Hey, I've been following the whole problematic books issue, and I want to know what you think about high school required reading? For example, should Huck Finn be be removed and replaced with something by a POC? Or do you think that reading a problematic book like that is a way to give students a supervised encounter with racism, white privilege, etc. and the tools to identify and critically think about those problems?
This is a really interesting question that brings forth a lot of varying arguments.
- High school curriculum is very, very white. What we consider to be classics are only such because of colonialism and white supremacy. Books by straight, white males have always been held in higher esteem than books by women or people of color,
- So while I don’t believe those books should be banned or pulled outright, I do believe that educators should make a commitment to teaching more diverse titles. If they want to cover a certain issue, they should try to choose books that represent that issue accurately.
- IF a school decides to teach a book like Huck Finn or To Kill A Mockingbird, a section of that study should be a conversation about how these books about black lives are viewed through the lens of the white gaze, and readings by black writers of the time should be taught in tandem. That way the educator can present a fully well-rounded and developed view of the book with context.
- In addition, the problematic aspects of the books should be discussed at length within the unit. Instead of these books being taught as infallible pillars of classic literature, we should know the social history behind the author as well as the context of the time they were written.