According to PEN America, last year an escalation of book censorship in schools was recorded in the United States. Thousands of books were removed from classrooms and libraries for a variety of reasons, such as controversial topics, offensive language and sexually explicit material.
Banned Books Book Club is a new opportunity for students at Minnesota State to read and engage in discussions about banned books. Students will receive a free copy of a book discussed on the meeting day along with the reading guide that will help them focus on important topics. The club was initiated by Maverick Diversity Institute, Women’s Center and African American Affairs.
Interim Director of African American Affairs BalenciaSariah Crosby said they plan to meet several times in an academic year and engage in discussions with different speakers at every meeting.
“We do not presently have a set schedule, however, we want to hold two to three group sessions per academic year. Speakers will vary,” said Crosby.
Crosby said the discussions will cover the contents of the book, its authors and parallels between the written world and our shared realities.
During the first meeting of the club held on September 27th, students discussed “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison, which was banned for controversial content. The meeting was facilitated by Zara Houston, founder of Read a F–k!ng Book: Promoting Black Liberation Through Book Discussions and Discoveries.
Students who have registered for the first meeting received a detailed reading guide by Houston, which helped them reflect on the material in the book. The Women’s Center posted a video of Houston talking about “The Bluest Eye” and points for reflection she assigned to participants of the club to think about.
“Many parents feel like they can protect their children by restricting access to informational resources,” said Houston. “There are many books that end up on this banned book list simply because there are people in this country who do not want their children to know the reality, the truth of how this country became what it is today.”
Houston encouraged students to share literature and bravely talk about it.
“Your homework is to go out and be revolutionary,” said Houston. “Talk about things that might not always be comfortable talking about. All that matters is that your message comes along even if your voice shakes a little.”
The club is open for everyone to visit and engage. Meeting times and locations can be clarified at the Women’s Center or the Multicultural Center.
Header photo: Banned Books Book Club is a new opportunity for students at Minnesota State to read and engage in discussions about banned books. Students will receive a free copy of a book discussed on the meeting day. (Amalia Sharaf/The Reporter)
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