If you do nothing else today, please watch Byron Pitt’s interview with Ann Silvio, The “N-word”: Is it ever okay to say it? (via 60 Minutes Overtime) *WARNING* the advertisements and other distractions on the CBS website may need some sorting through.
After watching Byron’s interview I wondered…is the word ‘nigger’ a historical word that has lost its ‘sting’ with today’s young people? How do we know they even feel what we feel from hearing the word? As I analyzed the Pitts interview further, it dawned on me that Byron has had to live through a history of racism that provided a certain perspective for him that even his children don’t fully grasp. Silvio asked him if one of his daughters was the only black kid in a class that was reading “Huckleberry Finn” would he want her to read it. He replied, “Yes.”
I certainly would not want my daughter to be subjected to reading the N-word, page after page, month after month. My apologies to my esteemed literature teachers/readers who are gasping right now. Are there other more contemporary books that serve the same purpose? Are we still teaching history and literature in a 20th century modality?
That said, are we putting our ‘past’ issues on today’s students, in an effort to force them to understand a world they knew nothing about…a world of hurt and humiliation? I don’t know, nor am I naive to think that racism doesn’t exist but we need to begin to analyze ways to move forward. One way to begin the forward push is to ask the question of today’s K-12 reading lists. Is GONE WITH THE WIND relevant?
E-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow me on Twitter: @abowllan
Find me on Facebook!