Because 2017 is the new 1817, one Biloxi, Mississippi, school district has yanked To Kill a Mockingbird out of the hands of its eighth graders; according to the school, the book’s discussion of the realities of racism might make teens “uncomfortable.”
Based on author Harper Lee’s Great Depression childhood in Alabama, the book was published in 1960 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961. It’s nothing short of a masterpiece of American literature, with over 18 million copies in print. The movie version — starring Gregory Peck as central character and best dad ever, Atticus Finch — won some Academy Awards too. But hey! Definitely not worth a read, kids!
The Sun Herald reports that Kenny Holloway — vice president of the Biloxi School Board — actually said, “There were complaints about it. There is some language in the book that makes people uncomfortable.” He added, “It’s still in our library. But they’re going to use another book in the 8th grade course.”
The Sun Herald shared an excerpt of an email from a reader who let them know about the school district’s decision, which was made “mid-lesson plan, the students will not be allowed to finish the reading of To Kill A Mockingbird.” The unnamed reader told the news outlet, “I think it is one of the most disturbing examples of censorship I have ever heard, in that the themes in the story humanize all people regardless of their social status, education level, intellect, and of course, race. It would be difficult to find a time when it was more relevant than in days like these.”
Biloxi may be spiraling backward in time, but Twitter’s not in mood.
I'm incensed but not surprised that ppl in #Biloxi whined abt kids reading To Kill A Mockingbird. Who wants wise, open-minded kids anyway? 😒
— 🍂 Nicole 🍃🍁 (@nikheartslilies) October 14, 2017
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD SHOWS EXAMPLES OF REAL RACISM.GUESS #BILOXI's SCHOOL BOARD WANTS ENTITLED BRATS TO THINK they ARE THE ONES WITH PROBS.
— Brenda P. Williamson (PLS RT FOR #NYC ACC #cats!) (@BrendaPerrott) October 14, 2017
#HarperLee's book is supposed to make people think AND feel "uncomfortable."
— Howard Salter (@HaSalter1160) October 15, 2017
— Anthony Mariani (@AnthonyLMariani) October 14, 2017
So there you have it. Just one more sign that a real-life Handmaid’s Tale may be nigh. Maybe it’s time for a friendly air-drop of a million copies of To Kill a Mockingbird — book and movie, of course, plus popcorn —into Mississippi? We think this school board in particular might need this quote from Atticus Finch: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Even if it makes you “uncomfortable.”