Tuesday, March 28, 2006

An Oldie, but Goodie: TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD Under Attack

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is under attack in Pasadena. The complaint is an oldie, but a goodie: racially offensive language and situations.
Despite the book’s good intentions...NAACP Pasadena Branch President Joe Brown and Chandler parent Jim Morris want it taken out of the school’s English curriculum.

Neither Brown nor Morris want to take it out of the library. But using the book and its questionable language to teach young children lessons in English runs the risk of “sending the wrong message” to children.
I admit I can't come close to getting my mind around the idea that TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, one of the greatest novels of all time and stirring clarion call to fight racial injustice, sends the "wrong message" to kids, especially when presented in its historical context.

These members of the NAACP should be ashamed.

7 Comments:

Blogger Lisa Yee said...

Here's the latest update . . . the head of school, John Finch (any relation to Atticus, I wonder?) has told me that they are currently teaching the book, and that "we have not encountered any further opposition."

It still baffles the mind that this classic would be challenged.

10:56 AM  
Blogger a. fortis said...

Amazing that the same books keep sparking controversy again and again.

I just found out about this blog from the SCBWI newsletter and wanted to applaud! I posted a link to it on the YA writers' blog I contribute to, http://writingya.blogspot.com. Keep up the excellent work!

1:20 PM  
Blogger noshirthetranny said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:44 PM  
Blogger Varian Johnson said...

Yes, the Pasadena Branch of the NAACP has made a mistake on this one. While I applaud the efforts of the organization to curb the use of the N-word, I don't think censoring its use in pieces of great literature is the best way to do it.

Nigger is a harsh word. A demoralizing word. A word that is cruel and malicious and that causes pain. But in the context of Harper Lee's novel, this word and all the hatred and ignorance associated with it is fought and eventually overcome by the bravery of Atticus Finch.

One could say that the word could also be used in a positive way, and while that very well may be the case, that is a topic to be discussed for another day. At least for today, we should agree to let the word be used in a place of learning where we can truly understand the context of the word. If not, we leave radio stations and Comedy Central to be the only "voices of reason" using the N-word.


Varian Johnson (who not only thinks To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most powerful pieces of literature ever written, but was also a card carrying member of the NAACP when he read it in 9th grade).

8:23 PM  
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