Our view: Controversial literature encourages valuable discussion among students


Graphic by Eva McCord ’21

Tower Editorial Board

As journalists, we understand the power words have to help, hurt or heal. We also know the power of silence and censorship.

As students, we understand the diverse population of our school and the multitude of voices we strive to represent. We believe our curriculum should reflect that as well.

We at the Tower appreciate the effort our staff and administrators put into educating us to be better citizens, much of which is from the yearly educational program.  

As avid readers and writers ourselves, we know the impact of the English curriculum in particular. The curriculum review that began last year raised many concerns among our staff that has culminated this year in the removal of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from the Honors American Literature required reading list.

The change is understandable, as “Huckleberry Finn” is infamous for its use of the N-word, which is spelled out more than 200 times throughout the book, according to PBS.org.  Readers are also concerned with the misrepresentation of Jim, one of the few characters of color many readers come into contact within our curriculum.

Despite the controversy, we believe the discussions “Huckleberry Finn” in particular brings are valuable to South students.  We worry that readers are turning their backs on important stories solely because they make us uncomfortable.

We agree that language that demeans or offends students should not be read aloud in class.  However, literature that simply makes students “uncomfortable”, is doing its job.

We encourage students to read outside of the curriculum, to check out diverse books from a variety of perspectives like The Hate U Give, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian or The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time with an open mind, not only for enjoyment but for their perspective on the world. We believe that students, by engaging in discussions about things like race, police brutality, sexuality, and gender, will be better equipped to face these issues in real life and move forward as a more inclusive generation.

We also recognize that some students may not be ready to tackle these complex ideas alone. Thus, we believe that class time dedicated to discussions about race, especially in the context of our own community, are essential if we want students to learn from what they read. It’s important that our teachers and administrators not only educate themselves on these issues but receive the proper training so they can confidently lead their classes.

We have high expectations for the future of the English curriculum in the district and know we are in capable hands. We hope teachers and administrators will continue to pursue challenging new literature that not only challenges but changes our perspectives for the better.