten year old, with a ball bounced off my head repeatedly as some kids followed me, and taunted me, and I understand how it stinks to get treated that way.

          Any serious effort at studying literature would include discussing problematic portions of books. Maybe the kids were too young for those books. But if they go on to college, and study English literature, they’ll want to have a firm grounding in it.

          The logic behind censorship is hard to limit once censorship starts getting more vigorously applied.

    • #379157
      retired liberal
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 3,444

      George Santayana
      The Life of Reason, 1905.

      ———————————————————————-
      Banning books is just more Political Correctness attempting to sanitize our barn yard civilization.
      Banning books ensures the next generation learn nothing, thereby ensuring repeating a history that need not and should not be repeated.

      We are an arrogant species, believing our fantasy based "facts" are better than the other person's fake facts.
      If you are wrong, it will be because you are not cynical enough.
      Both major political parties are special interest groups enabling each other for power and money, at the expense of the people they no longer properly serve…
      Always wear a proper mask when out and about. The life you save could be both yours and mine.

      • #379198
        Robot X
        Participant
        • Total Posts: 484

        So the only way not to repeat history is to routinely humiliate Black children and their parents by repeatedly using language that humiliates and degrades them? Seriously?

        Does this go for any other minorities? Any required reading for children that routinely refer to women as the c-word? How about Jewish people and the k-word? Why is it okay for for Black people to be humiliated and degraded in literature with offensive language and make it required reading but the scenario never happens to others?

        Imagine for moment if every time Anne Frank was mentioned in her book she was referred to as “Stupid C-word Anne Frank”. Do you think it would required reading in public schools?

        • #379226
          Cold Mountain Trail
          Participant
          • Total Posts: 10,664

          During a virtual meeting on Sept. 9, middle and high school English teachers in the Burbank Unified School District received a bit of surprising news: Until further notice, they would not be allowed to teach some of the books on their curriculum.

          Five novels had been challenged in Burbank: Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men,” Theodore Taylor’s “The Cay” and Mildred D. Taylor’s Newbery Medal-winning young-adult classic “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.”

          “Roll of Thunder” was written by a black writer.  Based on family history.  Contains the n-word.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mildred_D._Taylor

          The challenges came from four parents (three of them Black) for alleged potential harm to the public-school district’s roughly 400 Black students. All but “Huckleberry Finn” have been required reading in the BUSD.

          Huck Finn was not a required text.

          The ongoing case has drawn the attention of free-speech organizations across the country, which are decrying it as the latest act of school censorship. …in contrast to earlier fights across the country, this one is heavily inflected by an atmosphere of urgent reckoning, as both opponents and defenders of the novels claim the mantle of antiracism.  The debate within the district comes after a summer of mass protests calling for an end to the unjust treatment of Black people. As a result, many institutions and school districts… are taking a hard look at themselves, their policies, curriculums and practices..In the abstract, it’s a dispute about the meaning of free speech and who gets heard. More specifically, it’s about what should be taught to the district’s roughly 15,200 enrolled students — who are 47.2% white, 34.5% Latino, 9.2% Asian and 2.6% Black — and how Burbank can move forward on race boldly but sensitively.

          And at its root, it stems from a painful personal story. Destiny Helligar, now 15 and in high school, recently told her mom about an incident that took place when she was a student at David Starr Jordan Middle School. According to Destiny’s mother, Carmenita Helligar, a white student approached Destiny in math class using a racial taunt including the N-word, which he’d learned from reading “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.”

          “Roll of Thunder” being the book by the black author.

          Another time, Helligar added, a different boy went up to Destiny and other students and said: “My family used to own your family and now I want a dollar from each of you for the week.” When the principal was notified, the boy’s excuse was that he had read it in class — also in “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.” Helligar believed the principal was dismissive of the incident.  “My daughter was literally traumatized,” said Helligar. “These books are problematic … you feel helpless because you can’t even protect your child from the hurt that she’s going through.”

          Helligar is one of the parents who filed complaints. But as the books were put on hold and the review process inched forward, a diverse group of teachers and students came out against the novels’ removal, arguing that their teaching was essential. A report to the superintendent is due from a 15-member review committee on Nov. 13, but that will only be the beginning of a long debate — in Burbank and beyond.

          https://theworldnews.net/us-news/in-burbank-schools-a-book-banning-debate-over-how-to-teach-antiracism

           

          Mildred Taylor (Roll of Thunder)

          Mildred DeLois Taylor (born September 13, 1943) is a Newbery Award-winning African-American young adult novelist…

          Taylor was born in Jackson, Mississippi in 1943, and is the great-granddaughter of a former slave who was the son of an African-Indian woman and a white landowner. As a young child she moved to Toledo, Ohio where she attended Toledo’s public schools and eventually graduated from the University of Toledo in 1965. She then spent two years with the Peace Corps in Ethiopia, and, after returning to the United States, earned a master’s degree in journalism at the University of Colorado where she was instrumental in creating a Black Studies Program as a member of the Black Student Alliance. She now lives in Colorado.

          Taylor’s books chronicle the lives of several generations of the Logan family, from times of slavery to the Jim Crow era. Her most recognizable work is Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (1976), which won the Newbery Medal in 1977…

          Taylor’s works are based on oral history told to her by her father, uncles, and aunt. Taylor has said that without her family, and especially without her father, her books “would not have been”…

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mildred_D._Taylor

          https://www.mswritersandmusicians.com/mississippi-writers/mildred-taylor

           

           

           

        • #379309
          retired liberal
          Participant
          • Total Posts: 3,444

          And even now the Bible is used to keep woman subservient to men, when they are truly not.
          How can we correct the wrongs if we don’t realize what is wrong?
          Banning mentioning of the bad and the ugly in history allows the bad and ugly to continue because then people are not taught the bad and ugly are wrong.
          Sanitizing history allows the bad and ugly to continue through ignorance.
          It is a long hard road for true equality for everyone, regardless of gender, sex, skin color, ancestry and everything else the ignorant, hypocritical ‘Holier Than Thou’ use as an excuse in an attempt to show they are somehow better than the rest of us. Ignore them at our peril.
          Basically the first thing needed in fixing a problem is recognizing there is a problem and what the problem actually is. Words in books are just highlighting the symptoms, they not the cause. We need to work on correcting the cause. Banning stuff causes ignorance, thereby making the road harder to navigate.

          We are an arrogant species, believing our fantasy based "facts" are better than the other person's fake facts.
          If you are wrong, it will be because you are not cynical enough.
          Both major political parties are special interest groups enabling each other for power and money, at the expense of the people they no longer properly serve…
          Always wear a proper mask when out and about. The life you save could be both yours and mine.

          • #379537
            Robot X
            Participant
            • Total Posts: 484

            Is the Bible required reading in public schools? That’s what we’re talking about here. Not banning books but appropriate material for high school students. I know from up there in your White privileged ivory tower you’ll never understand what it’s like to young Black student or a concerned Black parent but you should at least try.

            This smug, liberal, elitism is why most Americans hate the Democratic party. You won’t even entertain the notion that Black students and parents are negatively affected by these books and you don’t care. Your kids will never come home crying because the were called the n-word at school. You have your elitist liberal philosophy where TKMB or Huckleberry Finn is a great book and if it’s damaging to the well being of Black students that’s their problem. We decided in our ivory tower of White liberals it’s okay. We didn’t consider the feelings of Black students then and we certainly don’t now.

            And please stop with the repeating history crap. I could use the same arguments for stocking back issues of Hustlter magazine in the school library because degrading pornography featuring women was a thing that happened. The world is full of nuance. Insulting and humiliating Black students and their parents because you personally hold some affection for a fictional book where White characters degrades it’s Black characters is just wrong.

            Check your privilege.

    • #379229
      Cold Mountain Trail
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 10,664

      Further reportage of the incident from those involved:

      Notably, the BUSD’s reading list hasn’t been revised in three decades. “The true ban is that there aren’t other books of other voices that could ever be on there.”

      “‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ was written 60 years ago… It’s set in the 1930s, and we look at how things were then and how we feel like we’ve come a long way, but we can note the serious inequities that still exist.”

      Yoon launched a petition to stop (the ban)… “I didn’t know much about race relations or anything regarding critical race theory when I was younger and when I read ‘Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry,’ that was my first glimpse, and it really did touch me.”

      “I’ve been in classrooms where teachers, white teachers specifically, unconditionally say the N-word without anybody’s concern or single out a single African American student to become the spokesperson for the entire class. I think that’s where the harm is coming from.”

      Chloe Bauer remembers being in tears when she first read “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry” in her seventh grade English class…(and) called the novel her first lesson in America’s “bloody and gruesome” past.  Bauer (emailed)…Burbank’s assistant superintendent of instructional services… She felt the response was dismissive, so she went to the board of education…  (and) spoke up: She said the novel had taught her and her peers how “disgusting” the slurs were. “This is an incredibly important lesson to learn at age 13, when seventh-graders are being exposed to music, TV, films and pop culture with conflicting messages about using offensive language, specifically the N-word.”

      Helligar doesn’t buy that. She believes the core message being taught is that racism is an artifact of history. “They get to read about racism whereas my children have to experience it. That is the privilege that they get to walk around in.”

      Dawn Parker, a Black mother of fourth- and seventh-grade students, empathizes with the parents who’ve complained. “But I think our kids now don’t know how the [N-word] came about, how it was used, the history of it. They hear it in rap music and they think it’s OK to say, and it’s not. They need to know why and where it came from,” she said. They need to learn it in a “safe environment.”

      “We are not removing books from our classrooms or schools,” (Superintendant) Hill said; they’ll remain in libraries and on optional reading lists. “What we are doing is looking at our reading list and our core novels to identify: Are there concerns with these books? Are these the best books?”

      https://theworldnews.net/us-news/in-burbank-schools-a-book-banning-debate-over-how-to-teach-antiracism

       

       

       

    • #379368
      closeupready
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 1,897

      @robotx Though I like the non-racial parts of the story of Huckleberry Finn. But I would never make it required reading.

      The ‘white savior’ trope is common in Hollywood films, too. And according to Wikipedia, it still occurs in films right up through today, though I would argue less than it did once. “Imitation of Life” with Claudette Colbert is a very old film which used that trope; however, I was kind of surprised at how real the black characters were portrayed, very touching film, though I’d never demand that anyone else see it.

      The opinions and personal views expressed herein are solely those of the author, and should never be taken seriously.

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