In Praise Of Nappy Hair

True artists, authors, educators are being shut down; not "suspended for two weeks", but FIRED, for trying to bring enlightenment, dignity, beauty and humanity to public discourse and future generations.
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Excerpted from The New York Times
December 4, 1998
By Clyde Haberman

A well-intentioned third-grade teacher, who happens to be white, gave her mostly black and Hispanic students a critically praised book (winner of a Parenting Reading Magic Award)
about a black girl with kinky hair. Nappy Hair is about a young heroine who celebrates that which makes her special. ("One nap of her hair is the only perfect circle in nature.") The teacher stood accused, however falsely, of being "racially insensitive." She was attacked and threatened. She was suspended. When finally asked to return, she declined out of fear for her safety.

Spring, 2001
By Joan E. Bertin

We recently received a request for help in responding to a proposed policy to ban "racially offensive" books from the high school curriculum. Some examples: Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Forrest Gump by Winston Groom, Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles, Gone with the Wind, Claude Brown's Manchild in the Promised Land, Michael Crichton's Congo, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.

The American Library Association's list of banned and challenged books discloses a virtual "Who's Who" of African-American and Hispanic authors: Isabel Allende, Rudolfo Anaya, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, James Baldwin, Wilt Chamberlain, Alice Childress, Eldridge Cleaver, James and Christopher Collier, Ralph Ellison, Carlos Fuentes, Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Jamaica Kincaid, Gordon Parks, Piri Thomas, Richard Wright, Jesse Jackson, Carolivia Herron, Luis Rodriguez.

If "racially sensitive" or controversial material were eliminated from high school reading lists and libraries, these are some of the voices that would be silenced. While the proposed policy might avoid some hurt and angry feelings, the students most vulnerable to those feelings would also lose access to literature that speaks to their experience, that offers role models, and that nurtures creativity. The entire community loses if the harsh truths of history and social experiences cannot be shared through literature.

National Coalition Against Censorship
New York, March 1, 2007

The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) and the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) today condemned the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan for asking the FBI to investigate a complaint that books used in the public schools of Howell, Michigan, are obscene. The complaint was filed by a woman who was unsuccessful in persuading the Howell Board of Education to remove several books that she dislikes, including Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five.

"It is absolutely bizarre that a high official in the Justice Department would take such a step. Under the law, the books cannot be found obscene if they have literary merit, which in this case cannot reasonably be questioned," NCAC Executive Director Joan Bertin said. ABFFE President Chris Finan said that U.S. Attorney Stephen J. Murphy III had abdicated his responsibility to protect free speech. "We are told that Murphy 'routinely' refers all obscenity complaints to the FBI. But he has a duty to reject frivolous claims to ensure that there is no chilling effect on books that are protected by the First Amendment," Finan said. He added that Murphy has been nominated to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals. "This is not the kind of judgment we expect from a man who has been nominated for a seat on one of our highest courts," Finan said.


Doug Tracht made a "joke" on his radio show about James Byrd, who was murdered (torn to pieces) in 1998 by being dragged behind a pickup truck by two white supremacists. Tracht had been playing a song by Lauryn Hill. He then said, as a reference to the quality of her music, "and they wonder why we drag them behind trucks."


Well, I was heartened to see so much passion and thought invested in the Imus issue, here and everywhere. Personally, I couldn't care less about what happens to the millionaire shock jocks of the world. Everyone knows what they are, and they'll probably always be here because bullies and cowards need heroes too. What really matters is that right now, every day, real and timeless works of art and soul that enlighten and uplift and reflect, in literature, entertainment, the media, and education, are being systematically erased, by one small mind at a time. True artists, authors, educators are being shut down; not "suspended for two weeks", but FIRED, for trying to bring enlightenment, dignity, beauty and humanity to public discourse and future generations. THAT'S "shock". For everyone who commented on these blogs, why not actually DO something?

The shameful U.S. Attorney above was put in by G.W. Bush in 2005. Elections change the judicial system of America (the laws, thus our lives) for decades at a time. It is due only to the new Democratic congress that the U.S. attorney firings came to light, as well as W's stated plan to "remake" the U.S. judiciary in his image. Dog forbid.

Now that you're thinking about it, stay involved. One way would be to check out The National Coalition Against Censorship, an alliance of 50 national non-profit organizations, including literary, artistic, religious, educational, professional, labor, and civil liberties groups. Go to and get current on issues of censorship courtesy of the Bush Regime and the tiny brains that support it. You can even sign up. It's free. By giving up five minutes a week of listening to fifty year old men doing fart "jokes", you can make a difference in cases that matter now and for generations. Don't get distracted by the mice, or the lions will get you.

"If you ain't talkin' about endin' exploitation/then you just another sambo in syndication/always sayin' words that's gon' bring about elation/never doin' sh*t that's gon' bring us vindication/and while we getting strangled by the slave-wage grippers/you wanna do the same,/and say we should put you in business?"
--The Coup, Busterismology

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