DAVIDSON COUNTY — A growing list of books has drawn the ire of local residents in Davidson County and in rural and metropolitan areas across the country, some of which have banned certain texts, including Toni Morrison’s first novel.
Residents at each of the most recent regular meetings of Davidson County Board of Commissioners have demonstrated concerns, some with exhibits and excerpts from the books, before commissioners. Public session at this week’s meeting began with an excerpt from “The Bluest Eye,” a story written by Morrison, set in the town where she was born, about an 11-year-old African American girl who wishes for a lighter shade of skin and eyes.
Citing explicit sexual material, county resident Polly Leonard protests for the removal of the book from Davidson County Schools libraries. Her colleagues have routinely asked both the board of education and commissioners for the same.
“This is pure pedaphilia,” Leonard said of the text, which she acknowledges can be found at North Davidson High School. “That book is in our schools.”
Monday’s Coming is another book she said can be found at middle schools throughout the county. Leonard said she and fellow parents have assembled five pages of Excel spreadsheets of what they deem to be explicit content on the shelves.
According to PBS, since its publication, The Bluest Eye has consistently landed on the American Library Association’s list of most challenged books, with many citing the “sexually explicit material” and “graphic descriptions” with “disturbing language” and an “underlying socialist-communist agenda.” In other areas where the text has been challenged, the book has been banned, like in St. Louis where it was banned from schools in the district and then subsequently reinstated. The board reversed its decision in the face of criticism and a class-action lawsuit. The challenges many areas are facing is backlash from parents and growing resentment of what many say are part of an overarching agenda. Others argue the book and its author champion for inclusion.
Before this backdrop, educators and commissioners are being inundated with criticism from outraged parents.
“Pedaphilia is getting pushed on our kids, and you’re sitting,” Leonard said. “It’s disgusting.”
The board took no formal action, but Commissioner Chris Elliott requested a copy of the spreadsheet and indicated he didn’t see how the books she read from could be on school shelves, noting that he believed they should be “against the law.”