Virginia schools ban 'To Kill a Mockingbird,' 'Huckleberry Finn' for racial slurs


A Virginia school has temporarily banned two American classics after a parent said her high school-age son was negatively impacted by the racial slurs they contain.

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The decision to remove "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain and "To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee came after a parent filed a complaint, WCMH-TV reported. The parent cited excessive racial slurs as the reason for wanting the books banned, Superintendent Warren Holland told the news station.

The parent, whose son is biracial, said that her concerns are "not even just a black and white thing."

"I keep hearing, 'This is a classic, This is a classic,' ... I understand this is a literature classic. But at some point, I feel that children will not -- or do not -- truly get the classic part -- the literature part, which I'm not disputing," she said at a Nov. 15 school board meeting. "This is great literature. But there (are so many) racial slurs in there and offensive wording that you can't get past that."

The parent said her son, who was reading "Huckleberry Finn" for a high school assignment, couldn't get past a certain page in that story on which the N-word appeared seven times. 

A racial slur appears 219 times in "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" and 48 times in "To Kill a Mockingbird."

"So what are we teaching our children? We're validating that these words are acceptable, and they are not acceptable by (any) means," the parent said, also noting psychological effects language has on children. "There is other literature they can use."

The parent proposed a committee made up of parents and teachers of different cultural backgrounds come up with a list of books that are inclusive for all students. She also offered to donate books and raise funds in the case of budgetary concerns.

The complaint, which was "a request for reconsideration of learning resources," will go before a committee made up of a principal, librarian, teacher, parent and potentially others, according to WCMH. The committee will then make a recommendation to the superintendent.

Holland said that there is no set date for when the recommendation will be made.

Read more at WCMH.


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