In case you missed it, a Board of Education in North Carolina voted to ban Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man from its school libraries because, well, fuck black people, right?
Apparently both the sexual content and the language of the book were deemed too much for the tender young minds of North Carolina teenagers. Not only that but the Randolph County Board of Ed determined that “there was no literary merit” in the novel, Apparently they just give National Book Awards away to shitty novels or something.
I swear nothing makes me more mad than to hear about something like this. Invisible Man was one of the most important novels written in the early 20th century, especially since it laid bare the social and ideological inequalities the black community had to weather (and still deals with to this day), but a bunch of stuffed shirts from central North Carolina apparently know much better than pretty much everyone on the God damned planet when it comes to literary merit.
Good literature is meant to challenge your beliefs and ways of thinking, sometimes using explicit language and imagery to shake you out of your intellectual complacency. Invisible Man is one of those novels – it’s unrepentant and brutal in its depiction of racial unrest in the 1920s and 1930s – and the condemnation of the complete and utter lack of cultural progression of the American South is scathing, which I’m sure hurt the feelings of the members of the Randolph County Board of Education. I’m not going to go so far as to level accusations of racism against the entirety of Randolph County or even just the Board of Ed, but the county is over 90 percent white according to the US Census and I’m sure there are many white folk down there that are absolutely terrified to look race relations square in the face.
I don’t know what the Board of Ed is thinking. Racism is dirty, violent, disturbing, and upsetting, just like the events depicted in Ellison’s novel – you can’t whitewash it, especially when it comes to high school students that are preparing to leave their comfortable little teenage enclaves and head off into the wide world of employment or college in a year or two. Ignoring the lessons that past generations can teach us about the ills of our society lead to nothing but the next generation having to painfully re-learn them. You’re not preserving the innocence of your children; you’re dooming them to ignorance.