Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Banned Books Week: The Color Purple

The Color Purple is extremely popular. Whether it be that people know of the movie or the book, it's rare that someone would not at least recognize the title. Written in the early 1980's it has claimed a permanent spot in "must read" literature. Depicting life in the 1930s for African Americans in the south leads to a heart wrenching tale. I read the book two years ago and while the intricate details have begun to fade I still recall much of the book and the emotions I felt while reading it.

In 2007 and 2009 The Color Purple made the list of top ten books that were most frequently challenged in the United States. The reasoning behind the challenges is for the book's: offensive language, being sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and homosexuality. But that doesn't mean the book has only been threatened those two years. Nearly each year it is high on the list since its publication.

Most cases are due to schools claiming their students aren't intellectually ready for such rough reading. They were pulled from bookshelves in schools but also in some various public libraries.

It seems that most often when books are banned or challenged it's due to parents fearing their children reading them. If you've kept track to the past Banned Books posts in this blog I think it's relatively obvious that I think it is ridiculous to remove the opportunity to read books from all students simply because you don't want your child to read it.

Why is it so hard to discuss with schools that there should be options for recommended or assigned reading if you are so threatened by the contents of a book? Why do you feel that you have the right to choose what other students can't read by trying to remove a book from the entire educational system? I have no grievance with a parent who feels that The Color Purple is not suitable for their own child. That's your kid and you are welcome to make that decision. But just as you do not want the school to force your child to read a book, you shouldn't force that child's classmates not to have the opportunity for reading. 

This book certainly deals with a lot of heavy stuff. It's a tough read and often upsetting but I find that most books that give me actual emotional reactions are the best. Discussions of racism, rape and violence are so often covered up with the idea that it's "inappropriate" but being oblivious to the horrors of the world often times does not do us any good. Learn from the mistakes of others, learn of these problems, and maybe with education we can help to eliminate these problems in the future. 

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