- Madras Pioneer - Sports
To the Editor,
In response to the issue of the book "True Diary of a Part Time Indian" being banned from curriculum, I wish to comment. I am not against the book reaching out to Native kids as no other book will. For when a book, or other means of choice, can reach out to anyone relating to their experiences, then I highly recommend. I do believe that if one feels that this book can "click" to their curcumstance and be helped from it, then by all means may one suggest this book to them through the library. I for one do not believe that the classroom is the most important place this book needs to be in. However, the library may be a much more suitable place.
With all due respect, I do understand all too well what it was like facing real issues growing up. I can relate to losing self-identity and much loneliness as well. It is sad that one feels one should not be offended by this book. Having to witness my 11-year-old brother pass away when I was 8 years old, witnessing my 17-year-old sister die when I was 12 years old (from sugar diabetes) and to watch my father fade away and die from cancer when I was young, brought much grief and pain as a young person. Coming from a dysfunctional-alcoholic family, I was with much poverty, physically and sexually abused. I attended 12 different schools from my eighth-grade to 12th-grade years, due to my mother always on the run. I graduated from a predominately black school, however, making good friends, worked and studied hard making good grades and graduated with a sense of accomplishment. I do understand real issues, as I faced so many similarities as the character in this book.
However, this book speaks more of issues other than a basketball team, his self-identity, and being harrassed by his Indian peers. Yet it is on a positive note that the boy does better himself by changing schools. As a concerned parent, and I speak on behalf of myself and others I have spoken with, this book contents go far beyond issues being discussed. The contents contain foul language, graphic sexual content, graphic cartoon drawings, blasphemes Christ, shows disrespect towards teachers, as well as racism. I believe our kids need not have these kinds of issues brought out by this book, presented to them in the classroom "to figure things out earlier." It is very well prevelant that in life our students face issues everyday, whether in school or out in the real world.
The classroom is where the course or subject is to be presented to the student, be it English, reading, math, etc. as curriculum is the study of that course or subject given in order to graduate or pass from one grade level to a higher grade level. English is the teachings of words and their meanings. Ways in which to use words in writing format to take for one's own use, suitable for the purpose. (This book displays quite a few words not so appropriate for ones own use.) Reading books should be carefully selected in a respectful manner for all those involved. High school is the perfect time to prepare one's mind to broaden his or her horizons, in preperation for a bright future. Being open-minded can be good to a certain degree. Discussing matters and issues should be discussed within reason, and careful observation. We must look to the good of all in most cases. This can be difficult to pursue I understand. We as adults should set good examples for those students who may not have someone to look up to.
I do not wish to compare this book to "Huck Finn" nor "Gone With the Wind", as they do not contain such graphic content. Had I not gone to a parent/teacher conference on April 23, I would have never known this book was required for curriculum, as the class was starting the book that day. I was fortunate to have gotten ahold of the book and read it myself. My son was offended by the contents, as well. As another student commented, "They felt like they were reading a pornography book." I am grateful my son was allowed to read another book upon my request. For this I am thankful. We must take careful consideration of other students and parents that prefer to make different choices of how to guide our children towards making good decisions.
If I offended anyone from my opinion, I did not intentionally do so. Yet the part that was more hurtful than offensive in this book was a statement made by the boy after the death of his uncle quoting, "I could have easily killed myself, killed my mother and father, killed the birds, killed the trees, and killed the oxygen in the air. More than anything, I wanted to kill God. I was joyless." In our home we honor God, not dishonor Him. This statement was very distasteful to say the least. For with all the tragedy in my life, I could not have made it through without God. He is and has always been my strength.
Again, I am only suggesting it to be not in the curriculum for the English class. Banned is a very strong word. As speaking as a concerned parent for students and parents that may have other choices for their kids, this book may not be a good choice for the classroom. For those that this book does reach out to, then I do apologize for any offensiveness that it may have caused you.
Life can be a difficult journey with many choices and paths to choose from. To all who have gone through and are going through a difficult journey in life, I can only hope and pray that life will lead to a brighter future. For when we make good choices, we can have a more positive outlook and be an inspiration to others who come into our life. For we are all gifted one way or another. I admire those who follow the right path in life, and use their gifts they were blessed with wisely.