Monday, June 30, 2008

Freedom Writers

 According to CNN,  Connie Heermann an Indiana teacher was suspended from her job for teaching her class, "The Freedom Writers Diary".   It is an anthology of stories written by inner city kids under the tutelage of  English teacher Erin Gruwell.   The kids tell their story in their own words, and most of the student authors went on too college. According to the school board it is the language in the book that caused this to be such a contentious issue.  Apparently not only are Carlins 7 little words to hot for the airwaves, they are too controversial for school. 

As I watched the video clip on the story I could not help but be struck by the fact that only one person on the school board appeared to be of colour  and furthermore, those in attendance where also overwhelmingly white. Is this really all about language?  Of the 150 permission slips that were sent out regarding the book, 149 parents gave assent for their children to read this book. Obscenity is commonly judged by community standards, and it would seem that those affected by the exposure to "The Freedom Writers Diary", were not upset.

Let's be honest for just one minute. No child reaching high school has not heard words like shit, fuck or even motherfucker. Are these words that we would like our children to use as a part of their daily language..of course not. Are children irreparably damaged by hearing or reading such language...no. Daily in classrooms across North America Shakespeare is taught and very seldom is their complaint about the violence, misogyny and racism in his plays, and yet the true life story of under privileged youth is deemed too obscene for the classroom.

Despite the approval of the parents it was decided that the content would do more harm than good. Really??? The story of underprivileged youth struggling in neighbourhoods filled with gang violence, and poverty who somehow managed to rise above and go to college is harmful? HUH? This is a true lost in translation moment here folks.  Nope, kids should not learn to emphasize with the struggles of others that don't look exactly like them. Nope, kids should not learn that even in the worst conditions it is possible to rise above. Children should also most certainly not learn exactly how ugly poverty, and gang violence are. We would not want them to be shocked into not feeling alone in this world, or caring about the larger social issues that effect this planet. We want another generation of self absorbed twits devoted to consumerism, capitalism and the american way, despite the social injustice that this causes.  Clearly the way forward is to further isolate ourselves from each other because nothing can be gained by a little social cohesion...NOOO then we might get ideas that involve communal values. We might begin to actually care about each other, and we all know that community and the pursuit of money do not blend well in the melting pot, where everyone's voice is supposedly equal. It's not censorship, or silencing, oh no its protecting the innocent.

7 comments:

julie said...

Renee, these parents are thinking ahead. If you OK obscenity into these children's lives, then there are no boundaries.

We are the adults. We are the protectors of children. When we lose the right to protect children, then we allow rape, beating and killings. Our children will suffer horrendously.

The one biggest thing that humanism is wanting to figure out is what morals and values will we have?

But we forget who runs all this. We forget .... we forget .... we forget.

Do you know why the good people like yourself can't have humanism with values and morals?

Because the powers that be are blackmailing the lower powers that be.

I give you far too much to research. But you will just love this one. It is about children and paedophiles. And I mean the most massive case.

http://tinyurl.com/2wpwlc

I just must give you a break from my challenging. lol

Renee said...

Julie of the 150 parents that were asked, 149 gave permission for their kids to study this book. This is a case of the administration expressly overruling the desire of the parents

julie said...

@Renee,

***Julie of the 150 parents that were asked, 149 gave permission for their kids to study this book. This is a case of the administration expressly overruling the desire of the parents***

Then our parents are blinded. Look what we have become.

It is not that I don't know what the streets are about.

It is not that I don't know a young man has his ears cut off with a knife (which I just want to believe a gang member kept sharp because there is nothing worse than using a blunt knife on someone)... just for not apparently listening.

These kids are born into this. Gang members are fleeing the country here because they have come to the realisation that they not only gave their own life but that of their offspring. They go to Australia because "when they are called the gang will only call them for something so big".

Our parents fucked up. Only some of us know how much.

If we allow the children in schools to consider this the norm then we make life worse. We are already as activists of feminism and homosexuality making our children numb. They think all this is normal.


It is not normal. Our women before us fought for us to have a better life. Not a worse life.

They turn in their graves with shame. My heart bleeds. I am in pain over this.

Renee said...

Julie you are completely missing the point. Those kids in freedom riders were born into that environment and overcame it to become college graduates. Think of the lesson that this teaches kids.

julie said...

I do see your point Renee. Honestly, I do. (you are right IMO)

But I see the other side as well.

To be honest with you, I am making this post into a mountain because I seriously think we need to start seeing the mountain. I think it is time for us women to seriously look at things in a future sense.

But I am with you on this one aspect. What is creates is not what I am for.

Genevieve Hinson said...

I haven't read this book yet, but now I want to.

I struggled with my son's choice of reading "Lost Boy" by Dave Pelzer when he was ten-years-old. The story is powerfully written and is a first-hand story about child abuse and foster care.

My son did read the books - we did experience some issues as he processed the information in them (like when we were mad, would we kick him out). However, it was a learning experience. A safe zone to discuss some of the harder realities of the world.

He learned from it, I learned from it and we both have a better understanding of the world and the great odds some folks have to overcome to create a decent life.

This book sounds similar and it would be a book I'd consent to let my child to read now that he's in high school.

julie said...

@Genevieve Hinson,

I struggled with my son's choice of reading "Lost Boy" by Dave Pelzer when he was ten-years-old. The story is powerfully written and is a first-hand story about child abuse and foster care.

My son did read the books - we did experience some issues as he processed the information in them (like when we were mad, would we kick him out). However, it was a learning experience. A safe zone to discuss some of the harder realities of the world.

He learned from it, I learned from it and we both have a better understanding of the world and the great odds some folks have to overcome to create a decent life.


You are a good mother.