Reading out of context

Across America School Board meetings have become contentious environments, where extremist groups express their bigotry against marginalized people, be it their race, ethnicity, gender identity or religion. One active and well entrenched group in Bucks County is—

Woke Pennsylvania:

“a grass roots organization working to reclaim our schools”.

This group planned to read sexually explicit passages at the March 8 Central Bucks School Board Meeting. The passages, lifted from LGBTQ published books—can be found on the woke website. Public comments limited to 3 minutes, are scheduled at the top of the meeting’s agenda.

“The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison, Nobel Laurate and recipient of numerous literary honors, is one of the books on the Woke website. I decided to attend and read a selection from this her first novel, published in 1970. Three of her novels and one of her nonfiction books snuggle on my bookshelf. “The Bluest Eye” isn’t among my four; however, a dear friend lent me her copy.

Morrison’s words sing across the page. When reading the sentences, I’m in awe of the story she weaves. I settled on a passage from the first few pages where words always entice a reader to turn the pages until reaching The End.

Thirty-eight people registered to speak. The room was full. I recognized the usual suspects—attendees from the previous four meetings. As each strode to the dais, they announced the title then filled with indignation, read the excerpt. Then they demanded the book “… be removed from the school library”.

While waiting my turn, I scanned the room, wondering how many of this vociferous crowd had ever voted prior to the 2021 school board elections. The crowd is also displeased with some of the sitting board members, calling out their names demanding they resign.  A speaker from an extremist political action committee—Back to School PA—furiously waved a glossy 4-page document, exclaiming that ‘dark money!’ helped elect 3 Democrats to the board.

(If you visit the Central Bucks School District website, there is a link to a recording of the February 8 meeting. The public comments begin at 30.00 minutes.)

There were speakers advocating for the Library Bill of Rights—American Library Association policies for school libraries as well as several others who opposed removing books from school libraries. A retired teacher—Speaker #16 and recorded at 1.17.15–spoke eloquently how books help some children “… make sense of their lives”.

I remember when a handful of people would attend these meetings. The Covid virus along with decisions to open or close schools and policies regarding masked or no masked students, pushed any concerns about education to the back of the room. Now, the book banners are in Bucks County and stealing all the oxygen out of the air.

The next Central Bucks School Board at 70 Weldon Drive, Doylestown, is scheduled Tuesday, April 12, at 7 pm.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.