“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point a view [...] until you climb in his skin and walk around in it.” This quote was spoken by a character named Atticus from the book ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee. This book is famously known around the world, it’s also famous for being banned based on racism and racial slurs. Another popular book banned for those reasons is ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry’ Finn by Mark Twain. According to the American Library Association reported that between the years 2000 and 2009, that 6,000 books were challenged. Among those reasons for book censorship are for nudity, death, homosexuality, etc.. The most popular is; however, sexual content, mainly for ‘Brave New World’ and ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’. Unfortunately, books based on racism and racial content is on that list. Books being banned because it contain racism prevents knowledge, it’s still a problem today, and the possibility of missing out on a lesson. Books are a way of expression and should not be banned because they contain racism or racial language.
First topic is that banning literature prevents knowledge. Books are one of the many ways of passing on culture. Dalton Conley, a sociologist, states that culture teaches, “a set of beliefs, traditions, and practices.” Culture is taught through family, experiences, and the environment. Books are a part of passing on stories from generation to generation. How would any christian know about how Jesus died for the sins of others if there hadn’t been a book about it? Books bring our most cherished values because it had to be learned from somewhere. Moving on, history is also a big part in knowledge. In school, most students learned about the civil war, slavery, and civil rights movement through text books. If books were banned, how would students know anything about those events that took place? Guarantee most students nowadays didn’t live in that time period unless one is in their golden years. History is there for the future generations to learn from to avoid making the same mistakes. Without books, people would be uneducated about important historical events in the past. Children need to be exposed to these factors so that they aren’t in the dark if the conversation comes up.
Second topic is that racism is alive and well in the year 2016. Sure, signs separating the colors are not around, there still is bigotry in this great nation. There is a famous group around called Black Lives Matter. According to their site, blacklivesmatter.com, “Black Lives Matter is a chapter-based national organization working for the validity of black life.” Their goal is to rebuild the black liberation movement and enforce basic human rights. This group was formed after the tragic death of Trayvon Martin. Martin was shot by one George Zimmerman in February 2012. Zimmerman was acquitted for the crime and that caused the nation to go crazy. Black Lives Matter was formed soon after the verdict. Following that, there is a thought that America is blind to racism. A survey done by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and CNN with the title, ‘Is Racism A Big Problem [In America]’, shows that overall, 49% of the nation says yes, 66% of black people said yes, 64% Hispanics said yes, and 43% of white people said yes. Also, four out of ten or 45% black people said that they felt threatened because of their race. If racism wasn’t a problem, then it wouldn’t be in the news so often. These people are fighting for their rights to be human beings. Sure, books are just a small factor, but it’s still a part that’s taken away to shield people from the real world. Reality is too harsh for humans apparently.
Third and final topic is missing out on the lesson from books. No matter how small or big, impactful or not, all books have something to learn from them. In ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, Harper Lee teaches the reader to not judge a book by its cover. To not just see skin deep of a person. In the novel, she taught her readers empathy. Atticus also says in the book,”You never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them.” In the story, Tom Robinson was wrongfully charged with beating and raping Mayella Ewell. In the book, if a black man were accused to a crime like that, it doesn’t matter if he was innocent or not. He was black, end of story. That’s not right nowadays but this story taught us that no one should be judged and/or accused by the color of their skin. Another book mentioned before is ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ by Mark Twain. In the tale, Huck learns that it’s okay to be uncivilized and to have a wild side. That it’s okay to break the rules sometimes and to be independent. His guardian tried so hard to turn Huck around but Tom made that difficult and then Huck finally ran away from it all. Mark Twain also teaches the lesson that adults aren’t always right. Huck’s father was a bigot and claimed that black people were dirty and no good. Huck learned from being on a raft with the slave Jim. Through this experience on the raft, he learned that his father was very wrong about people. Huck learned to not let people tell him what to see, instead see what he wants. Huck saw a good man that happened to be a salve. Jim learned from Huck as much as Huck learned from Jim.In conclusion, no book should be banned, especially being banned for racism and racial content. There are valid reasons to ban books, understandable for middle school if the school doesn’t want the students to read Fifty Shades, but high schoolers can take some sexual content. Banning books for racism though seems to do more closing doors rather than opening windows. For starters, book censorship prevents knowledge. Blocking culture is blocking a piece of America since it’s pretty much built on different cultures. Can’t forget about how history is told through books so the public can learn from mistakes. Also, racism is still a problem in the world today with Black Lives Matter hitting the news at least monthly. Does that not raise any red flags? How about how 51% of the nation thinks racism isn’t a problem? Books, again, are a small part in the exposure of racism but if it’s taken away, then that exposure is gone. Also, the important lesson that can be learned, not judging based on race, adults do have the power to be wrong (shocker), and it’s okay to go crazy. This part of our society, this is a part of history. Save books from censorship because America is a country of freedom and books are a part of that freedom. Again, books are a way of expression and should not be banned because they contain racism or racial language.