A central North Carolina school district voted to remove Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” from county school libraries this week. Yes, America, we just love dumbing it down. You can all thank Kimiyutta Parson’s complaint to the Randolph County Board of Education.
The Winston-Salem Journal reports, “The Randolph County Board of Education voted 5-2 Monday to suppress the seminal 1952 work on the oppressive social climate that African Americans faced in the early 20th century.”
Those who voted in support of the book’s removal were Board Chair Tommy McDonald and members Tracy Boyles, Gary Cook, Matthew Lambeth, and Gary Mason. Voting against the action were Board Vice Chair Emily Coltrane and member Todd Cutler.
Before the vote took place, a motion to keep the book in district libraries was introduced. It failed by a 2-5 vote. All board members were given copies to read before the vote. Board Chair McDonald said “it was a hard read.” Mason said, “I didn’t find any literary value” and objected to the book’s language. “I’m for not allowing it to be available,” he added. A school district official said ahead of the vote that ‘Invisible Man’ was just one of many options in school libraries, and that no student was forced to read it. She also stressed that the state Department of Public Instruction approved the book for student consumption. ‘Invisible Man’ was one of three books that Randleman High School juniors-to-be in the 2013-14 school year could choose to read for the summer. ‘Black Like Me’ by John Howard Griffin and ‘Passing’ by Nella Larsen were the students’ other choices. Honors students had to choose two of the three books.
Parson, the mother of an 11th grader, felt the book’s language and sexual content of the book objectionable and said, “The narrator writes in the first person, emphasizing his individual experiences and his feelings about the events portrayed in his life. This novel is not so innocent; instead, this book is filthier, too much for teenagers. You must respect all religions and point of views when it comes to the parents and what they feel is age appropriate for their young children to read, without their knowledge. This book is freely in your library for them to read.”
In 2010, Time magazine named the book one of the top 100 English-language novels of all time, calling it “the quintessential American picaresque of the 20th century.”
Ms. Parson, I hope your 11th grader is similar to a Cosby kid, because if not, I’m quite sure their language and behavior at school is probably objectionable. You don’t see anyone voting them out of the educational system.