To Kill [the] Mockingbird?

Justin Pradere, Co-Editor in Chief

Ever since it was published in 1960, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird has sparked controversy over racism and whether the publicly educated youth of America should be exposed to the book. Frankly, racism, 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 consumption by middle school aged children. The use of the word is 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 reflects the diction of the 1960s. 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 of the stigma his skin color carried. 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.

To say that the book’s strong language is inappropriate is a faint claim 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. Another perceived issue is the blatant racism expressed in the book. In fact, those who believe this is a valid reason are taking the book entirely out of context; it is not to condone racism, but to emphasize the injustices that took place 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 a dangerous mistake, leaving the next generations deprived of the knowledge of their nation’s past, which can lead to a perpetuation of history rather than a solution to the problem.

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 significant books ever written and should remain in the curriculum of every school in the United States.