At Joe Biden's inauguration, a young black poet, Amanda Gorman, read her poem "The Hill We Climb." Recently, the poem was removed from a school library on the objection of one parent. Greg Sargent writes:
That parent’s complaint, which was obtained by the Florida Freedom to Read Project, was that the poem has indirect “hate messages” and would “cause confusion and indoctrinate students.” In reality, Gorman’s poem calls for bridging our divides to enable our country to live up to its promise, declaring this an incomplete project. The idea that this represents hate and indoctrination is farcical.
If anything, the poem offers a dramatically different message from racial discourse the right usually objects to, i.e., that our white-supremacist past and continuing structural racism render our country irredeemable. The poem says our nation “isn’t broken but simply unfinished.”
The man who made all this absurdity happen -- Florida Governor Ron DeSantis -- defended the school's decision:
“It was a book of poems that was in an elementary school library,” DeSantis told a convention on Friday, though it was in fact one poem. DeSantis insisted the school district in question merely “moved it from the elementary school library to the middle school library,” and ripped “legacy media” for calling this a “ban,” complaining of a “poem hoax.”
That’s a shameless but revealing characterization of what happened. It’s true that Gorman’s poem was removed from the elementary school section of the library at Bob Graham Education Center in Miami Lakes and that access was preserved for middle school students.
DeSantis objects to calling what happened a “ban.” But the book was placed beyond the reach of elementary school kids for no reason whatsoever. What message does it send that a school went along with the idea that the poem read by the young Black poet at Biden’s inauguration is inappropriate for children, on grounds that it constitutes hate and indoctrination?
It’s also important to note that in response to complaints from that same parent, the school removed two other titles about Black history: “Love to Langston” and “The ABCs of Black History.” Her main objection to these books? They are “CRT” — meaning critical race theory.
That’s preposterous. Those books were written expressly to introduce kids in lower grades to these topics. As Stephana Ferrell, co-founder of Florida Freedom to Read, told me: “The books celebrate Black history, culture and famous voices in a way that connects with elementary school students.” Isn’t that what we want?
Finally, it’s absurd that all this happened due to such specious objections from one person. The school’s rationale for removing the books is that they’re age-inappropriate, but it doesn’t even say why they’re inappropriate for elementary school kids. It’s obvious that the school tried to split the difference, not removing them entirely but still seeking to make this one parent happy.
American racism is very much alive and well. And DeSantis believes it will get him elected president.
Image: The Washington Post