Readers Against Prejudice and Racism discussion

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Group Discussions > Should books containing racial tensions and prejudice be banned?

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message 1: by Ronyell, Your Humble Creator! (last edited Jan 26, 2011 12:00AM) (new)

Ronyell (rabbitearsblog) | 688 comments Mod
Do you think that books containing racial tensions and prejudice against any other culture should be banned?

In my opinion, I don't think that any book should ever be banned, unless it was like books that teaches you how to make weapons or bombs. I don't believe in banning books, so I definitely think that books that contain racism and prejudice should still stay in libraries because if we read these kinds of books, we can sort of get an idea about how the racism and prejudice got started in many cultures and how the cultures were like back in those times and we can try to see how we can prevent the same events where racism and prejudice were involved from happening again.


message 2: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Davie (kathydavie) | 100 comments NO! NEVER! Bite your tongue!! How do we learn from the past if we "clean it up"? I absolutely hate that people want to ban Mark Twain and eliminate "Little Black Sambo" because they're embarassed about how people were treated then. How do we know if we've made any progress if we forget the past!


message 3: by Ronyell, Your Humble Creator! (new)

Ronyell (rabbitearsblog) | 688 comments Mod
Exactly Kathy!! I even heard that they were censoring Mark Twain's books because they contained offensive language, but if people keep on censoring books without learning about how African Americans and Native Americans were treated back then, then how could people learn from their past mistakes without some kind of book dating back to those times?


message 4: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) Maybe The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn could come with a preface to explain some of the history and context. And maybe the word n* could be typed that way in an edition for school, instead of having the word actually typed out time after time. But the current move to substitute the word 'slave' for 'n*' is wrong not only for the reasons stated above, but also inaccurate. The words do not mean the same thing!

The more I think about it, the more I think a preface or an appendix would be a good idea for all these old books. But of course that does mean making a new edition, and meanwhile we have the actual old books still in circulation. But that's ok. We must not discard them willy-nilly.


message 5: by Ronyell, Your Humble Creator! (new)

Ronyell (rabbitearsblog) | 688 comments Mod
I agree with you Cheryl about how it was wrong for people to just replace the N-word with 'slave' and that is not accurate! I agree that they should have some kind of appendix telling the readers about why the N-word was used back then and the history of those times so that way, everyone would get a better understanding about how people of different cultures were treated back then.


message 6: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Davie (kathydavie) | 100 comments Replacing "n" with "slave" is just the thin edge of the wedge in rewiting history to make ourselves look better. If anything, it's a jab in the eye to black people and dissed their history. Eventually it would destroy our understanding and their dscendants' understanding about why this is a big deal. It would make everyone question why/if it mattered so much,


message 7: by Ronyell, Your Humble Creator! (new)

Ronyell (rabbitearsblog) | 688 comments Mod
Good point Kathy! Whenever people try to change history like that to make themselves look better, it just pretty much destroys everything that all cultures have fought for to make sure that horrible events like slavery should never happen again. I agree that it's just a big slap in the face to African-Americans who cherish their histories, just like I really cherish my African American history and if books are censored like this, then future generations will never know about how horrible slavery was to African Americans.


message 8: by Tammy (new)

Tammy | 49 comments Mod
Luckily, most of the more heinous accounts of prejudice are still remembered and talked about. Slavery of the African-American people, the Holocaust, Genocides in Africa, Iraq, Eastern Europe etc. The important thig is to help our children understand the cause and impact of these.... Then it will not be forgotten and the books we speak of can remain cautionary tales.


message 9: by Ronyell, Your Humble Creator! (last edited Feb 04, 2011 01:01AM) (new)

Ronyell (rabbitearsblog) | 688 comments Mod
Exactly! I think it's great that future generations should learn about these horrible situations. That does not mean that we should hate the nations that had these acts, but we should learn about the consequences that these horrible acts have done to the nations and how we must prevent these acts from happening again.


message 10: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Davie (kathydavie) | 100 comments It's part of why we need to NOT censor or "adjust" earlier books. It was perfectly "acceptable" for that time period and that is part of what we need to understand. I'm sure if the people of those times knew how far women were allowed to penetrate into society and the workforce they'd think we were nuts...but we'd want them to learn from our experiences...


 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 101 comments I have to agree with what has been said. I think that it's a good lesson about the past, and a reminder to prevent these mistakes in the future and the present when we keep these books preserved and on the shelves. Some people want to justify horrors like slavery and the holocaust. If we allow them to revise history, then where is our evidence to show that these events happened?

Even in the modern context, how is a story real if we sanitize all the ugliness of society out of it?


message 12: by Ronyell, Your Humble Creator! (new)

Ronyell (rabbitearsblog) | 688 comments Mod
Exactly Danielle! How is it possible to see the horrors of prejudice and racism if such books that detail the events that involve them are censored or banned from libraries? I think some people want to banned these kinds of books because they are afraid the events will repeat itself if such books are out in public. But I think that allowing such books to exist would help us realize the horrors of prejudice and how we can prevent it from happening again.


message 13: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Davie (kathydavie) | 100 comments Here, here, Danielle! How else are we going to educate the future generations as to what is bad? The old saw about "condemned to repeat the past" if you don't know what that past is...eeeek...!


message 14: by Fares (new)

Fares Aoun (farous70) | 4 comments Precisely! I wrote a novel about prejudice, and my wife didn't feel comfortable at all with me using the n* word in the novel, but I told her it was essential for setting the stage and showing just how badly the characters were being treated. I didn't think I could make my point as well without using it.Jerusalem Spring


message 15: by Ronyell, Your Humble Creator! (new)

Ronyell (rabbitearsblog) | 688 comments Mod
Oh! We were just talking about your book Jerusalem Spring Fares! We were actually thinking about reading it for our monthly book reads! Nice to have you here in this group!


message 16: by Fares (new)

Fares Aoun (farous70) | 4 comments Thanks for considering my book. I think it's a great subject. I really look forward to hearing what everyone has to say about it and the types of questions it raises for various readers.


message 17: by Ronyell, Your Humble Creator! (new)

Ronyell (rabbitearsblog) | 688 comments Mod
You're welcome Fares! We're really looking forward to reading your book too!


message 18: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 147 comments Banning books is bad enough, but even worse is "sanitising" problematic and controversial books by taking out, removing the problematic, offensive references. First, it takes away from discussion potential, but more importantly, it paints a picture of the past that simply is not true, it shows a distorted image of the past, and that is dangerous.


message 19: by Ronyell, Your Humble Creator! (new)

Ronyell (rabbitearsblog) | 688 comments Mod
Well said Gundula! I agree that "censoring" controversial books can lead to a part of history that never existed and therefore, people might get the wrong idea about how certain situations such as racism and prejudice was not a big deal in this country or in any other country and that could lead to people using racism and prejudice as a way of life and that is not good at all.


message 20: by Lolliepop (new)

Lolliepop (snhz) | 44 comments Mod
wanna comment here..i just read the thread title and feel the urge to comment..hohoho..i didnt read the other comments cause i am in hurry, so if what i will say had been said then pardon me!

i dont think they should be banned..cause with this kinds of books we can actually assess the truth and not just taking all information without any good judgment..btw, if banning books are ever done, i dont think it will work..as example, in my country, cll phones are banned in school..but students still find a way to bring it to school..it just like the banned books..people will find a way to read it..at least i am~XD


message 21: by Ronyell, Your Humble Creator! (new)

Ronyell (rabbitearsblog) | 688 comments Mod
I totally agree with you Lolliepop! I think that even if you did try to ban books, people will still find ways to read it no matter what. Even I have ways of reading books that were banned in other libraries!


message 22: by Lolliepop (new)

Lolliepop (snhz) | 44 comments Mod
Ronyell wrote: "I totally agree with you Lolliepop! I think that even if you did try to ban books, people will still find ways to read it no matter what. Even I have ways of reading books that were banned in other..."

you have ways of doing that? share with me, darling!!


message 23: by Ronyell, Your Humble Creator! (new)

Ronyell (rabbitearsblog) | 688 comments Mod
Oh yes! The libraries I go to have all the banned books, so I'm still able to read them anyway and I also bought some of the books that were banned, so it just goes to show that even if books are banned, there are still ways to find them!


message 24: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 147 comments Ronyell wrote: "Oh yes! The libraries I go to have all the banned books, so I'm still able to read them anyway and I also bought some of the books that were banned, so it just goes to show that even if books are b..."

At least in the USA and Canada, books are usually banned locally (due to some unenlightened complaints), and hardly ever nationally anymore. This does not diminish the sad and worrisome fact that books are in fact being banned in certain areas, but if books were being banned on a national level, you would even have trouble buying these books and owning and reading them could likely have serious legal consequences.


message 25: by Ronyell, Your Humble Creator! (new)

Ronyell (rabbitearsblog) | 688 comments Mod
I totally agree Gundula! I'm glad that most of the books that I have read were not banned on a national level because if they were, then there would be no way of reading these books, but still, it bothers me that some people would banned books in the first place.


message 26: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Davie (kathydavie) | 100 comments Well, it is a sign of insecurity...but how do you tolerate that kind of insecurity???


message 27: by Ronyell, Your Humble Creator! (new)

Ronyell (rabbitearsblog) | 688 comments Mod
That's a good question Kathy. Maybe if there was some way that we can assure people that their fears about a particular book should not lead them to banning them, but talking it over.


message 28: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Davie (kathydavie) | 100 comments Ronyell wrote: "That's a good question Kathy. Maybe if there was some way that we can assure people that their fears about a particular book should not lead them to banning them, but talking it over."

But that's part of the problem. Their fears take them over that that seems to be the only book they see. Look back at how many church organizations freaked out over Harry Potter!!


message 29: by Ronyell, Your Humble Creator! (new)

Ronyell (rabbitearsblog) | 688 comments Mod
That is true. Fear does have a way of making people not change their minds about certain things and that is a major issue for where prejudice and racim stem from because people who fear other nations are not willing to allow diversity to happen.


message 30: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Davie (kathydavie) | 100 comments Ronyell wrote: "That is true. Fear does have a way of making people not change their minds about certain things and that is a major issue for where prejudice and racim stem from because people who fear other natio..."

Can you imagine how restrictive the US would be if we had allowed this? I do love England but their obsession with class has been pretty restrictive...I wonder how much longer they'd have been a world-class power if they hadn't been so concerned with whence one came...!


message 31: by Ronyell, Your Humble Creator! (new)

Ronyell (rabbitearsblog) | 688 comments Mod
Kathy wrote: "Ronyell wrote: "That is true. Fear does have a way of making people not change their minds about certain things and that is a major issue for where prejudice and racim stem from because people who ..."

I know! I can't imagine living in a country where everything revolves around who is allowed into the country because of their race or their religion and to me personally, that is not fair to many people who wish to explore other countries, but they don't have the permission to explore other countries because of the restrictions on who should be allowed into the country.


message 32: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (elliearcher) Much as I would like to be the personal arbiter of such a program, no. It would just drive it all underground, perhaps increasing the strength of the sickness

Plus who decides? Pretty soon it's the books I value.

And bottom line I'm against censorship. Period.


message 33: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 147 comments Ellie wrote: "Much as I would like to be the personal arbiter of such a program, no. It would just drive it all underground, perhaps increasing the strength of the sickness

Plus who decides? Pretty soon it's th..."


It is better out in the open, then it at least can be fought. On the other hand, I also want more scrutiny on how controversial, racist or potentially racist books are used in school or college. For instance, The Merchant of Venice can be used to discuss and fight racism, but a racist, prejudiced teacher or college professor could also use the book to promote racism (that is especially problematic at school, and it is also a problem if racism etc. in certain children's books is not addressed if the books in question are used in the classroom, not mentioning it, not discussing it will not make the prejudice go away).


message 34: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (elliearcher) The problem is that even in school, censorship cuts 2 ways so that books promoting acceptance (especially regarding homosexuality) also get censored.
I think groups like this can help promote a better atmosphere & awareness. At least I like to think so.


message 35: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 147 comments Ellie wrote: "The problem is that even in school, censorship cuts 2 ways so that books promoting acceptance (especially regarding homosexuality) also get censored.
I think groups like this can help promote a bet..."


Ain't that the truth, I still cannot believe all of the controversy about the Harry Potter series and And Tango Makes Three. Quite embarrassing actually!!


message 36: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (elliearcher) Oh yes-I remember the Tango affair. Almost as big as the Teletubbies!


message 37: by Manybooks (last edited Apr 14, 2011 01:44PM) (new)

Manybooks | 147 comments Ellie wrote: "Oh yes-I remember the Tango affair. Almost as big as the Teletubbies!"

I forgot about the teletubbies. I never liked them that much, but the controversy was both sick and stupid, you really have to wonder if the tele-evangelist who started the fiasco was smoking something :-)


message 38: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (elliearcher) Yeah-I mean talk about the eye of the beholder. Who would even be thinking about that!


message 39: by Ronyell, Your Humble Creator! (last edited Apr 14, 2011 08:43PM) (new)

Ronyell (rabbitearsblog) | 688 comments Mod
I also thought that the rumor about Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street was just unacceptable and it caused them to not live together in the later episodes!


message 40: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (elliearcher) Oh wasn't that sad?!
And Sponge Bob is also censored by many people-I'm so naive, before I found out there was a controversy (I love the show), one of my students came to me & asked is Sponge Bob was gay. I said, No, he's a sponge! lol
Then I found out because of his friendship with Patrick, he's banned by many parents. I guess Patty the squirrel doesn't count.


message 41: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Davie (kathydavie) | 100 comments I remember the Teletubbies which was really s t u p i d. And I have never understood how anyone could think the Harry Potter books were evil. Well, okay, Voldemort and his minions were pretty evil but they certainly didn't win the day...!


message 42: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (elliearcher) I've never understood the fuss about Harry Potter. As you say, evil is defeated. Isn't that the basis of most salvation-type literature? Or lots of books, everywhere?


message 43: by Ronyell, Your Humble Creator! (new)

Ronyell (rabbitearsblog) | 688 comments Mod
I'm upset about the Harry Potter thing too. I mean, the Harry Potter books are like number 1 in the booksellers and yet there are many people out there who still want to put something against this series just because it's so popular. I personally love the Harry Potter books and I really have nothing against them using witchcraft.


message 44: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 147 comments Ellie wrote: "I've never understood the fuss about Harry Potter. As you say, evil is defeated. Isn't that the basis of most salvation-type literature? Or lots of books, everywhere?"

Maybe the nay-sayers were unhappy Voldemort did not wind!! I'm being facetious, but it always does get me how some members of the religious right condemned Harry Potter when he and his friends were, in fact, fighting evil.


message 45: by Ronyell, Your Humble Creator! (new)

Ronyell (rabbitearsblog) | 688 comments Mod
That is so true Gundula! I don't understand it myself why some people want to banned Harry Potter even though the main character is trying to protect his friends and family from Voldemort.


message 46: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (elliearcher) I think the Catholic church got into it because of the magic and the non-existence of Christianity (even though many themes & motifs are clearly borrowed therefrom). But still-why pick on Harry? (other than because he's popular) Technically, the church is against magic in any form so any book espousing magic would be on its banned list. But I don't know if they ever actually bother doing so any more - except with poor Harry.


message 47: by Manybooks (last edited Apr 16, 2011 08:28AM) (new)

Manybooks | 147 comments Ellie wrote: "I think the Catholic church got into it because of the magic and the non-existence of Christianity (even though many themes & motifs are clearly borrowed therefrom). But still-why pick on Harry? (o..."

If that's the case, the Church should also be picking on "The Lord of the Rings" (one of my all time favourite books) and the Narnia series, but it likely won't because the authors were Catholic, I believe (or maybe also because they are men and Rowling is a woman). Actually though, I think there has been more and certainly more vehement objections to the Harry Potter series from the (crazed) ultra-Protestant Religious Right in the United States than from the Catholic Church.

I really get a kick out of reading the different Amazon comments on the HP series in Germany and the United States. There are definitely individuals in Germany who do not enjoy the HP series, but most of the negative reviews criticise J. K. Rowling's writing style or the fact that they found the series boring (I might not agree with these sentiments, but I can certainly understand that not everyone might find the HP series interesting or well-written). I think from all of the negative HP comments on Amazon Germany (and I read many one and two star reviews), there were maybe two or three that claimed that the series was evil (and these were ranting, badly written reviews by individuals obviously neither intelligent nor well-read).

With the negative reviews of the HP series on Amazon USA, on the other hand, nearly half, if not more of the two or one star reviews were of the "Harry Potter is evil incarnate" variety, and many were written by obviously unenlightened, uneducated individuals. Kind of very scary, in my opinion, and the Harry Potter controversy in the United States is in fact seen as a great big joke in many parts of Europe (although some people do realise that it is scary, because hey, America is a super-power, a super-power though with a part of the population that not only is scarily ultra-biblical, but likely thinks they can or should have the right to impose their puritanical visions and "ideals" on others).


message 48: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (elliearcher) I think you're totaaly right & absolutely brilliant.


message 49: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 147 comments Ellie wrote: "I think you're totaaly right & absolutely brilliant."

Thanks, I was kind of worried about my long post. Often I have the verbal "runs" both when i talk and when I write, ha, ha, ha.


message 50: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (elliearcher) No, no-really, I started to respond & then I thought, you really summed up so much. It was great.


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