Banning Books Should be a Crime. Speak Up, America!

Bench by the Road found in Gullah Museum in Hilton Head, SC. It honors Toni Morrison and her book Beloved.

Books were my salvation and my sanity as a child. Abandoned by both parents and constantly living in strangers’ homes, books of all subjects helped me see that the world was bigger than my hometown. The content of the books I read introduced me to the customs of other races and ethnicities, cultures, and religions other than Christianity. Who I am today and my love of travel and meeting new people come from the books I was allowed to read at school and at the glorious place of our community’s library.

When I read of the banning of classics like The Handmaid’s Tale, Harry Potter, To Kill a Mockingbird, Tom Sawyer, any of Toni Morrison’s works, Charlotte’s Web, and others, I cringe at the loss of the knowledge within these books for helping children, especially teenagers, understand people different from themselves. Today, we need that type of wisdom in the environment of hate and open hostility toward people of color and the embrace by many evangelical Christians of white supremacist notions of Christian nationalism.

As a sociology professor, I taught about race and society, prejudice and discrimination, hate and bigotry, and my students’ eyes were often opened. They were not harmed by learning of the universality of our humanity. I find it appalling that today many professors are afraid to mention race or to request students read Toni Morrison’s books for fear of losing their tenure or jobs for putatively causing white children to feel guilt or shame about their race. That is ridiculous! Race is real. It still divides us. It still helps win elections! It still justifies gerrymandering that weakens the voting power of people of color!

When you consider the harm done, such as the shooting of a 16-year-old black boy who rang the wrong doorbell, we need more real and authentic books on race, not the banning of classics that help us see that hate harms the one who hates and the ones hated. Books are not the enemy, but children’s friends everywhere, for they give children a wisdom greater than one can receive from parents or teachers alone.

Banning books is a form of controlling what people are allowed to learn that borders on fascism and nazism. It is a means of division that is cloaked in righteousness and the lie of doing God’s work. Parents do have the right to determine what their children read, but they do not have the right to usurp the rights of other parents who have no problem or even desire their children to read the books that helped them grow into sensitive and more loving people.

We have to speak out, no matter the costs. As a nation, we cannot sit idly by, wringing our hands and saying, “Woe is us!” while a minority of people take away our right in a democracy to read any books. Banning books violates free speech, as certain elements of the political Right seek to control the minds and hearts of our youngest people. We must protect their rights. For me, it is essential, for reading books of all kinds and subject matter is like drinking water for children, and as necessary. Books were, and still are, my saving grace!

12 thoughts on “Banning Books Should be a Crime. Speak Up, America!

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  1. So well said! I believe that those who advocate banning books are ashamed of America’s history, and they don’t want descriptions of age old inhumanity to be handily accessed. I think that they also believe if they keep books about sex and homosexuality from America’s kids, it will just disappear.

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  2. Just because someone puts their ideas in book form does not mean it is fit food for the brain. I have my doubts about books in school libraries that cannot be read aloud to school board members. I’m glad you left some responsibility to parents, but …. Check out your children’s library. Take note of the number of books about witches compared with the number of books you can find regarding honesty, honor, respect, patriotism, religion. I believe the subject is much too complicated to be seen as a never/always issue. My the way, I noticed Uncle Tom’s Cabin was not in your line-up of banned classics. I re-read Isaiah 46 this morning to see if I could find a standard you are coming from that I might have missed. I’m puzzled.

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    1. I agree that not all content might be good, but I don’t think it’s good for people to decide what can’t be read. I personally have not read Uncle Tom’s Cabin, so it wasn’t on my radar. Of course, it should be available to people who can read it, but I can’t. Yet I wouldn’t ban it for others. It’s good to be able to disagree so graciously. Isaiah 46 was my title due to being in my 70s and still feeling the truth of it that even when my hair is grey, God is with me. Thank you for your response. I hear you, truly.

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  3. I’m a step beyond you. My hair is gone, not gray. Not really, but it is sure getting thin in the bangs area. 😀 I would like your opinion on the “witches” thing. It bothers me that it is so rampant. I value input from people who do not agree with me. I am not sensitive. I do blame myself and my peers for a lot of debauchery going on. We were the vanguard of the career woman, often putting our children on a second tier. I guess now I’m no so puzzled as perplexed.

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    1. I don’t read books on witches or watch films on them. But, we have had books with witches in them for many years, like the Wizard of Oz. I didn’t even want to be the “good” with. I think that many times women burned at the stake as witches were simply healers who were misunderstood. I met a couple of Wiccans and still don’t fully understand what they believe. But I think people write books on things they don’t fully understand. Yet, even a a Chrisitan, I believe that free speech requires we allow them to be read, and that parents monitor what their child reads. I didn’t know there were so many books on witches in libraries, because I never inquire of them. We are all perplexed to some degree on what is good and evil. You are not alone. But I trust God, and if we teach our children His love and the power of his love, hopefully it will keep them safe.

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      1. I have eight g-granddaughters. I’ve tried to instill a love of books to read. Hard to compete with hand held games on cell phones. Anyway I’ve gone to the children’s library quite a few times. That is the basis for my question. I bought a couple Nancy Drews at the Dollar Tree. I’ll see if I can read it with the younger ones this summer. Hope so.

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  4. Banning books is just Nazism-Communism-Marxism!!

    If We Ban books what shall be able too read everyone, I personally love reading the old way on BOOKS!!

    ( Psalms 33:12 KJV ) “Blessed is the Nation whose GOD is the LORD; and the People whom HE hath Chosen for HIS Own Inheritance.”!!

    Our ONE True GOD’S LOVE 💕💜 is ETERNAL THROUGH HIS SON Christ-MESSIAH Jesus-Yeshua for Today and Everyday Forevermore!!

    I Love you all Everyone through Christ-MESSIAH Jesus-Yeshua, because HE LOVED 💜💕 EVERYONE FIRST!!

    Love 💕 Always and Shalom ( Peace ), YSIC \o/

    Kristi Ann

    Liked by 1 person

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