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....