No Justification for the Banning of Huckleberry Finn
Columnist James J. Kilpatrick wrote that Huck Finn is "a fun book for white boys to read. For black children, I have come to realize, it is a brutal slap in the face." He condemns the book because of its use of the word "nigger." Many school districts have banned this book for the same reason.
Since the Civil War, racism has been a very delicate issue with the American public. Whereas some people have tried to transgress this issue, pretending that race no longer plays a significant role in our country, other people still believe that there are serious racial dilemmas in the United States. I am one these people. However, unlike some, I do not believe this problem can be solved by avoiding or sugarcoating the issue of race, as James L. Kilpatrick and several schools appear to be doing. In the novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain presents an adventure story filled with deeper meanings and controversial topics, two in particular being slavery and racism. Despite the usage of the word "nigger" and the stereotypical portrayal of African Americans, I do not think schools have any justification in banning this book from reading lists.
Mark Twain wrote Huck Finn during the Reconstruction period in the south, at a time when most Americans wanted to forget all about the institution of slavery and its consequences. However, Twain set the time period of this novel prior to the Civil War when slavery was at its peak. Thus, the racist views he included in the book mirrored the attitudes of most southerners during this time. Those that say that Huck Finn is inappropriate to be read in schools are in effect saying that a portion of United States history should not be taught in the classroom. Although slavery was one of the most horrific periods in our countries history, to make sure nothing of its caliber ever occurs again, we must make sure every high school student is aware of the ramifications of such practices. By banning an important work in U.S. history, these schools are ignoring the racial sentiments of this time period simply because the language in Huck Finn may not be appropriate.
In addition, reading this novel hopefully invokes in people a sense of shame for the mistakes of our...