I was going to review Posted by John David Anderson and I will, but I’ve had blog block for about a week. It isn’t writer’s block because I have plenty to say and have certainly been writing, but I haven’t been sure about what I should write on my blog. I considered writing about accidental censorship. What is accidental censorship? It’s when a teacher decides that a book isn’t appropriate for their students. It’s when a teacher doesn’t put certain books in their classroom library because they aren’t comfortable with or object to the content. It’s when a teacher structures all of their choices based on fear. Fear of administration, fear of supervisors, fear or parents, fear of judgement in a world divided between the right and wrong sides of history. You know who should decide what is appropriate for your students? The student and their family. Make sure you have offerings for every student. Every single one.
Never limit the scope of your classroom library. Never. Reading is about empathy. Reading is about giving voice and space and agency to people who have been othered by our society. Reading is how we live lives that are not our own. Reading is about choice, so let there be choices.
I’d like to believe that there is hope for those who accidentally censor. I do believe there is hope, but some days you wake up and feel weighed down by the intolerance and -isms in this world. Today is day where I feel weighed down. Today is a day where I feel that hate and fear have been normalized. Today is a day where I feel we are walking ever closer to a world where people have to once again hide who they really are, where people lose control over their bodies and their choices, where children grow up believing that intolerance is a viable choice.
I’ve never understood why people feel they have a right to control the choices of other. I never will understand it. I mean I know why they do it—fear and control, control and fear. You can dress it up as morality, righteousness, the way, the truth . . . No matter the justification it is wrong. No matter the justification harm is being done to people you don’t know and have never met. This would be the perfect place to say, “In college I had a friend she thought she was getting help, but instead she found shame and harm, which led her to the tippy top of the highest building in town . . . and then she found a way out. The end.” This would be the perfect place to say, “There once was a boy. He was my friend. He liked my smile. No one knew his family’s secrets and struggles. No one knew why the chairs were broken. No one knew about all the visits to the emergency room. No one knew that his brother liked the boy down the street. All my friend wanted was to protect his mother and his brother. . . and then there was a gun and he couldn’t. The end.”
Today is a day where I feel sad. I didn’t wake up that way. I read the news, and that’s all I have to say about that.
Sometimes reading is an escape. Go read a book. Go read a book that celebrates people for who they are exactly as they are. Go read a book that lets you into a life that isn’t your own. That’s what I plan to do—read Radio Silence by Alice Oseman. Until tomorrow, when I hope we’ll all be in a better place.