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A School District Has Dropped Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn From Reading Lists Over Racial Slurs

Posted by on Feb. 7, 2018 at 11:32 PM
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1 mom liked this
A Minnesota school district is removing To Kill a Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn from its required reading list because they contain racial slurs.

Both books have been staples on school reading lists in the U.S. for decades, but school leaders in Duluth, Minn., said the use of racial slurs in both books has made many students uncomfortable. While the books will still be available in Duluth schools as an option for students to read individually, they won’t be required next school year.

“We felt that we could still teach the same standards and expectations through other novels that didn’t require students to feel humiliated or marginalized by the use of racial slurs,” Michael Cary, director of curriculum and instruction for the district, told the Twin Cities Pioneer Press. He said teachers are working on selecting different books for the reading list that will teach similar lessons without using racial slurs.


“Conversations about race are an important topic, and we want to make sure we address those conversations in a way that works well for all of our students,” he told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The decision was praised by the local chapter of the NAACP. “Our kids don’t need to read the ‘N’ word in school,” Stephan Witherspoon, president of the Duluth chapter, told the Star Tribune. “They deal with that every day out in the community and in their life. Racism still exists in a very big way.”

But the choice is likely to spark criticism from others. A school district in Biloxi, Miss., sparked a debate about censorship last year when it removed To Kill a Mockingbird from its reading list over language, drawing criticism from a former U.S. Education Secretary and at least one U.S. Senator.

Both To Kill a Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn have been included on the American Library Association’s list of frequently banned or challenged books. Critics have often cited the books’ use of racial epithets as a reason, arguing they could upset black students.
by on Feb. 7, 2018 at 11:32 PM
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Replies (1-10):
Schauseil
by Silver Member on Feb. 8, 2018 at 12:08 AM
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Idk why this bothers ppl so much. I didn't read either of them in school.
MissAndree
by Ronita on Feb. 8, 2018 at 12:10 AM
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There are plenty of other books that can replace these two. They are not banning them, just replacing them. That's fair.
Bookwormy
by Ruby Member on Feb. 8, 2018 at 12:13 AM
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I read To Kill a Mockingbird in school. I think that it is a great book and the context of the offensive language is appropriate and addressed in context accordingly.
jpickens
by Platinum Member on Feb. 8, 2018 at 12:16 AM
It was a national controversy in Biloxi and it shouldn’t have been IMHO. It was too much input from people who don’t know anything about the local area and don’t understand that it’s not a “one size fits all” answer.

Schools should be able to decide what resources are age/maturity appropriate without it being a big national mess.
Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Feb. 8, 2018 at 12:42 AM
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Quoting -Celestial-: A Minnesota school district is removing To Kill a Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn from its required reading list because they contain racial slurs.[...] Critics have often cited the books’ use of racial epithets as a reason, arguing they could upset black students.

Bottom line: 

If you were a black student in an American school, which is likely to hurt you more?

(A) You reading a book set in a previous time period, that uses slang authentic to that time period, for character thought and speech?

or

(B) Your white peers not understanding what that time period was like, because they missed out on reading about it?

squeekers
by Silver Member on Feb. 8, 2018 at 12:47 AM
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DD and I read banned books
jpickens
by Platinum Member on Feb. 8, 2018 at 2:19 AM
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I have no clue about Missouri, so I can only speak from
my experience in MS.

Black and White people know about our not so glamorous racial history, so books like this wasn’t always as impactful or eye opening as some may think.

As a Black student, I would be pissed if my peers were laughing and joking about the word nigger, which was the problem in Biloxi. It wasn’t the actual book itself.


Not saying this applies to all cases either, just a different perspective.

Edit: Minnesota not Missouri! Sorry!


Quoting Clairwil:

Quoting -Celestial-: A Minnesota school district is removing To Kill a Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn from its required reading list because they contain racial slurs.[...] Critics have often cited the books� use of racial epithets as a reason, arguing they could upset black students.

Bottom line: 

If you were a black student in an American school, which is likely to hurt you more?

(A) You reading a book set in a previous time period, that uses slang authentic to that time period, for character thought and speech?

or

(B) Your white peers not understanding what that time period was like, because they missed out on reading about it?

jpickens
by Platinum Member on Feb. 8, 2018 at 2:21 AM
2 moms liked this
I agree and I think schools should have the flexibility to chose which books are best for thier students without national backlash.



Quoting MissAndree: There are plenty of other books that can replace these two. They are not banning them, just replacing them. That's fair.
Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Feb. 8, 2018 at 3:04 AM
1 mom liked this


Quoting jpickens:

Black and White people know about our not so glamorous racial history, so books like this wasn’t always as impactful or eye opening as some may think. 

I've not seen many sources which make as strongly as Huckleberry Finn the point that in those times Huck would have been seen as wrong, as sinful, for not turning Jim in.    Understanding not just what happened, but why - the mindset.

cjsbmom
by Lois Lane on Feb. 8, 2018 at 6:55 AM
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They're not banning them, just not making them required. I'm OK with that. It's when we start to try to remove books and pretend they don't exist that I get my feathers in a bunch....

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