According to The Guardian, the Fraternal Order of Police Tri-County Lodge #3 challenged Wando High School’s ninth grade summer reading list. Of the eight books recommended, two Thomas’ and Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely’s All American Boys tackle police brutality.
John Blackmon, president of the lodge, said his union “received an influx of tremendous outrage at the selections by this reading list,” and wondered why the school chose to “focus half of their effort on negativity towards the police” when “there are other socio-economic topics that are available.”
“Freshmen, they’re at the age where their interactions with law enforcement have been very minimal,” Blackmon continued. “They’re not driving yet, they haven’t been stopped for speeding, they don’t have these type of interactions. This is … almost an indoctrination of distrust of police and we’ve got to put a stop to that.”
Thomas’ book, which has been turned into a feature film, follows 16-year-old Starr who witnesses the murder of her childhood friend and crush at the hands of police. Starr’s uncle Carlos acts as a father figure to her throughout the book and is also a cop. All American Boys finds Rashad trying to overcome his distrust of law enforcement after he was falsely accused of shoplifting and subsequently beat up by the cop. Both novels have been praised and won several literary awards.
Principal Dr. Sherry Eppelsheimer said in a statement, the complaint has been received and the school board will review the books in question. The National Coalition Against Censorship has offered their services to the school in hopes to keep both books on the summer reading list.
“Removing books that have been selected for their educational value solely because the ideas expressed in the conflict with some parents’ political or moral beliefs would improperly allow parents to dominate the public education process with their opinions,” “For young readers in Charleston, The Hate U Give and All American Boys offer insight into the racial injustices many people of color experience, and inspiration for young activists who desire change.”