by German Lopez
Posted In: Education
at 11:05 AM | Permalink
Debe Terhar calls Toni Morrison’s novel “pornographic”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio on Sept. 12
criticized State Board of Education President Debe Terhar, a Cincinnati
Republican, for calling Toni Morrison’s book The Bluest Eye “pornographic” and suggesting it be removed from the state’s teaching guidelines.
“Unfortunately, your comments are another in a long
history of arguments that advocate the banning of African American
literature because it is ‘too controversial’ for schoolchildren,” wrote
Christine Link, executive director of the ACLU of Ohio, in a letter to
Terhar. “Rather than removing these books, the ACLU encourages schools
to use controversial literature as an opportunity to improve students’
critical thinking skills and to create open dialogue between students
and the community.”
Terhar and others have criticized the book because it contains a scene in which a father rapes his daughter.
The Common Core standards adopted by Ohio suggest The Bluest Eye as an example of reading text complexity, quality and range
for high school juniors who are typically 16 or 17 years old, but it’s
ultimately up to school districts to decide whether the novel belongs in
Removing mention of the book in the state’s guidelines
wouldn’t explicitly ban the book in Ohio schools, but it would weaken
the novel’s prominence as a teaching tool.
The ACLU claims the book provides an important take on racism in America: “In the case of The Bluest Eye,
Toni Morrison seeks to promote this type of dialogue by taking a bold,
unflinching look at the pain and damage that internalized racism can
inflict on a young girl and her community.”
The ACLU’s letter concludes by inviting Terhar and her
fellow board members to an ACLU event in Columbus on Sept. 26 called
“Let’s Get Free: Banned Writings of Black Liberationists.” The event is
part of the ACLU’s Banned Books Week, an effort launched in 1982 that
highlights literature that’s been targeted for censorship.
Morrison, a Pulitzer and Nobel Prize-winning author and
Ohio native, responded to Terhar’s comments in a phone interview with
“The book was published in the early '70s and it has been banned
so much and so many places that I am told I am number 14 on the list of
100 banned books.” She added, “I resent it. I mean if it's Texas or
North Carolina as it has been in all sorts of states, but to be a girl
from Ohio, writing about Ohio, having been born in Lorain, Ohio, and
actually relating as an Ohio person, to have the Ohio, what, Board of
Education is ironic at the least.”
Terhar later said in a statement released through the
State Board of Education that she was stating her own opinion and her
comments do not reflect the views of the rest of the board.
The latest controversy isn’t the first time Terhar has
found herself in trouble over public comments. In January, Democrats
called for Terhar to resign after she compared President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler in a Facebook post after the president proposed new gun control measures.
0 Comments · Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Who says summer reading has to be light
and frothy? We’d much rather read the good stuff, no matter the genre or
tone. Here’s a list of our most anticipated books that will be
published this summer.