Isabelle Braun ’20 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Earning a spot on the New York Time’s bestsellers list is an honor for authors of all genres. Writers fight to the very last word to get awards such as the Boston Globe Horn Book Award and to be on either the long-list or short-list for the National Book Award. If professional panels deem a book worthy enough for any of these honors, there should be no reason for it to be banned from the public.
Angie Thomas is the amazing author of the radical novel The Hate U Give. This story is inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and is about the unjust killing of a young African American boy by a white police officer. The reader joins Starr, the boy’s childhood friend and witness to the murder, through her journey of being a witness and watching the media’s portrayal of the tragic event.
Thomas’s book does an amazing job at putting such a complicated topic into words that a nine year-old could understand. The difficulty level of the language is that of about elementary age. Thomas explicitly chose to have an easy reading level for the sole purpose that younger individuals could understand a topic that is prevailing in American society. However, Thomas does include topics that some consider to be inappropriate for the age group that she is trying to target.
These topics have caused the rippling effect of the book being banned in some states. In the state of Texas, the Katy Independent School District received complaints about Angie Thomas’s new book a couple of months ago. Anthony Downs, a father of a student at one of the district’s schools, wanted the book to be banned from the district because of the topics of drug use and explicit language. It is reasonable that a parent would be worried about their child reading such content at a young age. However, Downs wanted the book banned after only reading the first thirteen pages; these pages included a party happening at a house in a gang-ridden African American neighborhood and the killing of a boy by a cop. The main purpose of the book is to show the African American side and viewpoint of the situation that is repeatedly occurring across the United States. Downs never reached that level of understanding because he shut the book and put it down only after reading thirteen pages.
In order to improve the quality of life and the relationship between Caucasians and African Americans within the United States, younger generations need to understand both sides. People of all ages can relate to Starr’s struggle in one way or another, whether it be the difficult relationship she has with her friends, having a boyfriend that her father doesn’t like, or trying to decide what the right action is even if it puts those you love in danger. The Hate U Give is an incredibly powerful book that should not be banned. Parents do have a right to have an opinion on what their children can and cannot read, but they do not have a right to what other parents’ children can and cannot read.
The fight to overturn the unjust pulling from the shelves is still going on today. Teachers and librarians working within the Katy Independent School District are not happy with the situation at all. The tip of the iceberg was the news that the District Superintendent, Lance Hindt, rushed the review process and possibly skipped the whole procedure before deciding that The Hate U Give would be pulled from the district’s shelves. Protests are happening in the form of petitions to get Thomas’ book back onto library shelves. Those who have a hard copy are also donating them in order to replace the ones that were removed. Unfortunately, there are still not enough copies for the number of students requesting one within the district.
The issue that teachers have with this amazing book being banned is that it is a learning opportunity that is being missed. A teacher was quoted saying “it’s a missed opportunity for our students to be able to have an open discussion about something that is a reality—about something many of our students and even our faculty face.” The teachers and librarians are not trying to convert the students to one side of the fight, they are merely trying to open the conversation.
Improving the relationship between all different races within the United States starts with the younger generations. Literature has a great influence on educating young minds and discussions help refine one’s thoughts. Angie Thomas’ novel is innovative, and it is needed within all of the school districts. It does not deserve the punishment of being pulled from the shelves and banned from the students.