Do you hear that? That’s the sound of blue tears, wailing in the distance as a South Carolina Police Union gets all big mad because Angie Thomas’ award-winning novel The Hate U Give, which centers around police brutality, being included in a school’s summer reading list.
The Fraternal Order of Police Tri-County Lodge #3 slammed the inclusion of the book as “almost an indoctrination of distrust of police,” after Wando High School’s ninth-grade included the book on its summer reading list.
According to the Guardian, The Hate U Give — in which the main character’s best friend is shot and killed by police — was but one of two titles on the eight-novel-long list that upset police. The other novel is Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely’s All American Boys, which centers around a teenage boy who distrusts police after he is wrongly accused of stealing and beaten up by an officer.
President of the union, John Blackmon told CountOn2 that he has gotten countless messages from those apparently upset about the inclusion of the books on the list.
“Freshmen, they’re at the age where their interactions with law enforcement have been very minimal. They’re not driving yet, they haven’t been stopped for speeding, they don’t have these type of interactions. This is putting in their minds, it’s almost an indoctrination of distrust of police and we’ve got to put a stop to that,” Blackmon added.
Again, this is all over an eight-book-long reading list. Of the eight books, students are only meant to read two, and only two of them center around police brutality, which is a very important topic at this time. But what does the Fraternal Order care? They want those books off the list.
“There are other socio-economic topics that are available and they want to focus half of their effort on negativity towards the police? That seems odd to me,” Blackmon said.
What seems odd to me is that they are protesting this much over the books, which again, aren’t just your regular books, but actual award-winning literature about a timely topic.
Charleston County School District released a statement form Wando Principal Dr. Sherry Eppelsheimer which read:
I understand two of the selections/choices for this summer’s reading list for English 1 College Prep classes are considered controversial by some members of our community. I appreciate their concern and input regarding this matter.
A “Request for Reconsideration of Instructional Materials” form has been submitted and the school and District will follow the procedures outlined in Policy IJKAA-R in connection with the reconsideration request.
What does that mean? According to CountOn2:
According to Policy IJKAA-R, once CCSD’s Chief Academic Officer receives the complaint, a committee will be formed to review the material. The committee will hear from the parent who filed the complaint, the teacher who assigned the material, and any other experts on the subject. Within 30 days, they must give a recommendation to the Superintendent. The Superintendent will accept or reject the committee’s recommendation. The decision can then be appealed to the Board of Trustees and their decision is final.
However, the kids have an advocate on their side in the form of the National Coalition of Censorship, who has written to the school to offer its help throughout the process, while encouraging the school to keep the list as it is, the Guardian notes.
“Removing books that have been selected for their educational value solely because the ideas expressed in them conflict with some parents’ political or moral beliefs would improperly allow parents to dominate the public education process with their opinions,” the coalition wrote. “For young readers in Charleston, The Hate U Give and All American Boys offer insight into the racial injustices many people of color experience, and inspiration for young activists who desire change.”