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New Hanover County Residents Protest Far Right’s Latest Book Ban Attempt

Source : Port City Daily, WECT

Hundreds of community members came out to the New Hanover County School Board meeting on Aug.1 to protest the proposed removal of the book “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You” from one high school’s curriculum.

“Stamped,” by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, was taught as part of last year’s A.P. Language and Composition curriculum at Ashley High School, located just outside Wilmington. The book is an adaptation for children of Kendi’s original award-winning book “Stamped from the Beginning,” and analyzes the history of racist ideas in America.

Since last fall, one parent, Katie Gates, has pushed for the book to be removed from curriculum and school libraries. At a school board meeting in January, Gates claimed the book shows “disrespect for our nation and the Bible.” Despite Gates’ child being given a separate assignment, and both the Ashley High School’s media review committee and the district ruling the book suitable for children, Gates appealed the decision to the New Hanover County School Board.

Gates’ protest is the latest in a series of complaints from a small group of community members who have submitted dozens of books for review over the last year. Many of those members are associated with far-right groups like Moms for Liberty and Pavement Education Project.

During public comment at the August 1 meeting, more than two dozen community members spoke their mind, with those against removing the book outnumbering those for it by an almost 2:1 margin

“I see that this parent’s request to ban the book is rooted in a long tradition of the desire on the part of many white people to hide the realities of racism and white supremacy in our culture because doing that allows us to maintain the status quo,” speaker Anna Lee said.

Lee, who grew up in Wilmington, said she never learned in school about the white supremacist-led massacre in her hometown in 1898. “That was an intentional choice on the part of people in power in various roles in our community,” Lee said. “You know why? Because it’s inconvenient for the perpetrators of that to have that truth out.”

The school board did not take any action at the meeting, and a follow-up hearing to decide the fate of “Stamped” has yet to be scheduled. 

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