Top Ten Reasons for Banning Books by Ethnic Minorities?

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Whenever a community of any sort starts banning books, you know they’re afraid of something, usually themselves.  But perhaps the Arizona illuminati deserve a little sympathy.  After all, there could be reasons for forbidding the teaching of books whose authors do not come from the “preferred” ethnicity.  In the spirit of understanding, we offer the following:

Top Ten Reasons for Not Reading or Teaching Literature by Ethnic Minorities

10. Readers might have to look up some words like corazon or coeur.

9. If you have all that much time on your hands, you could re-read Twilight and its sucklings, which are about things that really matter.

8. Exposure to books by Thomas Sanchez, Carlos Fuentes or Helena Maria Viramontes might break through the protective armor of solipsism.  Then where would you be?

7. You might start to believe the words of the sonnet by Emma Lazarus on the bronze plaque under that big statue in New York Harbor.

6. With all these confusing counter-narratives going at once, how can we construct a cozy American myth?

5. Entertaining movies made from the books and internet summaries might be hard to find.  And then where would you be?

4. Readers with ethnic heritage similar to the authors of the black-listed books might find encouragement and entitlement, which might make them stronger, more active members of the national community.

3. Newt might not get to send minorities to his proposed fifty-first state, the moon.

2.  The forbidden books might explode and blind readers.

1. As John Milton wrote, “That which purifies us is trial, and trial is by what is contrary.”  Doesn’t that just seem like a lot of hard work?

About R.T. Smith

recent-meR. T. Smith has edited Shenandoah since 1995 and serves as Writer-in-Residence at Washington & Lee. His forthcoming books are Doves in Flight: 13 Fictions and Summoning Shades: New Poems, both due in 2017.


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5 Responses to Top Ten Reasons for Banning Books by Ethnic Minorities?

  1. Philip Belcher says:

    Thank you for this, Rod.

  2. Deborah Miranda says:

    …and we have LIFTOFF! Oh wait, this wasn’t Newt’s countdown for the rocket to the moon settlement? Dang. I’ve always wanted to be a colonizer of SOMETHING. Thanks, Rod! Laughing all the way to the moon and back.

  3. Lauren Starnes says:

    This top 10 list is better than most of David Letterman’s! We discussed this issue yesterday in Professor Wheeler’s 21st Century Poetry class and several students made some very intersting comments. I wonder if Nathasha Trethewey will have anything to add at her reading this afternoon!

  4. Tim McAleenan says:

    Professor, for some reason, they didn’t read this list at the Republican Mock Convention yesterday. Very witty. Of course the whole thing is absurd–the only way they could stir kids to read in high school is by explicitly banning the books. It’s the educational equivalent of when a father tells his daughter to “stay away from that boy, or else!” You know where she’ll end up.

  5. Gary Mengel says:

    Reason #2 is brilliant!
    “You’ll poke out your eye!”

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