AfroSapiophile
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AfroSapiophile

Case of the P.T.A.: They Ban Books So They Don’t Learn Our Stories.

“In school I wrote notes and took quotes from Shakespeare
And other types of rhymes to show you that I (care)” — Case of the P.T.A by The Leaders Of The New School.

I read banned books because the authors of those books — mostly — look like me. They write stories that have protagonists that look like me. These banned books contain stories that tell my story. Some tell my mother’s story. Even more, they tell the story of my community with their pages. I read banned books because white people don’t want me to read these stories. Even more so, white people do not want other white people to read these stories. I read banned books because they ask questions we are afraid to ask and are more terrified to answer.

I remember the first time I read Toni Morrison’s Bluest Eye. Her use of the literary device: stream of consciousness — which she had improved upon from William Faulkner — was life-altering for me. Morrison’s writing was more like the most compelling song lyrics I had ever been confronted with. After I spent time with Dr. Morrison’s words, I found rock songs’ lyrics to be pedestrian, even Bob Dylan’s lyrics. Let me say this: Toni Morrison is the best American writer of all-time, periodt. The idea that any of her books are banned is absurd.

The Bluest Eye does deal with child sexual abuse, but that trauma is used to set up the subversive main point of the novel: whiteness. Blue-eyes are wanted because they connote whiteness and all of the benefits and privileges that whiteness affords to those who possess it. Whiteness is not just a racial identity but a property right. Those with whiteness might still have a tough go at life, but their race will never be an inhibiting factor.

Photo by Pj Accetturo on Unsplash of a white man at a book shop.

The banning of this book is so that students do not have to learn about the value of whiteness in their classrooms. Accordingly, I read it, and currently, I am the number one author on the topic on Medium. I read banned books.

Governor Jim Youngkin of the Commonwealth of Virginia partially obtained this office with the aid of a mother who was so offended by Toni Morrison’s Beloved that she pushed to have the book banned. Her high school senior read the book and became undone. Mommy had to protect his delicate sensibilities and other young white adults from being subjected to slavery and the legacy of slavery.

I read banned books because Beloved is the perfect allegory for slavery. Moreover, it does not hide the fact that white men raped black women, and the black men who loved them sometimes witnessed this violence. Beloved destroys the notion that slavery was cheery and the masters loved their slaves. Beloved shows how ruinous an institution slavery was and the act of love of a mother to protect her children from becoming slaves.

The cover of Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, photo credit by me.

Beloved, along with The Great Gatsby, Moby Dick, and East of Eden, all can make a credible claim as the Great American Novel. Yet, the book written by the black woman is the one that is banned. The one that deals with one of our two original sins is the book that is banned. The novel that accurately depicts the savagery and cruelty of slavery is the book that is banned.

The best advice I ever received was: You are the people you meet and the books you read. If we are allowed to get proximate to people who are not like us, then perhaps we might extend grace and kindness towards them. Maybe we will challenge the lies and fallacies spread about them because we know the warmth of their embrace and have experienced the radiance of their smile. You get a similar experience from reading books. A person shares how all the stimuli they’ve received, interpreted, and processed in their own words for the rest of the world to devour.

I read banned books. My 9-year-old daughter reads banned books. My family reads banned books. I hope you start reading banned books as well. In the comments list, your favorite banned or challenged book.

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Garrick McFadden

Garrick McFadden

I helped flip AZ blue in 2020 as a Vice-Chair of the AZ Dem Party. I am a civil-rights attorney. I write about #whiteness, #racism, #hiphop, policing & politics