Writers of Color 50 Book Challenge

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Happy Banned Books Week!
Escher Snakes
sanguinity wrote in 50books_poc
Every year, I try to observe Banned Book Week by reading books and authors that are on the ALA's most-challenged lists, or books which have been challenged elsewhere and -when. This year I'm specifically looking for banned/challenged books by authors of color, and I thought I'd share what I've compiled so far.

The ALA's top ten list for this year includes two books by an author of color:
5. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison for sexual content, offensive language, and unsuited to age group;

9. Beloved by Toni Morrison for offensive language, sexual content, and unsuited to age group.
And, lo, but the ALA has built a list of the "Most Frequently Challenged Books Written by Authors of Color," spanning 1990-2000.
3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Reason for challenges: racism, homosexuality, sexually explicit, offensive language, unsuited to age group

18. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Reason for challenges: sexually explicit, offensive language, violence

24. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
Reason for challenges: racism, offensive language, violence

31. Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
Reason for challenges: homosexuality, sexually explicit

39. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Reason for challenges: sexually explicit, offensive language

42. Beloved by Toni Morrison
Reason for challenges: sexually explicit, violence

67. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
Reason for challenges: sexually explicit, offensive language

71. Native Son by Richard Wright
Reason for challenges: sexually explicit, offensive language, violence

75. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
Reason for challenges: sexually explicit, offensive language, occult

85. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
Reason for challenges: racism, sexually explicit, offensive language

86. Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
Reason for challenges: sexually explicit, offensive language

Not in the top 100:
Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
offensive language

American Indian Myths and Legends, by Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz
sexually explicit

This only covers the ALA lists. Anyone want to add more titles and authors? Books from other lists? Books banned or challenged in other countries?

From here
The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

the poetry of Nikki Giovanni
From Another Insidious "Black List" (prev. mentioned books removed, despite the enlightening details of who brought the challenge and why):
A Hero Ain't Nothin' But A Sandwich, by Alice Childress
Removed from the Savannah, Ga. school libraries (1978) due to "objectionable' language. Challenged at the Aberdeen High School in Bel Air, Md. (1994) because the novel was deemed "racist and vulgar."

A Lesson Before Dying, by Ernest Gaines
Banned, but later reinstated after community protest at the windsor Forest High School in Savannah, Ga. (2000). The controversy began in early 1999 when a parent complained about sex, violence and profanity in the book that was part of an advanced placement English class.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X, by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
Restricted at Jacksonville, Fla., middle school libraries (1994) as presenting a racist view of white people and a "how-to manual" for crime.

The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, by Ernest Gaines
Pulled from a seventh-grade class in Conroe, Texas (1995) after complaints about racial slurs in the book.

The Best Short Stories By Negro Writers, by Langston Hughes
Removed from the Island Trees, N.Y., Union Free District High School library in 1976, along with nine other titles, because they were considered "immoral, anti-American, anti-Christian, or just plain filthy."

Black Boy, by Richard Wright
Challenged in the Jacksonville, Fla., public schools (1997) by a minister who said the book contained "profanity and may spark hard feelings between students of different races."

Go Tell It On the Mountain, by James Baldwin
Challenged as a ninth-grade summer reading option in Prince William County, Va., (1998) because the book "was rife with profanity and explicit sex."

Jubilee, by Margaret Walker
Challenged in the Greenville. S.C. County school libraries (1977) by the Titan of the Fourth Province of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan because the novel produces "racial strife and hatred."

For a little less U.S.-centrism, Amnesty International has a list of writers who are in prison for the books they've written, as well as an update on authors featured in previous years. Some are people of color -- I haven't yet done the research on specific titles or availability of English translations.

And now I think I'm going to go read something, instead of just posting lists... ;-)

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Not on a list, but when I was teaching high school long ago, parents objected to James Baldwin's Another Country for explicit sex and also gay themes (maybe a good area for you next year, that second one!)--not something they could get away with today, though the explict part might fly.

Maybe I haven't had enough coffee, but I lost you on the "next year" suggestion. Focus on gay themes for BBW next year? Or do a gay-themed version of 50books_poc?

Yeah, I can see Another Country lighting off QUITE a dispute. Did you get to teach it, in the end? And how did it go?

I was thinking about gay-themed banned books, but the other is an interesting thought, too.

It was an assignment where students could choose their own books (in the south in the early sixties, too) and one girl, whose sister was involved in the civil rights activities I was also in, heard about the Baldwin book, which I'd just recently read. But her parents made her choose another book.

I did teach Beloved much later in a community college and it went very well, though some of the students found it difficult to follow at first and all of us found it painful. I also taught Huckleberry Finn and Madame Bovary in the class, and had very interesting discussions on why these books were banned at one time or another and whether everyone should read them, and if so, at what age. There's a great Norton Critical Edition of Huck Finn with good essays pro and con teaching it to various ages and races of students.

Thank you for all these lists!

Thanks for posting this. The "racism" claims are just... mindboggling. Love the challenge by the Klan about producing racial strife. Is there a word for "beyond irony"?

Breaking the irony meter, is the way I usually see it put. And yeah, it totally does.

I find myself curious as to who is making the racism protests, and why. While researching these lists I ran across a ruling in which black families were claiming that books that depicted racism were increasing racist harassment in and around the school. Which is a different twist than what I had imagined most of these challenges to be, which was whites trying to suppress discussion of racism.

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