Photo: Courtesy of Barnes & Noble.
When you hear "book banning," you likely recall images and stories of regimes in which people do not have the same freedoms as we do. But, book banning does happen in the United States. Sure, you may never see Obama burning a pile of forbidden texts, but censorship does exist in our country. And, the most recent requests to ban books from school libraries seem to have a common thread: They mostly involve books written by minority authors. And, the books all address race and sexuality issues.
The Kid's Right to Read (KRRP), an advocate group part of the National Coalition Against Censorship, claims that in November alone, it dealt with three times the average number of censorship incidents. Schools in 29 states filed claims against major literary text — a 53% increase from last year. What's alarming, however, is the genre of books in question. Acacia O’Connor of the KRRP said, “Whether or not patterns like this are the result of co-ordination between would-be censors across the country is impossible to say. But there are moments, when a half-dozen or so challenges regarding race or LGBT content hit within a couple weeks, where you just have to ask ‘what is going on out there?’” In other words, these aren't the challenges against the witchcraft and wizardry in the Harry Potter series. Rather, the books in question include Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits, and Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me, Ultima.
What's more, most of the requests for censorship come from parents — not from teachers. And, half of the targeted titles have been integral texts in literary education for many years. So, why are they now an issue? And, if educators have no qualms teaching them, why are parents in uproar? Though no official reports of bans have been made, it's important to be aware that the same books that taught you about racism, gender binaries, and the minority history of our country are in serious danger. And, if children aren't exploring these issues in school — and living in homes where parents have requested such books aren't present — then where will young students learn the principles of equal rights? (Feministing)