Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Education
State Board of Education
Regulations Governing Local School Boards and School Divisions [8 VAC 20 ‑ 720]
Action Amendments Regarding Use of Controversial or Sensitive Instructional Materials
Comment Period Ended on 1/15/2014
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12/20/13  9:24 pm
Commenter: Ariel McKean, Student

The Bluest Eye

It is astounding to me that classrooms stand the chance of being strictly controlled and censored. As a current college student, I can say with absolute certainty that the English courses I took at a Virginia high school had no small hand in pushing my decision to pursue a Creative Writing degree. My senior year, we were given a short list of books to choose from which we would read and complete assignments for. One of those choices was Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye. I knew very little about the book, only that it tackled a young child's own dysmorphic views of her quality as a person. The book is extremely graphic in nature, and was almost difficult to read at times; however, it was difficult to read in that I was reading of a person of color's experiences and it made me uncomfortable. It's a discomfort that really is necessary in order to expand one's mind and broaden their thinking. It allowed me an absolutely crucial window into the culture and habits of a group of people, and allowed me to read critically and really feel an emotional connection to the book. There were moments where I cried for Pecola and the inferiority complex that she developed in a world that is not much different than the one we live in now. It is an unapologetic piece, and it had an enormous impact on the way that I read, and the way that I analyze text. Without this book, this "sensitive material", I would not have reached this epiphany of sorts. I learned in an environment that allowed me to openly discuss the things that I felt about every piece we read, and it only would have been possible with the array of pieces to choose from. 

The idea that a classroom could be censored is one that is horrifying to me. Without diversity, students are not challenging the way that they think and feel. They may not get the opportunity to feel the way that I do about reading and analyzing pieces. They might not reach a moment where they know precisely what they are to do for the rest of their lives. 

CommentID: 29761