About 2 weeks ago, my wife and I went through the 2nd part of a process to contest a book found in the Media Center, (aka library) and AP English Lit/Composition course.
We had originally encouraged our son to take the course, believing that it would be good for him to hone his skills for taking his thoughts and putting them pen to paper. Sadly, this class was not that at all. It has turned out not to be so.
I have attached direct quotes from Beloved, so you may understand our concerns. Please be advised that there will be some crude and inappropriate language.
The particular work was Beloved, Toni Morrison. A work of fiction about what life was supposedly like for slaves in the pre-civil war era. Beloved, which is available for children, age 13-17 years of age at Satellite High School, has extremely descriptive scenes. Scenes, such as comparing sexual intercourse between a calf and a woman, infanticide, rape, sexual intercourse, pedophilia being treated as a normal, almost kind occurrence and homosexuality.
I guess what really hit home for us, was the meeting with the Principle, Mr. Elliott and the teacher, Ms. DePeppe. The purpose of the meeting was to find out why, out of 300 books to choose from, did Ms. DePeppe chose Beloved. She had compiled a list of 10 books for the student to pick 3 of to read. We were told different for reasons choosing Beloved, such as syntax, structure, to having dialogue in the present and the past, etc. The reason, that stunned both of us, was, as Ms DePeppe said; “Hopefully, the student will be able to understand why “THEY” feel the way they do TODAY”.
We were told that Beloved is offered as a model for students to “understand” why “they”, aka Black Americans, feel the way they do today. How a work of fiction, depicting overwhelmingly black on black crimes like beastiality, sodomy, incest, rape, murder and pedophilia, over 150 years ago, is pertinent to understanding how “they” feel today, is beyond my comprehension. However, I do understand this; that the reason for Beloved being chosen was to promote a political/ideological agenda in class. Throughout their school years, children are exposed to material that helps mold them, both intellectually, emotionally and morally.
These excerpts are from only the first 127 pages of a 324 page novel.
“Beloved” by Toni Morrison – RATED YOUNG ADULT
And so they were: Paul D Garner, Paul F Garner, Paul A Garner, Halle Suggs and Sixo, the wild man. All in their twenties, minus women, fucking cows, dreaming of rape, thrashing on pallets, rubbing their thighs and waiting for the new girl- the one who took Baby Sugg’s place after Halle bought her with five years of Sundays.
“As she raised up from the heat she felt Paul D behind her and his hands under her breasts…Behind her, bending down, his body an arc of kindness, he held her breasts in the palm of his hands…And when the top of her dress was around her hips…”
“A stair step before him, was Baby Suggs replacement, the new girl they dreamed of at night and fucked cows for at dawn while waiting for her to choose”
“Seth lay on her back, her head turned from him. Out of the corner of his eye, Paul D saw the float of her breast and disliked it, the spread away, flat roundness of them that he could definitely live without, never mind that downstairs he had held them as though they were the most expensive part of himself.”
“Seth smiled at her and Halle’s stupidity. Even the cows new and came to look. Uncrossing her ankles, she managed not to laugh aloud.”
“The jump, thought Paul D, from a calf to a girl wasn’t all that mighty…And taking her in the corn rather than her quarters, a yard away from the cabins of the others who had lost out, was a gesture of tenderness. Halle wanted privacy for her and got public display. Who could miss a ripple in a cornfield on a quite cloudless day?… It was hard, hard, hard sitting there erect as dogs watching the cornstalks dance at noon.”
Kneeling in the mist they waited for the whim of the guard, or two, or three. Or maybe all of them wanted it.Wanted it from one prisoner in particular or none–or all.
“Breakfast? Want some breakfast, nigger?”
“Here you go.”
Occasionally a kneeling man chose a gunshot in his head as the price, maybe, of taking a bit of foreskin with him to Jesus. He was looking at his palsied hands, smelling the guard, listening to his soft grunts so like doves’, as he stood before the man kneeling in his midst “.