Ellison’s “Invisible Man” Banned in NC County
Via the Courier-Tribune: County board bans ‘Invisible Man’ from school libraries
By a 5-2 margin, the Randolph County Board of Education voted Monday night, at its regular meeting held at Eastern Randolph High School, to remove all copies of the book from school libraries.
The action stems from a Randleman High School parent’s complaint about the book. Committees at both the school and district levels recommended it not be removed.
There was little discussion after the board was presented with the Central Services Committee recommendation concerning the parent’s complaint about the book. All board members had been supplied with copies of the book last month to read.
McDonald asked if everyone had read the book, stating, “It was a hard read.”
Mason said, “I didn’t find any literary value.” He also objected to the language in the book. “I’m for not allowing it to be available.”
Because, of course, literary value is determined by vote.
I will admit that, while I am passingly familiar with the novel in question, I have never read it. However, I am fairly confident in speculating that the language contained therein cannot be radically different than that which a typical 11th grader in 2013 is exposed to with some regularity from their peers and other cultural sources (even students whose parents shelter them at home from such things).
I certainly support the notion that if a parent truly objects to a particular piece of literature being read by their child that they have the right to request alternate material. However, this book was part of a list of options in an assignment. That one complaint could lead to a book being removed from an assignment is bad, and that it could lead to it being removed from a library is anti-education.
Update: If one is truly unfamiliar with the text, note that it is about race relations in the early-to-mid 20th century. See more on the book here. I should have included this in the original post–I assumed that the basic topic of the book was well known, even if it wasn’t necessarily a book that most folks had read.