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Call for book ban caused controversy 

MON. | 02-14-22 | OPINION

     It has recently been brought up to the Pitt County School Board that some books should be banned from schools. The provided reasons for banning these book were that they used profane language and had scenes of rape and abuse. People have been very vocal both for and against banning these books. Personally, I think it is a disservice to all students to ban them. 

     The most recently challenged books are Sharon Draper’s Forged by Fire and Darkness Before Dawn, as well as All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. While it was argued that these books should be banned because of their “profane content,” one detail stands out about all of them. They were

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Image courtesy of Pitt County Schools

each written by African Americans and center on African American characters. As 12-year-old middle schooler Morgan Taylor put it when speaking at a school board meeting, books like The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, Lord of the Flies by William Golding and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck all have profane language in them and are not being contested. The only difference in content between these books are that the ones that are not being contested center on white characters.

     I am not just making a baseless accusation that these people are angry about the characters being African American. When I was attending Farmville Middle School, a group of parents attempted to get both my 6th and 7th grade English teachers fired for having the students read books by African American authors. I know this because they explicitly stated they did not like that their children were only reading books about African Americans. 

     I believe that all children, no matter what race, gender, sexual orientation, etc., deserve to read literature that represents themselves as people. When there are so many books that center on white characters, I don’t see the problem with reading books that focus on a different group of people. 

     Some of the parents at the school board meeting also argued that this reading was mandated and that schools should not be able to force students to read certain books. One parent went so far as to hold up a “Let’s Go Brandon” pin, saying if schools could tell students that they couldn’t wear stuff like that they should not be able to tell students that they have to read certain books. In regards to the schools censoring student protest, that is simply not true.

    One of the most well known Supreme Court cases, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, created the law that schools cannot censor students from any form of protest as long as it is not disruptive. Students are allowed to wear things like pins, armbands or stickers that state any political belief. In regards to the school mandating certain readings, Pitt County Schools Public Information Officer Jennifer Johnson stated, “...parents are always able to request an alternate reading assignment if they disapprove of the content of an assigned book.” There is no such thing as mandated readings in Pitt County Schools.

   Banning these books would be taking away representation from the students that need it most. It is completely unfair and immoral to try and ban books that provide representation and have literary merit for all students because you don’t like the content yourself. If a book is offensive to a group of people or speaks about a group of people in a derogatory way, then it should be up for a ban, but if a book only has profane language and portrays real life scenarios that some parents are not okay with exposing their children to, then they can bring that up to the teacher, not ban it for all students in the county.

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