And what they should read instead.
"To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee. This classic novel has found itself in the hands of nearly every high school student for the past decades. Ahead of its time, the themes of racial injustices and loss of innocence have certainly sparked many healthy conversations in classrooms.
However, the novel is about the struggles of a white family through a white narrator. Should it not be the other way around?
The traumatic history of the Black community should be the main focus of discussion, not sidelined as an undeveloped side character. (Also, how many teachers used this book as an excuse to use racial slurs in classrooms?)
Since the superiority of the white man was established, an ever-growing power dynamic has installed itself between the white and Black communities. "To Kill A Mockingbird" fails to address this increasing issue, thus enabling this issue to escape classroom discussion. The conversation should be focused on the survivors, not the perpetrators.
Instead, "Beloved" by Toni Morrison should find itself in every High School curriculum.
"Beloved" explores the trauma of post-Civil War through voices of Black, developed characters who are antagonized by the white community (can we please accept the fact white people were the villains in American history? Thank you).
Morrison does not shy away from retelling the atrocities committed, no matter how unsettling they are. Black victims are given more than a name and a conflict that a white individual must solve (just imagine yourself in their shoes, it's that easy!) The heavy themes presented throughout the novel serves itself as a stage for Black voices and shifts the power dynamic that is still enslaving the Black community today.
It's imperative that future generations are educated in root causes of racial injustices and how it has plagued the country. "To Kill A Mockingbird" offers a weak perspective on racial injustices and maintains the idea of power over Black individuals."Beloved" shares the story of racial injustices through the lenses of victims, thus turning them into survivors.
If any student sees"To Kill A Mockingbird" printed on their syllabus, they should consider picking up "Beloved" as well.