@Jennifer Hargett You are correct this form of censorship has been going on and has placed other classic forms of literature in the "controversial" zone.
It is unfortunate that educators and even brave students like yourself are demonized for trying to be champions for an enlightened environment of free exchange which is what academia is about.
Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts and experiences!
This book has been quietly banned for much longer than you think. There were many titles that were simply "not available" in my school library in the late 90's. Educators that attempted to broaden our horizons with these "controversial" pieces of literature were demoted or pushed out/fired. I sought to bring this to light and was also threatened. I love the comment from the "educator" that "has not read the book but has seen the movie"...seriously? This is your school system, NC. Outraged yet?
@Tameka You share some very important points. I agree that there should be more effort given to bringing forth diverse voices rather than trying to censor their work.
I also believe that The Color Purple is an excellent teaching tool of how someone who has a strong faith in God can overcome even the most unbelievable circumstances.
Thank you for reading and sharing your very learned views on this topic!
I believe students should be exposed to as many substantive authors as possible, particularly women and black writers since there are so few in traditional American public school curricula. Diversity is sorely missing. Given the intended audience for this school district is AP high school students, the students should certainly be capable of handling the content.
My greatest concern with the movement to ban The Color Purple is the seemingly endless attempt to silence the voices of black women writers, to erase our experiences (whether fact, fiction, or somewhere in between) as if they don't deserve the affirmation that light of day gives. The effort to silence sister writers always elicits the same reaction in me, and is brilliantly framed in the words of Viola Davis' character in "The Help": "Don't you get tired?"
In The Color Purple, the protagonist overcomes her extremely dysfunctional life at home and goes on to become a whole human/mother/woman/entrepreneur/ artist/writer, free of shame, bitterness, and insecurity. The positive takeaways from reading The Color Purple are far more numerous than any potential negative impressions from reading or not reading this Pulitzer Prize winning novel.
You know....I recently found out that Suffolk County, Long Island (NY) put up what looks like carports in a great many of their parking lots that support solar cells that have been added to the grid. Clearly a tiny project compared to Ivanhoe, however it just shows what folks can do with real estate. Thanks for calling our attention to this innovative project. BTW, "powergasm" lol
@ Lisa you have certainly explained the role and expectation of an educator perfectly. There is this misconception that teachers are just a bunch of tree hugging liberals out to turn youth into radicals...lol
I love your statement: "I wish parents realized that educators are not out to ruin their children's innocence. Miley and Justin to a way better job than I ever could." so true and so funny!
Thank you for reading and sharing some very insightful views on this topic!
@Mark Kemp you are so correct that there are already policies in place for students to have alternative assignments if the parents feel a subject is too controversial or in their eyes inappropriate.
I also agree that that is what private, charter schools and even home schooling is for if you want a more specific curriculum taught that is more in line with your belief system but I still maintain you deprive a young mind by not exposing them to different ideas and concepts.
Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts on this topic!
It is the job of the English teacher to bring any written piece to their students by looking at it through a literary lens; not political, not religious, not racial. Purely literary. Students are asked to question what is symbolic to or about the character(s). They are asked to probe the universal themes present and how they relate to the society and the individual.
It is important to understand that some of these novels require a certain level of maturity. Therefore, most teachers I know offer these choices in AP courses. The key word is choices. I do not now any teacher worth their weight that would make these mandatory in a standard English class, but if they did it is always understood that an alternative novel may be assigned at no penalty to the student.
I wish parents realized that educators are not out to ruin their children's innocence. Miley and Justin to a way better job than I ever could. However, religious beliefs aside, you child will have to be a functioning citizen in a world where bad things happen. Would these parents prefer their child figure this out once they are in the world on their own, or in the safety and professionalism of a classroom?
Book-banning initiatives are among the most selfish of acts. If you don't want your child exposed to literature or science, all you have to do is let school administrators know that you don't approve of a certain book, and they will accommodate you -- more radically, you can take your child out of public education and teach them whatever fairy tales you want to teach them. But to have great pieces of literature or science books banned deprives all young minds of intellectual growth. Thanks for an excellent column, Charles!
@ Kandyce Ferguson The experience you share with your mother and how she used the film The Color Purple to illustrate important lessons to you even at a young age is an excellent example of how as a parent you can use even uncomfortable material as a teaching tool.
What astounds me is that if you have read the book or seen the film then you should know that it is the main characters relationship with God that brings her through such an incredible struggle of abuse to emerge as a stronger and inspirational person.
Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts on this subject!
@Tony-Tony Stark You make so many valid and insightful points but I really love this one you share, "still they are selectively skewed both factually and socially so that the usual suspects always emerge the most learned and self-possessed."
That point is why I typically do not like Hollywood films that deal with historical periods concerning race. They are typically watered down for a mass appeal and usually at the expense of the marginalized community they at least on the surface seem to want to explore.
And you are correct that as much as I do not understand some folks decision to oppose such works I will defend their right to do so less we regress as a free society.
Thank you for reading and sharing your very learned commentary!
@Sue Johnson I know you can appreciate this being an educator and especially as one who has taught both English and Film Literature courses. I have instructed similar courses where like you say you can use sometimes controversial material to engage students in important and engaging dialogue. Those are some of the most magical moments in the classroom.
Thank you for reading and sharing your views on this topic!
@Jmiller84 You are so correct. I like the sex education example. The purpose of education is to expose our youth to other ideas and concepts and you are correct that is how we grow as a society. Otherwise we just perpetuate the same philosophies over and over again.
Thank you for reading and sharing your views on this topic!
@ Anthony O'Neal Dupree You make a good point thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts!
@Nikita Minter You bring forth so many valid points but I think this is one of my favorite analysis of yours: "No one really rushes in to save her--it's better than that. People collaborate to save and lift each other up. Shug becomes the enabler, the catalyst; she never tells what Celie to do. She was Celie's Prometheus, and Celie took the fire and ran."
This is the kind of dialogue and critical thinking that should come forth by sharing such a well written volume of literature.
Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts on this subject!
I can hardly muster enough to give second glance to such a hypocritical dictatorial undertaking that seeks to cut freedom while using a form of the same to advance its cause. We have been at this since antiquity. Have we not learned anything?
So portrayal of graphic acts graphically as seen in Color Purple is Mr. Norton’s concern? What a concept. How else to portray them?
Bans of this kind ultimately are not about protecting the readers as promoting the raiders. Such censures almost always create salaciousness for cordoned works they could never acquire outside these supercilious sequesters.
If Mr. Norton has opposition to Ms.Walker’s themes, for his labors he should give some diligence to some of the deemed classic works of authors likes Mark Twain, William Faulkner, Aldous Huxley, Katherine Patterson, John Steinbeck, Harriet Beecher Stowe and of recent, JK Rowling, among others, whose graphic works details everything from child abuse, sexuality and racial stereotyping to cannibalisms, lewd violence and the occult. All of these authors have almost unlimited access to public school library audiences of all ages.
Again if “minds of our youth” is a disquiet, Mr. Norton should catch gander of current history, civic and social studies books. Much improved certainly over what they were a generation ago, still they are selectively skewed both factually and socially so that the usual suspects always emerge the most learned and self-possessed.
Further, if Mr. Norton is suggesting that Color Purple is unsuitable for school youth because its coverage is “offered [to] them by the worldly-wise as it is, through television, movies, music, 'non-educational books,' magazines, internet/social media”, who determines which media platforms ought to be the most utilized or exclusive?
I offer that even for our purposes here we avoid of terms like “alternative” and “mainstream”. The country ---indeed our heritage—is founded on expression of all types. Where does alternative end and mainstream begin and then after that what?
A great thing remains that even in what appears to be a very arbitrary pursuit, Mr. Nortons of the world are allowed dissent. If for no other reason avoidance of ban reassures that it is all right if they face some as well.
I totally agree. Most of what I have read would be banned. But both the book and the film are a needed addition to any students knowledge of what's transpired throughout another ethnicity's history. The book is written with letters and is descriptive; the film was adapted fairly well, but one has to remember that Speilberg brought his on point of view of the book to the screen. Even so, exposure for students to all of this is still appropriate. It reminds me of the recent book I read and the film I saw about Nazi Germany...The Book Thief. We can't let this happen here!
First of all why is a public school banning a book based on religious values. Last time I checked we still have separation of church and state in NC of all places as well. The fact that we are educating our kids about this keeps them from being so close minded and broadening their knowledge on everything. This is just like bringing sexual education into the school system, the parent would receive a note saying your child will be learning such and such in sexually education if you feel the need not to let your child participate in this class you will need to sign this and they will be directed to some other educated activity of schools choice. To close a child off entirely from something that they will eventually come across later in life anyway is just a stupid move. We are suppose to be educating our children, opening their minds to all kinds of possibilities and history and know that when they are old enough to make decisions and hopefully good decisions for themselves and on their own. We can never grow and learn from our mistakes if we continue to instill the same in our kids and future generations.
North Carolina is so Wishy washy.We go first public High school to do a play about the story to Banning it?
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