You’ve probably read the classic To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, as it’s a book commonly assigned in middle and high school. However, ever since the book’s release in 1960, many schools have banned it from their libraries because of its sensitive content.The latest in
The latest in this string of banishment is the removal of it in Biloxi, Mississippi’s eighth grade curriculum. Kenny Holloway, the vice president of the Biloxi School Board stated, “There is some language in the book that makes people uncomfortable, and we can teach the same lesson with other books.” This decision has lead to some fiery discussion on Twitter, as most believe that To Kill A Mockingbird is the best source of insight to racism and insensitivity to it. Quite plainly, it’s meant to make you uncomfortable.
As someone who has read the book about four or five times now, as well as a plethora of books about racism and African American history, I can reassure you that To Kill A Mockingbird is absolutely one of the best pieces about such topics. What makes it different is the introduction of outsiders: the Finch family. Scout is a young girl who is not aware of racism or why it occurs, and Atticus is left to be unbiased in the court case against Tom Robinson, who is an African American being accused for the rape of a white girl. These characters open a discussion on why racism occurs and why it is wrong, rather than providing a definite answer.
The aforementioned “language that makes people uncomfortable” is the n-word, used repetitively throughout all books on racism. It was the slur people used in those times, and it shows the raw hatred people used to have towards African Americans. Some would even say it’s necessary to use in historical pieces, as it is historically accurate. By removing a book for one crude word, students are missing out on the other 99,120 words, filled with truth and context.
When Harper Lee originally wrote To Kill A Mockingbird, her goal was to make people uncomfortable, so they would start talking. Now that people are uncomfortable, instead of talking about why, schools rather get rid of it and be done for. Removing this book removes an essential reading about racism, and not exposing children to such topics makes them uninformed and perhaps insensitive in their future. As the saying goes, people only find what they’re looking for. And it looks like schools are killing this harmless mockingbird of a book.