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A swift decision to ban Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye” from high school libraries only a month ago has now been reversed by the Wentzville School Board. According to NBC News, the St. Louis school district has reversed its earlier decision amid vociferous criticism and a class-action lawsuit.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Wentzville School Board recently accepted a review committee’s recommendation to retain the book which had been previously banned because of its explicit descriptions of sex, violence, rape, and incest.
Though conservatives en masse have moved to ban books related to the nuances of Blackness, communities have been fighting back in response. The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri earlier this month sued the school district on behalf of two students. If this lawsuit is successful, it may provide a blueprint on how to combat the right’s rampant cancel culture wars against Blackness, diversity and sexuality.
“This is welcome news, but the fact remains that six books are still banned. And Wentzville’s policies still make it easy for any community member to force any book from the shelves even when they shamelessly target books by and about communities of color, LGBTQ people and other marginalized groups,” said Anthony Rothert, director of integrated advocacy of ACLU of Missouri. For now, “The Bluest Eye” remains on the shelves.
Just like slave owners who banned our ancestors from reading anything to acquire ideas, ambition or freedom, many of those slave owning descendants and sympathizers now advocate ignorance-for-all. Access to literature has been a 400-year long cold war waged by those who prefer we remain dumb, docile, and accommodating.
We’ve lived through the results of this. When children grow up learning two different sets of facts and realities, those kids become adults who make decisions based on their splintered upbringing. Because of White feelings, Black realities are often adversely impacted. If these book bans continue, our country’s widening division will only be stretched further. Perhaps those who seek to ban books like “The Bluest Eye” might think differently if they took the time to read them.