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“I was glad to begin to explore issues of racism, and racial injustice, as they existed in my reality, through a text that would talk about it.” Instead, he and his classmates “got a chance to romanticize Atticus Finch.” “We had an opportunity to see a young girl live in her innocence.We had an opportunity to feel sorry when that innocence was disrupted by this reality that racism existed.(I cycle relentlessly through my three precious items; one is a dark olive-green “muscle T” whose purpose is entirely lost on my slight frame.) Our textbook cover bears the rippling glory of the stars and stripes.
John Cornyn compared the Republican defense of Supreme Court then-candidate Brett Kavanaugh to Atticus’ defense of Tom Robinson.
Amid this swirl of adoration, vitriol, and confusion, educators across the country continue to teach That includes me.
“Our” in this case refers mainly to White readers, like me.
And I completely understood where those teachers were coming from.
We read and discuss novels like , black-and-white movies about White (not Black) heroes.
On this day, on a boxy television screen, Gregory Peck, tall and handsome in his button-down vest, grapples with his sense of duty—to community, to loved ones, to the ideals of law and nation.They are scrolling through Instagram and soaking up the stories and images of Black Lives Matter and #Me Too—and Make America Great Again.Too many White teachers, including me, fail to make ,” designed to provide resources for teaching the book in a more historically informed and culturally relevant way.The Facing History folks allowed me to report on the training on the condition that I actively participate.And so I found myself in snowy Chicago, sitting in a bright conference room alongside some of the hardest-working people in America: a dozen or so middle and high school teachers.As a child, she said, she’d wanted Atticus Finch to be her father. At another moment in the workshop, when I noted some of his flaws, a teacher responded, “Not Atticus. I’ve tried to keep him as a good thing in my head.” “When I read this book in high school, I was guided to think that Atticus is the savior,” noted another teacher the next day.Someone else offered that this was perhaps a result of “our misreading of the text itself, and our need to lionize” our heroes.Well, I lived in a community where young kids didn’t get to enjoy innocence.” Ultimately, he said, the discussion of the book was more harmful than if “the text had not been talked about in the class in the first place.” Harper Lee’s is the closest thing America has to required reading.Oprah Winfrey has called it “our national novel.” The story follows Scout Finch, a young White girl in Depression-era Alabama, as her attorney father, Atticus, defends a Black man, Tom Robinson, who has been wrongfully accused of rape. Attempts to ban it from schools began in Ohio in 1963 and continue today.In 1961, the book won Lee the Pulitzer Prize and the next year was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film. When that happens, defenders and detractors alike rise up to debate its place in our classrooms.Meanwhile, the book is called on as a source of moral authority for specious causes, such as when Sen.