We join the Hastings Library Board in protesting the removal of a complex, difficult, and still-relevant book from the eighth-grade curriculum in Hastings. The American Library Association reports that the book, Sherman Alexie’s “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” is one of the “Frequently Banned/Challenged Young Adult Books” by schools and libraries in the U.S., and it is very sad that Hastings has now joined the list. We fear that this could be the top of a slippery slope of removing books that make even one student uncomfortable. Should students not read, discuss, and learn from “The Diary of Anne Frank” because it may be difficult for Jewish students or “So Far from the Bamboo Grove” because it may be upsetting for students of Korean and/or Japanese background?
In this mostly white village, efforts to increase knowledge of our country’s real history are going on in our schools and at the library. We hope they will help all of us understand one another better and to act on that understanding. But we believe that discouraging students, or adults, from reading books that show the systemic racism and the cruelty that has informed much of our history just pushes the problems out of sight again. It seems that the issues that arose in one classroom could and should have been handled better. But removing this important book from the curriculum sends the wrong signal to everyone.
Michele Ankuda, president
Sharon DeLevie, vice president
The Board of the Friends of the Hastings Public Library