Tuesday, October 20, 2009

She clearly does not know why the caged bird sings

Judy Ahrens, who used to serve as a trustee for the Westminster School District, spoke at a Huntington Beach City Council meeting this week regarding her concern over a book that is available to 8th graders in their middle school library.  The book in question?  Maya Angelou's autobiography "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings".  Ahrens, and her cohort, Ocean View School District Trustee John Briscoe, claim that the rape scene in the book is vulgar and inappropriate.  Briscoe opened with "I am here to speak on behalf of the helpless children currently subject to inappropriate reading material in our local public schools".

It gets better.

Ahrens, during her presentation, emotionally stated to the audience "I would like to say I don't wish to read this material...but for the sake of the innocence of our children...sometimes we have to do things in life we are uncomfortable with".

Yes, Ms. Ahrens, indeed we do.  And contrary to your prerogative, sometimes these "things in life we are uncomfortable with" include
 teaching our children about rape; as well as racism, sexism, and class discrimination.  All of which, Angelou's book confronts.

There is also a list of the top twenty most frequently challenged books, which includes "Of Mice and Men" which teaches our children about mental illness, "Heather Has Two Mommies" which encourages equal civil rights to homosexuals, and the Alice series- that famous series of books that has been passed from one sweaty pubescent nail polished hand to another for decades, encouraging young women to feel confident about themselves and their bodies and the changes that occur during puberty.

Are these really resources that we should be removing from our children?  In a time when they can hop on the family computer themselves and find another resource?  Say...pornography?  Or some extremist hate group luring young kids into prejudice?

And aside from the fact that these books get our kids to read, and therefore think, we need to confront the fact that these are all realities that our kids face on a daily basis.  We would be foolish, and doing great harm to our next generation, to act as though they do not exist, or that they are too filthy to bring to the table.

Here's an idea- instead of sweeping them under the rug, why not raise our children in such a manner that they will acknowledge that the world unfortunately holds such problems as these, and with compassion and empathy for other human beings, go out and do something about it?

But that's just probably some silly thought that I picked up from some vulgar book....



With Love, Nicole said...

First off: YOU GO GRRRRRL!

So many conservatives try to "shelter" children from books, music, etc, but you're totally right, they just act like those things don't exist, rather than EDUCATE! Take sex ed for example. The good old "abstinence only" teaching doesn't really work out for the schools that use it. Out of sight, out of mind, I guess.

I saw Maya Angelou speak last year and it was one of the most important moments of my life. She is a national treasure and her books are SO IMPORTANT.

I wonder if Ahrens knows that her daughter is probably giving blow jobs behind the handball courts?

Susan @ SGCC said...

Someone needs to thump those idiots on the head. What rock have they been hiding under? As the mother of a teen, I can confirm that most 8th graders are not that "innocent". In today's society they are forced to grow up much too quickly. Without classic books like those available, where are they going to get their information? The bathroom walls or the shadowy figure on the street? Sheesh!

Raging Dad said...

Never underestimate the power of ignorant people. While there are idiots all over the place trying to keep our kids from learning about the modern global culture, I am amazed and hopeful because of a few things.

I am pretty sure that my daughter is only now becoming aware of the entire concept of race. She's seven, and has never been in a school (preschool, K or 1st grade) in which there are more whites than students of color. These kids play on the playground without a second thought of color. It's like a giant Benetton commercial.

She also has a friend with two moms, and doesn't find it odd, because we've had family friends all her life who were in long-term same sex relationships.

How cool is that?

Bybee said...

When I shove Judy Ahrens off of the platform, I hope she lands on her mouth.

gitz said...

Wow... imagine that... a book that would force a parent to have a CONVERSATION with their child.

Unheard of!

It's just ridiculous. Pretty soon "Are you there God, it's me, Margaret" by Judy Blume will be pulled. How else would I have learned about my period?!?!?


Bookfool said...

Yeah! You said it!

I love Bybee's comment so much I want to kiss it.

Robin said...

Well said!!