Banning books is not the answer

Abraham Morales, News, Multimedia Editor

As children, one of the earliest forms of media introduced to us is in the form of books. From the bedtime stories read aloud to us as we fall asleep, to the books in our schools and local libraries, literature surrounds us at all times. However, the types of books available to us, and the content they hold, are now being questioned as to whether or not they are appropriate enough to be in our curriculum or libraries.

Over the last decade, the United States has seen an alarming increase of books being banned in schools across all 50 states. This wave to challenge the media that our youth consumes stems from “concerned” parents who are worried that these books will change their children’s perspectives. These “worried” parents believe that their children should not have access to certain titles that contain violence, sexual activity, or discuss topics like race and sexual orientation. 

As a person of color, who is also queer, why is a book with my identities being challenged? What is so wrong about a book that is centered around racial and cultural pride? What is so wrong with a book highlighting the queer experience? When we remove books like these from our libraries and purposefully make them less accessible, we are removing the platform to have open conversations about these “uncomfortable” topics. Furthermore, we make it harder for certain groups to find themselves reflected in the literature they read. 

Growing up, I wish I would’ve been able to go to my school library and check out books written by people like me, for people like me; rather, I was given a limited list of authors to choose from that never reflected me or my experiences. 

The confidence and introspection I could’ve gained from reading pieces that reflected my identities and experiences would’ve allowed me to feel seen. The loneliness and disconnection that could’ve been avoided simply by reading a book would’ve helped tremendously. Even now, as a senior in high school, the books we read in our classes never seem to reflect me or my experiences. Reading almost century-old pieces, written by predominantly white authors, with completely different experiences and perspectives, does not make me feel engaged or connected. How are we supposed to teach children about other cultures, religions, and people, when all they see portrayed in the books they read are the same people with similar perspectives? What is so scary about having an open mind and learning about other people? Are my experiences not valid enough to be shared, or are we purposefully trying to avoid these topics for the sake of comfort?

We often wonder how we can make people, especially those who don’t belong to the dominant culture, feel seen and included; books provide that and so much more. Books with diverse voices that highlight our differences within race, religion, sexual orientation, and gender, should be celebrated because they allow us the opportunity to expose and educate ourselves on other perspectives and experiences. The real worry with books should stem from the lack of diversity and accessibility, not from one swear word or one sexual phrase that doesn’t encompass the overall message of the book.