Mississippi Bans “To Kill a Mockingbird”
In mid-October, a school district in Biloxi, Mississippi banned Pulitzer prize-winning novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” claiming that the author Harper Lee unnecessarily utilizes racial slurs that make residents and children of said residents “uncomfortable”.
First of all, the predicament that this school district falls in is that the school board implemented this book to the 8th grade literature curriculum. Which should not have been the case.
In retrospect, being taught, as a freshman in high school, the novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” had definitely unveiled the differences between the adventurous journeys in the “Magic Tree House” books and the comfortless poems of Edgar Allan Poe; These differences allowed me to recognize the reality that came along with “To Kill a Mockingbird” were valuable and a great starting point for young adults.
The only memories I hold from my 8th grade school year are career presentations and the reading of Edgar Allan Poe; the most I ever worried about was the time I could finish homework to get more time to play video games. Why would I, or anyone else for that matter, ever need to learn about the racial inequalities of the 1900s? (Oh, how naive I was) I assumed that it was better, or would get better, over time, right?
No, this book provides a solid basis to expose students in high school, not 8th graders, respectfully. Regardless of reading level, it should be left over to a high education, teaching a more developed audience. It would completely defeat the purpose to remove the book for being “uncomfortable” when the whole use of racial slurs is to guide the reader to develop a conclusion for themselves. Surely there are plenty of other books and novels that may teach the same issue (censored or not censor) but this novel gives multiple opportunity to question characters, plot, and the author herself.
According to the article “Common Reasons for Banning Books” from Fort Lewis College, most challenged books are from community parents who advocate against the use of sexually explicit content, offensive language, or against religious beliefs, and rightly so. In the Supreme Court case Board of Education v. Pico, Supreme Court Justice O’Connor argued “If the school board can set the curriculum, select teachers, and determine initially what books to purchase for the school library, it surely can decide which books to discontinue or remove from the school library so long as it does not also interfere with the right of students to read the material and discuss it.”
The school board stated that the book will still be available to the school’s library; however, just not taught to the children allowing the said decision to be constitutional. This removal includes their multiple elementaries schools enrolling children from K-6, naturally, their junior high enrolling children from 7-8, and their high school enrolling young adults from 9-12.
As students in Valley Center High School, we are fortunate to be in a school district in which acknowledges the importance of of history whether we like it to be or not.