Let’s share this list of banned books with all teenagers
Ah book banners! Don’t you know the best way to get a kid to be interested in something is to forbid it?
NEW: A Texas parent is attempting to get a biography about Michelle Obama removed from Katy Independent School District’s libraries. The parent says the book makes “white girls” feel “ashamed,” shows the Republican Party as having “bad values,” and portrays Trump as a “bully.”Bryan Tyler Cohen on twitter
My parents were relatively non-interfering sorts, although when I was a kid, it wasn’t the challenge it is now. We didn’t have the internet. My parents controlled the movies we saw because they were the funders and/or transporters to such movies. When I was a teenager, the only movie theater was on base and they wouldn’t sell tickets for R movies to anyone under 17.
And I read pretty much what I wanted, although my mom did draw the line at Valley of the Dolls and Portnoy’s Complaint.
I retrieved Valley and read it behind her back. All I remember now is that it was about flight attendants.
(Runs to google to be sure that Valley is indeed about flight attendants.)
(No! IT’S NOT! It’s about drug addiction! Oh well.)
I returned Portnoy to the library but then sat in the stacks to read it.
Oh my dear friends.
Why is this book considered a classic?
My mom was right to stop me – she set me on the proper path of ignoring books about the problems of wealthy white men.
I read less than one chapter, I think. I got to the liver – if you’ve read the book you know what I’m talking about – and stopped.
It. Was. Gross.
I don’t care about the problems of rich white men now and I don’t care about the problems of rich white boys (See also: Catcher in the Rye, another highly overrated book in my opinion) now and I did not care then.
Narrator: That was not to say that she thought these books should be banned. She just didn’t think they were all that.
Banning books. The last refuge of the frightened and ignorant and, dare I say it – YES I WILL SAY IT – evil.
If your world is so tiny and fragile that the knowledge and POV in a book can destroy it, the book is not the problem.
Back to the Texas parent who wants to ban Michelle Obama’s memoir (or maybe it’s a children’s bio of Obama) because “The parent says the book makes ‘white girls’ feel ‘ashamed,’ shows the Republican Party as having ‘bad values,’ and portrays Trump as a ‘bully.'”
Where’s the lie?
The Republican Party does have bad values.
Trump is a bully.
And, finally, yes – reading Obama’s memoir made me, a white woman, feel ashamed.
Ashamed that I had so misjudged Obama.
Ashamed that I did not know so many important details about US history – not Black history – US history – the history belongs to all of us – like the fact that when Obama was a girl, Black people were not welcome in most unions.
Union jobs have been the path to middle-class stability for so many families.
And yet that path was blocked for Black people.
I was so wrong about so many things.
(Also, after reading her book, I think I would really like Michelle in person. She’s funny and smart and I totally get how awful campaigning is or even just being married to someone who is campaigning.)
Dear Texas parent,
There are different kinds of shame.
There’s bad shame, the kind Republicans like to heap on poor people for being poor and on single moms for being single. (I can’t help but notice there is not any shame on the men who turned women into mothers but whatever.)(Or on the child molesters, who happen to be white men.)
And there’s good shame, the kind of shame you have when you realize you were wrong. That you made so many assumptions and judged someone else or an entire race (although race does not exist as a biological marker – I mean our social definitions of “white” and “Black”) of someone elses without having all the facts.
There is the good shame that makes you realize you are ignorant and possibly stupid and that you need to do what you can to fix the situation.
Fortunately, it is possible to fix ignorant.
You fix it by reading banned books.
A white woman who is trying to do better