Roundtable: Did ROWVA make right call on challenged book?
What do you think about the ROWVA School Board's decision to keep the book, “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas, suspended from classrooms, but allowed in the school library?
Backlash against book an example of white privilege
If some of ya’ll couldn’t understand what white privilege is, this is a great example. Ya’ll wonder why racism still exists. This book makes these kids and their parents uncomfortable. I bet most haven’t read the book. That’s funny. Jane Elliott needs to teach their classes. Look up the Brown Eye Blue Eye Experiment.
Picking and choosing what you want your kids to learn hinders their growth and yours. What’s so bad about this book? The language? I wasn’t taught Black history in school until February. Ya’ll wonder why blacks don’t know their history. It’s ugly and don’t want to be accountable.
Look up Mary Turner and Forsyth, Georgia, Redwood, Seneca Village, Black Wall Street, Lake Lanier, Red Summer, the Green Book, there’s much more. I wasn’t taught any of this in school. Go figure. This area will never grow with the mindset many of ya’ll have. The hate ya’ll give! — Courtney Wallace
Classroom best place to address these topics
People need to stop pretending that students, especially high schoolers, haven’t already been exposed to the things presented in the majority of “banned” books such as “The Hate U Give.” The difference between exposure outside of the classroom and inside the classroom is that in the classroom, children are given space to ask questions and learn about topics in such a way that encourages in-depth thinking. Disallowing teachers from teaching any book just means that students won’t learn about the topics being addressed in such a manner that emphasizes growth, understanding, and the responsible use of language.
Instead, they’ll learn about it from movies and TV shows that overtly glamorize the stuff that caused this book to be removed from the classroom. If the book wasn't worth learning from, the teacher wouldn't have tried to teach it in the first place. — Meghan Harms
More:ROWVA keeps book 'The Hate U Give' out of classroom, but in school library
Book brings controversial topics to table
The attack on “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas is distressing. The ROWVA board claims the book is being banned in the classroom because it's vulgar and contains too many expletives. In fact, one outraged parent underlined every dirty word in the novel. If I remember correctly, Donald Trump was praised by many of the core followers for his use of four-letter words when he spoke in public. To them, Trump’s swear words denoted authenticity and his lack of phoniness.
The 4-2 ban of the book seems to say that rich, white former presidents who use profanity in public get standing ovations, while an angry 16-year black female who saw her friend shot and killed by the police should be banned from the classroom. It’s not the words per se some parents are objecting to, but who is saying those words.
“The Hate U Give” brings controversial topics to the table. It’s high time we allow our kids to have authentic conversations about subjects that make adults feel uncomfortable. — John Hunigan
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Isn't time to teach all books in classroom
This isn’t censorship or “book banning.” School boards must decide every year what books will be taught in the limited amount of time there is to teach them. The Bible is unquestionably the most important book in the history of western civilization, but I’m guessing it isn’t taught in any public school in Illinois. It might not even be in the library.
I’d like students to be taught the complete works of Thomas Sowell but there isn’t time for him, either. The fact that every book in print cannot be taught in school is not censorship — it’s reality.
If a student wants to read the book, it’s available in the library. I’ll bet the teacher would be willing to discuss it.
I have peered down into the memorial to book burning in Berlin. What the Nazis did in 1933 is nothing like local elected officials making decisions on taxpayers’ behalf. — Harry Bulkeley
Decision devalues teacher's knowledge, training
When I read The Hate U Give several years ago I was impressed and moved. Novels succeed when the reader cares about the characters. Angie Thomas’ award-winning book spent 50 weeks as #1 on the New York Times young adult best seller list. The main character is 16; although some of her concerns are specific to her life and circumstances, many are generally experienced by 16 year olds across the United States. This book illuminates, informs and engenders empathy.
After 20 years teaching in a junior high school, I recognize the value of teaching books like this; I would admire and support any teacher who assigned it. The solution devised after the fuss in ROWVA may have seemed like a compromise, but was regrettable in its devaluing of the teacher’s knowledge and training, and the message it sent to the kids. The irony is that objecting to a book publicly increases its readership. A Tennessee school board removed the Pulitzer Prize winning book "Maus" from their 8th grade curriculum recently and last Monday the 1992 book reached the top of Amazon’s best seller list. — Laurie Muelder
ROWVA censored book in closed session
Words like “banning,” “censorship,” “cancel culture” and the like get thrown around too easily. A recent report on “challenged” books (documented requests to remove materials from schools or libraries) shows “The Hate U Give” tracks in at the 10th most challenged book across the country. That report states it is due to profanity and it was “thought to promote an anti-police message.” What the school board in ROWVA did that was wrong was to outright censor the book in a closed session without public discussion. One parent found out about the book and complained. I am sure it was because that student just couldn’t comprehend what some of that urban slang was all about. The board yanked the book from the classroom and that just fueled the discontent. I do give max street cred to ROWVA High School senior Abigail Lee for her insightful response to the school board when public discussion was finally granted. ROWVA school board has since punted the ball down field. The book is currently in the school library but not part of classroom teaching. I am sure there are copies of the book now flying to Rio, Oneida, Wataga, Victoria and Altona to see what the fuss is about. Kinda’ like the book “Maus,” which was banned by Tennessee and is now the number 1 best seller on Amazon. Perfect. — Stephen Podwojski
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Good for parents to take active role
I’ve not read the book but I’m aware of the subject. It’s classified as “adult fiction” and it was a best-seller. The “adult” part usually means that there is something, language, sex, violence, etc., that may be inappropriate for children.
As a general principle, I oppose any sort of censorship, so I would not object to its being in the library. For practical purposes, I wouldn’t be too concerned about the library. Long before the internet, if a book had been forbidden or banned (as some were) enterprising students would find a copy, read it and share it with friends. Access to computers and the internet makes that infinitely easier today. The controversy emphasizes the responsibility of parents to know what their kids are doing, reading and being taught. Parents, NOT teachers are responsible for their children’s moral/ethical/intellectual development. Parents need to continue to be active in that roll. Don’t cede that role! – Charlie Gruner
School boards should trust their teachers
I commend the ROWVA school board for refusing to remove the book from the school library. Censorship is always a bad idea, and the library should be a place for students to explore perspectives that show them the world through new eyes and challenge them to develop their own beliefs. The librarian can put Thomas’s book next to "Huckleberry Finn," another novel that, for different reasons, is challenging to read but should be accessible to intellectually-curious students.
As to suspending "The Hate U Give" from the classroom, that may have seemed to the board like a reasonable compromise but to me it constitutes a failure of nerve. The school board and administration should trust their teachers — they are professionals, they know their students well, and they understand the importance of providing students with texts that challenge them to explore multiple perspectives. Especially in this time, when powerful voices nationally are agitating to impose on schools a white-washed, self-congratulatory version of American history, school boards should be extra-careful not to be intimidated. The rising generation must be able to grasp and come to terms with the complexity of our past and its implications for the present. — David Amor
Some books can inform us without dividing us
I taught college/university classes for many years, often dealing with sensitive subjects. My students were young adults, but sometimes they were shaken when I took them to Auschwitz, Dachau (a half-dozen groups), Terezín, and Holocaust museums. Still, I never assigned readings that would make them hate Germans living today.
That is the problem with the Black Lives Matter philosophy. The title of this book comes from the rapper Tupac Shakur’s THUG LIFE (“The Hate U Give Little Infants F---- Everybody”). At a time when people denounce Huck Finn for using the N-word, then praise this book, I have to sigh. There are books that can inform us without dividing us.
Still, I remember a heated discussion over "To Kill A Mockingbird," the complaint being that we needed more books by women and that Harper Lee was insufficiently feminist. It is easy to take even good intentions to excess. — William Urban
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The Community Roundtable runs each Sunday and is made up of local writers. Community writers answer one question each week in 150 words or fewer.