To Kill a Mockingbird STILL on most challenged books list

April 15, 2010 at 4:48 pm (History, The Serious Stuff) (, , , , )

The most challenged books list is books that have had complaints written about them for content people find objectionable.  Every year that list changes; Harry Potter books were on the list, right now the Twilight series is on it, among other books.  But still, in the top five, is To Kill a Mockingbird.

What? This book was published in 1960, before a great number of us of the blogging generation were born. A book that most of us had to read in school, and that they still teach to our own children – my high school junior  read it last year.

The underlying themes of this book are  racial tolerance and acceptance, the fight against racial injustice, and about courage and learning, and even loss of innocence.  This book, and the subsequent film have been used in classrooms for decades to teach students that racism and prejudice is wrong. It’s up there with American History X and Shindler’s List for teaching people to accept others as human beings, to see beyond the skin color.

Yet it is still one of the most challenged books in the country. Have we moved socially so little?  Do we still assume that the color of a man’s skin determines his innocence or guilt?  Yes, the book talks about rape. So does the nightly news, and any number of TV shows.  The book talks about lying and what that can do to a person’s life.  So does the newspaper, and any number of talk shows and even children’s shows.  The book talks about befriending the odd, unusual, reclusive person – so do talk shows and children’s shows.  The book talks about justice for a black man.  Oh wait, now we come to the crux of the issue.

If you talk about justice for a black man, clearly you must be militant.  You must side with them, like this was a game of “us” aginst “them”.  This is what the civil rights movement was about – oh yeah, they DO teach about that in your kid’s schools – do you protest that too? Write complaints to the school board about it? Some people actually do. This is what the Civil War was about – 100 years prior to the book being written.  And they teach about the Civil War in school too.  I’ve taught about the Civil War when I was still teaching. I don’t remember hearing any complaints, but then I was teaching in the midwest, in a state that decided to stay neutral on the issue, even though its soldiers did fight for the Union.

Racial profiling still happens – if I’m walking somewhere in the middle of the night, and , so is a black woman, she’d going to get stopped and questioned by the police much sooner than I am.  If I find I’ve forgotten my wallet after I’ve filled my cart with groceries, (and I have) the manager will laugh at me and hold my cart aside in a friendly manner while I go get my wallet.  If a latina or black woman does the same, she doesn’t get the same courtesy.  I witnessed this myself, in that midwest city where I used to teach.  She might even get accused of trying to con the store or steal.

It’s a forgotten wallet. The woman is no different than me because her skin color is different. We live in the same neighborhoods, we have families and husbands and financial worries and social worries – are our kids doing well in school, did someone feed the dog, did I pay the electric bill?

It’s wrong -a nd To Kill a Mockingbird still being on the list of most challenged books is also wrong.  Inapporopriate for the agegroup?  No, it isn’t.  Kids need to learn early that racism is not the was of life, should never have been the way of life.  They need to learn in times like these economically, skin color doesn’t matter – a lot of folk are hurting for jobs, have financial woes, and it’s not a conspiracy if the guy next door with a different accent or darker hued skin gets a job before dad does. Dad doesn’t even know how to do the job the man next door does.

It’s time to start seeing all folk as human being – and stop the racism in every direction.  the black person isn’t evil, nor is the asian person, or the middle eastern person, the latin person, OR the white person.  We just are – and we’re all in the same boat.

here’s the article that fueled my rant –

Treat your neighbors like human beings, because they are.


  1. Poker Face said,

    You are so right.
    As a former schoolteacher, what do you think about the recent Texas School-board’s textbook changes?

  2. lkeipp said,

    I’ll admit that I haven’t been keeping up with that. I’ve been under yarn and photocopies mainly lately. Got some article links you could throw my way to catch me up? Then I’ll happily give my opinion – I’m like that!

  3. Poker Face said,

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