Harper Lee’s Pulitzer prize winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, has sparked debate throughout the country over time as it is repeatedly contested in school districts. The book is continuing to be an issue for some as it was banned from the eight grade curriculum in Biloxi, Mississippi, as it “makes people uncomfortable.” To that I’d say, “That’s the point.”
Many can agree that the most influential works of literature are the ones that make us ask the important questions. Refusing to discuss difficult topics solves nothing. Imagine growing up hearing, “You are forbidden from having sex, ever.” I’m not sure if that’s ever worked on anybody, definitely not myself. The sex talk makes everybody uncomfortable, right? But that’s precisely why we should be talking about it. We have to move towards openly discussing taboo things.
To Kill a Mockingbird asks questions we we need to be acknowledging, not banning. Lee explores themes like racial injustice and sexual and physical violence through the narration of Scout as she watches her father, Atticus Finch, represent a black man who is falsely accused of raping a white woman in court. Now, of course these topics make people uncomfortable. If you are comfortable with racism, rape, or violence, we have big problems. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore these issues.
A major issue many have with the book is its use of racist language. At the time of the book, this word was used to repeatedly put down an entire race. Profanity in any form can make teaching a classroom of eighth graders extremely difficult, yes, but wouldn’t you rather explain to them the history behind the injustice instead of keeping them in the dark? Kids have access to a ton of content at any time of any day. People use the internet.
The lessons in To Kill a Mockingbird are extremely important to children as they become young adults. Lee’s book is one of the best ways to get young people to read about social injustice and to get them talking about things in a safe environment. It’s important for them to know that we trust them with such sensitive material and that they should be using their voices for good.
Many took to Twitter to share their opinions. We’d love to hear yours.
if to kill a mockingbird makes you uncomfortable you should probably be reading to kill a mockingbird.
— Nick Orsini (@NickOrsini) October 14, 2017
— Jerry Mitchell (@JMitchellNews) October 14, 2017
Teach only “comfortable” books about racism in America, and you get students raised to be comfortable with racism. https://t.co/pRBq2C9NSW
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) October 14, 2017
Feature Image Via Hollywood Reporter