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The Scarlet Ink

The Scarlet Ink

Book Banning: The Censorship of Knowledge


Book banning is a form of censorship that occurs when private individuals, government officials, or organizations remove books from libraries, school reading lists, or bookstore shelves because they object to their content, ideas, or themes. People who advocate for book bans typically do so because they believe the contents of the book contains graphic violence, is sexually explicit, lacks literary merit, is unsuitable for a particular age group, or includes offensive language. It has become well known in recent years that book banning is becoming increasingly (and alarmingly) popular in schools, which goes against what a school represents: a place of education.

Allowing books with narratives of people from different backgrounds and experiences allows for equity to become an achievable goal as books can change what students believe about themselves and others from those backgrounds. Limiting the insights and perspectives of people from different backgrounds are what encourage ignorance, which in turn diminishes the quality of education people receive and blurs the reality of what our world is like.

Most of the time book bans typically revolve around politics, economy, and culture of our country, and the people calling for the bans are people from historically non-marginalized communities. Because this tends to be the case, book bans are a way that many non-marginalized people hold power over historically marginalized people by holding important knowledge over the heads of those who reads them. When such knowledge isn’t shared, it becomes more and more likely that issues will continue to repeat themselves without being resolved. It is well known that by knowing about history, we are able to learn from the problems of the past and prevail in the present. While yes, some topics can be uncomfortable and difficult to learn about, it doesn’t stop those things from being real experiences that people have gone through. Great examples of such experiences are those from the Holocaust or slavery.

The most common topics that are banned tend to have LGBTQIA+ topics and topics regarding the experiences of people of color, especially black and Latinx perspectives. The banning of books that include LGBTQIA+ content is due to the fact many believe that books with such content are pushing an “agenda” regarding sexuality and gender. Specifically, many believe that LGBTQIA+ books are being spread with the intention of influencing those who read it to become gay or trans, but they aren’t. Books with such topics are mainly used to introduce people to the idea of inclusivity and to reduce the stigma that is still so ever present in today’s society. With books regarding POC and their experiences, both past and present in America, many believe that the books are trying to guilt white readers, when in actuality it’s the opposite. Such books are meant as a way to educate them and help them understand the privilege they have and how they should use it to fight for equity. Such books also encourage cognitive empathy, which allows people to think beyond their own perspectives, allowing for people to be more open to productive conversations.

By banning books, we limit the rights of students to have an education that will fulfill them, their ability to assert free speech, endanger equity, free expression, and democracy. I encourage you to try and learn from experiences different from your own instead of shunning it because of some biases and stigmas you may have. If you do try to learn and still find yourself disagreeing, that’s fine, however, you should do so in a manner that is not harmful or hateful.

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