To Ban a Mockingbird


Alexander Yagoda

Some school districts might be banning “To Kill a Mockingbird” from their English curriculum.

Alexander Yagoda, Staff Writer

Ever since it was published in 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird has received large amounts of controversial comments over racism and whether the publicly educated youth of America should be exposed to the book. Frankly, racism, like sex education, is more efficiently taught in a controlled environment like a classroom. This method is certainly better than an informal setting, especially at a younger age, where “facts” might be the twisted misinterpretation of something that might have been overheard. For many years now, To Kill a Mockingbird has sadly been through the process of removal from the curriculum of several school districts, one of which is Harrison County in Mississippi. However, To Kill a Mockingbird is a wonderful book that should forever remain in educational curricula because it educates students about our past.

One of the main issues people have with the book is the frequent use of the n-word, which in nearly every other case would be deemed as unsuitable for the consumption of middle school aged children. However, the use of the word isn’t in the descriptions of the book, but rather in the dialogue. For example, a racist book might depict a person using that word or others like it, but To Kill a Mockingbird uses it in dialogue that is very similar to the actual language of 1960. Moreover, the book depicts events that could have unfolded in that same year: such as a black man nearly being imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit simply because others thought he did it due to his skin color. Even going past its context, many students and their parents were apparently made uncomfortable by the frequent use of the word. However, no matter how many people are made uncomfortable by such language, it is no excuse to miss out on reading one of the most important books ever written in English literature. If parts of the learning curriculum were removed because it made people uncomfortable, much of any anatomy course would be removed simply because some people are more squeamish than others.

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I think integrating the book into the school’s curriculum is extremely important, partly because of its status as a classic. Though it may be “uncomfortable” to have to deal with the language, it is necessary to have these discussions and exchanges of ideas to promote tolerance.

— freshman Miguel De La O

To say that the book’s strong language is a problem would be incorrect because most kids, who are taught the book at school, have almost certainly heard most, if not all, of the profane words used in the book. Therefore, any argument based off the language of the book is based on absolutely nothing. Another perceived issue is the blatant racism expressed in the book. In fact, those who believe this is a valid reason are incorrect because the entire premise of the book was to show the blatant racism in America during the ’60s, which it successfully does through powerful dialogue that can make people feel “uncomfortable.” The book is in America’s education curriculum to educate the youth of their country’s history. Moreover, to neglect teaching students of their country’s past would be an awful mistake, leaving the next generations deprived of the knowledge of their nation’s past- in addition to not having read one of the most important pieces of twentieth century American literature.

“I loved To Kill a Mockingbird! I think it should stay in every school’s curriculum because it was such a great book and it teaches kids about racial inequalities from the past,” sophomore Christopher Brazda said.

Furthermore, there are other issues that some have with the teaching of the book, such as causing mental trauma to young black kids due to the use of the n-word and how the book teaches young students that it’s okay for women to lie about being raped. On the contrary, hearing the n-word in a classroom setting, where a teacher can tell everyone not to use it, can alleviate some of the mysticism of hearing a curse word for the first time; therefore, making the word less likely to be used and abused outside of the classroom.  As for the point on false rape allegations, it is important to note that, while rare, they do happen as often as once in every ten cases. Therefore, it is important to raise awareness towards the issue in a safe environment that is conducive to educational apprehension of the “taboo” topic.

In the end, the decision by the Harrison County school district made to ban To Kill a Mockingbird from its curriculum was a horrible mistake because it will have negative effects in both the overall knowledge and culture of that county’s publicly educated youth. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most recognized books ever written and should remain in the curriculum of every school in the United States.

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