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Monday, December 6, 2021

School Board Members Lead Crusade to Ban Toni Morrison From Virginia Schools

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The ground-breaking 1970 novel “The Bluest Eye,” by Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, was deemed “extremely disturbing” by Virginia Beach at-large school board member Victoria Manning in the latest book-banning crusade.

Morrison’s debut novel, which BlackPast describes as “a little Black girl’s quest for identity and acceptance in a world that privileged whiteness,” will remain on Virginia Beach City public school shelves, at least until the next school board meeting on Oct. 26.

Along with Morrison’s novel, Manning and fellow school board member Laura Hughes condemned several titles, including “A Lesson Before Dying” by Black author Ernest Gaines, “Gender Queer: a Memoir” by nonbinary author Maia Kobabe and “Lawn Boy” by Jonathan Evison.

Morrison wrote 11 books, including the 1988 Pulitzer Prize-winning “Beloved”—about the psychological effects of an enslaved woman’s decision to take the life of her child to prevent them from becoming enslaved.

Former President Barack Obama awarded Morrison the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012, and her legacy lives on through The Toni Morrison Society, founded in 1993, and her timeless novels.

Manning requests the school revoke student access to the books both physically and electronically, in addition to administering disciplinary action to the faculty members who approved the books to begin with, according to The Virginian-Pilot.

Manning’s ploy to ban Morrison’s novel comes after ongoing efforts to block critical race theory from entering the Virginia Beach school system, via the “Wokeness Checker” on her website and an interview on “Fox & Friends” in March, according to The Daily Beast.

Manning is the latest of many to try to remove “The Bluest Eye” from schools.

“Banning and censoring this tells students that … racism, incest, rape, abuse, are taboo subjects that should not be mentioned,” said student Bailey Cross on the 2013 Adams 12 School Board’s decision to restrict how “The Bluest Eyes” is taught in schools, according to National Coalition Against Censorship. “It sends the message that (someone) experiencing these things should not reach out for help, because if it’s too explicit to read, it’s too explicit to talk about.”

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