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Florida School District Will Protect Little Kids From Joe Biden's Socialist Inauguration Poem
It wasn't 'censored,' it was 'made unavailable' to elementary students. They can read it in middle school if they aren't shot by then.
In the latest news from the school censorship battlefield — along with the Washington Post investigation(gift link) which found that most challenges to books in US schools were filed by just 11 people, yes really — we learned yesterday that Miami-Dade County Public Schools restricted access to a book version of "The Hill We Climb," Amanda Gordon'spoem from Joe Biden's inauguration in 2021.
Remember what a joyful, beautiful reading Gorman gave us that day?
But darn it, the poem and some books about Cuba and Black history were simply too much for one angry parent, who demanded that they all be removed forever so they wouldn't fill little kids with Wrongthink, according to documents released by the kick-ass anti-censorship nonprofit The Florida Freedom to Read Project. Specifically, and ungrammatically, the complaint about the poem explained it "is not educational and have indirect hate messages." The parent who complained also listed "Oprah Winfrey" as the author, apparently because Oprah's name is on the cover — she wrote the foreword.
In a statement, Gorman said she felt "gutted" by the action against her poem, noting that book censorship frequently targets those "who have struggled for generations to get on bookshelves,” and that the "majority of these censored works are by queer and non-white voices."
She said that she'd written "The Hill We Climb"
so that all young people could see themselves in a historical moment. Ever since, I’ve received countless letters and videos from children inspired by The Hill We Climb to write their own poems. Robbing children of the chance to find their voices in literature is a violation of their right to free thought and free speech.
Well sure, but what about all the hidden hate messages, which were in fact so well hidden that we couldn't even find them in the text of the poem that the parent complained about:
We’ve braved the belly of the beast.
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace,
And the norms and notions of what "just is"
Isn’t always justice
And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed
A nation that isn’t broken, but simply
I guess it must be CRT because discrimination is in the past so why bring it up? Or the Mad Mom thought it invoked the chant "No Justice, No Peace"?
The Miami Herald, which first broke the story (subscriber-only link), explains that as a result of the challenge, four of the five titles the parent was unhappy about were placed on the middle school shelves at one school that houses kindergarten through 8th grade, but not removed entirely — just de facto unavailable to kids up to fifth grade. Stephana Ferrell, director of research and insight for Florida Freedom to Read, told the Herald that moving the books
underscores a growing trend to redefine what is considered age appropriate, “especially regarding books that address ethnicities, marginalized communities, racism or our history of racism.”
“Books written for students grades K-5 are being pushed to middle school [libraries and] out of reach for the students they were intended for,” she said. The books aren’t being banned from the district, she argued, “but they’re banned for the students they were intended for.”
Before you know it, schools will be insisting that moving the Gay Penguin book to county nursing homes isn't censorship , it's simply about making it available to an "appropriate" age group.
The Heraldspoke to Daily Salinas, who is not a newspaper in California but actually the parent who complained about the poem and other titles, and who wanted them removed "from the total environment," although she also said she isn't for censorship, no, not at all. In addition to "The Hills We Climb," she objected to four other titles, The ABCs of Black History, Cuban Kids, Countries in the News: Cuba ,and Love to Langston, all four of which are aimed at elementary school readers.
After the Herald story published, the Florida Freedom to Read Project posted to Twitter the complaint forms for the four books, in which Salinas complained the Cuba books indoctrinated students with "socialism" and "communism" because duh, it's Cuba and "Castros are the dictators." The other two books have Black people in them, so they are of course filled with "CRT" and "indoctrination," because little kids are ripe for critical race theory, the law school area of study. Also, The ABCs of Black History allegedly includes both "CRT and Gender Ideology," whatever that might mean to Ms. Salinas.
A review committee examined the books and found that none of them were guilty of "indoctrination," hooray, but the committee also decided that only one book, Countries in the News: Cuba , was "balanced and age appropriate in its wording and presentation," so it could stay in the elementary section of the library. The other four were found to be "more appropriate" for middle schoolers, although how exactly that was determined seems iffy.
The committee sent Gorman's poem to the middle school shelves because its "vocabulary" was "of value to middle school students"; it was also found to be "of historical value" and therefore not too indoctrinatey.
Despite Love to Langston being labeled for ages 8 to 11, it too was sent up to middle school, because the "content and subject matter of poems in this collection were determined to be better suited to middle school students." The poetry, we'll add, is by the author, Tony Medina, as a biography in verse of Langston Hughes. Maybe it's just too incendiary for nine-year-olds. The content in Cuban Kids was also found to be better for middle schoolers, although it's mostly just a collection of, as the title says, photos of kids in Cuba.
Finally, the most absurd decision sent a freaking alphabet book, T he ABCs of Black History, to the middle school shelves, with the bizarre logic that
although the book's illustrations, presentations, and book jacket indicate this book was written for ages 5 and up, the [committee] determined the vocabulary and subject matter presented was more appropriate for middle school students.
We all know how jazzed kids in grades six through eight are about learning their ABCs, or perhaps in the minds of the committee, their BLMs and their ACABs.
So let's all celebrate that instead of being banned, these works have been relegated to the middle school shelves of the library, where only the Gorman poem is likely to ever be picked up by an actual student. (Have you met middle schoolers? They tend to react to anything they think is for little kids like it was Kyryptonite Jr.)
The Herald asked Ms. Salinas, who is not for censorship, what she thought of the decision to retain one book in the elementary section and move the others to the middle school section. She wasn't too happy, saying that
the books should have been removed for all students. School libraries are meant “to support the curriculum of the school and I don’t see how these books support the curriculum,” she said.
And finally, we should note that, according to a Twitter thread, with photos, posted by "Miami Against Fascism," Ms. Salinas isn't only a would-be schoolbook censor who rallies with Moms for Liberty/Censorship; she's also attended Proud Boys events and appears to have posted to Facebook a summary of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," so that's nice.
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