Sunday, September 22, 2013

Banning Ellison

Ralph Ellison is one of the greatest writers of all time. An accomplished wordsmith who's literary prowess stands head and shoulders above many who have dared to call themselves scribes. His novel, "The Invisible Man", is a literary American masterwork which is nothing short of a cultural phenomenon that should be required reading by all. With that being said, I am puzzled by the fact that one North Carolina school district had almost failed to recognize it as a valuable literary tool and a national treasure, until there was a public out cry.

Randolph County, N.C. is reconsidering a ban on Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man," a novel that focuses on black identity in the first half of the 20th century.

In a 5-2 vote last week, the Randolph County School Board of Education banned the book from county school libraries after the mother of an 11-grader complained. The mother claimed Ellison's work was inappropriate for 11th grade summer reading, citing both language and subject matter.

Could it be that the mother in question found the girth of Ellisions reality unnerving in contrast to her own.

In response, Board members each received a copy of the novel to assess for themselves. According to local media at last Monday's meeting, the board chair rejected "Invisible Man" as a "hard read," and another member stated he couldn't "find any literary value" in it, even though it won the U.S. National Book Award in 1953 and was identified by the Library of Congress as one of the "books that shaped America."

The board's ban upset local residents and gained national attention, even some international attention. The story even appeared on Russian TV.

It is unclear whether the outcry caused the board to schedule a special session as no reason was given for the reconsideration, but the board will meet again on Wednesday Sept. 23 to discuss the ban, and hopefully it will result in the inclusion of Ellisons work in the county curriculum. 

Censored education or incomplete education is not education at all. It is nothing more that miseducation.


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