Following a complaint from a concerned parent about racial slurs, both Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn have been removed from schools in Accomack County, Virginia.
The complaint was made by Marie Rothstein-Williams, the mother of a biracial teenager, who was concerned by the books use of the N-word. As The Washington Post reports, Williams told the Accomack County public schools board: “There’s so much racial slurs and defensive wording in there that you can’t get past that.” She also cited the current political climate in the United States as a factor, saying: “Right now, we are a nation divided as it is.”
A committee will decide whether the books will ultimately be banned from the schools, but for now the books are off the table until a decision has been decided. Some have spoken out against the censorship. The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) has stated: “By avoiding discussion of controversial issues such as racism, schools do a great disservice to their students.”
In a letter sent to the Virginia school board, the NCAC wrote: “Each book enables readers to gain a historical understanding of race relations in America and invites them to examine race in the present day. Although discomforting to some, the racial slurs realistically depict American history and should be addressed under the guidance of a teacher.”
Both Lee and Twain’s books have been challenged many times as to whether they’re fit for young readers. Some argue that the depictions of racism and sex are too much for non-adults to read, but others argue that it is up to schools to teach children about such realities that occurred in recent history and still continues today.