While a fight to reinstate Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian rages on in Waterloo, IA, the fight to get it banned in Brunswick County, NC, was shut down this week after it faced its second challenge in less than a year.
Last June, we told you about one grandparent’s challenge to The Absolutely True Diary in the district’s Cedar Grove Middle School, just months after Alice Walker’s Pulitzer-winning The Color Purple was challenged, and won its right to stay in an AP English curriculum. Last year’s challenge to Alexie’s award-winning novel was also denied by the school board, when Superintendent Dr. Edward Pruden stated that the book “helps the teen reader to understand his/her own environment and provides coping skills and hope for dealing with these tough issues in their own lives.” The book remained in the district’s middle school curriculum.
Last week, however, the same grandparent mounted another challenge to the book, this time at West Brunswick High School, where her grandchild will soon be a freshman. Days later, West Brunswick High School Principal Brock Ahrens responded by stating that this challenge is not eligible for consideration for another two years since the process, including an appeal, had already been completed.
We are extremely pleased to see the commitment to the First Amendment – and to literature – alive and well in Brunswick County. It is a beacon of sanity and clarity in an otherwise murky sea of censorship in schools across the country. Here’s hoping other districts see the light.